Mysis shrimp are a favorite fish food in my tank

Mysis Shrimp: A Favorite Fish & Coral Food

One of my favorite frozen foods to feed my saltwater fish is frozen mysis shrimp. Almost every fish I have ever kept has instantly recognized the floating white morsels as a meal. I’ve offered them at the same time as flakes (which would otherwise be voraciously eaten if it wasn’t competing with the mysis shrimps), and the fish will swim around the flakes to eat the apparently more tasty mysis.

That made me wonder why this food is so interesting to the fish—which made me wonder—what in the world are mysis shrimp, anyway?

Let’s take a closer look.

There are over 72 species of Mysids. Most of them are freshwater mysids, but there are marine species as well.
We of us commonly call them “shrimps”, and most of the products we buy have the word shrimp listed on the label, but taxonomists would not consider mysids to be true shrimps.

How is that for a fun trivia fact? Especially in a hobby full of people who enjoy using the scientific names of some species.

So the next time you want to impress your aquarium friends, be sure to let them know that mysis have a thoracic pouch (wasn’t that the name of the last movie in the Jurassic Park series?)

via GIPHY

Sorry, that was silly–anyway, mysis shrimp have a thoracic pouch (not Jurassic pouch) and they don’t have a free-swimming larval phase.

Phew.

Glad we cleared that up.

Natural Habitat

Mysids naturally inhabit coastal zones across the high boreal and Arctic seas. They have also been found to inhabit freshwater northern lakes and the brackish waters of the Caspian Sea.

Some mysis shrimp species inhabit shallow waters in estuaries from the East Coast of Mexico to Florida, USA.

They are really hardy animals and can withstand a wide range of living conditions, with changing temperatures and salinities. Some species prefer the seabed, while others like to live in mid-water or among seagrass and algae.

What do Mysis shrimp eat?

Mysis shrimp are omnivorous and will feed on diatoms, plankton and copepods. Some species will also eat detritus and algae, but since they are so small, it would take a tankful to make a meaningful contribution as members of the clean-up-crew.

Behavior and Reproduction

Females carry developing young in a marsupium-like pouch at the base of their legs and are able to carry up to 30 fry, but the usual brood is 6 – 7 young at a time.

As soon as the fry are well developed, they are released into the water, and the female prepares her pouch by filling it with a new batch of eggs.

As these shrimp normally reach adult size (1 inch) in about 3 weeks, this leads to a new generation being created every 30 days.

Mysis shrimp are a favorite fish food in my tank

Use as fish food

Mysis shrimp are aquacultured—so it is possible to grow your own food.

 

I may actually give this a shot. But it is hard to beat the convenience of pulling frozen Mysis out of the freezer, popping out a cube or breaking off a piece of the flat and thawing it out to feed your fish. Mysis shrimp are also available as a freeze dried product:

Click to buy some on Amazon.com

Fun facts recap:

  • Mysids are not actual shrimps, but their great resemblance brought them the name Mysis shrip.
  • Two mysid species (Mysidopsis bahia and Mysidopsis almyra) have been used like canaries in a coal mine as environmental quality indicators to determine water toxicity across the US East Coast.
  • Mysis shrimp are cannibalistic and adults would eat their young if not separated. They may also eat other adults if the shrimp density exceeds a few specimens per gallon.
  • Females rear their young like marsupial mammals do (sort of…), in a pouch on their abdomens

A few questions for you:

Have you ever fed mysis shrimp to your fish? Live or frozen? If frozen—do you prefer the cubes or flat packs?

Comments

  1. Good article : I just started feeding my fish and corals Mysis , I was feeding brine shrimp before and I notice there is a lot less mess with Mysis, and doesn’t pollute the tank like Brine, I used to rinse the brine which was a pain but the Mysis ,I don’t I just thaw in some tank water stir and pour in , my fish love it and my bubble coral and BTA love it too.

  2. Love Love mysis for both fresh & saltwater critters. I found them in 1 mm pellet form from Piscine Energetics (Phosphorus Max. 0.75%). They hope to help recover the salmon population in British Columbia as these mysis are an invasive organism out competing the fry for the nutrition sources. Am I right in thinking they are not huge contributors to my phosphates ? Hoping its a win-win. Oh well hope I can continue with your 31 days even though there seems to be a problem with email access. You’re not in my spam filter but still can’t get you in my inbox though you are in my address book. I have so many challenges, intelligence uppermost. 2 occelaris clowns, watchman goby, fancy banded serpent sea star & a peppermint shrimp come running as soon as the mysis hit the water, The frogspawn seems to enjoy also. Frozen is a problem due to waste. Thx

  3. Author

    Hi Marcy, thanks for comment. Glad to see you found a good mysis pellet. Phosphates from food are always something to watch, but agree it should hopefully be the sweet spot for you there. You can go through the 31 day challenge starting here. The emails were when we went live back in March. You can sign up for the traditional newsletter here.

  4. Author

    TJ, thanks for the comment. Agree with the thaw and rinse approach. I’ve noticed a difference between brands in terms of pollution with frozen mysis. Glad to hear you love feeding your tank mysis as much as I do

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