Purple Zebra Shrimp
Purple Zebra Shrimp

Purple Zebra Shrimp

English name: Purple Zebra Shrimp
Scientific name: Potamalpheops sp.
Origin: Asia
Size: 0.25 in / 6 mm (both sexes)
Water temperature: 73 - 82 °F / 23 – 28 °C
Recommended pH range: 6.6 - 7.4
Behaviour: non-aggressive
Difficulty: easy
Breeding rate: has not been successfully raised in aquaria, needs saltwater to reproduce

Introduction to Purple Zebra Shrimp

The Purple Zebra shrimp has a beautiful purple colouration, but it is a fairly small shrimp and it is known to spend a lot of time hiding. Since it cannot be bred in freshwater, the specimens you find in the trade are normally wild caught.

Geographical origin and habitat

The Purple Zebra shrimp originates from Asia.

Physical appearance

As the name suggests, the Purple Zebra shrimp displays a purple colour. It is a comparatively small shrimp, no larger than 0.25 in / 6 mm.   

Keeping Purple Zebra Shrimp

This is quite a flexible species that can adapt to both acidic and alkaline conditions and handle water temperatures in the 73 - 82 °F / 23 – 28 °C range. The Purple Zebra shrimp has gotten a reputation of being extremely delicate, but this is not true. The problem is that many exporters subject the shrimp to a lot of stress during capture, handling and shipping which means that the specimens that turn up in the trade tend to be in quite poor condition.

Keep the levels of organic waste down in the aquarium. If you encounter a sudden spike in nitrogenous waste, it is okay to let the Purple Zebras be without food for a few days while you rectify the problem. 

Feeding Purple Zebra Shrimp

The Purple Zebra shrimp will happily devour virtually all kinds of food in the aquarium. Keeping it on a varied diet will decrease the risk of health problems. You can for instance combine blanched greens (lettuce, brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc) with prepared foods like pellets, flakes and algae wafers. Occasional meaty treats, e.g. in the form of bloodworms, will be appreciated. When feeding, don’t forget that this is a very small shrimp.

Do not feed your Purple Zebra shrimps more than they can eat in 2-3 hours. If there is still left over food after this, you are feeding them too much or they are too shy to come out and eat, e.g. due to a lack of suitable hiding spots.

Sexing and breeding Purple Zebra Shrimp

As far as we know, the Purple Zebra shrimp has never been successfully bred in captivity. With a bit of luck, shrimp breeders with previous experience from similar species, i.e. freshwater species that need saltwater to reproduce, will soon get the hang of it and provide the hobby with an alternative to the wild caught ones. Hopefully, this will in turn force exporters to develop new and less damaging handling techniques in order to successfully compete with capture bred specimens.

Sexing Purple Zebra shrimps is difficult, since both sexes are of the same (and very diminutive) size. They also have the same colour and body shape. When the female is ready to reproduce, she will develop a green saddle and later also green eggs.  

Purple Zebra shrimps needs saltwater to successfully hatch as larvae and develop into adult shrimp. It can successfully hatch eggs in unsuitable water conditions, but the offspring will not develop properly and reach adulthood.

The female carries her eggs for roughly three weeks before they hatch and tiny larvae emerge. The larvae float around freely in the water and can be hard to see since they are very small and almost completely transparent.