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Blue Velvet Shrimp Care, Information & Pictures

Blue Velvet Shrimp are a color morph of Neocaridina davidi, a Taiwanese freshwater shrimp found in clear mountain streams. These shrimp have been captive bred for decades and there are now dozens of gorgeous color varieties.

About Blue Velvet Shrimp

The most popular by far is the Red Cherry Shrimp, a stunning crimson version that would look perfectly at home in a reef aquarium. And even within the group “Red Cherry” you have “Bloody Mary,” “Phoenix,” and other breeds that have varying intensities and patterns of red.

Blue Neocaridina Shrimp have been around for awhile. However the Blue Velvet Shrimp is one of the two most popular: a pale sky blue that’s far more beautiful than most blue breeds. The only other shrimp that compares is the Blue Dream Shrimp, which is much darker blue in color.

The origins of the Blue Velvet Shrimp are surprisingly mysterious. It’s clear that they are a captive-bred morph of Neocaridina davidi. But from what stock is still being decided.

Some shrimp breeders insist that the Blue Velvet Shrimp was bred from wild stocks just like the Red Cherry Shrimp. Others say it was developed from the standard blue, Chocolate, or Carbon Rili lines.

Regardless of how it came to be these shrimp are certainly having their moment in the sun as their popularity is skyrocketing! Let’s talk about Blue Velvet Shrimp care and how to have them thriving and breeding.

  • Common Names: Blue Velvet Shrimp, Blue Dream Velvet Shrimp, Blue Dwarf Shrimp
  • Scientific Name: Neocaridina davidi
  • Origin: Taiwan
  • Length: ¾ – 1 inch
  • Aquarium Size: 5+ gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Very Peaceful

Caring for Blue Velvet Shrimp

This section cover Blue Velvet Shrimp care topics such as aquarium size, water parameters, diet, and more.

Aquarium Size

When it comes to keeping Blue Velvet Shrimp the aquarium is definitely the easiest part! These shrimp won’t grow larger than 1 inch, with ¾ inch being more common. Therefore they will thrive even in aquariums as small as 2-5 gallons. Blue Velvet Shrimp can also be kept in planted jars with a couple of nano fish like Scarlet Badis.

Just be aware that if you keep them healthy and happy you’re guaranteed to have babies in the future. Eventually, you’ll either need to set up a larger tank or sell a few back to your local fish store.

Water Quality

Water quality is probably the most important aspect to shrimp care and where most new shrimp keepers fail. Invertebrates in general are very sensitive to dissolved nitrogenous wastes. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate will affect and kill them much more rapidly than with fish.

Therefore it’s best to only introduce shrimp into a fully cycled aquarium. Their bioload is very small but after a few days of feeding and pooping you’ll see an ammonia spike without some sort of filtration.

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Filtration can also complicate things for Blue Velvet Shrimp keepers. While adults are generally strong swimmers the babies are easily sucked into the intakes of power filters. Sponge filters are much better for shrimp tanks. While they don’t provide as much flow or aeration shrimp won’t quickly use up what oxygen naturally dissolves in the water anyway.

Sponge filters rely almost entirely on mechanical and biological filtration for their action. And as mechanical filters the bits they filter out stick to the floss. Shrimp actually love this because the biofilm that accumulates is their preferred food source! You’ll likely see your Blue Velvet Shrimp sitting on the sponge daily plucking away clawfuls of algae and microorganisms.

Blue Velvet Shrimp are otherwise unpicky when it comes to water parameters. Very slightly acidic to alkaline suits them (and most invertebrates) best: pH 6.8-7.5+. Their exoskeletons are mineralized and acidic water leeches elements like calcium from their shells.

Hard water, on the other hand, has no demineralizing effect, and is better for them, especially if you aren’t providing specialty shrimp food that contains nutrients for their shells.

Blue Velvet Shrimp also thrive in a wide range of temperatures. They will do fine anywhere between 64-82℉, with 72-78℉ being the ideal range for them. It’s better to err on the cooler side for most shrimp compared to other tropical animals.

blue velvet shrimp with eggs

Plants & Substrate

Blue Velvet Shrimp are very plant friendly – in fact, I’d almost say live plants are mandatory for keeping them. As biofilm feeders they need a constant supply of living film to graze on. Plants release phytochemicals, interact with the living environment, and create detritus, all of which helps keep the biofilm shrimp crave growing.

Plants also absorb free nitrogenous waste products, consume carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and create shade. Live plants even provide ready nurseries for baby shrimp to stay hidden in and graze. In short: they are absolutely perfect for Blue Velvet Shrimp.

Your plant options are nearly endless since these shrimp can live in a wide range of water temperatures and chemistries. But I definitely recommend stocking up on feathery, fine-leaved plants like Java Moss, Christmas Moss, and Guppy Grass.

The dense growth of these plants not only provides convenient places for adults to feed but nurseries for the tiny babies to avoid predators like fish. And since you’ll be growing live plants you also want to choose a planted aquarium substrate that supports them.

Most plants can be grown in either gravel or sand but I recommend sand or small gravel bits to keep the shrimp from looking “lost” among boulder-sized gravel bits.

Tank Mates for Blue Velvet Shrimp

Choosing tank mates can be a bit of an issue for Blue Velvet Shrimp because unfortunately, they are a natural food source for most fish. Adult shrimp are typically safe with fish up to twice their size. But even normally peaceful, smaller fish like Tetras may snap at a baby shrimp morsel.

Since Blue Velvet Shrimp have dozens of babies at a time losing a few may not bother you too much. So long as your tank is well planted a few are guaranteed to make it to adulthood with each spawning. Choosing tank mates for the adults is much more important.

Most nano fish are by far the best tank mates for Blue Velvet Shrimp. Chili Rasboras, Sparkling Gouramis, Guppies, and other fish that stay ¾ – 1½ inches in size are best for dwarf freshwater shrimp tanks.

However a few popular nano fish are dangerous – specifically Pea Puffers. You’d think that a fully-grown Blue Velvet Shrimp would be safe considering it’s actually larger than most adult Pea Puffers but you’d be mistaken…All Puffer Fish and their relatives (Triggerfish and Filefish) are specialized invertebrate hunters. Even the tiny Pea Puffer has heavy (for its size) teeth that it uses to crunch into snails and other tiny prey.

Pea Puffers are so tiny, cute, and fascinating to watch that many aquarists are tempted to try their luck. Results vary as Pufferfish of all sizes are notorious for having personality differences.

Some Pea Puffers ignore dwarf shrimp entirely while others rip the legs off them using their formidable teeth. Others still only go for babies. It’s hard to say and you never know if your Puffer will decide it wants to have a taste of shrimp. I recommend against keeping them with any invertebrates as even an exploratory bite can maim or kill a larger Blue Velvet Shrimp.

Obviously other predators are to be avoided, which are just about any aquarium fish much larger than 2-3 inches. Even if the fish can’t outright eat your Blue Velvet Shrimp it may decide to try, which is often fatal. If you order your shrimp online they may also be young fry. Baby shrimp are much hardier when shipped but are also bite sized for most fish.

Lastly, like all crustaceans, Blue Velvet Shrimp moult periodically. Their hard exoskeletons don’t grow as they do, meaning they need to shed them as they get larger. Once they moult, they are entirely soft for a few hours, making them an ideal snack for any passing fish.

On the other hand, Blue Velvet Shrimp get along very well with other invertebrates! Other dwarf shrimp work great, including their Red Cherry cousins.

Amano and Bamboo Shrimp grow fairly large but are harmless algae and filter feeders. But watch out for freshwater crabs and crayfish of all kinds. They are opportunists that will eat any shrimp they can catch.

Good Tank Mates for Blue Velvet Shrimp

  • Chili Rasboras, Galaxy Rasboras, Endler’s Livebearers, and other Nano Fish
  • Other Freshwater Shrimp
  • Snails, Clams, and other Invertebrates

Poor Tank Mates for Blue Velvet Shrimp

  • Pea Puffer fish and other shrimp predators
  • Most fish more than 2½ inches in length
  • Crabs and Crayfish

Feeding Blue Velvet Shrimp

Feeding Blue Velvet Shrimp is very straightforward as like all shrimp they are extremely unpicky and willing to eat just about anything. They prefer fresh and decaying vegetable matter for the most part as well as the biofilm that grows on rocks, pants, and driftwood.

Biofilm exists in all mature aquariums and is composed mostly of bacteria, infusoria, and algae. When you touch items that have been in the tank for some time it will likely have a slightly slimy feel to it. This is the biofilm that your shrimp are feeding on and when keeping Blue Velvet shrimp we want to encourage its formation!

To do so, you can provide ready places for it to accumulate. Driftwood, with its porous, organic surface, is an ideal place for biofilm to accumulate. Organic-rich waters, such as those in planted tanks, also naturally grow algae and biofilm for your shrimp

Since biofilm levels are hard to gauge and can fluctuate with water conditions and changes in lighting it’s a good idea to supplement their diet. One of the best ways to do so is to simply provide powdered bacteria.

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Products like Bacter AE seed the water so that your shrimp have a constant source of natural food. Blue Velvet Shrimp also love vegetables that have been boiled for a few minutes before being cooled and added to the tank.

Soft vegetables like spinach and squash will be covered in shrimp within minutes and completely eaten over the course of a few days. I recommend giving them a piece of boiled vegetable once per week while supplementing the natural biofilm with a powdered supplement if your tank doesn’t grow enough of it.

Prepared vegetarian foods like algae wafers and spirulina flakes are also readily eaten by Blue Velvet Shrimp. Prepared shrimp formulas are also an excellent product to have on hand, especially for the babies.

They provide a variety of micronutrients that are hard to get in other food sources and ensure that moults go with as few problems as possible.

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Breeding Blue Velvet Shrimp

Breeding Blue Velvet Shrimp is a real joy because shrimp spawning is so different from how fish go about things. Sexing them can be a bit of a challenge at first but assuming you have a group that’s the same age, it can be done.

Female Blue Velvet Shrimp are noticeably larger than males. They can grow up to an inch long while males rarely exceed ¾ inch. Also, the males will often be chasing the females about, hoping they are ready to breed.

Since they do so constantly you’re unlikely to witness the actual mating event. Instead, you’ll wake up one day to find your female berried (ripe with yellow eggs under her tail)

If you want to get into shrimp breeding, you’ll need to keep an eye on the color intensity of the young shrimp fry as they mature. Color intensity is a measure of the “quality” of the shrimp.

Typically, young shrimp are culled (killed) to isolate the genetics responsible for the Blue Velvet gene. With each spawning there’s always a chance you’ll get some shrimp that are pale blue or even wild colored. But with intense inbreeding you can reduce the chances significantly and ensure that the majority of the fry are a deep blue color.

Most shrimp keepers are simply interested in happy, healthy shrimp, so I have some good news for you! There’s next to nothing you need to do because if your Blue Velvet Shrimp are doing well they are guaranteed to spawn for you.

The female will carry her eggs under her tail for roughly a month. Once they hatch the young shrimp are essentially miniature versions of the adults. They also feed on exactly the same food: biofilm and dead plant matter.

This means they can be left in with their parents since they won’t molest or eat their young. Simply feed the babies as you would the adults and watch your Blue Velvet Shrimp grow into stunning adults!

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.

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