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Bamboo Shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis) – Care Guide

Bamboo shrimp are an unusual species of freshwater shrimp that make an interesting addition to the aquarium if you don’t have space for more fish as they only produce a tiny bioload.

Did you know that, instead of claws, these fascinating shrimp have fan-like filters that the creatures use for filter-feeding?

So, is setting up a Singapore shrimp aquarium a suitable project for a beginner? What do Bamboo shrimp eat? And, what size tank do you need to keep Atyopsis moluccensis? 

Read this complete care guide to learn everything you need to know about keeping Bamboo shrimp.

Bamboo Shrimp – Species Profile

Scientific Name

Atyopsis moluccensis

Common Name (species)

Bamboo, Asian Filter Feeding, Flower, Wood, Singapore Wood, Singapore Flower, Singapore, and Fan shrimps

Family

Origin

Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Samoan Islands

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Activity

Active scavenger

Lifespan

Up to 2 years

Temperament

Peaceful

Tank Level

Primarily bottom-dwelling

Minimum Tank Size

Temperature Range

75o to 81o F

Water Hardness

3 to 10 dKH

pH Range

7.0 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Well-filtered, high flow rate

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Egg-layers. Extremely difficult to breed in captivity

Compatibility

Peaceful community

Plant-safe?

Yes

Origins And Habitat

The Wood shrimp is found in South East Asia, Bali, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines.

In their natural habitat of fast-flowing streams and rivers, the shrimp position themselves on tree roots and rocks where they feed on bacteria, algae, and microorganisms carried past in the current.

What Color Is Atyopsis Moluccensis?

Although Bamboo shrimp aren’t the most brightly colored shrimp on the block, they can still make an attractive addition to your setup.

These shrimp are mostly red to reddish-brown, although that can change, shifting from green to orange. The shrimp’s body is the usual shape of most shrimp and has a pale stripe down the back. This unusual shrimp species’ markings give it the appearance of a tiny twig, which provides the shrimp with its other common name of Wood shrimp.

If the shrimp’s color suddenly becomes paler than usual, that could be due to stress, and the color should return to normal once the shrimp settle down. It’s common for the shrimp to be pale after molting, but the color will brighten up once the new shell has adequately hardened.

Bamboo Shrimp Physical Features

Bamboo shrimp have antennae and eyestalks on the top of the head, which are used to carry the animal’s eyes and sense the environment around them.

The body comprises a carapace with six abdominal segments that give the shrimp flexibility and allow the abdomen to bend. The final sixth segment forms the creature’s tail.

Unlike other shrimp species, the Bamboo shrimp’s claws have adapted to suit the food sources available in the animal’s natural environment. Instead of pincers, the shrimp has a set of fan-like structures that it uses to filter particles of food from the fast-flowing water before passing the food to its mouth.

Gender Differences

Close-up view of Freshwater Bamboo Shrimp. Atyopsis moluccensis.

Although it’s extremely difficult to breed Bamboo shrimp in the home tank, you still need to know whether you have boys or girls. Males can be territorial during the breeding season, so you need to make sure that you have a suitable balance between the two sexes.

Look carefully, and you’ll see that male shrimp are slimmer than females that generally have a larger abdomen. Female shrimp also have longer pleopods. You’ll also notice that the male’s first pair of limbs are different in that they have small, well-formed claws that are used during mating. 

What Size Are Bamboo Shrimp?

Bamboo shrimp typically grow between two to three inches in length.

How Long Do Bamboo Shrimp Live?

Atyopsis moluccensis have a lifespan of one to two years, although some may live longer.

Temperament And Activity Level

Bamboo shrimp are very peaceful creatures that are perfect for a community setup. You’ll notice the shrimp moving around the aquarium, searching for the best spots to filter food from the water.

Molting

All shrimp species molt their hard exoskeleton every month or two to allow for the shrimp’s growth. So, if you discover what looks like the corpse of a shrimp in the tank, it’s most likely just the old shell.

Sometimes, the shrimp will eat the discarded shell for the essential nutrients and calcium it contains. However, if the shell is ignored, you should take it out of the tank.

When molting is imminent, the shrimp will hide among the plants or in caves to protect itself from predators until the new carapace begins to harden. I recommend that you check on shrimp that are hiding, as that could indicate that there’s something wrong with the shrimp.

What Fish Make Good Tank Mates For Bamboo Shrimp?

Thanks to the Bamboo shrimp’s peaceful nature, you can keep these shrimp with many different tank mates, which makes them ideal for a community setup.
As a general rule, I recommend that you stick to small, peaceful fish species, including:

These suggestions are just to give you an idea of what species are suitable. There are many more!

Other invertebrates such as Amano shrimp and Cherry shrimp make good companions for Bamboo shrimp, and most species of aquatic snails are also suitable.

Fish To Avoid

Large semi-aggressive fish species such as Discus, cichlids, and Oscars should be avoided, as they will most likely view the shrimp as lunch!

Crayfish are also likely to make a meal of Bamboo shrimp.

Keeping Bamboo Shrimp Together

Bamboo shrimp gather in large numbers in the wild environment and do well when kept in groups in the home aquarium.

That’s not necessarily because the shrimp are social creatures; gatherings usually happen because a good filter-feeding spot has been located. The shrimp will happily jostle for a position but never seem to show any aggression toward one another.

What To Feed Bamboo Shrimp

As previously mentioned, Bamboo shrimp are filter feeders. 

Little girl feeding fishes in the aquarium.

The shrimp will find a suitable spot in the tank where the current is fairly strong, usually on a rock or piece of driftwood, and cling on. You’ll notice the shrimp extending their specialized, fan-like appendages, which the creatures use to collect microorganisms, fragments of fish food, algae, or plant matter that float past in the water. Every few seconds, the shrimp brings the fan to its mouth and eats the food.

Essentially, you don’t need to worry too much about feeding your Bamboo shrimp. The shrimp take food from the water column in the form of particles of fish food, and, every time the substrate is disturbed by foraging fish, fragments of detritus enter the water column where the shrimp grab them.

Plants and algae in the tank also help to provide food for the shrimp. You can also give your shrimp ground-up fish flakes, frozen daphnia, or live baby brine shrimp or eggs.

Cause For Concern?

If you notice your Bamboo shrimp foraging around on the substrate, that can be a cause for concern. 

Unlike other shrimp species, Atyopsis moluccensis are not natural scavengers, taking everything they need from the water column. So, shrimp that are exhibiting scavenging behavior are hungry. That’s often behavior that you see in new shrimp that have just arrived from the fish store.

Add some powdered fish flake or crushed frozen food to the tank, making sure that it enters the water close to the filter outflow. The shrimp will soon find a suitable spot where they can catch a meal. 

Tank Requirements

Tank size

A 10-gallon tank is perfectly fine for Bamboo shrimp, although the tank needs to be longer than it is tall so that you can get a good strong flow going throughout the habitat. That’s very important to ensure that the shrimp can take plenty of food particles from the water column.

However, a 20-gallon tank or larger is necessary if you’re planning on keeping a group of shrimp.

Tank Setup

Substrate

Close up shot of hands putting plants on the low water aquarium.

You can use any kind of substrate for a Bamboo shrimp tank, although coarse gravel looks natural and effective when replicating the shrimps’ natural habitat.

Decoration

Bamboo shrimp need plenty of objects that they can use as platforms from which to fish for food. Pieces of driftwood, rocks, and bushy plants such as guppy grass make the ideal tank decor.

Plants are an essential addition to the tank as they provide hiding places for the shrimp when they’re molting. Plants also provide a food source for the shrimp when tiny fragments of the plants break off and float freely in the water column.

Water Quality

Filtration

Bamboo shrimp need a decent flow to enable them to feed. However, you do need to be careful when choosing a filter system, as shrimp can be dragged into the filter inlet pipe.

Beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Aquascape.

I generally recommend a sponge filter for a shrimp tank. However, you can use something else if you prefer, but you’ll need to use a piece of thin foam to cover the filter inlet pipe so that the shrimp don’t get sucked inside the filter.

An air stone or bubbler can work very well if you want to add more surface agitation and create more water movement.

Water Quality

If you keep shrimp, you should know that these creatures are extremely sensitive to ammonia in the water. So, you must pay attention to keeping the water clean.

Also, it’s not a good idea to introduce Bamboo shrimp to an immature tank. There may not be sufficient food in the water column for the shrimp, and there’s also a risk of ammonia spikes.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

A small catfish ancistrus stuck to the glass of the aquarium near the thermometer

Unlike some species of shrimp, Bamboo shrimp come from warm, tropical waters, so they need a heated tank with a water temperature of between 75o and 81o F.

Water Hardness And pH Range

The water pH level should be in the range of 7.0 to 7.5, with a water hardness of 3 to 10 dKH.

Lighting

In the Bamboo shrimps’ natural environment, the lighting is quite bright, so it’s a good idea to replicate that in your aquarium. 

Brighter lighting also gives you a wider range of easy-care plants to choose from.

Aquarium Maintenance

Just like your fish, Bamboo shrimp need a well-maintained tank if they are to thrive.

Young man changing water in aquarium using siphon.

You will need to carry out partial water changes of around 25% to 30% every week. The filter media needs rinsing through in dirty tank water once a month or so that it doesn’t become clogged. That is essential to keep a good flow through the tank for the shrimp. You’ll also need to replace the filter media periodically in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Even though the shrimp will eat some of the waste matter that’s trapped in the substrate when it floats up into the water column, you still need to deep-clean the gravel with an aquarium siphon vacuum.

How To Set Up An Aquarium For Bamboo Shrimp

To set up your aquarium for Bamboo shrimp, collect everything you’re going to need before you start, including:

  • LED light unit
  • Gravel
  • Sponge filter
  • Air stone/bubbler
  • Heater
  • Driftwood, rocks, and smooth stones
  • Lots of bushy plants
  • Water conditioner

Setting Up A Bamboo Shrimp Aquarium

Now you have everything you need on hand; you can set up your aquarium.

  1. Put the gravel into a clean bucket and place the bucket under running water to wash away dust. That’s important, as otherwise, the water will be cloudy when you fill the tank.
  2. Wipe the inside of the tank with a clean cloth to remove dust and debris from the packing materials.
  3. Now that your aquarium is clean add a couple of inches of gravel to cover the bottom. Don’t worry too much about getting things perfect just yet. You can aquascape the tank properly once you’ve filled it with water.
  4. Set an upturned dish on the gravel in the center of the tank. You’re going to pour water over the dish when you fill the tank so as not to displace the substrate.
  5. Put the filter and heater into the tank; you don’t need to turn them on yet.
  6. Use dechlorinated tap water to fill the tank, pouring it over the upturned dish.
  7. You can’t add fish or shrimp to your tank until it’s fully cycled. To start the cycle, you need to provide something for the nitrifying bacteria in the biological filter media to process. So, add a little substrate from a mature, healthy tank, put a drop or two of pure ammonia into the water, or sprinkle a little fish food onto the water surface.
  8. Give your tank decorations a wash to remove dust and arrange them in the aquarium.
  9. Now, put your plants into the tank, taking care to allow plenty of space for each stem to grow and spread. If necessary, snip off any brown leaves and broken stems.
  10. Set the timer on your lighting unit so that it comes on for eight to ten hours every day. Even though the tank is empty right now, light is essential for your plants to photosynthesize.
  11. Turn on the filter so that the water is circulated around the tank and through the filter media. You also need to switch on the heater for your plants.
  12. Now, you must allow the aquarium to cycle for ten days. Testing the water every other day.
  13. The levels of ammonia and nitrites in the water must be zero and the nitrates as close to below 20ppm if possible. When the levels in the water are stable, you can add a few fish. However, I suggest that you wait for a couple of weeks more before introducing Bamboo shrimp to the setup.

Health And Disease

Although Wood shrimp are generally fairly healthy critters, several common diseases can afflict them. 

If your shrimp do get sick, you must be extremely careful what medication you use to treat them. Lots of aquarium treatments and medicines contain copper. Copper is highly toxic to shrimp and would most likely kill them.

So, before using any kind of water treatment, always read the product label carefully first.

Signs Of Healthy Bamboo Shrimp

When Bamboo shrimp are healthy, they will spend most of their time anchored to one of your tank decorations, catching food from the water as it flows past them.

Your shrimp should also molt their shell every month or two. During that time, the shrimp are vulnerable and will take shelter somewhere safe for a couple of days until their new shell hardens properly. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the shrimp during that time to make sure that they do reemerge with their new shell.

Signs Of Ill Health

If your Bamboo shrimp shows any of the following behaviors, it could be sick:

  • Not filter feeding
  • Inactivity
  • Hiding away for long periods
  • Not molting

Common Bamboo Shrimp Health Issues And Treatment 

Health Issue

Vorticella

Scutariella Japonica

Bacterial infections

Ellipsoid, Dinoflagellate, Epibionts

Symptoms or Causes

Vorticella is a parasite that manifests as white mold on the shrimp’s head, body, and the tip of its nose.

A species of flatworm or nematode that attacks the gills and mantle of the shrimp.

Typically affect the shrimp’s internal organs. Bacterial infections often go undetected until it’s too late, and the shrimp usually dies.

These are all external parasites that often appear as green, cotton-like growths on the shrimp’s underside and between its legs. The shrimp appear weak and lethargic before dying.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Health Issue

Vorticella

Symptoms or Causes

Vorticella is a parasite that manifests as white mold on the shrimp’s head, body, and the tip of its nose.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Health Issue

Scutariella Japonica

Symptoms or Causes

A species of flatworm or nematode that attacks the gills and mantle of the shrimp.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Typically affect the shrimp’s internal organs. Bacterial infections often go undetected until it’s too late, and the shrimp usually dies.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Health Issue

Ellipsoid, Dinoflagellate, Epibionts

Symptoms or Causes

These are all external parasites that often appear as green, cotton-like growths on the shrimp’s underside and between its legs. The shrimp appear weak and lethargic before dying.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with shrimp-safe OTC medication.

Breeding

Bamboo shrimp are next to impossible to breed in the home tank setting. That’s because the shrimp larvae need brackish water conditions to survive, and they won’t develop in freshwater.

In nature, the eggs hatch into larvae, which then go through multiple developmental stages before finally morphing into shrimplets.

Availability

The Bamboo shrimp has become an extremely popular addition to the freshwater fish tank in recent years, which makes them pretty readily available. 

You will most likely find these shrimp for sale in your local fish store. Alternatively, you’ll be able to buy Wood shrimp online

Top Tip 

When you’re searching for Bamboo shrimp, you may find them advertised under many names, including:

  • Wood shrimp
  • Singapore Wood shrimp
  • Asian Filter-Feeding shrimp
  • Fan shrimp
  • Singapore Flower shrimp
  • Flower shrimp
  • Singapore Shrimp

You can generally buy Bamboo shrimp for around $3 to $6 for smaller specimens. Larger shrimp will be slightly more expensive.

When choosing your shrimp, make sure that they have all their antennae and legs and that each one is lively and displaying its full color.

What You’ll Need For Your Bamboo Shrimp Tank

If you’ve never kept shrimp before, I strongly recommend that you buy a book on keeping invertebrates.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to keeping the fascinating Bamboo shrimp.

If you have Bamboo shrimp, we’d love to know if you managed to raise them in your home tank successfully. Tell us in the comments box below!

And please remember to share this guide if you found it helpful.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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