Pistol Shrimp

Quick Facts about Pistol Shrimp

Species NameAlpheidae (family name for many species)
Common NamePistol Shrimp, Snapping Shrimp
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan2-3 years
Adult Size1-3 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Temperature72-78°F (22-25°C)
Water ConditionsMarine, Stable
Optimal PH8.1-8.4
Optimal KH7-10

About the Pistol Shrimp

Pistol Shrimp, also popularly known as Snapping Shrimp, belong to the Alpheidae family. What makes them particularly unique and fascinating is the distinct snapping sound they produce with their large claw. This sound, often likened to a gunshot, is created when the shrimp rapidly closes its claw, resulting in the formation of a high-velocity water jet that can stun or kill small prey. This peculiar behavior and the symbiotic relationship they often share with gobies make them a sought-after species in marine aquariums.

Pistol Shrimp Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Pistol Shrimp in captivity ranges from 2 to 3 years. However, their longevity can be influenced by the quality of care, including their diet, tank conditions, and the absence of predators.


Pistol Shrimp are characterized by their asymmetrical claws. One of the claws is notably larger and is responsible for the characteristic “pistol” sound. They sport a vibrant array of colors and patterns, often varying depending on the specific species and their natural habitat.

Average Size

Most Pistol Shrimp species will grow to an adult size of 1 to 3 inches, with the larger claw making up a significant portion of their length.

Pistol Shrimp Care

Tank Size

For Pistol Shrimp, a minimum tank size of 10 gallons is suggested, but as always, bigger is better to replicate a natural environment and reduce stress.

How To Set Up Their Tank

When setting up an aquarium for Pistol Shrimp, it’s crucial to provide them with plenty of hiding spaces. Sand substrate, rocks, and caves are ideal as these shrimp love to burrow. They also appreciate a tank with live rock where they can forage for food.

Lighting Requirements

Pistol Shrimp aren’t especially demanding in terms of lighting. Standard marine aquarium lighting that caters to other inhabitants, like corals, will be sufficient. They tend to be more active during dim periods or at night.

Water Parameters (Water Type, Temperature, Hardness)

Pistol Shrimp thrive in marine settings. Water temperature should be maintained between 72-78°F (22-25°C). Ensure stable salinity with a specific gravity of around 1.023-1.025.

Water PH

A water pH of 8.1 to 8.4 is optimal for Pistol Shrimp, as it mirrors the typical marine environment.


The tank’s temperature should be consistently maintained between 72-78°F (22-25°C).


While Pistol Shrimp are not particularly light-sensitive, a standard day-night cycle is recommended.

Best Substrate for Pistol Shrimp

A fine to medium grain sandy substrate is ideal. This allows them to exhibit their natural burrowing behaviors comfortably.

Reproduction of Pistol Shrimp

In the wild, Pistol Shrimp engage in complex mating rituals, which are challenging to replicate in captivity. While breeding can occur in home aquariums, the survival rate of the larvae is typically low due to their specific dietary and care needs.

Disease Potential

While generally hardy, Pistol Shrimp can be susceptible to common marine diseases if water quality deteriorates. Regular monitoring, water changes, and quarantining of new tank inhabitants can help mitigate risks.

Food & Diet

Being omnivores, Pistol Shrimp have a varied diet. They feed on tiny fish, detritus, and small organisms. In captivity, they can be offered high-quality marine pellets, brine shrimp, and other suitable preparations.

Behavior and Temperament

Pistol Shrimp are both fascinating and elusive. While they’re known for their loud snapping sound, they’re often hidden from view, burrowed in the sand or in their cave. Their relationship with gobies is a highlight in many tanks, as the two species often share a burrow and look out for one another.

Are Pistol Shrimp Reef Safe?

Yes, Pistol Shrimp are generally considered reef safe. However, they may occasionally disturb the substrate, which could upset certain corals or other sessile invertebrates.

Pistol Shrimp and Suitable Tank Mates

Pistol Shrimp get along well with most reef-safe fish. The symbiotic relationship between Pistol Shrimp and gobies is well-documented and delightful to observe. Avoid housing them with large, aggressive species that might see them as prey.


While they can breed in captivity, raising the offspring is challenging due to their specific requirements. If attempting to breed, ensure a separate setup for the larvae with appropriate food like phytoplankton and rotifers.

Pistol Shrimp FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)