Atya gabonensis – Vampire Shrimp

Atya gabonensis – Vampire Shrimp is a very peaceful shrimp that is friendly to fellow residents, as they don’t have claws.

Atya gabonensis – Vampire Shrimp

The African fan hand shrimp (Atya gabonensis) originally comes from Gabon in West Africa, as its scientific name suggests. Their common name is Vampire Shrimp.

Synoniemen: Atya sculptata Ortmann, 1890, Euatya sculptilis Koelbel, 1884.

Some sources indicate that this species also occurs in South America. After all this time, there is still debate as to whether this is the same species. The name Atyopsis gabonensis is also frequently used in trade. This name has never been valid for this species. It is possible that a mistake was made in the trade with the name, it remains difficult to get those names out of the trade again.


Atya gabonensis - Vampire Shrimp
Atya gabonensis – Vampire Shrimp

The males can grow up to 12 cm. in size, while the female remains around ± 8 cm. Another difference is that the male has thicker front legs (third pair, first 2 pair have the fan hands), with a kind of bright red thorn that the females lack. In the photo, a female is sitting on the blue gravel, and the male is sitting among a few other females on the right.

The colour of Atya gabonensis depends on the origin and breeding line of the fan shrimp. The colour varies from light to dark brown, sometimes they are blue with a purple glow to really bright blue. Just after scaling, they are almost completely white, but after a while, they will regain their color. As the fan shrimp gets older, the colour also changes a bit.

If you really want to buy a Vampire Shrimp, it is, therefore, worthwhile to look around until a nice specimen has been found.


They are also very peaceful animals that are friendly to their fellow residents. However, it is not recommended to place them together with small (dwarf) lobsters. They can live well together with other shrimps (up to a length of 6 centimeters). They do not harm fish and shrimp as they have no claws. They also leave the plants. It is really a beautiful shrimp for the enthusiast, but keep in mind that they can be a bit shy. They will not always show themselves. This is also because they are mainly active at night.

The aquarium

Make sure that the aquarium is closed well, as they will sometimes climb above the water surface. Their food consists of vegetable waste matter that they collect on the bottom or that floats in the water.

The aquarium should be at least 60 centimetres long and provide enough hiding places so that they feel safe. Once they feel comfortable, they will appear more often and show themselves especially at the outflow of the filter. Water temperature can be between 20-30 ° C and preferably with soft water with an acidity ranging from acidic to basic, acidity (pH) between 6-8. The shrimp live to be at least 5 years old but can even reach the age of 12.

Breeding Atya gabonensis – Vampire Shrimp

If you want to breed with the Vampire Shrimp, keep in mind that this is only possible in brackish water. The number of eggs can be up to several hundred. Brackish to saltwater is needed for propagation. The fry go through some planktonic stages in about 24 to 70 days. Several successful breeding reports are known.

The gestation period is about 28-50 days, during which not all larvae hatch at the same time but within a time frame of about 2 weeks.



Margie van der Heijden – Ons Natuurgenot Gouda

Copyright images

Margie van der Heijden – Ons Natuurgenot Gouda
Jori Spierings


The Shrimp Genus Atya – Hobbs – Hart

Additional information




Minimum length


Length maximum


Temperature minimum
Temperature maximum


pH minimum


pH maximum



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