Cleaner Shrimp Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

Cleaner shrimp are fascinating and beneficial additions to any saltwater aquarium. They not only add color and diversity, but they also serve a practical purpose by helping to keep the tank clean by consuming debris and parasites. These unique creatures are relatively easy to care for, making them a favorite choice among aquarium enthusiasts.

Cleaner shrimp care involves providing a suitable aquarium environment, proper diet, and regular maintenance. These small, colorful invertebrates require a tank with plenty of hiding places and open swimming space. They need a varied diet of meaty foods, including brine shrimp and mysis shrimp. 

There are several species of cleaner shrimp, each with their own distinct attributes. Regardless of the species, basic care principles for these aquatic critters include maintaining proper tank setup, water quality, and choosing appropriate tank mates. One thing I’ve learned from my personal experience with cleaner shrimp is to be mindful of their need to molt and to provide them with safe spaces for this crucial process.

Cleaner Shrimp Care

Key Takeaways

  • Cleaner shrimp keep saltwater aquariums clean with their natural cleaning abilities
  • Selecting an appropriate tank setup and maintaining water quality are crucial for a healthy cleaner shrimp
  • Choose suitable tank mates, knowing that cleaner shrimp are generally peaceful species

Species Summary


Cleaner shrimp are fascinating creatures originating from the Indo-Pacific region. Many species inhabit the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef.


I once witnessed my cleaner shrimp live up to 3-4 years, which is their average lifespan, although some could live longer in optimal conditions.


Their eye-catching appearance features a transparent body with distinctive white, red, and sometimes blue stripes that stand out in reef environments.


These shrimp grow to be about 2-3 inches in size, making them suitable for a variety of aquariums ranging from nano to larger reef setups.

Growth rate

They exhibit a steady growth rate, reaching their max size within 6-8 months. Though fast growers, their lively behavior makes them a joy to watch.

Behavior & Temperament

Cleaner shrimp have a peaceful, curious temperament. They will often clean fish in their tank, even removing parasites from the fish’s body. They are also known to interact with their owners when they open the tank.

Male vs Female

Sexing cleaner shrimp can be difficult, but usually, males are smaller and have a thinner abdomen compared to the larger, wider abdomen of females. The females carry eggs underneath their abdomens once they’re fertilized.

Tank Setup

When I started keeping cleaner shrimp, the first thing I learned was that tank size matters. A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended, but bigger is always better.

Lighting plays an important role in creating a healthy environment. Moderate lighting is sufficient for cleaner shrimp, as they don’t require bright light.

In terms of filtration and aeration, a good quality, efficient filter is crucial. A power filter or a canister filter works well, as they provide proper water circulation.

Don’t forget to add a heater to maintain a stable temperature between 72°F and 82°F. Cleaner shrimp are sensitive to sudden temperature fluctuations, so a reliable heater is necessary.

The substrate you choose can either be sand, crushed coral, or a mix of both. Personally, I prefer crushed coral as it helps maintain the right pH level in the water.

For decoration, include several hiding spots such as caves or PVC pipes to provide security for your shrimp. Live rock is another excellent addition, as it promotes natural behaviors.

Finally, include live plants like java moss, which serve as natural filtration and provide shelter for the shrimp. They also contribute to the aesthetic of the tank.

Remember to do periodic water changes and monitor water parameters to keep your cleaner shrimp thriving in their tank setup.

Water Quality

When it comes to Cleaner Shrimp care, water quality is crucial. Maintaining ideal Water temperature, Water pH, Water Hardness, and performing regular Water changes are essential steps for creating a healthy environment for your shrimp.

The optimal Water temperature for Cleaner Shrimp should be between 72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C). Use a reliable aquarium heater and thermostat to maintain a stable temperature in the aquarium. I, myself, experienced an unfortunate situation when my heater malfunctioned, causing the water to become too warm, which led to the loss of my Cleaner Shrimp.

As for the Water pH, keeping it between 8.1 – 8.4 is ideal. Cleaner Shrimp thrive in slightly alkaline water conditions. Investing in a quality pH meter can make monitoring easier.

When it comes to Water Hardness, aim for a dKH level between 8 – 12, and a salinity of 1.023 – 1.025. Proper calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements will ensure the development of strong exoskeletons for the shrimp.

Regular Water changes are vital for maintaining a healthy environment, as they remove harmful substances and replenish essential elements. Changing 10% – 25% of water every week or every other week can keep the parameters consistent and stable.

Remember, consistency and monitoring are key for excellent water quality and happy Cleaner Shrimp.

Tank Maintenance

Keeping your cleaner shrimp’s tank clean and well-maintained is essential for their health and well-being. Regular water changes are a must. I remember when I first got my cleaner shrimp, I did not change the water often enough, which led to some complications.

Replace 25% of the water every 1-2 weeks. This helps maintain balanced water chemistry. Use a siphon to remove debris from the tank floor.

It’s also vital to monitor water parameters regularly:

  • Salinity: 1.023-1.025 specific gravity
  • Temperature: 72-78°F
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Ammonia & nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: below 20 ppm

To maintain ideal water conditions, consider using:

  • A quality protein skimmer
  • A biological filter
  • Regular dosing of trace elements and minerals

Additionally, clean your shrimp’s tank accessories. Algae can accumulate on decorations and equipment, so be sure to clean them periodically.

Lastly, make sure your cleaner shrimp has a good hiding spot such as small caves or crevices in live rocks. This will help them feel safe and secure in their environment.

By staying attentive to your cleaner shrimp’s tank maintenance, you’ll provide a happy, healthy environment for them to thrive in.

Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for cleaner shrimp, you’ll want to choose compatible fish species that won’t see them as a tasty snack. I remember when I first started keeping cleaner shrimp, I learned the hard way that some fish just can’t resist the temptation of having an easy meal.

Compatible Fish Species:

  • Dwarf Angels: These beautiful, small-sized fish will coexist peacefully with cleaner shrimp.
  • Cardinalfish: Known for their peaceful nature, cardinalfish make great tank mates for the shrimp.
  • Chromis: This active schooling fish will not bother your cleaner shrimp, making them an ideal choice.
  • Clownfish: As iconic marine fish, clownfish will readily coexist with your cleaner shrimp.

Incompatible Fish Species:

  • Larger Angelfish: Unlike Dwarf Angels, larger angelfish have a tendency to snack on your cleaner shrimp.
  • Groupers: Even though they add visual interest to your tank, groupers might view cleaner shrimp as prey.
  • Lionfish: Their predatory nature and appetite make lionfish unsuitable tank mates for cleaner shrimp.

Lastly, a quick tip from my personal experience: when adding new fish to your tank, always do your research on their compatibility with cleaner shrimp, as each species differs in temperament and behavior.


Cleaner Shrimp are known for their diverse diet. What to Feed them is essential for their health and happiness. In my experience, I found that they thrive on a variety of foods.

They enjoy eating brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and other small frozen or live foods. Often, they also feed on scraps left by fishes and other marine creatures. Diversify their diet with flake or pellet foods to ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Frequency plays a crucial role in Cleaner Shrimp care. I always feed my Cleaner Shrimp 2-3 times a week. Smaller, more frequent meals are better than large, infrequent ones.

Here are some useful Tips based on my journey with Cleaner Shrimp care:

  • Quality: Choose high-quality, nutritious foods for your Cleaner Shrimp. Their health depends on it.
  • Variety: Offer different types of food to keep them engaged and maintain their overall health.
  • Customization: Monitor your Cleaner Shrimp’s behavior, and adjust the feeding schedule if needed.

One time, I noticed my Cleaner Shrimp appeared lethargic and uninterested in food. I realized that the food I was providing did not fully match their dietary needs. After experimenting with different foods, I discovered that they particularly enjoyed zooplankton-enriched brine shrimp, which made a visible difference in their behavior and vitality.

Following a proper diet plan is essential to ensure the well-being of your Cleaner Shrimp. Paying attention to what, when, and how much you feed them will contribute to their long-term health and happiness in your aquarium.

Common Diseases

Cleaner Shrimp are generally hardy creatures, but they can still be affected by several diseases. Awareness of these diseases and their symptoms is essential for maintaining a healthy shrimp population.

  1. White Spot Disease (Ich) is a common problem in shrimp tanks. Symptoms include tiny white spots on the shrimp’s body and lethargic behavior. Treatment involves raising the temperature and using copper-based medications. To prevent this disease, always quarantine new additions before introducing them to the main tank.
  2. Fungal infections can also occur in Cleaner Shrimp, causing cotton-like growths on their body. I experienced this issue in my tank last year, and removing the infected shrimp immediately helped prevent spreading. Anti-fungal medications are an effective treatment. Prevention includes maintaining water quality and avoiding overcrowding.
  3. Bacterial infections often present as red or black patches on the shrimp’s body. These infections can escalate quickly, so it’s essential to treat promptly using broad-spectrum antibiotics. Preventing bacterial infections involves regular water changes and not overfeeding your shrimp.
  4. Shell Rot is another potential issue for Cleaner Shrimp when their exoskeleton deteriorates. The best treatment is ensuring proper water quality with regular tests and changes. Additionally, providing a calcium supplement helps maintain their shells’ health and prevent future issues.

Remember to always monitor your shrimp’s behavior and appearance, as detecting issues early on can be crucial in successful treatment. Adequate water quality, regular maintenance, and proper shrimp care can help prevent most common diseases.

Signs of a Healthy Fish

A healthy fish is typically active and alert. They will explore their environment and interact with their tank mates. The coloration should be vibrant and consistent throughout the body.

One time, I observed a newly introduced cleaner shrimp diligently grooming a fish, and I could genuinely see the fish benefiting from its cleaning services. This is a sign of a healthy relationship in the tank.

A healthy fish will also have a regular appetite, eagerly accepting food when offered. Monitor their body shape and size. A well-fed fish will be well-rounded without any signs of emaciation.

A fish with a clean surface and fins is another indication of good health. Make sure the fish has no visible injuries or abnormalities, such as parasites or fungus.

When it comes to gill movement, consistency is key. Gills should open and close rhythmically while the fish breathes. Rapid or labored gill movement may signal a problem.

On another occasion, I noticed a healthy fish’s gills were a vibrant red, which is a sign that oxygen is being effectively transferred from the water.

Keep an eye on the behavior of your fish. A sudden change, such as hiding or swimming erratically, can indicate stress or illness.

Here’s an overview of signs to watch for:

  • Active and alert behavior
  • Vibrant coloration
  • Regular appetite
  • Healthy body shape and size
  • Clean surface and fins
  • Consistent gill movement
  • Stable behavior patterns

By observing the overall well-being of a fish and its interactions with cleaner shrimp, you’ll be better equipped to ensure a thriving and harmonious aquatic environment.

Signs Your Fish is Sick

  1. Loss of appetite is a common indicator that your fish may be feeling under the weather. I’ve noticed this in my own fish tank when my fish began to shy away from their usually delicious shrimp snacks.
  2. Changes in appearance such as faded colors or the development of spots on their body can also be a sign something is amiss. Monitoring your fish’s appearance regularly will help you spot any unusual changes.
  3. Erratic swimming or struggling to maintain balance while swimming is another sign of possible illness. Fish who appear to be swimming in circles, floating at the surface, or sinking to the bottom may need attention.
  4. Rapid breathing might indicate that your fish is experiencing stress or illness. Keep an eye on their gills, as fish who are struggling may have visibly rapid or labored breathing.

It’s important to address these issues promptly to ensure the well-being of your fish and the overall health of your aquarium. Don’t hesitate to consult an expert or veterinarian for guidance on proper fish care.


Cleaner Shrimp Care 2

Breeding cleaner shrimp is an exciting and rewarding process. I remember the first time I successfully bred cleaner shrimp; it was a fascinating experience. First, let’s discuss the optimal breeding setup.

To establish a proper breeding environment, provide a separate tank with a well-established live rock, hiding spots, and stable water conditions. Make sure the temperature is within 74-78°F, and the specific gravity is at 1.023-1.025.

Next, let’s discuss how to breed cleaner shrimp. First, you need a pair of shrimp, which can be tricky since they are difficult to sex. Observe them closely for size differences, as females tend to be larger than males. Introduce them into the breeding tank, and ensure they are comfortable and well-fed.

Breeding cleaner shrimp will naturally occur once they have settled into the tank. They perform a mating dance, and the female releases her eggs into the water column. The male fertilizes the eggs, and the female carries them in her pleopods (swimming legs) until they are ready to hatch.

Taking care of the eggs and larvae is crucial. A week before hatching, notice the female’s eggs turning translucent, indicating that they are nearly ready to hatch. At this stage, it’s essential to isolate the pregnant female in a separate container within the breeding tank. Hatching typically occurs at night and should take place in the isolated area.

Once the eggs hatch, countless larvae (called zoeae) will begin to swim in the water. Feeding them is necessary to ensure their survival. Offer them phytoplankton and newly hatched brine shrimp during this stage. Additionally, maintain optimum water quality and temperature for larval development.

As the larvae progress, they will go through several stages of metamorphosis before becoming juvenile cleaner shrimp. It’s important to keep monitoring the water conditions and providing appropriate food during this time. Finally, the juvenile shrimp will be ready to join a tank with other cleaner shrimp, where they can continue to grow and develop into adults.

Breeding cleaner shrimp is indeed an engaging venture that has given me a lot of satisfaction, and I believe it will do the same for you. Good luck!

Product recommendations for Cleaner Shrimp:

  1. Hikari Crab Cuisine: This food is specially formulated for shrimp and provides a balanced diet for optimal health.
  2. Seachem Stability: This product helps to establish a healthy biological filter in your aquarium, which is important for maintaining good water quality for Cleaner Shrimp.
  3. Fluval Sea Protein Skimmer: This protein skimmer helps to remove organic waste from your aquarium water, which can be harmful to Cleaner Shrimp.
  4. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This circulation pump helps to create a natural water flow in your aquarium, which is important for the well-being of Cleaner Shrimp.
  5. Instant Ocean Sea Salt: This sea salt mix is perfect for creating a healthy marine environment for Cleaner Shrimp and other saltwater creatures.
  6. API Aquarium Salt: This product helps to promote healthy gill function and reduce stress in shrimp, including Cleaner Shrimp.
  7. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in aquarium water, which can be harmful to Cleaner Shrimp.
  8. Coralife BioCube 32 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit: This aquarium kit is perfect for keeping Cleaner Shrimp in a medium-sized space, and comes with a powerful filtration system.
  9. Marina Floating Thermometer with Suction Cup: This thermometer helps you to monitor the temperature of your aquarium water, which is important for keeping Cleaner Shrimp healthy.


Caring for Cleaner Shrimp can be a rewarding experience. These fascinating creatures help maintain a healthy aquarium by feeding on parasites and dead tissues. By providing a stable, well-maintained environment, they will thrive and contribute to a balanced ecosystem.

Remember to research compatibility with other tank inhabitants and provide hiding places. This will help ensure a stress-free life for your shrimp. Always be cautious of introducing new tank mates, as Cleaner Shrimp can be victims of predatory fish.

It’s essential to monitor water parameters diligently. Keeping water quality high will support the health of all tank inhabitants, including your Cleaner Shrimp. Don’t forget about proper feeding, supplement their diet with marine-grade shrimp pellets or frozen foods.

From my own experience, I once had a Cleaner Shrimp who loved hanging out on my hand whenever I cleaned the tank. This made me appreciate their unique personalities and how they can form connections even with their human caretakers.

In conclusion, Cleaner Shrimp care requires attention to detail, but it can result in a cleaner, healthier aquarium. By following these guidelines and putting forth the effort, you’ll be able to enjoy your Cleaner Shrimp for years to come.


What water quality should I maintain for my Cleaner Shrimp?
Maintaining optimal water quality is essential for the health of your Cleaner Shrimp. Ensure a stable temperature between 72-82°F, a pH of 8.1-8.4, and a salinity of 1.023-1.025.

How should I set up my Cleaner Shrimp’s tank?
Provide plenty of hiding spaces with rocks and corals in at least a 20-gallon tank to create a proper environment for the shrimp. Ensure stable water flow and proper filtration.

What do Cleaner Shrimp eat?
These shrimp primarily feed on parasites and dead tissues of their tank mates. They also eat small pieces of meaty foods such as krill and mysis shrimp. I remember when I started dropping bits of prepared food and my shrimp quickly caught and devoured it.

How do Cleaner Shrimps breed?
Breeding Cleaner Shrimp can be challenging. Upon successful mating, the female carries a clutch of eggs for about 2-3 weeks. Once hatched, the larvae are free-floating and need microscopic food like phytoplankton or rotifers to survive the initial stage.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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