Snowball shrimps aren’t as famous as other neocaridina varieties like red cherries and yellow shrimps, but boy are they pretty! These shrimps look nothing short of sparkling jewels in a tank with a dark substrate.
On top of that, they’re easy to care for and breed, mind their own business, and take on the role of tank’s janitor.
Their translucent, white coloration adds ornamental beauty to the tank. At the same time, their scavenging trait keeps algae and organic debris at bay.
In this care guide, you’ll find all the information you need on how to raise and breed snowball shrimps. Let’s begin with a quick summary.
Snowball Shrimp: Introduction
Snowball shrimps are the selectively bred white variant of the Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis. Although their original, wild root traces back to Taiwan, they were bred in pearly white hues for the first in 2006 by German aquarist Ulf Gottschalk.
Reportedly, it took several generations and years of selective breeding to create snowball shrimps, which are also known by the names of snow shrimp and white pearl shrimp.
The name snowball shrimp comes from the extremely white eggs they lay, which look almost identical to tiny snowballs.
|Scientific Name||Neocaridina Palmata var. White|
|Other Names||Snow shrimp, White pearl shrimp|
|Water Temperature||65-85 °F|
Appearance Of Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps, as the moniker suggests, are milky white from head to tail. However, the underside and legs are transparent. Some variants also have a slight blue undertone to them. Like with most shrimps, the female shrimp is larger than its male counterpart. Females also have a saddle and a curved underbelly.
The color intensity is almost the same in both, apart from the highly white saddle in adult females.
Their opaque, white body creates a beautiful contrast against the tank’s green and earthy tones – elevating the tank’s aesthetic instantly.
These shrimps are pretty small in stature – barely an inch long, even in adulthood.
A fully grown shrimp is around 0.75 to 1.25 inches long. And the most common purchase size ranges around 0.50 to 0.75 inches.
Behavior Of Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps are social and peaceful animals. They are quite active and swim around a lot if they don’t feel threatened in the tank. You’ll often see them foraging on algae and biofilm growing in the tank’s substrate, plants, and decorations.
These shrimps thrive in a group. They usually form a large group and move around together, which is quite striking to see. They also have a somewhat established pecking order.
Tank Size For Snowball Shrimp
The minimum required tank size for snowball shrimps is 5 gallons (19 liters). However, it’s recommended to at least keep them in a 10-gallon (38 liters) tank.
And you can keep a colony of around 10 snowball shrimps in a tank. They’re friendly animals that love to live and forage in a group.
Tank Setup For Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps are incredibly hardy species that don’t demand elaborate tank setups. Thus, setting up a tank for them isn’t a challenge. However, once again, I would advise you to at least get a 10-gallon tank if you’re a beginner. Upfront, it does seem that smaller tanks are easier to maintain, but that’s far from the truth.
They’re, in fact, more temperamental. Like any other shrimp, your snowball shrimp won’t do well if the water values change too much.
Although they are scavengers that often feed on waste, a sturdy filter is a must to avoid the frequent clouding of water.
If you’re interested in breeding and raising snowball shrimp fry, you need to get a sponge filter or a filter with an intake cover to avoid your tiny fry being sucked in.
Snowball shrimps do well in a wide range of temperatures. Some claim that their shrimps live perfectly fine at room temperature, but it’s still better to get a heater.
Even the slightest overlooked factors like a sunny day, humidity, and an open window can fluctuate the room temperature.
These shrimps also love to hide and relax, so don’t forget to add plenty of live plants and safe decorations like caves and flats in the tank.
A snowball shrimp’s health and mood are often reflected in its appearance. For example, a happy and healthy shrimp usually sports brighter and denser colors.
Thus, it’s essential to maintain a natural and healthy tank environment at all times.
Here’s our recommended equipment for your snowball shrimp habitat:
NEWKOSEA Double Sponge Filter
Tetra Whisper Air Pump
Cobalt Aquatics Adjustable Heater
Water Parameters For Snowball Shrimps
Snowball shrimps are recommended for beginners because they’re tolerant of a wide range of water values. There are slim margins for error here and there, as long as the tank’s cycled and its nitrites and ammonia levels are in check.
|General Hardness (GH)||4-12|
|Carbonate Hardness ( KH)||3-8|
|Total Dissolved Solids (TDS):||150-250|
Snowball shrimps are known to tolerate a broader range of temperature and chemical change than other shrimps. However, it doesn’t mean they require any less care.
To maintain the water quality, make a habit of regularly using liquid test kits. Although you can also use test strips, the liquid test kits are far superior in terms of accuracy.
You should also conduct weekly water changes to eliminate the nitrate buildup.
Also, it’s vital to use copper-free medications in the tank. Many medications used for fish contain high amounts of copper. So, before you buy any product for the tank, make sure to go through the label first.
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Best Tankmates For Snowball Shrimp
Since snowball shrimps are non-aggressive and social, they do well in most aquariums. However, they also breed and populate the tank quickly, which could be a problem with certain tankmates. Suitable tankmates include livebearers, small catfish, invertebrates, and schooling fish.
Best shrimps to pair with snowball shrimp:
Best snails to pair with snowball shrimp:
- Ramshorn snail
- Rabbit snail
- Nerite snail
- Malaysian trumpet snail
- Mystery snail
- Japanese trapdoor snail
- White wizard snail
Best fish to pair with snowball shrimp:
- Otocinclus catfish
- Pygmy cory catfish
- Kuhli loaches
- Royal farlowella
- Albino bristlenose pleco
- Dwarf rasboras
Tankmates To Avoid For Snowball Shrimp
Given their petite size and delicate nature, snowball shrimps shouldn’t be placed in the same tank with bigger loaches, puffers, and other carnivores that will feed on invertebrates.
Some fishes to avoid are:
- Large gourami
- Large rainbow fish
If you plan to breed your snowball shrimp, make sure you don’t place it in the same tank with other shrimps from Neocaridina species like blue velvet shrimp, blue tiger shrimp, and red cherry shrimp.
If your snowball shrimp breeds with any of these shrimps, chances are the offspring will most probably be brownish, plain-looking mutts.
Feeding Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps are omnivores that will try to eat anything they can fit into their mouths. For most parts, they feed on freshwater algae, organic waste, and biofilm – making them excellent tank cleaners. However, since our tanks are clean most of the time, you should fortify their diet.
Snowball shrimps can eat blanched vegetables, frozen shrimp food, sinking flakes, and algae wafers. They can even eat organic nettle leaves, Indian almond leaves, and alder cones.
For blanched veggies, you can give zucchini, baby carrots, spinach, and peas.
As for commercial food, here are two of our recommendations:
Invert Aquatics Mini Algae Discs
Since algae make up a large portion of their diet in nature, you should routinely incorporate algae in their diet. It helps in strengthening their immune system.
Ebita Breed Spinach Tab
Spinach is super rich in vitamins and minerals that promote coloration and molting.
Overfeeding is quite prevalent among beginners. However, since snowball shrimps also feed on the tank’s organic matter, you should always channel moderation when providing.
You should only feed your shrimp once every day. For portion, only give the amount he can finish over the next 2 hours. Quickly remove any uneaten food after a couple of hours so that the tank isn’t polluted.
Overfeeding can lead to several issues such as poor quality, harmful bacteria growth, parasitic infestations, and even death. Some of the most common parasites that flourish in a dirty tank are hydra, planaria, vorticella, and ellobiopside.
Caring For Snowball Shrimp
Caring for snowball shrimps is relatively easy since they do well in a broad range of water parameters. They can be kept in a freshwater tank with passive fish and invertebrates that don’t threaten them.
They thrive in community shrimp tanks and tropical fish tanks as long as the tank’s inhabitants are peaceful.
You can add driftwood, caves, and live plants in the tank to provide refuge to hide in and surface to forage on. However, since shrimps aren’t fond of sudden changes in the environment, don’t overly change the water. They need stable water parameters and sturdy filtration to thrive in a tank.
Don’t use conditioner or product that contains copper since shrimps are intolerant of this element.
Acclimatizing Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps don’t take too well to sudden and frequent water changes. Thus, it’s important to acclimate them to their new environment gradually. You can use a dripping method for that.
First, place the shrimp in a bowl containing the water it came with. Next, over several hours, slowly change the bowl’s water until it has a mix of ⅔ tank water and ⅓ original water. Then gently net and put it into its new home.
Shrimps often lose coloration due to travel stress. However, with the correct parameters and diet, the pearly white color should resurface soon.
Breeding Snowball Shrimp
Snowball shrimps are incredibly easy to breed. As long as the water conditions are met, you should always have a good turnout of shrimp fry. Female shrimps, most of the time carry eggs. Once fertilized, the eggs will hatch after 30-45 days.
When hatched, they look like the miniature version of the adults. They don’t go through the intermediate plankton stage.
Snowball shrimps reach adulthood at around 2-3 months of age.
On the female shrimp’s ‘shoulder,’ you can see the eggs developing in the ovary. The ovaries’ shape drapes across both sides of the shrimp – giving it the appearance of a saddle. Once the saddle becomes noticeable, it signifies that your female shrimp is ready to mate.
After fertilization, the female will carry eggs with it until they’re ready to hatch. There are about 30 to 50 eggs in one clutch.
When the eggs are close to hatching, you can even see a set of eyes on the eggs!
Another way of checking if the eggs are ready to hatch is the emergence of a new saddle while the eggs are still present in the female’s body. It signifies that the female’s body is prepared to have new eggs, and the current eggs are about to hatch.
The hatchlings are transparent for the first few weeks of their life. Thus, they can be quite hard to spot.
The fry will usually feed on biofilm until their mouths are big enough to eat other food. You can then fortify their diet. Some options are algae tablets, crushed flake food, and baby brine shrimp food.
How To Breed Snowball Shrimp?
If you’re serious about breeding snowball shrimp, you should move the pregnant shrimp into a breeding tank. In the breeding tank, install a heater, a sponge filter, and an air stone set to maintain the optimum parameters.
There’s a good chance in the community tank that they won’t make it to adulthood since they’re either sucked in by a filter or consumed by bigger fish.
Once the eggs hatch, you can select the ones with the best coloration to continue your line. The mutts and faintly-colored fry can go into the main tank as a feeder for fish or be raised in a separate tank.
Make sure that the water parameters are adequately maintained in the breeding tank. For example, the levels of nitrite and ammonia in the tank should be extremely low.
Interbreeding Snowball Shrimp
It’s important to note that most neocaridina varieties will interbreed. So, although adding them in the same tank would elevate the aesthetics (for example, snowball and red cherry shrimps), they will often produce brownish, less desirable offspring.
Snowball shrimps have been engineered to have distinct white coloration. So, crossing them with another type of Neocaridina will result in an undesirable morph that just beats the purpose of raising selectively bred species.
Once the color is lost in the second generation, it’s tough and almost hard to restore.
Buying Snowball Shrimp
When buying snowball shrimp, or any other shrimp, there are 3 things you should consider: the shipping distance, the seller’s credibility, and the shrimp’s anatomy.
As much as possible, buy the shrimp from a nearby store so that the little creature doesn’t have to go through the stress of being shipped in a plastic pouch for a thousand miles. That’s most likely the case if you’re buying the shrimp from another city or state.
So, by the time the shrimp comes home to you, it’ll be in a very fragile and deteriorated condition, which could even be deadly.
The seller’s credibility should also be a matter of concern. Don’t forget to gauge the living conditions of the creatures living in his shop and how they’re bred. If you’re buying online, don’t forget to look for honest reviews and secure payment options.
And lastly, make sure that you’re bringing home a perfectly healthy shrimp with all parts intact. Especially look for the eyes, head, and claws that are most prone to injuries.
Conclusion: Snowball Shrimp Care Guide
So, to sum it up, snowball shrimps are a great addition to any tank. They don’t only bring their pearly beauty but also their purposeful cleaning habit with them.
Although these shrimps can thrive in a wide range of conditions and temperatures, it’s best to maintain everything at optimal.
These shrimps are also prolific breeders. So, if you ever want to establish a snowball shrimp colony, it should be fairly easy. Just make sure they don’t interbreed with other shrimps from Neocaridina species, which can produce plain-looking mutts!