With few exceptions, freshwater shrimp are only rarely offered for sale, although their marine counterparts are quite commonly available. This is a shame, for while they are not, as a rule, very colorful, many types make delightful and undemanding aquarium subjects.
Most types of shrimp get along quite well and can be exhibited in large groups. They are nearly always busy, foraging about in a constant search for food. Pregnant females carry their eggs on the swimmerets, as has been described for crayfish and marine shrimp. Unfortunately, the smaller types of freshwater shrimp lack much in the way of defense from larger animals, and so can only be housed with peaceful tank mates such as snails or surface-dwelling aquatic insects. Although the more common temperate species are generally bland in coloration, tropical freshwater shrimp grow quite large, and some exhibit fantastically long legs and claws.
Various related species are sometimes sold under the name of Nigerian sweeper shrimp or bamboo shrimp. This is one of the few freshwater shrimp that is commercially available. The first pair of legs of these interesting little creatures is equipped with filamentous hairs, which seem to assist in trapping the tiny food particles upon which they feed. Although they will feed in more usual shrimp fashion by foraging about the bottom and consuming whatever they might find, sweeper shrimp really are quite specialized to strain food from the water column. It is very interesting to watch — even in a large aquarium, they will gravitate toward the filter outflow and position themselves in the water current with the front legs held outstretched. They can occasionally be seen to bring these legs toward the mouth, apparently consuming the small food particles trapped therein. Sweeper or bamboo shrimp are tropical in origin and fare best in waters from 74° to 80°F.