Do Dwarf Shrimp Eat Algae?

Red Cherry shrimp on Java moss, with blackbeard algae growing on it

Yes, freshwater shrimp are happy to eat algae.

Algae makes up a part of biofilm, their primary source of food. In the wild, this is what they'd eat most of the time.

This is why you don't need to feed mature tanks as often. The background level of biofilm and algae keeps them happy.

Shrimp can survive off algae alone, but they'll do better with a balanced diet.

Feeding them vegetables and other foods can help them to grow strong shells, and enhance their shell colour.

Which shrimp eat algae?

All freshwater dwarf shrimp will eat certain common types of algae in the tank.

Amano shrimp are the most famous algae eaters, though. They're efficient algae-eating machines. It's why they're also known as the algae shrimp.

An Amano shrimp eating an algae wafer

Both Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp enjoy munching on algae, but have less of a reputation for it.

Are shrimp good at controlling algae?

Shrimp can be helpful for managing algae growth in your tank. They'll graze on the soft algae throughout the day.

However, if you have a big burst of algae growth, they might not be enough to stop the outbreak.

Nitrates in the water provide nutrition for algae to thrive and grow quickly. Combined with plenty of light, you'll quickly end up with a lot of algae.

Adding floating plants can help to reduce nitrates, and slow or even stop the algae growth.

Underwater plants can also help absorb the nitrates, and slow down algae. Shrimp are especially useful in planted tanks, they'll eat the soft algae but won't eat your healthy plants.

When you start seeing a lot of algae, you should try and fix the root cause instead of relying on your shrimp.

What types of algae are edible?

The most common types of algae that shrimp will eat are:

  • Brown algae / diatoms
  • Hair algae
  • Blackbeard algae

Shrimp will eat pretty much any soft type of algae. They eat by rubbing their hands over surfaces and pulling bits of food into their mouth.

A harder type like green spot algae is much more difficult for them to eat. They can't easily scrape it off the hardscape or glass walls.

Snails in your tank might be able to get at the harder algae, though.

Getting algae off the glass

Tangerine Tiger shrimp eating algae off an aquarium wall

Most shrimp will struggle to get hard algae off the glass walls of your aquarium.

Adding snails to your tank can be a good alternative, though. They'll climb over the walls and munch away at the tough green patches over time.

What about algae wafers?

Algae wafers are a popular choice for feeding shrimp. Shrimp love them, they're basically what they'd eat in the wild.

They sink to the bottom of the tank, letting your shrimp easily grab a piece. You can also use a feeding dish to try and contain any mess.

Conclusion

Adding shrimp to your tank can be a great way to naturally manage any algae growth.

If you have a serious algae problem, though, your shrimp might not be able to eat enough to make a difference. You should try and fix the root cause of your algae problem instead.

Planted tanks benefit by having shrimp and snails eat any algae in the tank. The plants can take in the extra nutrients for themselves.