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Freshwater shrimp are beautiful additions to any aquarium, especially one densely planted, or in need of a cleaning crew. Most shrimp species (see available freshwater species) will scavenge on uneaten fish food, while others eat algae, dead and living plants, and even decaying worms.
However, the biggest challenge of keeping shrimp in tanks is they make part of the fish food chain, and most large and medium-sized aquarium fish won’t hesitate to eat them. Usually, the rule of thumb is if the shrimp can fit in the mouth, then it is fair game.
That said, it does not mean that you can’t keep shrimp with fish in the same aquarium, some fish species are quite peaceful, while others feed on plant matter and algae, hence won’t bother your shrimp.
In this article, we will look at ten peaceful fish you can keep with freshwater shrimp, without the shrimp turning into a quick snack.
10 Peaceful Fish That Make Good Shrimp Tankmates
Something noteworthy is while not all fish species in this list are exactly peaceful, they all can live with shrimp. Either the fish don’t feed on meaty food or are tiny, with small mouths to fit a fully grown shrimp.
#1 — Guppies
Guppies and shrimp can be placed in the same aquarium. However, you need to understand that shrimp are in the food chain for guppies albeit a bit lower down in line.
So, if you don’t feed your guppies properly or fail to take all necessary precaution, chance are your shrimp population will decrease over time.
There is also a chance that your guppies will eat all food, both the food meant for them and the shrimp. For this reason, learn to feed your guppies first, then while occupied, feed the shrimp.
It also helps to have some food in areas where aquatic plants grow dense that guppies can’t reach but shrimp can. Moreover, cramming your tank with plants will help protects shrimp fry should you decide to breed your shrimp in that tank.
#2 — Celestial Pearl Danio
Celestial pearl danios, sometimes called galaxy rasboras or simply CPDs are a small fish species that can be kept together with freshwater shrimp without much trouble.
While the danios might get a few of the smallest shrimp as soon as they get a molt, they’ll probably be too big for the danios to eat, hence will be about the same level of threat to the shrimp as other micro-schoolers like ember tetras.
Galaxy rasboras are also relatively peaceful that will complement the shy nature of your shrimp.
However, beware that these fish are known to attack and eat juvenile shrimp, so make sure you have adequate plants for the fry to hide.
#3 — Ember Tetras
Ember tetras and freshwater shrimp, particularly red cherries, make great tank mates because the tetras’ mouths are tiny that they can’t eat anything but the finest of baby shrimp.
Most of your shrimp will also survive, should you decide to breed the shrimp in the tank, especially if you have plants like java moss for the fry to hide in.
On the flip side, you might want your ember tetras to eat some of the shrimp babies otherwise you will have too many shrimp that you will need to start selling or culling and its not just not worth the hassle.
About the suitability of ember tetras as aquarium fish, they are beautiful, peaceful, and easy to maintain. For this reason, they are also perfectly suitable for newbie aquarists.
The only thing that you have to remember is that the tetras are not very common in pet stores like other tropical fishes, so you may need to buy them from select dealers or breeders.
#4 — Endler’s Livebearers
Endler’s, like celestial pearl danios are schooling fish that don’t bother any species of shrimp when kept together, though like with other tropical fish, you may notice some shrimplets missing.
However, a bunch of rocks, moss and other plants in the tank will provide plenty of hiding places. You especially want some dense cover if you want to breed shrimp.
Generally, Endler’s are a colorful and relatively rare species of guppies that remain small in home aquariums but do not make good companions for other guppies because they interbreed and dilute the genes of this species.
#5 — Pygmy Corydoras
Pygmy cories are another shrimp-safe fish, which although are omnivores and would probably eat a dead shrimp, are too peaceful to bother them. Assuming they even make a dent in your shrimp population, it sure won’t show.
Moreover, most shrimp species breed quite fast and will maintain their numbers in the tank even if your corydoras was to pick off a few shrimplets.
That said, I would recommend you start with a shrimp only tank, get the colony going and out any kink you may have. Once the colony is breeding and growing, then think about adding your pygmy cories or any of the other small fishes in this list.
As aquarium gems, pygmy cories are perfect if you are looking for fish with adorable looks, that’s peaceful, fun to watch, and can live in a fairly small aquarium.
#6 — Harlequin Rasboras
Harlequin rasboras are a small, peaceful fish species that stay out of everyone’s way, which means you are free to keep them with shrimp or even freshwater aquarium snails.
If you have a well-planted tank, your harlequins and shrimp will probably not even notice each other. For this reason, you can even breed and raise shrimplets in your aquarium, though that is not to say harlequins will definitely not eat shrimp fry.
Harlequins are also a popular shoaling fish for home aquariums because of their fun group behavior and striking colors, so keeping them with shrimp is not ill-advised.
These fish have very few specific care needs and are not too demanding hence good for newbie aquarists. Harlequin rasboras are easy to care for as long as you feed them a simple diet and keep their tank clean.
#7 — Sparkling Gourami
Most gourami types are arguably medium-sized fish and will devour shrimp when kept together. However, if you really have to maintain gouramis together with shrimp in your freshwater tank, then sparkling gouramis are your safest bet.
Sparkling gouramis are small in size and less aggressive than most of the other fish in their family. They mostly grow to between an inch and an inch and a half in length, which then means the fish have fairly small mouths that will most likely not fit a fully grown shrimp.
Having said that, should you decide to keep these gouramis, it is good to note that although they are largely peaceful, they can be aggressive towards other males. Also, they are not a schooling species but still prefer to be in a group of five or six and love spending time looking for hiding spots or swimming through plants.
Adding live plants in your aquarium will therefore provide your shrimp with hiding spots and your gouramis with a play area as well.
Sparkling gouramis are beautiful and stand out in any aquarium setting thus are a well-advised choice to pair with shrimp.
#8 — Bristlenose Pleco
Bristlenose plecos are a popular tropical fish that are kept instead of pleco stomas as algae eaters because they are relatively small usually maxing out at five inches in most species.
Their diet of choice consist of mostly green vegetation including algae, which make them good cleaner and good tankmates for aquarium prey animals like shrimp.
Bristlenose and shrimp will live happily together without a doubt, but because you can never be too cautious, make sure the plecos are well fed, and you have a well-planted tank with lots of hiding places.
The plants are particularly crucial if you want your shrimp to breed and produce offsprings. It’s also good to know that if you intend to breed your bristlenose plecos, shrimp are known to snack on elusive pleco eggs, so be cautious with such a pairing.
#9 — Kuhli Loach
Now, if you are wondering whether kuhli loach and shrimp are compatible, the answer is yes, coolies don’t touch fully grown shrimp or their babies. However, if the loaches are hungry and they come across shrimplets that are bite-sized, I am sure they would snack on them.
Kuhli loaches are basic scavengers and not predatory. They are also small and quite peaceful and will shy away if not kept within a group of the same species.
The loaches are most lively during the night, so keep a tight cover on your tank, or they might try to escape. Moreover, add a lot of plants in your fish tank to keep your shrimp safe when the loaches are active.
#10 — Otocinclus
The most experienced aquarists would easily say I saved the best for last. Otocinclus is by far the one tropical fish you are sure won’t eat either your shrimp or shrimplets.
Otocinclus is a tiny catfish with a huge appetite for algae and probably the most ideal algae eater for nano aquariums.
Even so, this small catfish needs some pretty specific care. You are therefore discouraged from putting them in a tank that is less than 20 gallons. Ensure your tank is well established and fully mature and with plenty of algae especially the soft green kind.
Long story short, you can put your Otocinclus and shrimp together, and there is no way the catfish will eat the shrimp unless they happen to suck on a spot that has a tiny baby shrimp.
Even so, it is easy to confuse Otos with Siamese algae eaters and other similar looking fish that might not be safe for shrimp.
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