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Shrimps 101

Darwin Algae Eater Shrimp

by Allyson Dillera Collaborator 22 Apr 2020 1 comment

Darwin Algae Eater Shrimp


As aquascaping has captured a lot of enthusiasts nowadays, a start-up guide is the usual go-to on how to get everything work-out. In a starter approach, a lot of considerations have to be checked in making sure that the venture will be a success for whatever purpose the owner would like to accomplish, may it be just for whiling the time, a hubby or a start-up business if you may. The common goal is to make sure that the marine life on the aquascape does not get compromised in the process.


People often have a misconception of just dumping everything in, then call it a day, and in the long run, the feat did not return positive outcomes as expected. When a starting a feat, knowing less is bad and knowing more is not that good either.

If an owner is someone that is not very particular of cleaning but still wants to make sure that there is a balance in the ecosystem in the fish tank does not get compromised and cleaning is not as welcomed, adding snails, fishes, and shrimps which we will later on discuss is a good alternative.

This article will give a much better insight into determining how shrimps can help in maintaining the aquascape, taking care of the algae and how the owner can take care of the shrimp in turn. Along with that are the basic know-how ideas that will come handy to guarantee positive outcomes no matter if the aquascape is just part of the owner’s past-time, entertainment, passion or just a hubby. The article will also include the usual misconceptions about having shrimp on the fish tank setup.

There are only fewer articles that talk about Darwin algae shrimp so this will be an ultimate collection of information of an owner who wants to know more about this specific shrimp species. When it comes to interactive media like a video blog, only a few had narrations talking about this shrimp type. As I say, the experience is still the best teacher so with the guide to starting with, then add more to the existing database of information concerning this shrimp type.

More will be discussed as the topic progresses and it will be a lot of fun putting the outcome on a much larger picture.


Basic information about Darwin algae eater shrimp

Common Name
 Darwin Algae Shrimp
Scientific Name
Cardina sp NTnilotica
Water Chemistry
6.5 to 8 PH
22-27 degrees celsius
General Hardness


Cardina sp NTnilotica or commonly called Darwin algae eater shrimp is native to Northern Territory Australia that is why its scientific name carries NT along with it. This type of shrimp is very much suitable in freshwater fish tanks and algae are its primary source of diet. Not only that this shrimp just have algae on its diet list, but the shrimp also consumes scrap fish food and other micro-organisms.

This type of shrimp does not a particular color scheme and can vary from light green to red which does not have any special attribute confirming superiority or inferiority of the other.

Best conditions in breeding Darwin algae eater shrimp

This shrimp does not grow that big as it only reaches 4-5 cm in length when fully grown so overcrowding the fish tank should not be a problem adding this shrimp to the collection, Darwin algae shrimp does not reproduce well in freshwater.


Male vs female Darwin algae eater shrimp

As usual cases with marine animals or animals alone, male shrimp has typically a much straighter belly than female shrimp and, a male antenna is much longer than the female. If checked much carefully, the female shrimp belly is bigger for eggs to be stored and, a male belly does not have that room the same as female shrimps do. For starters, that is the easiest way to determine the different to male and female shrimp; however, experienced breeder normally sees the difference that easy.

Male shrimp or female shrimp should not be a problem if added to a freshwater fish tank as the reproduction will not be an issue. The same goal to put the algae production at bay will still be accomplished by either male or female shrimp.

The same as snails or other marine animals, shrimp just freely move around to jump from one place to another in taking care of algae so the owner should see that as something positive because if the shrimp is no longer mobile, then it is more likely dying or worse, it is already dead.

How to take care of Darwin algae eater shrimp

Shrimp, in general, do not have a lot requirement for an owner to raise the same as a snail as long the fish tank where it will be added are not too clean and not too dirty to clean. Darwin algae eater shrimp primarily consumes algae and then all other scraps when algae are already completely consumed, however, it is not a complete replacement option for water filters.

If the aquascape the owner is creating will only have a few kinds of marine animals, the only problem will be any territorial fishes that will end up eating the shrimp as it does not grow big. Plants in the fish tank do not have any bearing to shrimp as shrimp do not include them on their dietary supplement.

Although shrimp can live in a freshwater fish tank, the water pH level should always be checked now and then to make sure it does not go beyond tolerable levels as unlike snails, shrimp has lower pH level tolerance. This shrimp does require too much space and preferably the option for owners that have smaller fish tank size.

Water temperature is also part of the consideration before adding this type of shrimp as it does not easily adjust to temperature change especially if it is abrupt that is why experienced aquarist adds heater and thermometer to make sure that the water temperature is regulated.

Dead fishes, snails or shrimp should not be left inside the fish tank as it harms than do good to the balance of the ecosystem in the fish tank. Unlike snails, shrimp does not require a water recycling machine to mimic its natural habitat where there is flowing water.

The owner still needs to clean the fish tank if it is dirty where the water has turned to green than the usual transparent color. As what is encouraged, cleaning the fish tank is still required and cannot simply get done by the fishes, snails, and shrimp altogether.

Fish Tank Size

As this shrimp do not grow big, the fish tank requirement is just minimal and very ideal for those owners that do not have big fish tanks. The fish tank does not need to have a specific shape as well to meet as long as fishes, snails, and shrimp can freely move around along with the plants inside the fish tank.

What to consider when getting a Darwin algae eater shrimp?

Healthy shrimp is usually movable so the more it moves the better. There are times that the shrimp just does not move around, but, when fishes or other species get near it, the shrimp just dashes to distance itself.

Color is not part of the basis in determining the health of the shrimp so never fall on the tricks of the local sellers that sell shrimp according to color as it does not have any special attribute to the shrimp’s health condition. Color can just be attributed to where the shrimp originated, lighter-coloured shrimp comes from freshwater sources like rivers, lakes, and streams while darker-coloured shrimp comes from a saltwater source like seas and the ocean.

Common misconceptions of Darwin algae eater shrimp

The most common enemy of breeders, aquascape enthusiast or just a mere hubbiest in aquascaping is the undying problem with algae that has to be dealt with every time it arises. This could not be prevented as anything submerged through water will always include algae in the process especially if the habit of not regularly flushing the water is not that regular. Equipment like filter adds to this problem as it gets dirty through time as well. People with fish tanks want filters to be in the interior so it has 100% in getting the job done, however, based on a lot of experience enthusiasts, the external filter will still get the job done and it gets the owner less of a hassle in cleaning the fish tank.

Lighting is also something that gets attributed to adding to the algae production as the light becomes the source of its food production, hence, algae are simple plants that really to light to produce its food and multiply. It’s typical for a fish tank owner to include the basic machinery when we talk of aquascaping however; a lot has been adding a more natural approach to address this issue. The addition of marine animals to get the job done is now a much logically accepted remedy to slow down the algae production and not to think of ending with any product which will be a problem later on.


Due to existing laws, this shrimp cannot be exported at the moment and can only be found in NT Australia so it will be quite difficult to get this shrimp to be an additional option if you are not a native to NT Australia, however, Amano shrimp can be an alternative for you.

This shrimp can start at 3.00 AUD to 19.99 AUD apiece. It does not have many variations as it’s study is just so recent (2007) that color and other attributes do not have bearing to its price.  

Best mate to consider when raising Darwin algae eater shrimp

It is best combined with smaller non-territorial fishes and snails as the shrimp just blends in just fine with these other marine animals. The same as snails cannot be kept together with bigger and aggressive fishes, or other marine animals that grow bigger as this type of snail does not grow big and could become a good feeding-frenzy for other creatures in the fish tank.




Writer’s note

In this time owners no longer go for the usual and conventional setup when it comes to aquascape. Years ago, setup is the typical fish and rocks in a clear glass that normally gives beauty to a fish tank. The norm is just to put water in a fish tank and add gravel to it to get the basic looks of how aquascape would look like. The looks go with nothing technical as long it blends okay then it should be a successful setup. As time went by, people became technical and want to go with sustainability rather than just a mere aquascaping.

As time advanced, more are discovered to help in the aid of aquascape to get more benefit is developed and nowadays are the new norm of an aquascape. Machines are not the only ones that take precedence in this advancement but rather the creatures that create balance in the aquascape combined with the knowledge to maintain the habitat.

Darwin algae-eater shrimps in addition to fishes and shrimps are gaining popularity as it adds balance to the ecosystem in the aquascape. These little marine animals come in handy in cleaning the fish tank as it gets rid of what is not a necessary addition to the fish tank, the algae. Through time, algae can be a pain; however, having something that will take care of it not mechanical is a relief.

These tiny marine animals are a better approach when considering startup aquascape. One is not that expensive and the job can be accomplished by the tiny workers efficiently. Money spent is equal to the benefit gained without costly maintenance.

Aquascaping is unlike other collections that can just be added to a wall or be kept in a shelf through tine without constant attention as these marine creatures need to be cared for and maintained.

As time progresses, this may turn to be a large market that will immerse not just limiting itself in Australia but all other parts of the globe.


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1 comment

24 Apr 2020 Natalia

Best shrimps I’ve ever owned: interesting behaviours, bold, brave and competing with smaller fish over food, seem to be hardy or at least like my tank setup. They swim like drones :) Their colours change depending on what they eat: they’ll change grey where the substrate is black, brown if they forage on a driftwood or green when there is an abundance of algae. They also have the beautiful pattern of creamy white dots with a long stripe at the top (the adult ones at least) and VERY long antennae. Their size makes them interesting to watch – more than the fish at times, to be honest :)

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