Do Shrimp Eat Fish Poop? The Simple Truth

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Aquariums always look the best when are clean, and can easily get dirty in multiple ways. The most common cause of dirty tanks is fish poop, and nobody wants fish poop to be seen in the aquarium. Some beginner fishkeepers tend to think, that aquatic creatures, such as shrimp can help get rid of their fish poop problem. Shrimp indeed clean the tank in a lot of ways, but do they really eat fish poop? Continue reading to find out!

Table of Contents

Do Shrimp Help Clean The Aquarium?

Neocaridina shrimp, ghost shrimp, and all other types of freshwater shrimp are considered tank cleaners, or “clean-up crew”. A “clean-up crew” are certain types of aquatic species, that help clean the aquarium, by eating things that you do not like to see in the tank. Shrimp in particular are scavengers, which means they eat almost anything that has nutrients in it. Here is a short list of things that shrimp eat, which helps with the maintenance of the tank:

  • Algae
  • Dying aquarium plants
  • Leftover food
  • Dead snails
  • Dead fish
  • Dead shrimp

All of the things mentioned above make your tank look worse, and shrimp can take care of those problems without a problem. It is important to mention, that if you actually see a dead animal in your tank, don’t wait for shrimp to eat it, simply remove it. Dead creatures can cause your water parameters to change and can result in your other shrimp and fish becoming sick.

The simple reason why shrimp eat all of these things is that these species are omnivores, and need protein-based food and plant-based food to survive. If they have a chance to eat a deceased fish or other creature, shrimp will definitely do it.

You might also like to read: 20 Common and Rare Neocaridina Shrimp Colors

Do Shrimp Eat Fish Poop?

A lot of beginner fishkeepers think that shrimp eat fish poop because they eat almost everything they can find. But the simple truth is – shrimp don’t eat fish poop. Even though these species are mainly bottom feeders, and try to eat all leftover food, algae, and deceased tank mates, shrimp really don’t like poop.

close up of sakura red neocaridina shrimp in aquarium

Shrimp need a proper diet to survive, and fish poop is just not a good food option. Fish poop has very little nutrients left in it. It is simply a useless mass, that serves very little purpose in the tank. Shrimp could easily eat and probably digest fish poop, but they just don’t, because there are other food sources present. If there were nothing else to eat around, not even algae, shrimp might try to eat fish poop to survive.

How to Get Rid of Poop in an Aquarium?

Moving on, for some fishkeepers getting rid of fish poop can be a difficult task at first. It can sometimes seem that your fish never stops pooping, and your tank is getting dirty. Don’t worry, because there are a few simple things you can do, to get rid of fish poop in your aquarium.

Manual Removal

If you have a lot of excess fish poop or other waste in your tank, the majority of it would be on the substrate. The simplest thing you can do is use an aquarium siphon water pump to suck up all the poop and clean your substrate. Then simply add fresh water to your aquarium, to improve the water quality.

Beneficial Bacteria

If your aquarium has been through a nitrogen cycle, the beneficial bacteria colony, that lives in your tank, will take care of your fish poop problem. Beneficial bacteria break down fish waste and prevent any bad chemical elements, that exist in fish poop, to cause any serious damage to your fish.

Water Circulation

If you have very weak water circulation in your aquarium, most of the excess waste will stay on the bottom of the substrate. There is simply no flow to carry the waste to the filter. This can happen if the filter is too weak for the aquarium. Additional water circulation can be created by having a stronger filter flow or getting some aquarium wave makers installed in your tank. If you have a smaller aquarium, a very strong filter can cause more problems, so I highly suggest occasionally removing the waste from your tank, using the removal method mentioned before.

Can Fish Poop Harm Shrimp?

If there is a very large amount of fish poop, and there is no way the beneficial bacteria colony can break it down, it can harm your shrimp. This happens mostly in overstocked tanks, when bigger fish are being kept in smaller tanks, or when there are simply too many inhabitants.

A large amount of fish poop can cause ammonia to be present in the water. This can lead to various diseases, which affect fish and shrimp in tanks. Shrimp in particular are very prone to water parameter changes, and small ammonia spikes can seriously hurt or even kill shrimp.

Do Any Other Aquatic Creatures Eat Fish Poop?

To sum up, fish poop is really not appreciated by any aquatic creatures. Some beginner fishkeepers also think, that snails eat fish poop, but similar to shrimp, snails don’t see fish poop as food. Most popular species like goldfish can be seen swallowing poop, thinking it is food, and then spit it right out. No aquatic species in this hobby see fish poop as food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Shrimp Eat Fish Eggs?

Shrimp will definitely eat fish eggs if they have the chance. Fish eggs can contain various nutrients, that can supplement the shrimp diet. If you want the eggs to not be eaten, be sure to separate them into a different aquarium.

Do Shrimp Poop?

Yes, shrimp also poop like any other animal. These species eat, which means they eventually need to poop, to get rid of all the undigested mass. Even though shrimp poop, their bio-load is very small, and is not very noticeable in fish tanks.

Writer's Thoughts

It is truly amazing, how many bad assumptions there are in the aquarium hobby. It is important to understand, what is actually true and what is not, before making a serious decision in the fishkeeping world. Shrimp are amazing creatures, but they simply don’t enjoy eating poop.

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