All about Pinokio Shrimp

Pinokio Shrimp. Photos by author

Pinokio Shrimp

Shrimp swimming

A Pinokio shrimp, Caridina Gracilirostris. swims in the current of a 55 gallon planted aquarium

UPDATE 2/23/16:  Well, it turns out that the nice soft water conditions that favor Red Cherry Shrimp and plants are not so sweet for my beloved Pinokio Shrimp.  While these shrimp are interesting in their looks and behavior, they did not fare well long term in this aquarium as it was set up with my local water and the resulting parameters established by the Aquasolum.  As of this date I can no longer find any living pinokio shrimp in the aquarium.  As noted below some appeared “milky” from the start, and I anticipated losing those.  What’s more discouraging is the fact that some of the ones that initialy appeared clear and therefore healthy have also gone away.  In fairness to Seachem — when the folks I’ve been consulting with heard that my initial purchase was pinokio shrimp (read on for the reasons why) they said that they likely wouldn’t do as well.  And so it is.

As advertised, the Aquasolum created very soft water conditions in my aquarium.  Plants are thriving, algae is at a minimum, but the parameters are too soft for pinokios.  In particular I believe my pH is too low — it’s running 6.6-6.8 and the KH is way too low at 0.  There are lots of numbers out there suggesting different acceptable water parameters for these creatures.  But from additional research, and my own experience, I believe that the pinokios need a pH of 7-8 with a KH of 2-5.

Thinking like a typical fish keeper, and new the the shrimp thing, I reasoned that if every thing else was perfect — no ammonia, no nitrites, low nitrates, lots of plants, that the pinokios would find happiness.  In this case, it just didn’t happen.

I would say that it would be relatively easy add product to the water to create those conditions.  I would also surmise that if you started out with hard water — often from a well with lots of limestone in your region — that the Aquasolum might create perfect parameters for your tank.  In my case, in western Virginia, with city water, it was too soft — not what these shrimp wanted.

Since the pinokio shrimp breed in brackish water, it stands to reason that they prefer a few more minerals in their water.  I’ll chalk this one up to experience.


If you’ve been following along with the Fincasters video series on the Aquasolum® Shrimp project, you know or will soon know (since the blog is a few days ahead of the video publish date…) that I began the project with a dozen Pinokio or Pinocchio shrimp –Caridina  Gracilirostris.

 As reported in the Fincast, there was no particular reason, other than that was what was available when I needed some shrimp to get started. On the other hand, it was a bit of good fortune that might have otherwise passed me by.

The Pinokio shrimp, also known as the Red Nosed shrimp, Rudolph shrimp, Mosquito shrimp or Rhino shrimp, matches any of those nicknames, because of its long nose or rostrum.

While there is a good amount of information out there, these shrimp clearly play a back seat role to the more popular red cherry shrimp, crystal or bee shrimp and other popular dwarf shrimp in the aquarium hobby.

My Experience with Pinokio Shrimp

I set up a 55-gallon fully planted aquarium in order to test a new substrate from Seachem Labs Aquavitro series, called Aquasolum®. It’s a clay-based substrate that creates soft, acidic water parameters, which are perfect for freshwater shrimp aquariums.

Shrimp and plants edited-5041

After planting, seeding the system with Seed® bacteria from Seachem, and using some established driftwood and bio media from other aquariums, I took a chance that the tank would not need to cycle (I’ve done this many times before – and subsequent water tests for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate showed it was true this time.) and added a dozen Pinokio shrimp.

One was dead in the bag, and over the next few days I lost 3 more. The shrimp had been shipped from a wholesaler and spent a fair amount of time in the bag during shipping, so this didn’t surprise me.

A pinokio shrimp

A pinokio shrimp

What did surprise me was how engaging these guys could be. Pinokios are odd looking little creatures, with the long noses and habit for perching faced down in the aquarium. Sometimes they bunched up on the driftwood in small groups and other times they seemed to disappear into the shadows.

Compared to my active African cichlid or reef aquariums this was a big change. With those tanks, the color and motion hits you as soon as you begin viewing. With the Pinokio set up, it was like sneaking up on the experience. When they are healthy, the shrimp are transparent. They will be milky looking if they are not. Mine honestly were a mix – though over a period of weeks they have become clearer. When they are clear, however they can be hard to spot. While that may sound frustrating, it’s actually more engaging. Give yourself five minutes to get acclimated, and suddenly you see them all over the tank.

Pinokio Shrimp

Pinokio Shrimp

Unlike the more common species, Pinokios probably won’t raise young in your aquarium. They come from brackish mangroves in India and Southeast Asia, and though the adults will thrive in a planted tank, they will not reproduce under these conditions.

Pinokio Shrimp Facts

  • Maximum Size Males 1.3” Females 1.0”
  • Males will have a bit more red on their bodies
  • KH/GH 0-2 3-5
  • Temperature 75-80 F
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • TDS 100-200
  • Intolerant of Ammonia or Nitrites
  • Nitrate should be less than 20 ppm
  • Diet: Omnivore, scavenger and filter feeder. Will eat many fish foods.
  • Habits: Said to be less shy than many shrimps.
  • Tankmates: Small fish, such as neon, cardinal tetras, and harlequin rasboras. Best in a shrimp-only aquarium.


Eventually I’ll add some more colorful and active dwarf shrimp to this set up. I know it will mean a bit less searching, and little more immediate gratification – but I can always scan the greenery to find the pinokios doing their thing.

Shrimp 3 on log


More about Pinokio Shrimp:

Seachem Aquasolum:


John Carlin is a fish geek who is also a local newscaster. Fish+Newscaster=Fincaster.

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