Crystal Black Shrimp

Caridina cantonensis Crystal Black shrimp
Common names
Black Bee

Water parameters

5.5 - 7.0
4 - 6
0 - 2
100 - 180
20 - 25 °C
68 - 77 °F
5.5 8.5
4 15
0 15
80 300
15 30


Difficulty level

1 - 2 years


Adult size
30 mm / 1.2 inches

Crystal Black shrimp are a popular type of bee shrimp that originated in Taiwan, recognised by their black and white stripe bodies. Their bright contrasting colours make them visually pop, especially against the green background of a heavily planted tank.

They're sometimes jokingly called “cow shrimp” as their shell colours and patterns can look very similar to a black and white cow.

An adult can grow to be around 3 cm (1.2 inches) in size.


Grading Crystal shrimp can get much more technical and specific compared to with other shrimp, like Red Cherries for example.

Instead of just looking at the depth and consistency of the shell colouring, a lot more focus can be put on the exact shapes and locations of the coloured markings, how many stripes they have, etc.

The depth and consistency of colouring on the shell still plays a part, but there's also a lot more focus on the shapes and positions of their markings. The number of stripes they have can also influence the grade.

The higher grades have solid black stripes with pure white segments, cleanly separating from the black parts. As a rule of thumb, the stronger the white colour of the shrimp, the higher its grade (e.g. SSS).

A low grade variant will have weak and patchy colouring, maybe even translucent in parts. The dividing lines between the colours will likely be fuzzy with messy shapes instead of clean splits between black and white.


The Crystal Black shrimp can be pretty hardy and can live for up to 1-2 years, making it a good choice for a beginner's first shrimp.

This species prefers to be in quite acidic water, totally fine even down to about 5.5 pH. Keeping the pH stable with such a low KH can be difficult however, which is why it's highly recommend to use active substrate in their tank. This helps to stabilise the pH and reduce swings throughout the day.

Normally the carbonates in the water would automatically handle this but as there are very few or no carbonates in their soft water, we use buffering substrate instead.

You should aim to keep the KH as close to 0-2 as possible to reduce the risk of them having problems when molting.

Crystal Black shrimp do not require an aquarium heater unless you live somewhere that gets very cold. As long as your room stays roughly between 20-25 °C (68-77 °F) they should be perfectly content.

A general rule for freshwater dwarf shrimp is to have a minimum tank size of 5 gallons (19 liters), but 10 gallons (38 liters) and larger is recommended.


Pretty much all dwarf shrimp enjoy eat the same types of food. They spend all day and night moving around the tank, searching for tiny portions of biofilm and algae. Mature tanks that are heavily planted will likely have lots of natural food for them to enjoy already.

With fresh tanks there are lots of different shrimp foods you can supplement such as bee pollen, algae wafers, shrimp pellets, blanched veg, etc.

Feeding your shrimp a mixture of different foods ensures they're getting all the nutrients they need to thrive and grow healthily.

Tank mates

The Crystal Black is perfectly content living with a pH around 7.0, so it's possible to share their tank with a Neocaridina species like Red Cherry shrimp.

You can safely introduce different colour Neocaridina shrimp, like Blue Jelly, Green Jade etc. You could also share their tank with other Caridina morphs and possibly breed unique offspring hybrids.

Try the Shrimp Suggester

Find the ideal water parameters and compatible tank mates for Crystal Black shrimp.

It's sometimes possible to keep smaller fish like Neon Tetras in a shrimp tank. There is a risk that the fish will see your shrimp as food however, so you should make sure they've got plenty of hiding places if you wanted to try this. The risk of being eaten is much higher for baby shrimp, so if you're planning to breed your shrimp it's highly recommended not to have any fish in the same tank.


Crystal Blacks, like their Crystal Red siblings, are a great choice to start breeding hybrids “from scratch” as they can breed with any other Caridina and will normally pass on some white shell colouring to their offspring.

Mixing a Crystal Black with a tiger shrimp like a Tangerine Tiger can eventually lead to a Fancy Tiger morph with black stripes after a few generations of selective breeding.

Due to the genetics of Crystal Red and Crystal Black shrimp, it's possible for some red parents to have black offspring. The gene for the black colouring is dominant so if it's found in either of the parents’ genes it's the most likely colour for babies. There is a small chance that red babies could come about if either of the parents is carrying the recessive red gene.

If you're trying to build up a healthy population, you can read the shrimp breeding article for tips and advice.