Shrimp are one of the most underused and underrated animals when it comes to aquariums, which is strange considering how fun and entertaining they are, bringing an abundance of joy and fun to almost any environment they are in. However, not all shrimp are safe to place in reef tanks and subsequent reef aquariums.
In this article we will be jumping into the top 5 shrimp that are considered safe and suitable for all reef environments. There is nothing worse than introducing a new member, or group of members to a tank that simply cannot co-exist with the current occupants.
The Best Aquarium Shrimp
It is highly recommended that, despite what is said in this list, that you equip yourself with as much research as possible when it comes these critters before adding them to your community. Everyone’s aquarium is different, containing different fish and corals, and if your fish are not compatible with a shrimp featured in this list, it could be a short night for the little animals.
1. Harlequin Shrimp
Harlequin Shrimp are certainly one of the most vibrant and interesting Shrimps to add to your aquarium. They have an awesome pattern and unique coloration, giving them a rather stunning look, they will make sure to catch the eye of you or anyone else checking out your aquarium.
Not only are these Shrimp fantastically beautiful, but they are also reef safe, and will not bother any of your fish, or corals. They are unique to look at, and have a calm and peaceful nature, which is exactly what you want with new members of your community.
However, no particular situation is perfect, right? These Shrimp do have a slight downside, which is that their diet consists of starfish and sea urchins.
This can work in one of two ways, either you have unwanted starfish that are causing problems for your tank – in which case these are a brilliant solution, or, you have starfish and sea urchins in your community that you want as décor, which, in this case, you should probably avoid introducing these Shrimp.
Also, their diet can not be compromised or substituted, it’s either starfish for dinner, or they will starve and unfortunately die.
2. Banded Pistol Shrimp
Yes, the next Shrimp on the list certainly have a tongue-twister of a name, but it is a pretty epic name nonetheless! Their name has actually been adopted due to the loud, somewhat “shooting” noise they produce with their oversized claw.
This species of Shrimp is aesthetically beautiful and also incredibly interesting to observe. They have uniquely special relationships with other species of marine life. Known for pairing up with sand-dwelling fish and even sharing a home with them. The sand dwellers will burrow the home, while the Pistol Shrimp provides protection - it is very cute!
Obviously, the reason they are on this list is due to their reef compatibility. Despite being compatible with all reef aquariums, it is important that you keep them in aquariums that do not include other Shrimps, and certainly no really small fish, otherwise you could encounter some problems.
3. Boxer Shrimp
This is another Shrimp with a rather intimidating name! Take our word for it, these critters are certainly reef compatible, and are not dangerous in any way, despite what the name might suggest. They also go by a less intense name – Banded Coral Shrimp.
Aesthetically speaking, these Shrimp are stunning, and will certainly catch the eye in an aquarium. They are also very charismatic Shrimp, being one of the more active species in most aquariums they reside in, spending their days bobbing around the tank seeking out left over food and other things to eat, which is helpful for any tank by keeping it clean.
Again, similar to their scary-named counterparts, they will not tolerate other Shrimp within the same community as them, in fact, they hardly like being around their own kind. However, they are compatible with all fish, and will not bother anyone in your tank, unless there is another Shrimp in there!
4. Sexy Shrimp (Anemone Shrimp)
These Shrimp have an incredible name, and it certainly does match the way they look – they are absolutely the prettiest Shrimp on the market, and they wiggle around the tank, shaking their rear end in a rather majestic fashion! They are also brilliant Anemone cleaners, so, if you have anemones in your tank, the Sexy Shrimp will certainly be the perfect Shrimp to add to the aquarium!
Sexy Shrimp are not fussy with their chosen homes and will take up residency in other corals, especially large Leather Coral if they cannot live in an Anemone. The only real downside with these Shrimp is that they love anemones so much, which is endearing, but when Clownfish are around, they will become an easy snack.
Clownfish can be incredibly protective over their anemones and dislike sharing them with any other animal. Even some predatory fish such as the Wrasse family will have a go at the Shrimp and likely kill and eat them, so be careful when introducing them to an established tank. Other than this, they will make an incredible addition to your tank and community.
5. The Cleaner Shrimp
Beautifully colored and with awesome patterns, Cleaner Shrimp will happily live in groups of other fish and shrimp alike. These are just a few of the amazing characteristics of these Shrimp – which is why they have landed on the top of our list
Not only are they incredibly well-mannered, and pretty, but they provide an extremely valuable service to their tank mates by cleaning parasites, dead scales, and bacteria from their gills, bodies, and mouths, which is probably why they live in such harmony. They will typically set up a cleaning station for your fish to all migrate to when they need a clean – it is honestly fascinating to watch and observe these intelligent little Shrimp go to work!
The deciding factor to make the cleaners top of the list is that they are 100% reef safe, and they will not bother and aggravate corals or fish, in fact, they get along extremely well with them (as long as they provide a cleaning service). One final piece of advice is that you should not keep them in a tank with predators, as they will be made light work of.
In conclusion, Shrimp are a key member of any aquarium, and they really do provide a lot of entertainment and also useful services to other members and parts of your tank. It is clearly advised to check compatibility first before introducing any to your tank, and once you have the all-clear, we strongly recommend adding ones that are most suited to your community.