A dedicated forum and online store for the Opae ula shrimp! 

Opae ula FAQ

Page Index:
What should I feed my Opae ula shrimp? How much and how often?
Why are my Opae ula shrimp always pale in colour?
Why are my Opae'ula shrimp dying?
Why are my Opae ula swimming around in a frenzy?
Why are my Opae ula 'Popcorning' around in the water?
Why is my tank water cloudy/hazy?
What is this thing/stuff growing in my tank?
Will my shrimp regrow lost legs/limbs and antennae?
What is the best way to move, upgrade or downgrade my shrimp tank?
How do you pronounce Opae ula?

What should I feed my Opae ula shrimp? How much and how often?

Opae ula don't always need to be fed additional food when it comes to their basic survival as they will eat biofilm and algae that grows naturally in your tank, to achieve a tank that grows plentiful food for the shrimp you will need a good light source for a particular amount of hours (more light over the day means more algae growth). Depending on your tanks population the Opae ula shrimp may benefit from being feed a little extra purchased shrimp food, because lets face it we all like feeding our pets and watching them grow, breed and thrive. This will help boost the shrimp’s nutrient intake thus maintaining a healthy immune system, aid growth, molting, colour and breeding.

You must always be aware that over feeding will lead to problems in your shrimp tank, it may not be instantly apparent but over time Ammonia and Nitrate levels will build up and foul the water resulting in causalities. What doesn't get eaten within a few hours by your shrimp/snails will break down if not removed and produce Ammonia, which will poison your shrimp in large quantities or put pressure on your shrimp tanks nitrogen cycle especially if one isnt fully established or is insufficient of handling this new larger bio-load. If your tank is 100% cycled and capable of converting the extra Ammonia quickly into Nitrates then the new high levels of Nitrates must be reduced via a water change with fresh brackish water (above 20ppm is bad).

The simple equation to success is, feed very little (once a week/fortnight) so you don't produce an overabundance of toxic ammonia and what little ammonia that is produced from the shrimps waste will be taken care of by your nitrogen cycle which turns it instantly into nitrite and then directly into nitrates which your algae will reduce naturally. So in theory no water changes should be needed and you will have a perfectly healthy balanced Opae ula tank. Particular factors will throw this whole balance out of synch which may result in stressed unhappy shrimps that wont shine a deep red colour or breed. Its always important to test your waters parameters to stay one step ahead and have a chance to correct any issues before you get any fatality's.

If you are happy doing water changes every few weeks then by all means feed as much as you like so long as you constantly monitor your Nitrate levels and are certain your tank has completed the nitrogen 'cycle' (tank cycled). Remember though the less you disturb the shrimp the happier they will be and the higher chance of breeding.

Try and stay away from fish and shrimp foods that are heavy in fishmeal and metals, lots of shrimp specific foods may contain trace amounts of copper but that is fine in very small quantities as shrimp need a particularly tiny amount to be in their system to remain healthy, after all that's why they put it in there.

Foods I have tried:

• Shrimp King - Complete pads
• Shrimp King - Complete pellets
• Borneowild - Red Ruby
• ShrimpLab - Algae pads
• ShrimpLab - Spirulina powder
• SHRIMP essentials - Spirulina powder

From the above I'd have to say the shrimplab algae pads and Spirulina powder (pure algae) are the preferred foods, they get eaten strait away, don't hang around to break down so I don't have to remove the remains by net. Both of these products are very high in algae and protein content, which is a good thing. It's not surprising though as algae is naturally the main staple of their diet.

If you have tried other foods and want to share your experiences then please post and let us all know! Has anyone tried veggies or similar? I've read of Opae ula shrimp eating grains of rice before!

Why are my Opae ula shrimp always pale in colour?

Before we get started looking into why your shrimps are not glowing dark red like some keepers on YouTube, we have to make sure that your shrimps are not naturally just a pale red, pink or white. This can confuse owners into thinking their Opae'ula are not happy when in reality the shrimp are fine, happy and you are doing everything correct! Here is an example of 2 happy and healthy Opae'ula shrimp that share one of my tanks:

Unfortunately the only way to know if your shrimp are off colour because of stress is by process of elimination of things that make your shrimp unhappy and constantly monitoring your tanks water parameters. The two main things that cause shrimp to lose their colour are poor water quality and stress from internal and external influences.

Water quality

Keep in mind poor water quality attributes to stress and illness, I'm keeping these two diagnosis separate for ease, if your water quality is not to satisfactory quality then your shrimps will not be happy, thus resulting in pale colours. You can take a look at the water quality guide HERE for more in depth information.

• Ammonia (NH4) is anything above 0.
• Nitrites (NO2) is anything above 0.
• Nitrates (NO3) is at dangerous levels, arguably 10ppm+.
• Salinity/Specific gravity is too high or low. (under 1.008 or over 1.015)
• PH is wrong (too acidic below 8.0)
• Depending on bio-load has your tank completed the nitrogen cycle?
• Incorrect salt used.
• Incorrect water used.
• Contaminations/poisoning.
• Additives

Stress from internal influences

• Predators
• Temperature
• Lack of food
• Environment (lack of hiding spots)
• Water agitation and movement
• Physical disturbance

Stress from external influences

• Noise pollution
• Vibration disturbance
• Light pollution
• Physical disturbance

Why are my Opae'ula shrimp dying?

Poisoning & contamination's

When it comes to poisoning or contamination your shrimps tend to become very lethargic, lay on their side a lot, struggle to swim and generally all die very quickly. If this is the case you must act very fast to remedy the issue, you must carry out very large water changes a few times a day to dilute whichever poison or contaminate is in your tank, putting in a filter running a carbon pad or Biochem pellets will suck up and remove whatever is killing the shrimp. I've tried to keep the information brief but informal in this section, if there are questions you want to ask just put up a post on the forum.

Here are the first things to look out for and what to do if the issue arises and in no order of importance:

Water source

If you don't use RO (reverse osmosis) water then you will always run the risk of metals, chlorine, chloramine and other nasties lurking in the available water source you pick. The RO process removes all contaminates and impurities that are unhealthy or lethal to shrimps, this is always the safe option to pick as you have more control over the waters quality.


Shrimp are very sensitive to metals, metal can contaminate water sources if run through copper pipes (tap water), enter the tank via particular foods and also be in medicines. This generally applies to freshwater shrimp over Opae'ula because you won't have shrimp and fish in your tank that require medicine, you won't be feeding foods high in copper or other metals. It's worth a mention as all shrimp should stay clear of high doses of metals.

Using the wrong salt

One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting up their tank is to use sea salt, aquarium salt, rock salt and table salt! NONE of these can be used in the water and will kill off your shrimp in hours. You MUST use an artificial marine salt, for example 'Instant Ocean' this product is very well known and trusted by salt water tank keepers. See below:

Contaminated items

Contaminated items being introduced to the tank/water is an overlooked issue. It could be the addition of substrates, rocks, heaters and ornaments etc. One mistake owners make is cleaning new items that are going into the tank and washing them with soaps and water from their house water supply. Shrimp are highly sensitive to metals and chemicals that are in our drinking water, copper from pipe work especially. Clean all items that go inside your tank in pure clean RO/distilled water only!


Cleaning the tanks interior, exterior, Stand or desk (within close proximity) with anything other them pure RO water is asking for trouble. Any cleaning or soap products used to clean anything that touches the tank has a huge chance of getting into the water and killing your shrimp! Never use cleaning products or soap of any kind! This also applies to your hands or nets etc. that are put into your tank.

Clean hands and arms

Having clean hands and wrists/arms is very important when carrying out tank maintenance, but not too clean! Always wash your hands really well with soap and water to remove anything that may harm the shrimp or friendly bacteria in your tank. Be sure to wash with water after to remove the soap and dry your hands well! You have only got to put your hand or fingers on a surface that's had cleaning products or polish on them and into the tank it goes. One thing that is over looked is perfumes and aftershaves on your wrists/arms that will enter your tank. As most keepers of these shrimps have small tanks because a large space isn't required then the pollutants don't get diluted. You can run a filter with carbon pads to constantly clean the water and remove pollutants but having all that water movement will upset your shrimp and the pads need changing every month.

Air fresheners and other room fragrances

These really need to be avoided at all times within the room your shrimp tank is located. Tanks have a habit of attracting contaminates into the water and this will lead to the water being fouled. If you notice shrimps die just double check sprays or strong scented candles etc. are not causing the issue. Obviously if your tank is an open top type or provides large gaps in the lid then you are more likely to suffer this problem.

Water quality, conditions and parameters

This is the most toxic part/stage of the nitrogen cycle, when shrimp, food or plants die in your tank, they start to break down and become ammonia. You need bacteria to convert the ammonia into something slightly less toxic which is Nitrites.

This is the product made by a bacteria in your tank from ammonia and is also toxic to shrimp, although it’s not as unhealthy as ammonia it will still harm your Opae'ula. Your tank needs to contain and grow a bacteria that turns the nitrites into nitrates.

Nitrates can be used to feed plants and algae and isn’t very harmful to shrimp in very small quantities, when your tank contains around 10 - 20ppm of nitrates then you should really start thinking of doing a partial water change to lower them.

Measuring your PH will show you if your tank is running too acidic or not, generally with keeping Opae'ula you will have some form of calcium carbonate, limestone or crushed coral in the tank which will buffer the RO/distilled water whenever it starts to get a bit to 'acidic' if all is correct your PH should sit around 8.2 - 8.4

SG could be incorrect or swing too much
The SG (Specific Gravity) is a measure of salt density in your water, Opae'ula can 'survive' in many different levels of SG but to keep them healthy and happy you will want to have your SG sit around 1.010 - 1.015 (pretty much half the density of full marine salt water). If the water in your tank evaporates, it will leave the salt behind and make the salt water mixture stronger, so you will need to regularly top up the lost fluids with JUST RO water, not more salt-water.

So to sum it up, you need a 'cycled' tank that contains all the stages above to maintain a healthy tank. If all is correct and working, anything that creates ammonia will be turned into nitrates and be used to feed algae and keep the toxins low in your shrimp tank. This is why you shouldn't over feed you tank, if it breaks down and creates ammonia and your bacteria isn’t big enough to convert that waste it will linger and harm your tank mates.

You can read more about the Nitrogen cycle in detail HERE

Cleaning of the substrate

Depending how many shrimp you have in your tank, you may need to hoover the shrimp waste from the sand. In large amounts it can foul the water (in small tanks). We are talking hundreds in a small space here. If your tank has cycled you can keep an eye on the nitrate levels with a test kit, if it rises above 10ppm you know something is creating it and you will see if the substrate needs a clean visually.

Removal of dead tank mates

If for any reason you come across and dead shrimp, snails and plants etc., you MUST remove them from your tank. The ammonia created will cause issues to your tank mates.

Issues from over feeding

The excess of uneaten food which has been added to the tank breaks down and will create ammonia, if your tank isn't cycled or the quantity of good bacteria is too low to turn the toxic ammonia into nitrite then that to nitrate fast enough then deaths can occur. To remedy this I use glass feeding dish's in my tanks, it lets me drop in a food pellet/wafer and what hasn't been eaten after several hours I can pull out 100% of the leftovers easily without it getting mixed into the sand/substrate and start to breakdown, rot and foul the water.

Here is an example of a glass feeding dish/bowl:

Disease & illness

This topic is rather difficult to talk about because of the shrimps popularity being so small and so few studies conducted, because of this there are no specific medications or remedies for the Opae'ula shrimp. If you spot something untoward or wrong it is always worth removing and isolating the sick shrimp into a seperate quarantine tank or container and document what you observe or find for future reference. A partial water change is always a good idea if you see anything wrong or detect somthig in the tank with your water quality test kit.


There isn't really very much to write about this category, if your tanks temperature is out of the typical favoured window (extremes 15degC to 30degC) it can cause shrimps to die, it's important to check your tanks temperature regularly in case your heaters thermostat breaks and stops the heater from switching off when the set temp has been achieved. This will result in the tank and occupants being cooked!
Another important point is when performing water changes try and get the fresh waters temperature as close as possible to the tanks water and match them before pouring it in. This will prevent shock to the shrimp... Going from one extreme to another very quick is not advised.


Stress plays a huge part when it comes to shrimp deaths and once a particular level of stress has been reached its very rare the shrimp will make a comeback and be fighting fit again. Here are some factors that attribute to stress:
• Travel/delivery
• Poor water conditions
• Water movement which is too fast
• Water temperature
• Netting shrimp or moving them
• Altering your tanks layout a lot
• Predators

Bad/failed molts

As the Opae'ula shrimp grows (or shrinks) they will shed an exoskeleton, usually every other month or when they have a growth spurt and is perfectly natural. Their new shell will harden up after 48 - 72 hours, so they usually hide during this stage of the process.
Example of a healthy molted/shed exoskeleton:

These look like 'ghosts' and are perfectly normal to see in your tank. They do not need to be removed as the molt will be eaten for its nutrients, unfortunately sometimes a shrimp can fail to molt correctly resulting in being trapped and usually die. Lack of the correct nutrients in the shrimp’s diet and having acidic water can also contribute to this issue.

Poor stock

This category is pretty self-explanatory, some breeding lines can be susceptible to illness or stress, you may not see any physical differences but some breeders have bad bloodlines.

Old age

This one is pretty self explanatory.

Sod's law

Now for the people not from the UK we use this term which pretty much means 'no idea or freak occurrence'... Things happen out of the blue and leave no answers as to why it happens. The reason I have put this here is because every now and again you will have the odd shrimp die in your tank, you then worry and test the water parameters! Only to find out all is fine and the water temp is perfect... Nothing has contaminated the tank as the other shrimp are fine. Maybe that one particular shrimp had an internal medical issue? Who knows and we put this down too 'Sod's law'. However if you start to get more shrimp die then we know that there really is an issue and not a freak occurrence. You will see the line on many shrimp forums 'sometimes shrimp just die', and they do just that.

Why are my Opae ula swimming around in a frenzy?

Why are my Opae ula 'Popcorning' around in the water?

Why is my tank water cloudy/hazy?

What is this thing/stuff growing in my tank?

Will my shrimp regrow lost legs/limbs and antennae?

What is the best way to move, upgrade or downgrade my shrimp tank?

How do you pronounce Opae ula?

If you would like to pronounce 'Opae ula' here is how to say it!

"Oh - Pay - You - La"

Say it a few times and im sure you will get that hang of it :)