The snowflake shrimp or also pearl shrimp(lat. Macrobrachium kulsiense ) belongsto the large shrimp family and reaches a length of about 4.5 to 5 centimetres. The home of this beautiful shrimp species is in South and Southeast Asia, and it is particularly widespread in India. The extraordinary body pattern gave this dainty large shrimp its name. The many whitish spots with yellowish, greenish or brownish inclusions are somewhat reminiscent of snowflakes. Compared to other large shrimp, it has rather small claws. Its legs are very thin and a helmet-like bulge on its head is striking.
Macrobrachium kulsiense is not easy to keep. Although it is not very choosy concerning food, it makes higher demands on the water values. As soon as the water values have settled down and have been adapted to the animals, shrimp farming is possible without any problems. The shrimp is a group animal and should therefore not be kept individually. It is advisable to keep at least 10 shrimp to ensure that they feel comfortable. The snowflake shrimp is sensitive to water that is low in oxygen or too rich in nutrients. Too soft or acidic water will not be good for you in the long run. It is best to ask the breeder about the water values and try to imitate them. This way the stress for the animals is kept as low as possible. A good ventilation and filtering of the pool contributes to the well-being of the animals and should be a matter of course.
As it is easy to have offspring under good keeping conditions, the choice of an appropriately large aquarium is recommended. This way the animals do not have to be moved later. The ground should be equipped with sand, whereby a rather brighter underground is recommended here in order to be able to observe the transparent animals better. Plants gratefully accept the snowflake shrimp as a hiding place. The animals also like to use small clay or wooden tubes as a retreat, for example to shed their skin. It is particularly attractive to watch the animals grazing on mangrove wood roots.
When it comes to the choice of food, the snowflake shrimp is not particularly demanding. Brown autumn leaves are very suitable as a permanent food in the aquarium. In addition, the animals also eat nettle and spinach leaves. Suitable shrimp food is of course readily accepted. Frozen food or flakes can also be added. Aquatic plants are spared by it, but it likes to graze algae and search for edible parts in the mulm. Sugar mosquito larvae or special protein food complete the diet.
The breeding of snowflake shrimp is relatively easy if you pay attention to the appropriate water values. Provided that the animals’ needs in this respect are met, offspring will quickly appear. The females give birth to fully developed young after a gestation period of about 4 weeks. The reproduction rate is relatively low compared to other large shrimp. Each female carries about 15 to 20 eggs, which she fanned with oxygen under her caudal fin, thus protecting them from fungus. The young shrimp are independent from the beginning and take in food after a short time. Artemia nauplii are readily accepted as food by the young animals. Cannibalism is not known among snowflake shrimp, so the young animals can remain in the tank without hesitation. Only when socializing with fish should one consider that they might consider the shrimp and especially the young as prey.
The snowflake shrimp is not very aggressive and rather peaceful for a large shrimp. It can therefore be kept very well in the aquarium with other animals, as long as the water values match. As the animals are very shy, it is advisable not to put too hectic fish in the same tank. Together with dwarf shrimps or water snails the pretty pearl shrimps make an attractive stocking for every tank. It should be noted, however, that they feel safer in groups of at least 10 or more. In time, the nocturnal animals will also venture out of their hiding places during the day.