View Full Version : Caridina Cantonesis sp. "Crystal Red/Black Shrimp"

06-27-2017, 08:24 PM
I wasn't able to find a care sheet on these guys here in the AC when I was planning out my crystal tank, so I figured I'd create a thread going over the general husbandry for these amazing little creatures. If I've missed a similar thread/section that already goes over all of this, the mods are welcome to delete this one.

Caridina Cantonesis - The Bee Shrimp


There are two common color variations of this amazingly beautiful species; red and black. Their striking appearance and tendency to be a bit more difficult to successfully breed compared to their incredibly popular cousins, the Red Cherry Shrimp, have led many people to try their hand at keeping the bee shrimp. Although the prospect of maintaining a tank with very specific water parameters seems a bit intimidating for some, the payoff is huge if done successfully. Not only are the shrimp beautiful, but there is quite a market for them and the keeper can fetch a good price if they sell decent grade bees.

Tank size

As with most dwarf shrimp species, bees do not require a large space in order to be content. This being said, the ideal tank size is generally agreed upon as a 20g long. The larger volume of water helps prevent sudden changes in water parameters, which bee shrimp are sensitive to.

Bees can be kept in smaller tanks, such as five and ten gallon tanks, but extra care needs to be taken and frequent monitoring of the parameters becomes more necessary.

Water parameters

Baby bees are known to be very fragile. In order to maximize a high yield of surviving babies, the water must be incredibly clean, and the tank needs to be stable and have an established cycle. Most breeders use purified water that has been re-mineralized. We will spend more time on this, later.

Ammonia and Nitrites - Bees have a zero tolerance for any detectable levels of ammonia or nitrites. Their tank needs to have an established bio filter that can handle nitrification processes immediately and efficiently. Using "instant cycle" products is not advised as many times those products fail and you stand to lose your expensive bees.

Nitrates - The general consensus is that nitrates should not exceed 20ppm.

Temperature - Bees like water that is a little cooler than most tropical fish. Try to aim for 70-73*F.

pH - Although bees, like many other animals, can adapt to pH levels that aren't optimal for their survival, a neutral to slightly acidic pH is best for maximizing the health and success of breeding. Aiming for a range of 6.5-7.2 is best for these shrimp. pH meters are not advised as purified water can give wacky results. A liquid test kit is reliable and will last quite a while.

Total Dissolved Solids - Total dissolved solids (TDS) refers to all inorganic salts/minerals/metals that are dissolved into the water. Most breeders agree that the optimal range for TDS in a bee tank is 90-150ppm. TDS meters can be obtained for $10-15 for basic probes that can be placed in the water with immediate results.

Water Hardness - Water hardness is measured in two ways: carbonate hardness (kH), and general hardness (gH). These are tied into the TDS in that they are affected by the amount of "stuff" dissolved in the water. Water with a high degree of hardness typically has a high level of TDS, and vice versa.

Carbonate hardness (kH) needs to be at or near zero levels. Optimal range is 0-2 degrees of carbonate hardness (dkH).
General hardness (gH) needs to be between 4-6 degrees. Water that is too hard (more than 6*) becomes toxic to the bees, whereas water that is too soft (less than 4*) carries the risk of not providing enough calcium and other trace minerals needed to promote healthy exoskeletons.

kH/gH test kits are fairly cheap and can either be ordered online or purchased from most stores that sell aquarium supplies.

Purified water

Bee shrimp keepers generally agree that the best way to make sure all these target levels are easily attained is to use purified water. This can be water purified through reverse osmosis (RO) or even distilled. Either method is efficient at stripping the water of all minerals. RO water can be bought from local fish shops, or RO systems can be bought for home purification. Distilled water can be purchased for about $0.88/gallon from your local grocery stores. The downside of making your own RO water is that it takes a long time to be purified and you also waste about 4 gallons of water for every 1 gallon that is purified. The upside of making your own RO is that you don't have to keep spending more money over time and you don't have to make any trips to a store for more water.

Adding minerals to purified water - As mentioned before, bee breeders re-mineralize their water. If we were to use straight purified water, there wouldn't be enough minerals for optimal health. There are multiple brands of products out there that are specifically designed to add in the calcium and trace minerals to the water to ensure perfect health. These products can range from "dirty" salts that are cheap but will raise your kH and potentially your pH, to more pure products that are a bit pricey but will allow you to adjust your gH levels without affecting the kH and pH of the tank.


Substrates come in all shapes, sizes, and purposes. They can play a large role in how successful your bee colony is. Gravel is generally frowned upon due to its tendency to allow food and detritus to collect deeper in the substrate. In a tank in which the keeper is striving to create the most pristine environment possible, a collection of waste is not desirable. With sensitive bees, ramming a siphon into the gravel to get to all the waste on the bottom is not advised. Therefore, sand and other types of substrate with smaller grain sizes than gravel are preferred as it is easier to clean waste from the surface of the sand without needing to disturb the shrimp in the process.

Another very important factor in choosing a substrate is its buffering capacity. In a nut shell, a substrate's buffering capacity is its ability to keep the pH of the water at a stable level. A water's carbonate hardness (kH) works as a natural buffer in a normal aquarium. In a bee shrimp tank, however, kH is not something that the keeper wants to have, so the water is more prone to pH swings. If care is not taken, a keeper could have their pH crash in the tank, killing their nitrification cycle and/or the shrimp. Getting a substrate, such as Aqua Soil's Amazonia, can add a layer of extra protection against a pH crash as it will help buffer the water and keep it at the desired pH.

A planted bee tank

Plants are a perfect addition to any tank. They help clean toxins out of the water and provide lots of natural shelter for animals. They also harbor tons of bio film/microorganisms that shrimp thrive on, especially babies that are too small to eat supplemented pellet foods. The down side to a planted bee tank is that the keepers are trying to grow plants in a very sterile environment due to the purified water. Adding in fertilizer to the tank will effectively negate the effort the keeper put into purifying the water in the first place. Extra care needs to be taken to ensure that any dosing is minimal and does not push the TDS/kH/gH out of the optimal ranges. It is highly advised that any dosing of fertilizers is done in small increments with water testing after the ferts are added.

CO2 supplementation - Due to the sensitivity of the bee shrimp, liquid carbon products such as Excel and API CO2 Booster are not advised. These products contain chemicals that will kill your bees if abused/overdosed. CO2 injection, whether via DIY or full pressurized systems, is cautioned against. Injecting CO2 into water lowers the pH (hence why people use pH controllers to regulate how much CO2 they are injecting). In a bee tank that has very low buffering capacity due to the purified water/low kH, injecting CO2 could cause very rapid swings in the pH.

Some extremely easy to grow plants that do not require CO2 supplementation or lots of fertilizers are cryptocorynes, mosses, and anubias. These are excellent options for adding some plants to your bees' home.


As with other dwarf shrimp species, bees love a variety of foods, both fresh and processed. Fresh raw foods, such as zucchini, broccoli, and spinach are all widely-used foods.

Pellet-type foods are desirable due to their lack of a mess. High quality pellets or other prepared and compacted foods will reduce the mess in a tank as they stay together longer and don't fall apart and pollute the water/substrate.

Leaf litter works as both a food source as well as a means for softening the water and lowering the pH a bit. Cappata leaves, also known as Indian Almond Leaves, are a great addition as they do not make a huge mess when they decompose, and baby shrimp love to graze on the leaves.

This is in no way a definitive thread on caridina care, so please let me know if changes need to be made or extra info added. I've included only info that I've researched and believe to be accurate, as well as based on my own limited experience raising crystal/bee shrimp. I tried to avoid using any information that may be inaccurate, but I'm not perfect haha

I'd love to see some photos/videos from other members who are keeping or have kept crystals.

06-27-2017, 08:30 PM
A great vid I found on Youtube.