Will Neon Tetras Eat Baby Shrimp? - "Caridina Japonica Shrimp & Neon Tetra" by carolineCCB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Will Neon Tetras Eat Baby Shrimp? - "Caridina Japonica Shrimp & Neon Tetra" by carolineCCB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Will neon tetras eat baby shrimp? This question often perplexes aquarium enthusiasts looking to maintain a harmonious community of fish and invertebrates in the same tank. The interaction between neon tetras and shrimp is a topic of curiosity and concern for many aquarists. In this article, we have explored this question comprehensively, examining the natural behavior of neon tetras, the life cycle of shrimp, and strategies to promote coexistence. The aim is to provide you with insights and guidance to foster a thriving aquarium environment where both species can cohabitate.

Neon Tetras and Shrimp

Certainly, let’s delve into the characteristics, behavior, and care requirements of neon tetras, as well as introduce some of the commonly kept shrimp species in aquariums.

Neon Tetras

  • Characteristics:
    • Neon tetras are small, brightly colored freshwater fish known for their vibrant blue and red stripes. Their slender bodies grow to approximately 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) in length, making them popular choices for community aquariums.
  • Behavior:
    • Neon tetras are peaceful and non-aggressive, which makes them excellent community tank residents.
    • They are known for their schooling behavior and thrive when kept in groups of at least six or more. When neon tetras feel secure in a school, they display their stunning colors more vibrantly.
  • Care Requirements:
    • Tank Size: Neon tetras can be housed in relatively small tanks, but a minimum tank size of 10-20 gallons (40-80 liters) is recommended for a small school.
    • Water Parameters: They prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.0-7.0 and a temperature range of 72-78°F (22-26°C).
    • Diet: Neon tetras are omnivores and accept a variety of foods, including high-quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and daphnia.
    • Compatibility: They are compatible with a wide range of community fish, but careful consideration should be given to tankmates to ensure they are not harassed or prone to predation.

Commonly Kept Shrimp Species

  • Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi):
  • Characteristics:
    • Cherry shrimp are small and come in various colors, with red being the most popular.
  • Behavior:
    • They are peaceful filter-feeders that scavenge for algae and detritus.
  • Care Requirements:
    • They thrive in stable, well-maintained aquariums with live plants and hiding spots.
    • They require a temperature range of 72-78°F (22-26°C) and slightly alkaline water conditions.
  • Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata):
  • Characteristics:
    • Amano shrimp are transparent with long, slender bodies.
  • Behavior:
    • They are excellent algae eaters and help keep aquariums clean.
  • Care Requirements:
    • They prefer slightly alkaline water with a pH of 7.0-8.0 and a temperature range of 72-78°F (22-26°C).
  • Crystal Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis):
  • Characteristics:
    • Crystal shrimp are known for their stunning, transparent bodies with unique patterns.
  • Behavior:
    • They are sensitive and may be more challenging to care for than some other shrimp species.
  • Care Requirements:
    • They require stable water conditions with a pH of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature range of 70-78°F (21-26°C).

When considering keeping neon tetras and shrimp together in an aquarium, it’s crucial to ensure that the water parameters, tank size, and compatibility of these species align. The successful cohabitation of neon tetras and shrimp depends on providing an environment suitable for both species, along with careful observation and monitoring of their interactions.

Feeding Behavior of Neon Tetras

Natural Diet in the Wild

  • In their natural habitat in the Amazon Basin of South America, neon tetras primarily feed on a diet of small aquatic invertebrates, zooplankton, and insect larvae.
  • They are adapted to forage in slow-moving or stagnant waters with abundant vegetation, which is rich in microorganisms and small prey.

Hunting and Consumption

  • Neon tetras exhibit a characteristic behavior known as “nipping.” They dart in and out of vegetation, picking at small food particles and invertebrates.
  • They have small mouths and delicate jaws, which allow them to pick at tiny prey with precision.
  • Neon tetras are known for their swift and darting movements, making them effective at hunting down small organisms.

Omnivorous and Opportunistic

  • Neon tetras are classified as omnivores, which means they have a flexible diet. In captivity, they can adapt to various types of food, including flake food, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods, and live foods like brine shrimp or daphnia.
  • They are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will consume what is available to them. This adaptability allows them to thrive in a range of aquarium environments.

Will Neon Tetras Eat Baby Shrimp in Your Tank?

Life Cycle of Shrimp

  • Shrimp, including species like cherry shrimp, amano shrimp, and crystal shrimp, go through a life cycle that includes egg, larval, juvenile, and adult stages.
  • The baby or juvenile stage is a particularly vulnerable phase when shrimp are tiny and lack the ability to defend themselves effectively.

Attractive Prey for Neon Tetras

  • Baby shrimp are small, and their size can make them attractive prey to neon tetras.
  • Neon tetras’ natural hunting instincts may lead them to perceive baby shrimp as easy, bite-sized meals.
  • The rapid darting and foraging behavior of neon tetras can be intimidating to juvenile shrimp, making them more prone to being seen as potential prey.

It’s important for aquarists to be aware of the natural feeding behaviors of neon tetras and the vulnerability of baby shrimp. Keeping them together in an aquarium requires careful consideration of the tank setup, providing ample hiding places for the shrimp, and ensuring that the shrimp population can reproduce and sustain itself despite potential predation by the tetras. Proper tank maintenance and observation are essential to strike a balance between these species in a community aquarium.

Protecting Baby Shrimp

To minimize the risk of neon tetras preying on baby shrimp in your aquarium, you can implement various preventive measures. Here are some suggestions and strategies:

  • Maintain a Well-Fed Tank: Ensure that neon tetras receive a well-balanced diet, including high-quality flake food, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or daphnia. When fish are well-fed, they are less likely to actively hunt for alternative food sources, such as baby shrimp.
  • Provide Hiding Spots: Create a habitat with plenty of hiding spots and dense vegetation for the shrimp to seek refuge. Use live plants, driftwood, rocks, and artificial decorations to offer shelter. Java fern, and moss balls can be particularly effective in providing hiding places for shrimp.
  • Choose Tankmates Wisely: Consider introducing other fish species that are known to be less predatory and are compatible with shrimp. Some examples include small peaceful fish like guppies, the endler guppy, or certain species of Corydoras catfish. Avoid aggressive or larger fish that might view shrimp as a food source.
  • Separate Species if Necessary: If you notice that neon tetras are consistently preying on baby shrimp and it becomes a significant issue, you may need to separate the species into different tanks. This can ensure the safety of the shrimp population.
  • Frequent Observation: Regularly observe the interactions between neon tetras and shrimp. If you notice any signs of predation or stress among the shrimp, take immediate action to protect them.
  • Quarantine New Fish: If you plan to introduce new neon tetras or other fish into the tank, you may want to quarantine them first to observe their behavior. This can help prevent introducing aggressive or predatory individuals into the established community.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can create an environment in which neon tetras and baby shrimp can coexist more peacefully. Keep in mind that every aquarium is unique, and it may require some trial and error to find the right balance for your specific setup.

Will Neon Tetras Eat Baby Shrimp? - "Caridina Japonica Shrimp & Neon Tetra" by carolineCCB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Will Neon Tetras Eat Baby Shrimp? – “Caridina Japonica Shrimp & Neon Tetra” by carolineCCBis licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Aquarium Setup

Creating the right environment for both neon tetras and shrimp is crucial to ensuring their cohabitation in an aquarium. The following factors, including water parameters, tank size, and hiding spots, play a significant role in establishing a harmonious environment for both species:

  • Water Parameters: Neon tetras prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH level in the range of 6.0 to 7.0. While this pH range is generally acceptable for many species of shrimp, it’s essential to ensure it’s within the tolerances of the specific shrimp species you’re keeping. Neon tetras thrive in water temperatures between 72-78°F (22-26°C). Most commonly kept shrimp species, including cherry shrimp and amano shrimp, also do well in this temperature range. Crystal shrimp may prefer slightly lower temperatures.
  • Tank Size: The size of the aquarium is important for both species’ well-being. A larger tank provides more stable conditions and ample space for all inhabitants. A minimum tank size of 10-20 gallons (40-80 liters) is suitable for a small school of neon tetras and a population of shrimp. Larger tanks can accommodate larger populations and create a more stable ecosystem.
  • Hiding Spots: Both neon tetras and shrimp benefit from having hiding spots and areas of vegetation. Live plants, driftwood, rocks, and artificial decorations can provide hiding places for shrimp and resting spots for neon tetras. Mosses, Java fern, and other plants with dense foliage are particularly effective at offering hiding spots for shrimp.
  • Filtration and Water Movement: Neon tetras and shrimp both appreciate gentle water movement. Use a filter that provides suitable water circulation without creating strong currents, as excessive water flow can stress shrimp and neon tetras.
  • Substrate: Consider using a substrate that is gentle on the delicate barbels of neon tetras and allows shrimp to graze. Fine sand or smooth gravel works well for both.
  • Lighting: Use appropriate lighting for live plants if you have them in your tank. Neon tetras and shrimp will both benefit from a natural light cycle to support their biological rhythms.
  • Water Quality: Regular water changes and maintenance are critical for maintaining good water quality. Ammonia and nitrite should be kept at undetectable levels, and nitrates should be kept within an acceptable range for both neon tetras and shrimp.

Creating an environment that meets the specific needs of both neon tetras and shrimp is key to their successful cohabitation. Pay close attention to the preferences of the particular species of shrimp you are keeping, as different shrimp species may have slightly different requirements. Regular observation and adjustment of tank conditions will help ensure the health and harmony of your aquatic community.


In conclusion, the answer to the question, “will neon tetras eat baby shrimp,” is not a straightforward yes or no. Instead, it depends on several variables. Neon tetras are, by nature, omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, and their interest in baby shrimp can vary among individual fish. To ensure the compatibility of neon tetras and shrimp, it’s vital to maintain a well-fed tank, provide ample hiding spots, choose tankmates wisely, and separate the species if necessary. By carefully considering these factors and understanding the specific requirements of your shrimp species, you can create an aquarium where neon tetras and baby shrimp can coexist and thrive, striking a balance between the beauty of fish and the charm of these fascinating invertebrates. Will neon tetras eat baby shrimp? With the right care and precautions, your aquatic community can indeed flourish, providing a captivating display of life in your aquarium.