I've been seeing several shrimp tank-related questions lately, so I decided to make this thread, a guide to setting up and maintaining your very own shrimp tank.
Picking the tank:
One reason shrimp are popular is that they don't require a large tank. Some keep them in tanks as small as one gallon. The size of the tank you need is mainly based upon what you are wanting to do with the shrimp. For example, Crystal Red Shrimp (CRS) breed more readily in bigger tanks. A 20 gallon long is a very common tank to breed CRS in. They still will breed in small tanks such as 5 gallons, but not as readily. If you are looking to breed a type of Neocaridina (Neo) shrimp such as Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS), a tank 5-10 gallons will do. They will still probably breed at the same speed in tanks even smaller than that, the problem is that they are prolific breeders, so space will quickly become an issue. If you are looking to keep shrimp just for the fun of it and not for breeding, small tanks such as 2.5-5 gallons will be fine. Usually the maximum capacity of tanks for dwarf shrimp are 10 shrimp per gallon of water.
Various substrates can be used in a shrimp tank. Common substrates used in Caridina tanks are pH-buffering and water-softening substrates like ADA Aquasoil. However, these substrates can be very expensive and are not necessary for survival. Mainly, these pricey substrates are used to obtain the conditions preferred by shrimp such as Bee Shrimp and Orange Eye Blue Tiger Shrimp without purchasing an RO
unit. Outsider of using these substrates, nearly any other substrate is OK for your shrimp tank. Playsand, gravel, pool filter sand, etc. are perfectly fine. Just be sure to research your substrate to make sure it doesn't have any "side effects" on your tank like raising pH.
With decor, mainly the rules of adding decor to any fish tank apply. Do the vinegar test on rocks, don't use wood with sap, etc. Live plants are commonly used in shrimp tanks, but are not needed. However, fast-growing plants can absorb many toxins and stop them from potentially harming your precious shrimp. Also, some mosses such as Java Moss and Christmas Moss harbor microfauna, used as a food source by young shrimp. Remember that shrimp also like their hiding places, so providing lots of hidey-holes will be appreciated.
Similar to fish tanks, you can never have too much filtration in a shrimp tank, but you can have too much flow. Especially due to the small size of shrimp and shrimplets, low-flow air-driven sponge filters are popular. Shrimp also like to graze on them between meals. HOB
and canister filters are also fine in shrimp tanks, but a fine intake strainer is probably needed to make sure no shrimplets get sucked into the filter. Tying a pantyhose around the intake is one of the simplest ways to make your filter shrimp-safe.
Now, comes the fun part: picking inhabitants for your tank. One thing to keep in mind is that not all shrimp are created equal. Many are more touchy than others, and need different conditions. It is up to you to research which shrimp you can best supply a good home for. RCS are a favorite shrimp to keep, and for a reason; they are one of the easiest. They can be kept well in both soft and hard water, and breed very readily in both. CRS are another popular shrimp among hobbyists. Their needs are a bit different. They like their water to be on the softer, more acidic side of things, they also prefer temperatures around 75 F. One more shrimp I would like to go over is the Orange Eye Blue Tiger Shrimp (OEBT). They are very touchy shrimp. They, like CRS also prefer soft, acidic water. They are definitely not beginner shrimp.
One thing you hear about with shrimp is interbreeding. The thought is that if you have two types of Neocaridina shrimp, or two types of Caridina shrimp, they will interbeed, and their offspring will be reverted to wild form. This is not true for all shrimp, but it is generally the case. Because of this, keeping two Neocaridina species or two Caridina species together is generally not a good idea.
"What fish can I keep with my shrimp?" some ask. If you are really wanting to breed the shrimp, the answer is few to none. Many fish are unable to resist a tiny shrimplet. Your shrimplets are probably not even safe with small fish such as Neon Tetras or Galaxy Rasbora. The only other inhabitants that can safely be in your shrimp tank are plecos and snails.
Feeding your shrimp:
Many questions are asked about shrimp feeding. Your feeding schedule and amounts are mainly dependant on the size of your shrimp colony. If you have a very small colony of shrimp, and you are not looking to breed them, the algae present in the tank already is probably enough for them. If you have a larger colony, though, and you are looking to breed the shrimp, you probably have to feed them.
A common food for shrimp is algae discs, normally fed to plecos. Veggie sticks, barley pellets, and other shrimp foods are also available and very nutritious. Be warned, though; many commercial shrimp foods are composed of the same thing as fish food, but more expensive. Don’t be fooled!
How much should you feed your shrimp? You should feed them an amount of food that can be consumed in 2-3 hours. This is a real trial-and-error process. It is very important not to overfeed, because this can lead to pest infestations, something covered in the next section of this thread.
Pests in your shrimp tank:
Sadly, pests are very common in shrimp tanks. Pest infestations are many times caused by too much food being present in your tank. As stated in the previous section, you should only feed what is able to be consumed within a 2-3 hour time frame. One way to make sure no extra food particles get in the substrate is to get or make a “shrimp feeding dish.” You place the food in the dish and pull it out after 2-3 hours. This is an easy way to make sure no food particles get in the substrate, giving a food source to those pests. You can buy a glass or plastic shrimp feeding dish from many hobbyists, or you can make your own by using a jar lid or something of the sort. Just as always, make sure it is aquarium safe!
Some common pests that come into your shrimp tank are planaria and hydra. This article covers a shrimp-safe planaria and hydra eradication method: Guide to Planaria and Hydra Elimination - Aquarium Advice
Scuds are another common pest in a shrimp tank. There is no sure way of getting them out, but one way to try to eliminate them is to capitalize on their stupidity. Place a piece of blanched zucchini in to your shrimp tank. Wait a few hours, until you get lots of feasting scuds on it. Then, pull it out. There will be lots of shrimp on that veggie too, but the shrimp will move off of it before you pull it out. The scuds will not.
co2 with Shrimp?
One common shrimp question is, "Can I have a high light/co2
injected shrimp tank?" The answer to this is yes, if done correctly. However, the pH swings caused by co2
are many times fatal to shrimp. The co2
needs to be closely monitored to make sure there are no swings. Running an airstone at night is a way to offset the extra co2
not being used by the plants at nighttime. Just be careful.
Many people have failed at the shrimp/co2
Water Re-mineralization is for shrimpkeepers who use full RO
water in their shrimp tank. RO
water, while very clean, soft, and acidic, is lacking in many minerals necessary for keeping shrimp. This calls for water re-mineralization. One commonly used remineralizer is “Bee Shrimp GH
+.” This can be found from a variety of places including AlphaProBreeders and eBay.
Bacterial Infections in Shrimp:
While shrimp are not prone to aquarium parasites such as ich, bacterial infections are still possible. Symptoms of bacterial infections include missing legs, wobbly antennas, holes in the exoskeleton, and frequent shrimp deaths. These infections mainly are caused in the summer, when the temperature of the tanks are warmer, encouraging the growth of these bacteria. There are anti-bacterial medicines out there, but make sure they are invert-safe. Some are not.
Maintenance in a shrimp tank:
Maintenance in a shrimp tank should consist of a weekly 25-30% water change. Some think that because shrimp have such a low bioload, weekly water changes aren't needed, but this is untrue. Doing few water changes will probably result in dead shrimp. Some get away with doing one every two weeks when they are keeping very hearty species like RCS, but even this is not advisable.
There have been many questions lately about breeding shrimp, such as RCS. To breed shrimp, you want to match their preferred conditions, and keep parameters stable. So for example, if you want to breed CRS, you would want to have softer, more acidic water with a temperature around 75F. With breeding RCS, they are able to breed in a wide range of conditions, from soft and acidic to hard and alkaline. They will also breed in a variety of temperatures, but the lower the temperature is, the slower shrimplet growth will be.
I hope this has answered questions you may have about the setup and maintenance of your shrimp tank. If you have any more questions, feel free to pm me!