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Ghost Shrimp - Callianassa californiensis
Origin The range is from Alaska to El Estero de Punta Banda, Baja California
Maximum Size: The male shrimp is 3 inches long and the female is 2 inches long.
Care: They do well in warmer temperatures, though they can survive in waters that are as cold as the upper 50 degree Fahrenheit range. It has been observed that in very warm temperatures, Ghost Shrimp become much more active, and they have been reported to become so aggressive as to attack fish in warm temperatures. In cooler temperatures, they are quite peaceful and it is the Ghost Shrimp who are in danger of fish attacks. Shrimp should have some plants to hide in, particularly if they are kept with fish that might eat them.
Feeding: In an aquarium, Ghost Shrimp will feed on soft algae in tanks and any fish food that falls to the bottoms of their aquarium. They have been known to do well on flake fish food, as well. In the wild on the other hand ghost shrimp will feed on detritus in the mud that collects on the fine hairs on its legs. The hairs of the third maxillipeds scrape the prospective food off the legs and pass it forward to the mouth. It also receives food by digesting microorganisms from the mud that goes through its digestive system.
Breeding: They are easy creatures to breed, the females carry their pink eggs on the underside of their carapace, they should be moved into a seperate tank if you wish the babies to survive, the young are too small to catch and so you must move the female while she is still carrying the baby ghost shrimp. It is essential to provide plenty of plants or other small hiding places in the aquarium for the young Ghost Shrimp. After the babies have hatched, the parent Ghost Shrimp should be removed. In order to successfully raise the young, they should be fed on baby brine shrimp, in addition to liquifeed (fry) food or minute algae.
Sexing: When of adult size the males will be approximately one whole inch bigger than the females, the females may also be carrying pink eggs on their undersides.
Comments: The ghost shrimp is pale pink to orange with the male possessing one claw that is much larger. It burrows to feed and digs its two to three foot deep burrow with the claws of the first and second legs. It uses these legs to draw the sandy mud backward and collecting it in a receptacle formed by another pair of legs. When the receptacle is full, the shrimp crawls backward, reverses itself in a special turn around chamber and then deposits its load outside. The burrows are not permanent. A number of branches and turnaround chambers are found in the burrows and they have at least two openings to the surface. The shrimp use their pleopods to produce some circulation of sea water through the burrows. The pencil-sized openings of the burrows are typically in the middle of little piles of sand or sand with small pebbles.
All the legs are specialized with some being used for walking, some for bracing the animal in its burrow and others are used for personal cleaning. Ghost shrimp are always busy because if they stop digging then they start cleaning themselves or vice versa. Ghost shrimp have few natural predators. Humans dig them with a shrimp gun and use them as fish bait.
The ghost shrimp is also surprising long lived. A 10 cm individual excluding appendages may be 10 years old and many reach an age of 15 or 16 years old.
The ghost shrimp has other organisms that live in its burrow and these include the pea crab Scleroplax granulata, scale worm, Hesperone complanata, a small clam, Csyptonya californica whose siphons open into the burrow and not the surface, and a little goby, Clevelandia ios.
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