Do Shrimp Eat Plankton? Is It Beneficial?

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Shrimp are known crustaceans, that pretty much enjoy eating anything. Most popular aquarium species like neocaridina, caridina, amano, or even ghost shrimp fall into that category and enjoy a lot of different types of foods. But the real question is: do shrimp also eat plankton? Continue reading to find out the truth!

Table of Contents

What is Plankton?

Plankton is small living organisms, that really can’t move and propel themselves on their own. They are usually carried by tides, and currents and just simply exist in water. They are the very start of the food chain and are usually eaten by the smallest aquatic creatures, which get eaten by larger species later on.

microscoping photograph of phytoplankton

One interesting thing about plankton is that it is an essential organism in our world. It can absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into organic matter. Plankton is widely found in oceans, lakes, and rivers, it is also very sensitive to drastic water changes, and can be used as an indicator of environmental health.

Do Shrimp Eat Plankton?

In short answer yes, all types of shrimp eat plankton. There are two main types of plankton, that exist in water, and both are good food sources for shrimp: zooplankton, and phytoplankton. Zooplankton is essentially small living crustaceans, mollusks, and protozoans, that are the very beginning of the food chain. It is a good source of protein and other nutrients, such as omega-3, omega-6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.

close up of blue jelly neocaridina shrimp in aquarium

Zooplankton also needs food to survive, and the main food source is phytoplankton. It is the second type of plankton and is essentially a microscopic plant, that is responsible for producing oxygen. It is also rich in nutrients like omega-6, omega-9, zinc, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, and potassium. Shrimp eat both phytoplankton and zooplankton. They are a good food source, but to us, plankton is not visible, and only shrimp can find it and eat it in their tank.

You might also like to read: Do Shrimp Eat Fish Poop? The Simple Truth

How Do Shrimp Eat Planton?

Plankton is invisible to the human naked eye, and it is sometimes hard to understand, how other creatures eat something, that we can’t see. Shrimp are able to consume plankton, but how they do it is fairly simple. Shrimp don’t do anything specific while feeding on plankton, they just simply stay in one place, and catch small particles in water, that are essentially plankton. It is a very basic process, that does not look anything impressive.

Can Shrimp Survive Only Eating Plankton?

Plankton is a good source of food, but shrimp can’t only survive eating plankton in their tank. Shrimp could survive for some time only by eating plankton, but that does not mean that shrimp would be happy. They need other food sources to fully sustain themselves, breed and molt. You can also feed your shrimp blanched vegetables (zucchini, carrots, lettuce), algae wafers, sinking pellets, and bloodworms. Shrimp are also known to be scavengers, so they will eat leftover food, and even deceased tank mates.

How To Create Plankton In Aquarium?

Moving on, making plankton in aquariums is fairly easy, and the type of plankton that is mainly created in aquariums is phytoplankton. To successfully grow and create phytoplankton, you will need a container, air pump, lightning, and phytoplankton fertilizer.

To begin, simply add some water to your desired container, and set up the air pump, since you need to keep your water moving. Then set up the lighting, add some phytoplankton fertilizer, and wait. It is that simple to grow phytoplankton, essentially just shining some light into a container full of water. You will need to split your plankton once every few weeks, and that plankton can be used as food for shrimp. 

Can Plankton Harm Shrimp?

Physically plankton can’t harm shrimp, but it can cause problems in other ways. If there is too much plankton in your aquarium, it can significantly reduce oxygen levels at night, causing shrimp to die. Too much plankton can also alter water parameters such as pH, which can also harm your shrimp. Be sure to manage the amount of plankton in your aquarium. If you are adding plankton to your tank as a source of food, be sure to add not too much. Add 1 cup of plankton into your shrimp tank, and also be sure to do a 20% water change couple of days later.

You might also like to read: Do Goldfish Eat Shrimp? Compatibility Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Shrimp Eat Algae?

Shrimp are known for being one of the best algae eaters in an aquarium. These species can eat all sorts of different algae: string algae, brown algae, and green algae. Although most shrimp species choose other types of foods if they are present. Shrimp eat algae if they are really hungry.

Do Shrimp Eat Dead Fish?

Most shrimp species definitely eat dead fish, since they are opportunistic scavengers. If you have small aquatic fish, that suddenly pass in your tank, there is a good chance, that your shrimp will easily devour their corpse. Shrimp are also known for eating other dead shrimp.

Writer's Thoughts

Plankton is a very crucial food source for aquatic creatures, including shrimp. It is easy to create plankton and can be used in aquariums. Shrimp really love plankton, because it is rich in all sorts of useful nutrients.

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