The Crystal Black Shrimp, or Bee Shrimp, is a bold, unique addition to a hobbyist’s aquarium. Crystal Black Shrimp require very specific water parameters and near perfect water quality. They are ideally kept in a species-specific tank because of their precise care needs. However, they are non-aggressive and active shrimp. These shrimp are not recommended for beginners, particularly because their difficult care requirements means that there is little room for mistakes. However, with a little experience under your belt these gorgeous shrimp are worth the extra effort.
The Crystal Black Shrimp in the shrimp hobby hails from Japan. Shrimp hobbyist Hisayasu Sukzuki bred Crystal Red Shrimp from a Crystal Black Shrimp mutation in 1996. Years of inbreeding to achieve the most desirable coloration and patterns explains the fragility of both red and black species. More opaque white coloration is considered the most desirable. There is an intricate grading system developed for the more popular Crystal Red Shrimp that is used for Crystal Black Shrimp as well. The grading system is as follows: the “SSS” grade shrimp has an opaque white body with black “flower” or “crown” patterns on the head/upper body of the shrimp. The “SS” grade shrimp has more black throughout the body, especially on the back of the shrimp. The SS grade is usually given when there is a “Hinomaru” pattern. The Hinomaru pattern is a black dot in the middle of the shrimp’s white back, symbolizing the Japanese flag. A “no-entry Hinomaru” is where there is a white stripe entering the Hinomaru pattern, similar to a no-entry street sign. There can also be a “Double Hinomaru” pattern, where there is another black dot near the shrimp’s tail. “S” grade Crystal Red Shrimp exhibit blacker coloration and must have opacity in both the black and white coloration. In this grade it is typical to see distinct bands of color. The number of bands, such as “Three White Band” or “Four White Band”, distinguishes these patterns. There are other patterns, such as the “V-Band” or “Tiger Tooth” that are considered desirable and can upgrade the shrimp’s grading to “S+”. “A” grade shrimp may appear very similar to “S” grade; they exhibit distinct banding but are downgraded to “A” grading because of transparency in their coloring. “A” grade shrimp are less expensive and therefore more appropriate for beginners to keeping Crystal Black Shrimp. “B” grade shrimp exhibit indistinct patterns of black and white, and are majority black with opacity throughout. Keep in mind that these shrimp are more fragile at higher grades, and can lose opacity when their water conditions change, so it can be a good idea to buy juvenile shrimp so that their color will develop fully once they are used to your tank.
Sexing Bee Shrimp can be somewhat difficult until the shrimp begin to mature. Female shrimp have slightly larger tails and display a “saddle” formation on the upper body, behind the head, where eggs are stored before fertilization. When female shrimp are “berried”, or have eggs ready for fertilization, the saddle shape will appear more prominent. Once the shrimp are fully-grown the males will be smaller than the females.
Crystal Black Shrimp need very specific water parameters and extremely clean water. These shrimp prefer soft, acidic water conditions. Their ideal temperature range is 21°-25° C. Their water should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 5,5 – 6,8. Ammonia and nitrite levels must be at 0ppm, and nitrate levels as close to 0ppm as possible (no more that 20ppm). There are many products on the market designed to help buffer your water to maintain healthy parameters for your Crystal Black Shrimp. Water should be changed at least 10 – 15% each week, and make sure to dechlorinate the water before adding to the aquarium. These shrimp are very sensitive to water changes, so frequent low-volume changes are preferable to infrequent high-volume changes. Especially at higher grades, these shrimp are extremely sensitive and should be treated with careful attention.
Crystal Black Shrimp are omnivores and require a well-balanced diet. Specialized Bee Shrimp food will help keep their coloring vibrant. Other options for food are algae flakes, blanched vegetables, and bloodworm. Feeding once per day or even every other day should be enough, especially if you have a mature planted tank with lots of plant waste, algae and biofilm for the shrimp to clean up. Be sure to remove any excess food that is left after feeding, as this can increase ammonia and nitrite levels. Excess food means that the shrimp are being overfed, which can damage their health and even kill them. When your shrimp molt out of their shell, make sure to leave the shells in the tank. They provide the necessary calcium in the shrimp’s diet.
Crystal Black Shrimp make an impressive addition to an experienced shrimp hobbyist’s aquarium. If you are looking for more of a challenge than Red Cherry shrimp varieties, Bee Shrimp are a great place to start. Although these shrimp require more care and attention, keeping these stunning and active shrimp can be extremely rewarding.
Our water parameters:
- pH – 5.8
- GH – 5
- KH – 0
- TDS – 140
Ideal water parameters:
- pH (5,5 – 6,8)
- GH (4 – 6)
- KH (0 – 1)
- TDS (100 – 190)
What to feed your shrimp?
- Shrimp King range offers the best results in our experience
- GlasGarten foods are great value for money
- OG shrimp food is a great local brand, good food
- We feed our shrimp a variety of different foods, a different type for each day
- A well balanced diet is essential to a healthy shrimp
Our mineralization process:
- Age your reverse osmosis (RO) water for 2 – 3 days with an air stone
- This will remove any additional evaporative odors
- Add a de-chlorinator for safety
- Aging the water will drop the pH of the RO water
- Add GH+ minerals to the RO water 24 hours prior to a water change
- Add minerals to achieve desired TDS (total dissolved solids)
- TDS will differ slightly in different areas
- Our measurements with Shrimp King GH+ are
- TDS 100 – GH of 4
- TDS 120 – GH of 5
- TDS 140 – GH of 6
- Our water is prepped between 100 – 120 to make sure the GH in the tank does not rise above 6.
- Remove 10 – 15% of your water from your aquarium
- Add newly prepped water as slow as possible back to the tank
- The biggest shrimp killers are adjustments in water quality
- Acclimate slowly, add water slowly
- This will avoid quick changes in GH and pH
Our shrimp are sold at 1cm – 1,5cm in size. Age of the shrimp at this size is 3 – 4 months. We sell shrimp at this size for 2 reasons:
- The younger shrimps acclimate better to new environments and also travel better over long distances.
- They will live longer for you and grow up with your maintenance habits and aquarium keeping traits. Everyone does this a little different.