What do shrimp eat?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What do shrimp eat?” and provide information on how shrimps hunt, what pet shrimps consume as well as tips to feed pet shrimps.

What do shrimp eat?

Shrimps eat algae, plankton, fish, and aquatic plants. Certain shrimps would consume leftover food which can be left by other aquatic life. Ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp are examples.

The most commonly consumed food would include bacteria, small fish, or other small invertebrates, phytoplankton like algae, and dead animal matter. Some dead matter eaten by shrimps is fish, clams, and snails.

How do shrimp hunt?

The hunting methods of shrimp would vary from one species to another. Brine shrimp would strain food from water while it is swimming. 

Most shrimps are blind. They use chemosensory inputs to sense their food or prey. Their legs or tentacles can also help them to search for food.

While swimming through the ocean floor, shrimps use their tentacles to feel them and would uproot any plant or animal matter good enough to be their food.

Shrimps can be found in coral reefs searching for food too. Bacteria present in coral reefs can be promptly consumed by shrimps. Shrimp can also clean the bodies of bigger fish by consuming bacteria from them.

Coral reefs would contain a lot of fish and shrimp frequent such places often in search of food. Sometimes, there can be 3-5 shrimps found eating bacteria from larger fish.

Shrimps are great scavengers. They remove dead or decaying matter from the environment. They clean up the ocean by feeding on dead plants and fish. They also prevent overpopulation of plankton by feeding on them.

What do pet shrimps consume?

Pet shrimps would consume worms, fish, snails, and algae (present in tanks). They would eat any dead plant or animal matter. Usually, leftover pieces of food left by fish (pellets) can be consumed by shrimps too.

Shrimps need a combination of animal and plant protein to grow. Commercial foods would contain higher levels of animal protein but lesser levels of plant protein. As a result, it would be better to not solely rely on commercial foods to feed your pet shrimp.

Shrimps can be given fresh veggies like spinach, carrot, kale, cucumber, zucchini, sweet potato, and broccoli. 

What tips need to be kept in mind for feeding pet shrimps?

  • Algae is eaten by the fish too but tanks would not contain many algae compared to freshwater areas. If there is a lot of algae present in your tank, you can avoid feeding them as there is food already present.
  • If your shrimp does not consume much food, it means that they have already eaten algae present in the tank and might be full. 

In such cases, skip feeding them for 1-2 days. If shrimps appear restless, it is an indication of them being hungry and you can feed them.

  • You can give veggies to the shrimp too. Freeze the veggies and then give them later on. Certain veggies like cucumber, potato, and zucchini would need to be peeled.
  • Cut your veggies around ½ inch thick before adding them to the tank. Broccoli can be broken into small pieces using your hand itself. After cutting them, add veggies to a pot of boiling water.

After 2 minutes, remove veggies from the boiling water and place them in cold water. This would help in stopping the veggies from being cooked further. 

Blanching veggies in this manner can tenderize vegetables and shrimps would find it easier to eat. The vegetables would also not float much on a tank. If veggies have not been eaten by shrimps, remove them from the tank.

  • You can add small leaves to the tank as it often mimics the natural environment of shrimp. 

Bacteria grows on leaves which can be enjoyed by shrimp. Make sure to go for leaves that are not sprayed with pesticides. You can pick up small leaves growing in your garden as well.

Certain leaves contain anti-inflammatory or anti-microbial properties which can be specifically beneficial for shrimps. Indian almond leaves are the best example of this.

  • Cuttlefish bones can be given to shrimps too. Cuttlefish bones can be obtained in pet fish stores. You need to break bones into small pieces and add them to your tank.

Cuttlebones are softer which makes them easier to be consumed by shrimps. It is a good source of calcium too.

  • Commercial foods are not very healthy for pet shrimps. They should be used as a last resort.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What do shrimp eat?” and provided information on how shrimps hunt, what pet shrimps consume as well as tips to feed pet shrimps.


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