Do Shrimp Eat Brown Algae? Detailed Explanation For Beginners

Apart from being decorative, shrimp can serve multiple purposes for your tank. One of them is to eat up the accumulating algae, thus reducing the nitrate and ammonia levels. That said, there are too many types of algae to keep track of.

For example, some people may wonder “Do shrimp eat brown algae?” The answer will be addressed in today’s article, so make sure you read it thoroughly!

What Is Brown Algae And How Is It Formed?

Brown algae can easily be spotted by their slimy, unattractive splashes of brown. Made up of interlocked diatoms, brown algae are classified as a varmint, which can pollute your tank environment within days.

If you leave your tank unattended for a few days, expect this bacterial colony to form rather quickly. With their massive, disgusting patches painted in brown and brownish, brown algae is a nightmare for all aquarists.

Now that you have learned how to identify brown algae, let’s take a look at how it is formed. There are various reasons attributed to the presence of brown algae inside your tank.

A spike in harmful chemical substances

Phosphates, nitrates, and silicates are the three main culprits in creating brown algae. They are brown algae’s favorite food, which explains why these diatoms latch on surfaces whenever these three substances spread.

If your tank contains a dangerously high level of phosphates, nitrates, and silicates, brown algae are sure to invade anytime soon.

So, what leads to the formation of the three materials? Organic matters from decaying plants, fish waste, and unfinished food are one primary source.

Then, you also have fertilizers, fish food, and decreased fish. Untreated tap and well water can also lead to chemical buildup.

Bad lighting

Brown algae thrive when the lighting conditions are less than favorable. In dimly lit rooms, brown algae tend to grow faster. While lighting indeed plays a role in brown algae’s growth, most people believe that it will invade your tank as long as the food sources are plentiful.

Do Shrimp Eat Brown Algae?

Yes. Shrimp are eager eaters of algae, as algae are soft and rich in protein. Some large shrimp do not shy away from devouring the entire patch of algae, while smaller ones infiltrate big colonies of algae and consume them from the inside.

For example, red cherry shrimp have the unique ability to stick to the side of the tank’s walls while eating brown algae. Some of them enjoy spending hours standing on their bodies, using their front legs to cut bits of algae and eat them on the spot.

What Are The Best Algae-Eating Shrimp?

Admittedly, shrimp are among the best tank cleaners, especially when it comes to algae. However, not all shrimp are capable of providing your aquarium with a thorough clean-up. Below are some of the most common shrimp to nurture should you want to look for the best algae-eating shrimp.

Amano shrimp

Amano shrimp are quite small, with an overall length of no more than 2 inches. They have translucent body with green dots scattered everywhere. These animals are big fans of algae and can get rid of all types of freshwater algae.

Malawi shrimp

Malawi shrimp look rather dull and are not as beautiful as other shrimp species. To compensate for this drawback, Malawi shrimp are affordable and easy to find. They are also quick to reproduce, giving them the perfect opportunity to feed on most kinds of algae.

Ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp are similar to Amano shrimp in terms of size and body colors. Since they are omnivores, ghost shrimp spend a great deal of time scavenging for food. Not only do they go for algae, but they also feed on dead fish and shrimp. Thus, ghost shrimp make for excellent tank cleaners.

Sulawesi shrimp

Scientifically known as Caridina dennerli, Sulawesi shrimp turn to algae whenever they feel hungry. Despite being efficient algae eaters, Sulawesi shrimp are not ideal to keep in community tanks.

They are rather picky regarding the water conditions, so you might have to put in extra effort should you want to keep these gorgeous red animals.

Cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp are known for their appetite. This species eats up anything given to them at any time of the day, which includes established algae colonies inside your aquarium.

If your tank is small or medium-sized, you do not even have to worry about feeding them, since cherry shrimp will happily munch on algae until they are full.

Crystal red shrimp

Crystal red shrimp stand out with their red and white stripes running across their bodies. Though not as effective as Amoano or ghost shrimp in algae-eating, crystal red shrimp can still eliminate patches of brown diatoms inside your tank. In case you favor a species that is both visually pleasing and useful, crystal red shrimp will suffice.


1. What kind of algae do shrimp eat?

Shrimp can eat almost all kinds of algae. Anything from string algae, black beard algae, brush algae, or even hair algae are considered food by shrimp.

While it is true that shrimp are not indiscriminate when it comes to algae consumption, most of them only turn to algae when they are hungry and are left with nothing else to feed on.

2. Do shrimp eat brown diatoms?

Yes. Brown diatoms are just another name for brown algae. As their texture, smell and accessibility are favored by shrimp, it is no wonder why colonies of brown diatoms are among shrimp’s favorite food.


Do shrimp eat brown algae? Of course, they do! But just because they can do not mean you should treat brown algae as a proper source of food for these underwater animals. Keep an eye on your shrimp and make sure they have a healthy diet, not just algae alone.