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Do Shrimp Eat Fish Poop in Your Freshwater Aquarium?

Shrimp are bottom dwellers, and because of this, people tend to believe these creatures can serve as a good clean-up crew to feed on the poop in the tank. However, that’s further from the truth.

Quick Answer

Shrimp don’t eat fish poop in your freshwater aquarium. It’s not nutritious to them and doesn’t aid their growth. They only like healthy food sources, such as algae, worms, and even dead aquatic animals. So, you may be disappointed when they refuse to help you eat off fish poop in your tank.

Keep reading as I explain in further detail what shrimp eat, why they won’t ever eat fish poop, and what they’ll help you clean in your tank instead. I’ll also discuss which fish eats fish poop just in case you want to get one next time. Let’s dive in!

Does Anything Eat Fish Poop in an Aquarium?

Before going into the main topic, it’s essential to know if any fish species feed on poop in your fish tank.

Research shows that nothing eats fish poop in an aquarium, even though some think some catfish eat fish poop in the tank. They often mistake food for poop, but whenever this happens, they spit it out immediately. 

Nevertheless, some species clean up other dirt in the pond apart from fish waste or material products like nylon, plastic, etc. These types of aquatic animals are referred to as cleanup crews.

What Is a Clean Up Crew?

A clean-up crew is a certain aquatic animal taken into a fish tank or aquarium specifically to clean it up. This is why they’re referred to as a clean-up crew; they’re there to make your dirt appear like it was never there. 

There are different types of fish that can help clean up a pond. They include:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Bristlenose catfish
  • Grass carp
  • Siamese algae eater
  • Common pleco
  • Mosquitofish
  • Snail
  • Shrimp

Will Shrimp Eat Fish Waste?

Keeping your tank clean and fresh isn’t only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also for the benefit of the health of the fish in your tank.

However, keeping it clean might be such a Herculean task sometimes, and you might want an option that isn’t time-consuming and less stressful. For example, you can use a clean-up crew like shrimp to get rid of tank waste.

Shrimp won’t eat fish waste like poop, unfortunately. If they eat it, it might be because they’ve mistaken the poop for food. They’ll spit it out as soon as they realize it. Shrimp will only help clean up after food leftovers from the bottom of the tank or dead plants and fish.

The best way to remove poop is by manually cleaning the tank using a gravel vacuum like the Hygger Aquarium Gravel Cleaner (available on This vacuum cleaner can be used for water changing, sand-washing, and dirt suction. You don’t have to touch dirty water with your hands. If you like ease, this vacuum cleaner is for you.

Will Shrimp Clean Your Tank?

While shrimps don’t eat fish poop, they eat and can clean up your tank. They clean after dead insects, plants, algae, or food leftovers in the fish tank or pond. For that reason, they’re known as cleanup crews. Find out how often to clean your tank. 

The following are what these shrimps eat and clean up:

  • Dead aquatic animals. Having dead fish in a pond or aquarium is inevitable. It can only be minimized. Rather than disposing of bodies manually whenever one of your fish dies, you can introduce shrimp to your aquarium so that they can feed on the dead bodies. Dead fish are nutritious for them.
  • Living creatures. Shrimps feed on dead aquatic creatures and living ones like worms, snails, and clams.
  • Food leftovers. Shrimps are known for eating leftovers in a fish tank or aquarium. During feeding, some food is bound to sink below. Shrimps are natural scavengers, so swimming down to look for the leftovers in a tank or pond isn’t a problem.
  • Algae. There’s no escaping algae growth in your fish tank or pond since algae are known to thrive in an environment that has water or light. Once you notice an increase of them in your tank, introduce shrimp into the tank, and they’ll feed on it.
  • Insects. Dead insects in your tank? No problem at all. A shrimp will be more than happy to consume it.
  • Dead plants. Too many dead plants in your aquarium aren’t suitable for the safety or health of your fish, so you can get shrimps to eat them up.

Aquatic plants do actually clean the water. If you’re looking for some aquarium plants that go well with shrimp, make sure to check out the list I’ve composed here on my website.

Choosing a Shrimp for Your Tank

You shouldn’t just get a shrimp to clean up your tank without considering certain things. Shrimps can be brightly colored and beautiful, so you might let this influence your decision to get one.

To avoid making such a mistake, I’ve listed some essential things I think you mustn’t ignore when choosing shrimp for your freshwater aquarium.

Consider the Size of Your Tank

You should consider the size of your tank if you want to get shrimp for it. How big or small it is will determine the number of shrimp you should get. A bigger-sized tank will need more shrimp for clean-up compared to a smaller-sized tank.

Make Sure Your Fish Aren’t a Threat to the Shrimp

If the fish in your tank are carnivores, you might want to skip getting shrimp to clean the tank for you. Carnivorous fish tend to prey on shrimp. One way to get around this is to change the location of your fish whenever you want to put the shrimp in your aquarium for clean-up.

Choose Specific Shrimp for the Clean-Up

Not only do some shrimp adapt better to live in an aquarium than others, but there are also shrimp recommended for specific clean-up. The type of shrimp you’ll get for your tank depends on what you want them to clean up. Some are better algae eaters, while some are best for scouting for leftovers.

Best Shrimp Types for Your Tank Clean-up

Note that not all types of shrimp are suitable for your fish tank as a clean-up crew, and considering there are over 300 species in the world and thus, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Don’t worry; keep reading as I recommend a few good ones for you to consider.

Below are some of the best ones you can choose to do your tank clean-up:

Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

This shrimp belongs to the cleaner shrimp family. As the name suggests, they’re known for their cleaning abilities. They’re hardworking crustaceans. Apart from cleaning dirt from your freshwater, they also clean your fish.

Scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp is also known as red skunk cleaner shrimp for their brilliant red stripes and can be a good addition to your tank. Just be sure your fish doesn’t like tasty crustaceans, or you can just put your fish in a different tank while the scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp does its job.

Peppermint Shrimp

Unlike the scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp and blood-red fire shrimp, the peppermint shrimp won’t clean dirt off fish in your tank.

So even though they’re considered part of the cleaner group family, they’re more concerned with the dirt that floats around your aquarium and the leftovers lurking underneath.

If you find yourself facing an aiptasia infestation, peppermint shrimp will help clear things out by eating the little beasts as soon as they pop up. Aiptasia anemones are a blight to saltwater keepers, but they are a tasty meal to a peppermint shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp and Glass Shrimp

Also known as Palaemonetes paludosus, ghost shrimp and glass shrimp belong to the species of freshwater shrimp from the southeastern United States.

They’re skilled scavengers, hence excellent aquarium cleaners. Ghost shrimp and glass shrimp are also easy to keep and maintain as they’re excellent in keeping their surroundings clean. Furthermore, they’re known to be perfect tank mates thanks to their peaceful nature.

They have an almost transparent body, so you might find it hard to spot them because they also love to hide. As always, make sure you don’t introduce them into a tank full of shrimp-eating fish.

They’re not selective of the kind of food they eat, so they can feed on algae and leftovers.

Ghost or glass shrimp can be kept in small tanks without any pressure. Sadly, their lifespan is only about one year.

Red Cherry Shrimp

These are also excellent scavengers; they’ll rid your fish tank of any uneaten food or debris. They’re also known as great algae eaters.

Red Cherry shrimp is relatively tiny compared to other tank cleaners, so their consumption might be limited.

These shrimps do well in the company of others of their kind and other shrimp species because of their peaceful nature.

Banded Coral Shrimp

These shrimp are known for their beauty and body shape. They’re called boxing shrimp because they have large pinchers that often wave around like a boxer in a fight.

Banded coral shrimp are found throughout tropical tropics ranging from New Zealand to Brazil and are one of the hardier cleaner shrimp on the market.

They’re also scavengers, actively moving around in search of food. However, it’s best to keep them alone or as an actual mated pair because of their aggressive nature.

Blood Red Fire Shrimp

The blood-red fire shrimp, also known as blood fish or fire shrimp, is another good cleaner shrimp in the hippolytidae family. This shrimp will also keep your tank clean and free of dirt.

It’s almost similar to the scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp, but it lacks the long white stripe. It can also set up a cleaning station, a kind of car wash for fish, and clean fish that presents itself.

Blood red fire shrimp is nocturnal, so it might be more active during the night in scavenging for leftovers in your tank. Because of this, they might be hard to see during the day. They also keep to their own company, so you might often see them alone.

Amano Shrimp

This species of shrimp is easy to care for. When it comes to eating algae, they’re considered the most excellent clean-up crew. In case you only want to rid your pond of algae alone, Amano shrimp is one of the best options for you.

Sulawesi or Cardinal Shrimp

These species of shrimp originated from the lakes of Sulawesi in Indonesia. It might be hard to keep them because the aquarium condition should be similar to that of Sulawesi, so adequate knowledge is required beforehand. Like the Amano shrimp, Sulawesi shrimps are omnivores, and they enjoy feeding on algae.

Snowball Shrimp

This species of shrimp is such a sight to behold. They look like an actual snowball. Caring for them can be easy; they don’t need specifics to their water conditions.

However, you should be careful when feeding them because overfeeding can lead them to health issues. They enjoy feeding on algae, so having them in your pond will control algae growth.

Crystal Shrimp

Caring for these shrimp can be difficult in an aquarium because they need a constant change of water to survive. They’re omnivores, and they spend their time scavenging for what to eat. If you want to keep them in an aquarium, ensure the other occupants don’t prey on the crystal shrimp.

The Best Way To Remove Fish Poop in Your Tank

Depending on shrimp or any other fish species, cleaning fish poop from your tank is one of the worst decisions you can make as a tank owner.

Doing the job manually is a more suitable option. Since it can be such a time-consuming and erroneous task, it’s advisable to use a vacuum cleaner like the hygger aquarium gravel cleaner (available on It makes cleaning your pond or aquarium easier and faster.


Shrimps don’t eat poop in a fish tank because it’s not nutritious for them. So, if you’ve been thinking of getting some for cleaning your tank, you might want to do it manually instead, as shrimps aren’t the best solution to getting rid of poop in your fish tank or aquarium.