The Snowball Shrimp (Neocaridina cf zhangjiajiensis) is one of the best and easiest of all freshwater shrimp to keep. Which is also why it is one of the most popular shrimp in all of aquarium keeping. Actually a color form of a wild Neocardinia shrimp, both the Blue Pearl Shrimp and the Snowball were selectively bred for their coloration in Germany. Occasionally, they Snowball Shrimp will have a very pale blue sheen, showing the shades of its sibling species and occasionally the Blue Pearls will show the red spots of their wild forebears as well. These color forms can / will readily cross breed in any display where they are housed together, and offspring will have a high probability of losing their distinct color.
When we say that this is one of the easiest shrimp to keep (regardless of the color form you choose), we aren't exaggerating. They are tolerant of a huge range of temperatures from the 50s to the low 80s, though in temperatures under 60 degrees, they seem to function more slowly and and are very unlikely to breed. They can also live in a wide variety of hardness levels and pH levels. As long as they are presented with an environment that is relatively common in aquarium keeping, they will likely thrive in it. In aquariums with heavy biofilms and algal growth, they will likely not even need much in the way of feeding! In less mature aquariums, and in displays that are maintained with little to no biofilm, plant based wafers and sinking pellets are usually taken by these shrimps with relish. Their diet can also be supplemented with organic blanched vegetables, but be attentive to not overdo this and remove uneaten food. So as to not overload your systems filtration.
Snowball Shrimp are very peaceful and can be kept with other shrimp species, but as previously mentioned, will interbreed with shrimp from the same genus. If you're interested in keeping them with other shrimp, we suggest trying Bamboo, Vampire, Amano and Chameleon shrimp. They also do well with pretty much every kind of snail common in freshwater aquariums. As with any decorative shrimp, they are likely to become food if kept with most fish. For those of you interested in trying this anyway, be sure to have an ample population of shrimp in the aquarium before adding any fish, and choose your fish wisely. Good choices would be things like Pygmy Corys, small Plecos, Farlowella Cats, and Gastromyzon. The world abounds will bad choices, so do some research before you start and be prepared for some losses, especially of the juveniles (and yes, there are going to be juveniles!) Snowball Shrimp are also perfect for planted tanks, and seem to do better in aquariums with a lot of plants. Plants offer cover for them, as well as offering more surfaces for biofilm to grow (which, obviously, makes for more food.)
Breeding Neocaridina cf zhangjiajiensis is extraordinarily easy. In fact, it may be a better article to tell you the ways in which you can stop it from happening. Around 3 months old, the shrimp will be sexually mature; you'll be able to tell them apart, the females will be larger, more brightly white, with a distinct saddle and a curved underbelly. You'll start to see the females carrying eggs under their tail around this time. As these eggs develop, you can start to see the eyes of the baby shrimp in their eggs! Every female shrimp will have 40ish fully developed babies every 6 weeks or so; without predation, you'll have a very well populated display in a very short timeframe. Basically, if you have a male shrimp and a few female shrimp, without any predators, with a good supply of food and a temperature in the 70s, your shrimp will constantly, and successfully reproduce. If hobbyists wish their shrimps offspring to maintain their unique coloration, we suggest that they keep their Snowball or Blue Pearl Shrimp as the only Neocardinia shrimp in the display. A sponge filter is a good choice if you wish to rear these shrimp to adulthood as higher flow filters will generally suck up the baby shrimp.
If you're interested in keeping freshwater shrimp, Neocaridina cf zhangjiajiensis has our highest recommendation. Regardless of the color morph you choose, they make for a captivating element to any planted aquarium. Their role as an algae consumer is amazingly effective and beneficial to your display and their penchant for breeding adds more shrimp and constant intrigue. Ask your LFS about getting you some Snowball Shrimp, or Blue Pearl Shrimp from Aquatropic today!