View Full Version : Australian native shrimp

02-03-2013, 08:37 AM
Found this article thought someone might like to read it.
written by Dave Wilson of www.Aquagreen. com.au
As you move around the country exploring the fsh and plants of creeks, rivers, billabongs and swamps little crustaceans always seem to get caught with the small fsh. Occasion- ally, some shrimps have a different shape to the majority or are more colourful. I started to bring these shrimps back to the public aquar- ium where I worked as food for larger fsh. Some species bred easily in the ponds and thus did not breed so readily.Ten to ffteen years ago I took some of these shrimps to the museum, and had them identifed by a technician. Two species were identifed as Caridina gracilirostris and Caridina longisrostris. Recently, I returned to the Museum and asked for a further two spe- cies identifcation. The frst was identifed as Caridina serratirostris and the other was differ- ent to the museum specimens and it was sug- gested that it was new to science.
Fortunately, crustacean scientist Peter Davies visited Darwin and I bought four local species for him to examine. Peter suggested that the Australian Atyidae shrimps needed plenty of taxonomie work and that my ID’s may be incor- rect. Armed with this uncertainty I sought out Dr Tim Page of Griffth University in Queens- land who kindly agreed to examine the four species of common NT atyids molecular biol- ogy (DNA compararison). The results were exciting all four of the local shrimps are unde- scribed species.

Darwin Red Nose Shrimp

Dr Page identifed this shrimp as belonging with the undescribed species that are referred to as Caridina sp. ‘Gulf1’. They have a long rostrum which seems to get longer and redder as the shrimp matures, the body is mostly clear with iridescent white spots and red tips on the outer extremities of the tail. They grow to a maxi- mum of 4 cm but are mostly ~2.5 cm.The females carry large green eggs which can develop in freshwater habitats.
This is a very abundant species among the aquatic vegetation in freshwater creeks near to Darwin and the Daly River catchment. They have also been found in tidal estuary areas that range from fresh to highly saline environments. In captivity they do very well in a planted aquaria and are quite good algae eaters.

Darwin Algae Shrimp

This undescribed species referred to as Caridina sp. ‘Ntnilot- ica’. This species is more abundant near the coastal creeks but is found 90 km from the sea in the Roper River NT at Roper Bar. It is the largest of the local atyids reaching almost 5 cm in length.
Males are smaller and less colourful than females which can be reddish or dark green with a cream stripe running along their back from the tip of the rostrum to then end of the tail. When a mature female moults she is surrounded by the smaller males so I am assuming that this is when they mate. After mating the females are laden with very small greyish eggs. Unfortunately initial attempts to raise these in fresh water were unsuccessful. When salt (half strength sea water), mangrove leaves, and local detritus from a small tidal creek were added, survival increased dramatically. After a few weeks, however, many tiny shrimp were tearing around the top of the tub when they were transferred into fresh water. Discussions with crustacean aquaculturists at Darwin Aquaculture Centre suggested the species may survive in fresh water but the correct type of plankton for their frst foods was unavailable in fresh water.

North Australian Chameleon Shrimp

Known as Caridina sp.‘WA 4’,This species is very similar to Car- idina serratirostris, known in the aquarium trade as ninja shrimp. We call it the chameleon shrimp, because it can change colours quickly, and disappear. It is the smallest of the local atyids reaching only 3 cm, but mostly found at 2 cm or less. The females are larger and more colourful, with the colour of the species differing by location. Specimens from areas with leaf litter are generally black with some white markings, others living amongst plants are red or orange with a cream stripe down the centre of the back running from rostrum to tail, while still others are green or blue with darker bands run- ning around their bodies. These shrimps have quite large eggs and breed readily in freshwater.

Blackmore River Caridina

This species is known as Caridina sp.‘NT2’, and is almost as small as the north Australian chameleon shrimp. It is abundant near the sea but has been found over 50 km up the Moil River NT. Caridina sp.‘NT2’ has large black eggs and can complete its life cycle in freshwater.This is the least colourful species and is transparent until almost full grown when females become coloured.

General husbandry

The diet is mostly detritus, algae, bacterial slimes and can be sub- stituted with plant based fake foods in captivity. The larger two species are very good at hair algae removal, a trait that makes them useful in the start up phase of a planted aquarium. Their water quality requirements are not too stringent as they are found in a wide variety of habitats, they will even suffer low dissolved oxygen levels, (except the red nose variety) but will not tolerate copper, chlorine or chloromine. It is a good practice to prepare water for water changes in advance and store it for a week or more to be certain all chlorine has gone. These shrimps are not suitable tank mates with larger fsh, and with smaller fsh they need places where they can hide or they will be targeted as food when they moult.


In the natural habitat,these shrimps live with up to 45 fsh species in a very hostile environment.When placed in the planted aquarium they will immediately seek refuge. After some adjustment, if there are not too many bigger fsh,they will be seen walking around on the substrate and in the plants feeding. In the sparsely populated aquarium all but the Darwin Algae Shrimp will breed.These are delightful little critters for those aquarists who take pleasure from small things.
Karen Combes formerly of the NT Museum for help with identi- fcation, Petshrimp.com forum for help with cultivation and identif- cation,The Technicians and Collections Manager at the NT Museum for putting up with my constant questions and Dr Tim Page for DNA sequencing and comparrison of the NT Shrimps against his collection. The staff at DAC (Darwin Aquaculture Centre)