Fairy shrimps form swarms that can be quite conspicuous if the animals are brightly colored. On the other hand, many species prefer to live in argillotrophic lakes or pools. The term "argillotrophic" means that the body of water in question produces low levels of phytoplankton because the water is clouded by high levels of suspended clay particles. The animals themselves are responsible for the turbidity, by stirring up sediment from the lake bottom. The turbidity serves a double purpose: it resuspends particles of sediment that are potentially nutritive, and it creates an environment that protects the shrimp from insect and bird predators that hunt by sight.

Beside swimming upside down, fairy shrimp, like zooplankton, migrate vertically over a 24-hour period if they live in sufficiently deep pools; they usually come to the surface at night. Females tend to live below the males in the water column.

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