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

If you’re a marine enthusiast looking to add a unique and exotic species to your aquarium, the Harlequin Shrimp might be the perfect choice for you. These fascinating creatures are known for their striking appearance, playful personalities, and intriguing feeding habits. However, before you bring one home, it’s important to understand the proper care requirements to ensure their health and happiness.

Harlequin Shrimp is a marine invertebrate that requires a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. They prefer a pH range of 8.1-8.4 and stable water conditions. They are carnivorous and should be fed a diet of starfish arms or other echinoderms. Regular water changes and proper filtration are necessary for their well-being.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Harlequin Shrimp care, from their natural habitat and dietary needs to tank setup and maintenance. We’ll also provide tips on how to create a thriving environment for your shrimp and address common concerns and challenges that may arise. Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or a beginner, you’ll find valuable information that will help you provide the best possible care for your Harlequin Shrimp.

As an avid aquarium hobbyist myself, I know firsthand how rewarding it can be to care for these fascinating creatures. However, I also understand the importance of doing your research and preparing adequately before bringing one home. With the right knowledge and resources, you can create a thriving environment that will allow your Harlequin Shrimp to thrive and flourish for years to come.

Harlequin Shrimp

Species Summary

If you’re interested in keeping Harlequin Shrimp as pets, it’s important to know everything you can about their care.

In this section, we’ll provide you with a detailed overview of the species, including their origin, lifespan, appearance, size, growth rate, behavior and temperament, and how to distinguish between males and females.


Harlequin Shrimp are native to the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, and the Philippines.

They are typically found in shallow waters, near coral reefs and rocky outcrops.


Harlequin Shrimp have a lifespan of around 2-3 years in the wild, but with proper care, they can live up to 5 years in captivity.


Harlequin Shrimp are known for their striking appearance, with bright orange and white stripes covering their bodies.

They have large claws, which they use to catch their prey, and two small antennae on their heads.


Harlequin Shrimp are relatively small, growing to only about 2 inches in length.

Growth Rate

Harlequin Shrimp grow fairly slowly, reaching maturity at around 8-10 months of age.

Behavior & Temperament

Harlequin Shrimp are known for their unique feeding behavior, where they prey exclusively on starfish.

They are relatively peaceful creatures, but can become aggressive towards other shrimp and small fish if they feel threatened.

Male vs Female

It can be difficult to distinguish between male and female Harlequin Shrimp, as they look very similar. However, females tend to be slightly larger than males, and may have a more rounded abdomen.

Personally, I find Harlequin Shrimp to be fascinating creatures. Their bright colors and unique feeding habits make them a captivating addition to any aquarium. With the right care and attention, they can thrive in captivity and provide years of enjoyment for their owners.

Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for your Harlequin Shrimp, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key elements to keep in mind:

Tank Size

You’ll want to make sure your tank is large enough to accommodate your Harlequin Shrimp.

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended, but a larger tank is always better. The more space your shrimp have, the happier and healthier they’ll be.


Harlequin Shrimp prefer dim lighting, so it’s important to choose the right type of lighting for your tank.

LED lights are a popular choice as they allow you to adjust the brightness to your liking.

Filtration & Aeration

A good filtration system is crucial for maintaining a healthy tank.

A canister filter is recommended, as it provides excellent filtration and is easy to maintain. You’ll also want to make sure your tank has adequate aeration to keep the water oxygenated.


Harlequin Shrimp are sensitive to temperature changes, so it’s important to keep the water temperature stable.

A heater is recommended to maintain a temperature between 72-78°F.


A sandy substrate is recommended for Harlequin Shrimp, as it mimics their natural environment.

Avoid using sharp or rough substrates, as they can harm your shrimp.


Harlequin Shrimp enjoy hiding spots, so it’s a good idea to include some decorations in your tank.

Driftwood, rocks, and caves are all great options.

Harlequin Shrimp 2


While Harlequin Shrimp don’t require live plants, they can be a great addition to your tank. Java moss and Anubias are good choices, as they don’t require high lighting and can tolerate a range of water conditions.

Personal Anecdote: I remember when I first set up my tank for my Harlequin Shrimp. It was a bit overwhelming trying to make sure everything was just right, but it was also exciting to create a new home for my little shrimp. With a bit of research and some trial and error, I was able to create a tank that my shrimp love and thrive in.

Water Quality

When it comes to Harlequin Shrimp care, maintaining proper water quality is key. Poor water quality can lead to stress, disease, and even death.

In this section, we’ll cover the four main aspects of water quality that you need to be aware of: water temperature, water pH, water hardness, and water changes.

Water Temperature

Harlequin Shrimp are tropical creatures and require a water temperature between 75-80°F (24-27°C). If the water is too cold, they may become lethargic and stop eating.

If the water is too warm, it can lead to increased bacterial growth and disease. Use a reliable aquarium thermometer to monitor the water temperature and adjust the heater as needed.

Water pH

Harlequin Shrimp prefer a slightly alkaline pH between 8.0-8.4. However, they can tolerate a pH range between 7.8-8.6.

Keep in mind that sudden changes in pH can be stressful for your shrimp, so it’s important to maintain a stable pH. Test your water regularly and make adjustments slowly if necessary.

Water Hardness

Harlequin Shrimp come from areas with soft, slightly acidic water. Aim for a water hardness between 6-8 dKH and a total dissolved solids (TDS) of 300-450 ppm.

If your water is too hard, you can use reverse osmosis (RO) water or dilute it with distilled water. If your water is too soft, you can add a buffer to increase the hardness.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining good water quality. Aim to change 10-20% of the water every week.

Use a gravel vacuum to remove any debris from the substrate and clean the filter media. When adding new water, make sure it’s the same temperature and pH as the tank water to avoid shocking your shrimp.

Personally, I’ve found that maintaining good water quality is one of the most important aspects of Harlequin Shrimp care.

When I first started keeping them, I struggled with high nitrate levels and poor water quality. But once I got the hang of regular water changes and monitoring the water parameters, my shrimp became much healthier and more active.

Tank Maintenance

Keeping your Harlequin shrimp healthy and happy requires a clean and well-maintained tank. Here are a few tips to help you keep your tank in top condition.

First, make sure to clean your tank regularly. This includes removing any uneaten food, dead plant matter, and other debris that may have accumulated in the tank. You should also clean the filter and change the water on a regular basis to ensure that the water quality remains high.

Second, keep an eye on the water temperature and pH levels. Harlequin shrimp prefer a water temperature between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 8.1 and 8.4. Use a thermometer and pH test kit to monitor the water conditions and make adjustments as needed.

Third, provide your Harlequin shrimp with plenty of hiding places. These shrimp are naturally shy and like to hide in caves, crevices, and other small spaces. Adding rocks, plants, and other decorations to the tank can help create a more natural environment and make your shrimp feel more comfortable.

Finally, be careful when adding new fish or invertebrates to the tank. Harlequin shrimp are known for their unique feeding habits and may attack other creatures in the tank, especially if they are hungry. Make sure to research any new additions to the tank and introduce them slowly to minimize stress and aggression.

Personally, I found that adding a few live plants to my Harlequin shrimp tank not only helped with the water quality, but also provided additional hiding places for my shrimp. They seemed to enjoy exploring the new plants and it made the tank look more natural and vibrant.

Tank Mates

When it comes to keeping Harlequin Shrimp, choosing the right tank mates is crucial. Here are some important things to consider.

Compatible Fish Species

Harlequin Shrimp are peaceful creatures and do well with other non-aggressive species. Some great compatible fish species include:

  • Firefish
  • Gobies
  • Cardinalfish
  • Damsels

Incompatible Fish Species

On the other hand, there are some fish species that should not be kept with Harlequin Shrimp. These include:

  • Triggerfish
  • Pufferfish
  • Groupers
  • Lionfish

How Many Harlequin Shrimp per Tank?

When it comes to Harlequin Shrimp, less is more. These shrimp are best kept in pairs, and a 10-gallon tank is sufficient for a pair.

It’s important to note that Harlequin Shrimp are not compatible with other shrimp species, so they should be kept in a species-specific tank.

Personally, I’ve found that keeping Harlequin Shrimp with Firefish and Gobies works well. They make for a colorful and peaceful tank. Just remember to choose your tank mates carefully and keep the Harlequin Shrimp in a species-specific tank.


Harlequin shrimp are beautiful and fascinating creatures that require a specialized diet to thrive. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding your harlequin shrimp.

What to Feed

Harlequin shrimp are carnivorous and feed exclusively on starfish. Specifically, they prefer to eat the arms of the Linckia starfish.

It’s important to note that harlequin shrimp will not eat any other type of food, so it’s essential to provide them with a steady supply of starfish.


Adult harlequin shrimp should be fed one Linckia starfish arm every 2-3 days. Juvenile harlequin shrimp should be fed more frequently, with one arm every day.

It’s important not to overfeed your harlequin shrimp, as this can lead to health problems.


When feeding your harlequin shrimp, it’s important to make sure the starfish is fresh and healthy. Avoid feeding your shrimp starfish that have been dead for more than a few hours, as they may contain harmful bacteria.

Additionally, make sure the starfish is the appropriate size for your shrimp. If the starfish is too large, your shrimp may have difficulty consuming it.

Personally, I’ve found that feeding my harlequin shrimp is one of the most enjoyable parts of keeping them as pets. Watching them hunt and devour their prey is truly mesmerizing. Just be sure to follow these guidelines to ensure your shrimp stay healthy and happy.

Common Diseases

If you are considering keeping Harlequin Shrimp, it is important to be aware of the common diseases that can affect them.

In this section, we will cover the diseases, symptoms, treatment, and prevention methods to help you keep your shrimp healthy and happy.


Harlequin Shrimp are generally hardy and disease-resistant, but they can still be affected by various diseases.

Some of the most common diseases that affect Harlequin Shrimp include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites


The symptoms of these diseases can vary, but some common signs to look out for include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen or discolored body parts
  • Abnormal swimming behavior
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Visible parasites on the body


If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to act quickly to prevent the disease from spreading. Treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Antifungal medication for fungal infections
  • Parasite medication for parasite infections


The best way to prevent diseases from affecting your Harlequin Shrimp is to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This includes:

  • Regular water changes
  • Proper filtration
  • Quarantining new shrimp before adding them to your tank
  • Avoiding overcrowding

Personally, I had a Harlequin Shrimp that developed a bacterial infection. I noticed that it was not eating and had a swollen body. I immediately quarantined it and treated it with antibiotics, which helped it recover quickly. It is important to be vigilant and act quickly if you notice any signs of disease in your shrimp.

Signs of a Healthy Harlequin Shrimp

If you’re considering keeping harlequin shrimp, it’s important to know what a healthy shrimp looks like. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Active Behavior: A healthy harlequin shrimp will be active and move around the tank frequently. They should be able to move their claws and legs with ease.
  2. Good Appetite: A healthy harlequin shrimp will have a good appetite and eagerly feed on their preferred diet. If they are not eating, it could be a sign of illness or stress.
  3. Clean Appearance: A healthy harlequin shrimp will have a clean and vibrant appearance. Their colors should be bright and their shells should be free of any damage or discoloration.
  4. Clear Eyes: A healthy harlequin shrimp will have clear and bright eyes. If their eyes appear cloudy or discolored, it could be a sign of illness.
  5. Good Breathing: A healthy harlequin shrimp will breathe easily and steadily. If they are gasping for air or breathing heavily, it could be a sign of poor water quality or illness.

It’s important to keep an eye on your harlequin shrimp’s behavior and appearance to ensure they are healthy and thriving in their environment. If you notice any signs of illness or distress, it’s important to take action quickly to address the issue.

Personally, I remember when I first got my harlequin shrimp and was worried about their health. However, after observing their behavior and appearance, I quickly learned what a healthy shrimp looked like and was able to provide them with the proper care they needed.

Signs Your Harlequin Shrimp is Sick

If you own a Harlequin shrimp, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of illness. Here are some common indicators that your shrimp may be sick:

  1. Lack of Appetite: If your Harlequin shrimp is not eating, it might be a sign of illness. Observe your shrimp’s eating habits and check if it’s consuming its usual amount of food.
  2. Changes in Appearance: Changes in color or texture of the shrimp’s body can indicate an underlying health issue. Look out for any discoloration or spots on the shrimp’s body, as well as any changes in the texture of its shell.
  3. Lethargy: If your Harlequin shrimp is not as active as usual, it might be a sign of illness. Observe the shrimp’s movements and check if it’s swimming around as much as it usually does.
  4. Abnormal Behavior: If your Harlequin shrimp is behaving in an unusual manner, it might be a sign of illness. For example, if it’s hiding more often than usual or not coming out to feed, it might be an indicator that something is wrong.
  5. Breathing Problems: If your Harlequin shrimp is struggling to breathe, it might be a sign of illness. Observe the shrimp’s gills and check if they’re moving as they should.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem could lead to further health issues or even death.

Contact a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals or a knowledgeable fish store for guidance on how to proceed. I once had a Harlequin shrimp that I noticed was not eating as much as usual.

I took it to a veterinarian who specialized in aquatic animals, and it turned out that the shrimp had a bacterial infection.

With the right medication and care, my shrimp made a full recovery. So, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you notice any signs of illness in your Harlequin shrimp.


If you’re interested in breeding Harlequin shrimp, there are a few things you should know before you get started. Breeding these shrimp can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to have the right setup and knowledge to ensure their success.

Breeding Setup

Before you begin breeding Harlequin shrimp, you’ll need to set up a suitable environment for them to thrive.

This includes a tank that is at least 10 gallons in size, with plenty of hiding places and live rock for them to graze on.

You’ll also need to ensure that the water is kept at a consistent temperature of around 78-80°F, with a pH level between 8.1-8.4.

It’s important to note that Harlequin shrimp are very sensitive to changes in water conditions, so it’s crucial to maintain a stable environment for them to breed successfully.

You may also want to consider using a protein skimmer to help keep the water clean and free from harmful toxins.

How to Breed

Harlequin shrimp are known for their unique mating habits, which involve the female laying eggs and the male fertilizing them externally.

To encourage breeding, you’ll need to introduce a male and female shrimp into the same tank and ensure that they have enough food to sustain them.

Once the female lays her eggs, the male will fertilize them by releasing sperm into the water.

The eggs will then hatch within a few days, and the larvae will begin to swim freely around the tank. It’s important to remove any adult shrimp from the tank at this point, as they may eat the larvae.


Once the larvae have hatched, you’ll need to provide them with a suitable environment to grow and develop.

This includes a separate tank that is at least 5 gallons in size, with plenty of hiding places and live rock for them to graze on.

You’ll also need to ensure that the water is kept at a consistent temperature and pH level, and that the water is clean and free from harmful toxins.

Feeding the larvae can be challenging, as they require a specific diet of plankton and other small organisms.

You may need to purchase specialized food for them, or culture your own plankton to ensure that they receive the necessary nutrients.

Overall, breeding Harlequin shrimp can be a rewarding experience for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to create a suitable environment for them.

With the right setup and knowledge, you can help these unique creatures thrive and grow.

Personally, I found breeding Harlequin shrimp to be a fascinating and rewarding experience. Watching the larvae grow and develop into adult shrimp was truly amazing, and it gave me a greater appreciation for the intricacies of marine life. If you’re interested in breeding these shrimp, I highly recommend doing your research and ensuring that you have the right setup and knowledge to give them the best chance of success.

Product recommendations for Harlequin Shrimp:

  1. Hikari Crab Cuisine – This is a high-quality crab food that is perfect for Harlequin Shrimp. It contains all the essential nutrients that your shrimp need to stay healthy and vibrant.
  2. API Aquarium Test Kit – It is important to keep an eye on the water quality in your aquarium, and this test kit makes it easy to do so. It includes tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.
  3. Seachem Prime – This is a water conditioner that helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your aquarium. It is safe for use with Harlequin Shrimp and other freshwater animals.
  4. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate – This substrate is perfect for creating a natural environment for your Harlequin Shrimp. It contains live bacteria and is easy to maintain.
  5. AquaClear Power Filter – This filter is highly effective at removing debris and maintaining water quality in your aquarium. It is also very quiet and easy to maintain.
  6. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer – This device makes it easy to perform regular water changes in your aquarium. It is designed to be safe and easy to use, and can help to keep your Harlequin Shrimp healthy.
  7. NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light – This LED light is perfect for illuminating your aquarium and showcasing your Harlequin Shrimp. It is energy-efficient and easy to install.
  8. Seachem Flourish Excel – This is a liquid carbon supplement that is perfect for promoting healthy plant growth in your aquarium. It is safe for use with Harlequin Shrimp and other freshwater animals.
  9. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Drinking Water Conditioner – This is a water conditioner that helps to detoxify chlorine and chloramines in your aquarium water, making it safe for your Harlequin Shrimp to drink.


Now that you know everything there is to know about Harlequin Shrimp care, you’re ready to take on the responsibility of owning one of these fascinating creatures. Remember to keep their tank clean and well-maintained, and to provide them with a steady supply of starfish to feed on.

It’s important to note that Harlequin Shrimp are not the easiest creatures to care for, and they require a lot of attention and care. However, if you’re up for the challenge, they can be incredibly rewarding pets to own.

Throughout this article, we’ve covered everything from the basics of Harlequin Shrimp care to more advanced topics like breeding and disease prevention. We’ve also provided you with tips and tricks to make the process as smooth as possible.

Remember, taking care of Harlequin Shrimp is not just about keeping them alive, it’s about providing them with a happy and healthy life. With the right knowledge and care, you can do just that.

Personally, I have found that owning Harlequin Shrimp has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Watching them hunt and feed is truly a sight to behold, and their unique personalities make them a joy to interact with.


Now that you know everything about Harlequin Shrimp care, let’s address some frequently asked questions:

Q: How often should I feed my Harlequin Shrimp?

A: Harlequin Shrimp should be fed twice a week. It is best to feed them small pieces of shrimp or crab meat. Make sure to remove any uneaten food after a few hours to maintain good water quality.

Q: Can Harlequin Shrimp be kept with other shrimp species?

A: No, Harlequin Shrimp should be kept in a species-only tank. They are known to attack and eat other shrimp species.

Q: What is the ideal water temperature for Harlequin Shrimp?

A: Harlequin Shrimp thrive in water temperatures between 75-80°F (24-27°C).

Q: Can Harlequin Shrimp be kept in a reef tank?

A: Yes, Harlequin Shrimp can be kept in a reef tank as long as there are no other shrimp or crustaceans present. However, they may eat small snails and hermit crabs.

Q: How long do Harlequin Shrimp live?

A: Harlequin Shrimp can live up to 3 years in captivity with proper care.

Personal Anecdote: When I first got my Harlequin Shrimp, I was worried about feeding them the right food. After some research, I found out that they love small pieces of shrimp or crab meat. It was a relief to see them eagerly eating their food during feeding time.

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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