This guide may need revision and is currently under construction.
Thank you to Imke for the photographs of Bee, Black Bee, Gold Bee and White Bee shrimp.
Many people get confused with this shrimp as there are so many different forms it can take. I hope this guide will explain this shrimp in detail.
Wild strain (Bee)
The wild strain exists in the wild in southern China and Hong Kong.
Across its body it has broad black bands and irregular white bands, and its ‘head’ and ‘tail’ typically have an orange tinge.
Black Bee strain
The Black Bee shrimp is the result of artificial selection of the Bee shrimp to achieve thicker black and white colouration. This shrimp has grading systems identical to those of the Red Bee shrimp.
This strain has a much greater proportion of white than the wild Bee and has a more regimented pattern. Most Black Bee shrimp have an orange tinge on their head and tail.
The term ‘Crystal Black’ is used synonymously with ‘Black Bee’, as well as just ‘Bee’ (rather ambiguously).
Red Bee strain (Crystal Red)
In the wild Bee shrimp population an uncommon recessive allele existed for red colouration rather than black. Individuals that had two of these alleles expressed the red colouration and were selected for breeding to create a pure stable strain of red Bee shrimp (hence the name Red Bee). These were then artificially selected for a higher proportion of white and deeper, thicker colouration. Those with a higher proportion of white are considered of a higher grade.
The first Red Bee shrimp were low grade and similar in appearance to the wild Bee shrimp, and it is these shrimp that were copyrited as Crystal Red shrimp. It is for this reason that I believe the term ‘Crystal Red’ should only be used for pure low graded Red Bee shrimp, whereas the term ‘Red Bee’ can be used for any grade of this phenotype. Despite this, the terms are used synonymously.
Gold Bee strain
The origin of the Gold Bee shrimp is unclear, and many speculate that it is a hybrid between the wild Bee shrimp and a similar species. This shrimp is artificially selected for higher white proportion and is thereupon graded. This shrimp is often used to breed higher graded shrimp in Red and Black Bee shrimp, although this usually compromises the quality of the white (yellow tinges; transparency).
This shrimp is also called the Snow White shrimp, although this generally refers to individuals with higher quality white colouration.
Taiwan Bee strains (Shadow Bee)
The term ‘Taiwan Bee shrimp’ encompasses a small group of shrimp that express new phenotypes due to the presence of two recessive Taiwan Bee alleles: the Wine Red shrimp, the Red Ruby shrimp, the Panda shrimp, the King Kong shrimp and the Blue Bolt shrimp (and other Bolt colour variations). This allele is a new mutation that supposedly arose in Taiwan, hence the name. Many speculate that the mixing of Gold Bee genetics with Red and Black Bee genetics somehow resulted in this mutation, as Taiwan breeders notoriously mixed Gold Bees with Red and Black Bees.
The Panda and King Kong shrimp are both black and white, and are the same strain. They are differentiated by the proportion of white colouration. In simplified terms, a large amount of white indicates a Panda and a small amount of white indicates a King Kong shrimp. Their non-‘Taiwan Bee’ parallel is the Black Bee shrimp.
The Wine Red and Red Ruby shrimp are both deep red and white, and follow the same convention as above, with Wine Red replacing Panda and Red Ruby replacing King Kong. They are also often referred to as ‘Red Panda’ and ‘Red [King] Kong’. Also, recently, ‘Wine Red’ and ‘Red Ruby’ have been used to indicate deeper red colouration and brighter red colouration respectively. Their non-‘Taiwan Bee’ parallel is the Red Bee shrimp.
The Blue Bolt shrimp ranges from white with blue cheeks to a full-body blue colouration. Their non-‘Taiwan Bee’ parallel is the Gold Bee shrimp.
PRL means Pure Red Line. A common misconception is that this shrimp is a new strain. It is not. This shrimp is simply the Red Bee strain but with the absence of Gold Bee mixing for a number of generations, hence it is pure Red Bee. This prevents yellowing and transparency of the white colouration.