The filter feeding Atyopsis moluccensis is one of the most interesting aquarium shrimp available in the hobby, courtesy of its unusual feeding method. Unlike most of their cousins, bamboo shrimp are not bottom feeders: they use fan-like appendages to filter particles out of the water.
Keep reading for everything you need about bamboo shrimp care and keeping bamboo shrimp in your own aquarium!
Note: You can buy bamboo shrimp online here!
|Tank size||20 gal (76 L) minimum|
|Temperature||68-77 °F/20-25 °C|
Atyopsis moluccensis, bamboo shrimp, fan shrimp, flower shrimp, wood shrimp
Bamboo shrimp are naturally found in South-East Asia, where they inhabit fast flowing inland streams.
With their reddish-brown color and creamy white back stripe, bamboo shrimp are a decorative addition to the aquarium. Their most striking feature, though, are the large feathery ‘fans’ used to filter particles out of the water.
With a maximum size of around 4.7 inch/12 cm, these shrimp are significantly larger than dwarf shrimp. Females are larger than males and have smaller front legs.
Although bamboo shrimp are relatively easy to keep, their feeding method does require the aquarist to take a few extra measures to ensure they don’t end up starving. Keep these shrimp in an aquarium of 20 gallons (76 L) or more and be sure to imitate their natural habitat by using a filter with a strong flow; a hillstream habitat would be ideal for this species. Provide a perch, such as a piece of tall wood or rock, in a high current spot so the shrimp can use it as a foraging location.
Bamboo shrimp regularly molt, which means they shed their exoskeleton to reveal a new one that has been forming underneath. Right after molting the new exoskeleton is still soft and the vulnerable shrimp will go into hiding for a few days until it has properly hardened. Be sure to provide an environment with plenty of hiding spots (such as shrimp flats) your shrimp can retreat to while molting!
Because bamboo shrimp are extremely peaceful as well as vulnerable, care should be taken to select tankmates that won’t harm them. This means no cichlids, Bettas or other carnivorous fish that would view them as prey; peaceful species from this list and other harmless inverts such as dwarf shrimp and snails would make a better choice. Also be sure to always keep your bamboo shrimp in groups, as they appreciate safety in numbers.
One of the more difficult aspects of bamboo shrimp care is their diet. These shrimp are filter feeders that can stand in the current almost motionlessly for hours on end, waiting for tiny particles to stick to their fans. A fascinating view, but it also means that a few special measures need to be taken if you don’t want your bamboo shrimp to go hungry.
You can target feed these shrimp by releasing (powdered) food just upstream so it flows right into their fans. They are omnivorous and will appreciate anything they can catch: baby shrimp food, algae powder, crushed fish flakes, baby brine shrimp, anything works!
A healthy bamboo shrimp should spend most of its time filtering. If you spot your bamboo shrimp attempting to scrape food off the substrate using their delicate fans, it’s definitely time to increase feedings! If you find your aquarium is getting dirty quickly with all that powdered food floating around, try keeping a bottom ‘cleaning crew’ to deal with the particles your bamboo shrimp miss. Amano shrimp work well for this.
Although breeding bamboo shrimp is possible, it’s a real challenge. Like Amano shrimp (and unlike dwarf shrimp), they don’t hatch as miniature adults but pass through a larval stage during which they require brackish water to survive.
This means the larvae should quickly be transferred to brackish water (sources report 33 or 34 grams of salt per liter) after hatching and then stay there until they turn into actual shrimp, after which they need to be returned to fresh water. Not an easy task, but definitely something to look into as almost all bamboo shrimp in aquarium stores are wild caught.
Although they are not as common as dwarf shrimp, you should be able to find bamboo shrimp at some aquarium stores. A few missing limbs are not much of a problem, as these can be regrown over the next few molts. Do look for shrimp that are actively foraging and seem healthy and active.
You can also buy bamboo shrimp online here!
If you have any more questions about Atyopsis moluccensis or want to share your own experiences with this fascinating shrimp species, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
Cover photo: DSC_0317 by cahalane (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, original).