Best Fish to Keep With Shrimp in a Freshwater Tank

By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise

What Fish Can Live With Shrimp (Shrimp Safe Fish)

Updated, 30th July 2022.

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 also 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, 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 a fish’s mouth, then the fish will eat it.

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.

Herbivorous, plant eating catfish, loaches, and plecos, together with tiny, non-aggressive fish can best live with shrimp in a fish tank. Pair your shrimp with these fish because they do not have an appetite for meaty treats (such as shrimp) or they have tiny mouths, not large enough to fit a whole shrimp.

Neon tetras, guppies, bristlenose plecos, white clouds minnow and danios can live even with dwarf cherry shrimp (neocaridinia and caridinia). Corydoras, plant eating catfish like otocinclus and non-aggressive species of pencil fish, ricefish, rainbow fish, killifish, gobys and endlers are also shrimp safe and can be put in a tank together with shrimp.

Below is a table of shrimp-safe aquarium fish you are likely to find in your local pet store. Note not all are entirely safe and may depend on the shrimp species you have.

Fish TypeShrimp Safe Species
TetrasPanda Tetra, Ember (Fire, Dwarf Red) Tetra, Glowlight Tetras, Rummy Nose (Brilliant) Tetras, Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetra, Albino Cardinal Tetra, Green Neon Tetras, Penguin Tetra, Black Diamond Tetra, Brilliant White Tetra, Albino Rummy Nose Tetra, Silvertip Tetra, Blue Diamond Head Neon Tetra
Endler’s LivebearersLime Green Endler’s, Cobra (Sunburst) Endler’s, Koi Endler’s, Red Scarlet Endler’s, Japan Blue Double Sword Endler’s, Red Lace Micariff Endler’s, High Fin Endler’s, Shocking Pink Endler’s, Multicolor Endler’s, White Peacock Endler’s, High Orange Endler’s, Japan Yellow Endler’s, Yellow Jacket Endler’s, Red Line Endler’s, Blonde Endler’s, El Tiger Endler’s, French Blue Star Endler’s, El Silverado Endler’s, Santa Maria Endler’s, Kohaku Koi Endler’s
GuppiesPingu Guppy, Red Mosaic Guppy, Yellow Top Guppy, Dragon Mosaic Guppy, Koi Tuxedo Guppy, Red Albino Guppy, Black Moscow Guppy, Blue Moscow Guppy, Blue Grass Tail Guppy, Yellow Tiger Halfmoon Guppy, Platinum Red Tail Guppy, Koi Snake Skin Guppy, Multicolor Variegated Guppy, Black Saddle Guppy, Yellow Tiger King Guppy, Pink Tuxedo Guppy, Galaxy Bluetail Guppy, Purple Moscow Guppy, Japan Blue Gold Sword-Tail Guppy, Multicolor double Sword guppy, Albiono Skyblue Guppy, Blue Variegated Guppy, Black Koi Short Body Guppy, Red Blonde Cobra, Dwarf Blue Guppy, Red Medusa Guppy
Cories, CatfishJulie Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish, Ellis Cory, Albiono Sterbie’s Cory, Salt and Peppered Cory, Robocop Ottocinclus Catfish, Little Cory Catfish, Longfin Panda Cory, Elegant Cory Catfish, Asian Stone Mini (Anchor) Catfish, Panda Cory, (Longfin) Peppered Mottled Cory, Pygmy Cory, Sterbie’s Cory, Alligator Ottonciclus Catfish, Elegant Cory Catfish
Loaches, PlecosBrsitlenose Plecos, Butterfly Hillstream Loach, Spotted Borneo Loach, Striped Borneo Sucker, Sumatran Neon Loach, Reticulated Hillstream Loach, Stripped Kuhli Loach, Panda Loach, (Zebra) Chinese Hillstream Loach, True Siamese Algae Eater (note that Chinese Algae eaters will eat shrimp, Dwarf Chain Loaches)
PencilfishRed Beckford Pencil Fish, Two Stripe Pencilfish, Golden Pencilfish
RicefishDaisy’s Blue Ricefish, Red Cap Ricefish, Japanese Ricefish, Blue Miyuki Medaka Ricefish, Gold Medake Ricefish, Black Medaka Ricefish
RasboraHarlequin Rasbora, Emerald Dwarf Rasbora, Pygmy Rasbora, Glowlight Rasbora, Lambchop Rasbora, Chilli Rasbora, Rummy Nose Rasbora, Neon Green Rasbora
Rainbow FishGetrude’s Spotted Blue Eye Rainbow Fish, Threadfin Rainbow Fish, Red Neon Blue Eye Rainbow Fish
GobyPalauan Riffle Dwarf Goby, Gold Neon Dwarf Goby, Annie’s Dwarf Goby, Green and Black Riffle Goby, Birdsong Goby
Other Shrimp Safe FishZebra Danios, Dwarf Gourami, Black Tiger Badis, Brilliant Hatchet Dadio, Celestial Pearl Danios, Forktail Rainbow Fish

With that said, let’s look at ten peaceful fish you can readily get in your local pet store and keep with freshwater shrimp, without the shrimp turning into a quick snack.

What Fish Can Live with Shrimp

All the fish mentioned in the table above are shrimp safe and ideal shrimp tankmates. However, some are easier to maintain in shrimp tanks, while others are more available in the hobby.

In my experience, my top picks and the best fish to keep with shrimp, especially for new owners are:

Best Fish for Shrimp Tank—Fish Compatible with Shrimp

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.

Corydoras Catfish

Cory catfish are arguably the most shrimp-safe catfish, which although omnivores and might eat shrimp fry, remain peaceful and barely bother adult shrimp. Assuming you cory even eats some of your shrimp, the dent in the population won’t show.

Cory catfish are safe and can live even with cherry shrimp (neo caridinia) and other tiny shrimp in the same tank.

Cory catfish like shrimp as tankmates, not a meal. They are both friendly and non-aggressive and combine well to eat scraps of your tank fish tank gravel.

Moreover, most shrimp species breed quite fast and will maintain their numbers in the tank even if your panda corydoras was to pick off a few shrimplets.

To keep your cory catfish with shrimp, 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.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus is a tiny catfish with a huge appetite for algae and probably the most ideal algae eater for nano aquariums.

Otocinclus is another catfish that can live with shrimp in a fish tank. It also helps Otto catfish are excellent algae eaters best for small 10, 15, and 20 gallon tanks. Otocinclus is one tropical fish you are sure won’t eat your shrimp or shrimplets.

Even so, this small catfish needs some pretty unique care. You are therefore discouraged from putting them in a tank that is less than 15 gallons and the tank must be 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.

Kuhli Loach

kuhli loach and shrimp are compatible tank mates and can live together in a shrimp or fish tank. Kuhlis don’t actively eat fully grown shrimp or their babies. However, if the loaches are hungry and they come across shrimplets that are bite-sized, they would snack a few. So make sure you loaches are well fed when keeping them with shrimp.

That said, 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. As such, you will want to keep several kuhli loaches with a school of shrimp.

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.

Bristlenose Pleco

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.

Not all plecos can live with shrimp, but britstlenose plecos can.

Bristlenose plecos will live with shrimp in a fish or shrimp tank. The plecos won’t eat your shrimp and shrimplets will also be safe, but make sure the BNs are well fed. Their prefered diet is mostly greens, including algae, which also make them good cleaner, apart from good tankmates for shrimp.

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.

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.

Tetras

Tetras and shrimp, like cherry (neocaridinia) and ghost shrimp, make great tank mates and can live together because tetras’ mouths are too tiny to eat any shrimp biggers than shrimp fry.

Most of your shrimp babies will also survive in a tetra tank, should you decide to breed your shrimp, especially if you have plants like java moss for the fry to hide in, but tetras will eat shrimp babies if they are not well fed.

On the flip side, you might want your 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.

Guppies

Can guppies live with shrimp…is a question I get quite often, both in person and on local forums.

And the short and rather compelling answer is Yes, guppies can live with shrimp!

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. Your guppies might not actively munch mature shrimp, but will rain havoc on your fly if given the chance and odd-ball guppies might even bully mature shrimp.

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 shrimp food placed 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Do Fish Eat Shrimp—What Fish Eat Shrimp

Now that we have established the shrimp-safe fish you can keep with your critters, it helps to know which fish will eat your shrimps, and avoid them.

First, do fish eat shrimp?

Shrimps make part of a fish diet, and many medium-sized and large fish hunt and eat shrimp, including aquarium species like goldfish, discus, cichlids, and koi. Most finnies that eat shrimp are omnivores or carnivores in nature and get the needed proteins from these critters, as they do from other live (and frozen) food like brine, daphnia, and bloodworms.

So, if you decide to get fish for your shrimp tank (or shrimp for your fish tank), keep in mind only a few species of fish (discussed above) will not eat or kill your shrimp.

What Fish Can Eat Shrimp (Fish That Will Eat Shrimp)

Most medium-sized and large aquarium fish will eat your shrimp if you keep them in the same tank. Pea puffers, cichlids, discus, angelfish, and rainbows are a few of the fish you do not want to maintain with your shrimp.

Below is a list of tropical aquarium fish you can expect to eat your shrimp, and you should not keep them in the same tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Away from the general question, “What fish can live with shrimp” many people also ask one or more of the questions below.

Are Any Fish Safe With Shrimp

Well…

While plenty of freshwater aquarium fish can live and are safe for shrimp, there are not many species you can say are entirely shrimp safe. Most fish will hunt your critter down and kill them even if they are not part of their food chain.

Shrimp-fry are especially vulnerable because they fit in almost all fish mouths and make an easy and quick meal, more for finnies that are not properly fed by their owners.

However, you can increase your chances of success (keeping shrimp and fish in the same tank) by selecting the appropriate pairings.

If you have fish species that are a little aggressive, you may want to add large-sized and menacing shrimp species to your tank.

Essentially, none of your fish should be able to fit a mature shrimp in its mouth.

If you have not stocked your aquarium with fish yet, consider the species mentioned in the table above 👆☝⬆, including guppies, tetras, dwarf cories, and plant-loving bottom dwellers like Otocinclus catfish.

And in case you have a tank with other non-aggressive fish but will potentially strong-arm your shrimp, add plenty of plants in the tank to create hiding spaces for your critters.

What Fish Will Not Eat Shrimp—Fish That Won’t Eat Shrimp

Well, as we observed above (both in the table and the list), small-bodied and tiny-mouthed fish like guppies, tetras, pencil fish, rainbow fish, endlers, and docile fish, such as zebra and celestial pearl danios, dwarf gouramis, cory catfish, some freshwater gobies, bristlenose plecos, and Otonciclus catfish will not eat shrimp and are mostly safe.

Perhaps, the only thing you should be concerned about is your shrimp-fly. Most of these species can fit shrimp babies in their mouths hence a harzard.

I recommend moving your shrimp into a breeding tank if you want them to reproduce and only place your fry back when they are too large for your fish to eat in one mouth full.

Can Fish and Shrimp Live Together

Some fish and shrimp can live together, but only if your finnies are not aggressive and lack the ability to feed on or an appetite for shrimp. Essentially, any fish species that prefer a plant-based diet, such as Ottos, cories, and bristlenose, or have tiny mouths that can’t fit a mature shrimp, such as endlers, some guppies, tetras, rainbow fish, and pencil fish, are ideal.

The fish you do not want living with your shrimp are aggressive meat loving species, like cichlids, pea puffers, discus, anglefish, platies, mollies, and barbs.

What Fish Can Live (are Safe ) with Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp are not too different from other aquarium shrimp species, meaning they will live with any fish compatible with the small inverts. Because of their small size, cherries are best kept as adults in a community tank and in a species-only tank if you plan to breed them.

Adult cherry shrimp will live best in a tank with small algae eaters, like Otocinclus catfish, and nano fish with small mouths, such as tetras, Endler’s livebearers, and white cloud minnows.

Reasonably sized cherry shrimps will also live with most of the finnies mentioned in the post (table at the top), albeit precaution is advised. Notably, each fish has a unique personality, and the aquarium environment could alter a finny’s behavior and aggression.

Start by observing your fish’s behavior once you add the cherry shrimp, then place more critters in the tank only if you are convinced your fish will behave.

Below is a list of fish that can live with your cherry shrimp (cherry shrimp tankmates) and are likely to find in your local pet store.

Happy shrimp keeping!

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