Yes, all freshwater angelfish do eat shrimp if given the opportunity. As ambush predators with an omnivorous appetite, these cichlids prey on macroinvertebrates like shrimp in their natural environment.
If you want to keep shrimp as a pet, they will need a community tank setting where they are not part of the dinner menu.
As avid hobbyists with years of experience, we want to promote fishkeeping by offering sound advice and researched data. Offering misleading information breaks trust and damages the fishkeeping hobby. We recommend not keeping shrimp with your Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum, or Pterophyllum leopoldi because we want you to avoid frustration.
To better understand why shrimp with angelfish is a bad idea, we will touch on things like:
- Why shrimp make poor tank mates for freshwater angelfish
- A breakdown of problems for some of the more popular shrimp species
- Answers to common questions we receive about shrimp with angelfish
Can Angelfish and Shrimp Live Together
Will angelfish eat shrimp? You bet they will! This is the main reason why we believe shrimp do not belong in a tank with angelfish.
Freshwater angelfish are cichlids
The stars of your angelfish tank are members of the Cichlidae family. Even though they are considered a less-aggressive cichlid, they are still aggressive fish that will attack smaller tank mates like shrimp.
Pterophyllum can coexist with peaceful tank mates, but they are ambush predators hardwired by genetics to swallow animals that fit into their mouths. It is one of the driving forces behind why we suggest you keep pet shrimp in a separate aquarium.
Your fish are omivores
Most fish, including cichlid species, will eat other animals if given the opportunity. The term used to describe a diet of animals and plants is an omnivore. They are not a picky eater, and that makes your shrimp pets a target for a quick meal.
As a native of the Amazon River Basin, these South American cichlids have access to various food sources in the wild. These include algae, aquatic vegetation, small fish, insects, larvae, plankton, and shrimp.
If you have spent enough time in the hobby, you know that cichlid keepers will feed live prey items like shrimp to their fish. Your pet’s dietary preferences are another reason we recommend keeping shrimp out of your fish tank.
Shrimp live in the Amazon River Basin
Several shrimp species live in the Amazon River Basin, including Palaemon carteri, Palaemon ivonicus, and Palaemon yuna. They subside on algae growth, decaying animal or plant materials, fungi, and leaf litter.
Native shrimp use the murky waters of the thousands of tributaries that feed the basin as a home, and it is safe to say wild Pterophyllum snack on them. There is just no getting around the problem of housing shrimp in a tank with angelfish.
Types of shrimps
Will angelfish eat shrimp? We get asked this a lot since keeping crustaceans has grown in popularity recently.
Several types of shrimps would make visually stunning additions to your community tank, but the sad truth is your angelfish tank is not the ideal place for them. Let’s look at some of the more popular species on the market for a better picture.
Outside Red Cherrys, the Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata) is a species people inquire about as potential tank mates for their angelfish tank. This crustacean hails from Japan and Taiwan. It is also called the Yamato shrimp.
These shrimp range from grey to transparent in color and have dots running the length of their bodies. The dark-colored dots can turn greener if the shrimp’s diet is algae-heavy. This natural camouflage is why some wonder if they can live in a tank with angelfish.
Size, or lack thereof, is a theme you will see play out regarding most of the popular crustacean species in the hobby. Amano shrimp can reach two inches, which is still small enough to be targeted for attack by your angelfish.
Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis) is a crustacean hailing from the waters of Southeastern Asia. They live in the wild in India, the Samoan Islands, and Sri Lanka. The Dwarf Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis spinipes) looks similar and might confuse some keepers.
Unlike other shrimp species in the trade, these shrimp have a dull reddish-brown color. They are filter feeders, which means these shrimp pull small partictles of food out of water by filtering it. The process involves specialized appendages that grab suspended particles that they then move to their mouths.
People often contemplate these shrimp with angelfish because of their size. They are larger shrimp that can reach up to three inches long. The species has no defenses; they lack claws or pincers.
Fully grown Bamboo shrimp will be targets for adult angelfish, and a lack of defenses makes them a food item that your pets will not mind spending energy on.
Blue Tiger shrimp
The Blue Tiger shrimp (Caridina mariae) is a colorful species that most likely originated in China. While its exact pathway into the aquatic hobby is uncertain, we presume its unique colorization is what places it on so many keeper radars.
It has orange-colored eyes and a blue shell, offering a stunning display for any community tank you would keep it in. While we admit those colors would look fantastic in an angelfish tank, it would be under attack from the start.
The females can reach 1.2 inches, but the males might stop growing at 0.8 inches. Their size alone makes them a target for fish in your aquarium. Blue Tiger shrimp are omnivores that enjoy algae and biofilm.
Will angelfish eat these shrimp? Their size and color make them prey in any tank with angelfish.
Red Cherry shrimp
One of the more popular crustaceans found in our hobby is the Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi). It originates from eastern China and the north of Taiwan. Of all the types of shrimps we get asked about, angelfish keepers ask more about keeping these shrimp with angelfish than any others.
Its red is striking and stands out against green vegetation or dark substrates. What makes it so visually appealing would also bring it under attack quickly in your community tank.
You might get some of these to grow to 1.5 inches, but many fall short of this mark. That smaller size makes them a prey item that will fit into an adult angelfish’s mouth. These omnivores are natural scavengers that eat biofilm and plant matter all over the aquarium.
Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus), also called glass shrimp, are a species of freshwater shrimp native to waters in southeastern portions of the United States.
These crustaceans are unusual in that they are transparent. That can make them difficult to spot under certain lighting conditions or spots in the fish tank. It is also why some people ask about keeping these shrimp with angelfish.
Adult specimens reach about 1.5 inches, a size that makes them small enough to eat. We have also heard of people using these crustaceans as food for their cichlids. That should be enough of a clue as to why we could not recommend these shrimp for your freshwater angelfish aquarium.
Which shrimps can you keep with angelfish?
We can not recommend any types of shrimps that would be safe to keep in an angelfish tank.
You could reduce the frequency of an attack by providing plenty of space for the two species to stay apart. Hiding places can help shrimp escape danger if they spot it in time. We have even read that some keepers keep their freshwater angelfish so satiated with food that they will not attack shrimp in the community tank.
With all of those things in place, nature will still prevail. Shrimp are a natural food source that your angelfish will not hesitate taking. It might not happen for a few days, weeks, or months, but it will happen eventually.
Do Not Fall for the Shell Game
You can not keep shrimp in your angelfish tank. The fish are cichlids with an aggressive nature compared to more docile tropical fish. They are also omnivores that feed on small crustaceans like shrimp in the wild.
There are several popular shrimp species in the hobby at the moment, and as you see, most are small enough to be eaten. One thing about the aquarium hobby is you never have enough tanks. If you want to enjoy shrimp in an aquarium, get them a separate tank.
You will find resources that indicate tropical fish that can live with shrimp, but take any sources that say you can keep angelfish and shrimp together with a grain of salt.
If you have any questions, post them so we can address the issue quickly for you and your angelfish!
Will angelfish eat freshwater shrimp?
Yes, freshwater angelfish will eat the shrimp they find in their aquarium. Your pets are cichlids and omnivores, meaning small tank mates can become a food source. Most fish will make a meal of shrimp, with a few noted exceptions by those specializing in keeping shrimp as pets.
Will angelfish eat red cherry shrimp?
Yes, freshwater angelfish will eat red cherry shrimp if placed in the same fish tank together. Even though your pets are one of the less-aggressive cichlids on the market, they are still omnivores that would view red cherry shrimp as a natural food source.
Can Amano shrimp live with angelfish?
No, Amano shrimp can not live in an aquarium with cichlids, including those from the Pterophyllum genus. You might read some online sources indicating that Amano can live with your fish because it reaches two inches in adulthood, but that is not big enough to prevent your pets from attacking and eating the shrimp.
Can red cherry shrimp live with angelfish?
No, red cherry shrimp can not live with your freshwater angelfish. These fish are omnivores, meaning they eat animals and plants. They will not hesitate to make a quick meal of red cherry shrimp that reach about 1.5 inches at maximum.