Acclimatising Shrimp

So your new shrimp arrived and it’s time to put them in your aquarium.

Like all aquatic animals, your new shrimps won’t appreciate the trauma of being put straight into new water. 

With fish, you might be familiar with the old ‘float them in your tank and add a little of the new tank water to the bag’ method or similar. 

This brings in two elements we need to do with shrimp – get them used to the temperature and water parameters of their new home.

With shrimp, they are more likely to withstand the shock if you do it very VERY slowly. 

Sensitive shrimp

Freshwater shrimp are sensitive creatures. They can easily be stressed by new changes – even a water change can freak them out! They    can start to frantically swim around, moult ( shed their skin) and lose their colour. They can die because of this.

The best way to introduce them is with such small changes that they don’t even realise. This gives them the best chance.

  
Acclimatisation 

So, this is what I do. 

I put my shrimps into a casserole dish with some moss to hide under. I have a thermometer as well to check the temperature. 

I now gently, with slow movements, take out about 2/3rds of the water with a yogurt pot. 

Next I set up my drip. This consists of an enema bag I got cheap on eBay for just such an occasion.  I flush it through with tank water and adjust the tap to get a flow of about 1 drip per second. 

Next I tape the nozzle so it drips into the bowl with my shrimp. 

…. then I use this 3 hr window to coo over my new shrimps and post their photos on FaceBook. Once my friends are fed up with shrimp, I take out the same amount of water and repeat. This time I go faster with the water – 2 to 3 times faster. 

If they aren’t the same temperature as the tank I use an ice wrap or heat pad around the bowl.  

So now they are used to the water parameters and temperature of my tank – so in they go. I prefer catching them with a glass shrimp catcher and keeping the bowl water out of my tank.

Feeding tube and bowl for shrimp: review

When it comes to feeding time, I used to just try and drop the water soluble granules onto a stone. Often it fell anywhere but where I wanted it, sinking into the soil and messing it up.

  
So I invested £4.50 in buying a feeding tube and bowl. This was the description:

  • Brand new & high quality
  • Tube Inner Diameter: 1.5cm
  • Tube Outside Diameter: 1.9cm
  • Total Length: 27cm
  • Material: Acrylic 

Package Includes:

  • 1x Shrimp Feeding Tube
  • 2x Suction Cups


  

What I thought

The acrylic tube has a pointed end to locate where you require food to drop to. It clips into  plastic grips that suction onto the tank.

The grips were very small and not suited for the pipe  – after a week they snapped and I have had to order more. The quality of the clips were poor but if they had been a bigger size, probably wouldn’t have broke.

The tube is very useful and I’m not using the bowl (you can buy them separately from many people on eBay). Different lengths were available and it’s something I wouldn’t be without as feeding is so much cleaner and easier.

How I use it

I located it over a flat piece of Dragon Stone for a natural look. 


Tips for buying shrimp.

Shrimp_buyingSo your new aquarium is planted, cycled and ready for the excitement of adding shrimp. A lot of people aren’t sure where to buy them from or how to have the best chance of healthy shrimp.  I’ve seen a lot of people complain their shrimp died before they arrived or after a few days.

I’m adding new shrimp this week – so I thought it would make a useful topic to write about, today it’s about buying shrimp, next time it will be about acclimatisation and putting them in your tank.

Some of the things I do / have done and what to look out for.

First up – where to buy them from.

First batch – from a local aquatic shop (who got them via a breeder):

My first ever batch of shrimp (a few tiger and cherry shrimp) I ordered from a trusted aquatic shop attached to a garden centre. If you are buying them from a shop, some things you should consider:

  • What is the health status of the fish/shrimp/plants in the shop. I’ve been into places like my local Pets At Home and seen some very sorry sights – half dead animals or high incidence of disease (or staff who don’t seem to be knowledgeable).
  • Do you know what a healthy shrimp should look like? Watch some YouTube videos to get an idea of normal behaviours.
  • Do you know what the type of shrimp is – are you being sold what you think you are (as some shrimp need different water parameters or are for more experienced keepers).
  • Don’t get mixed up with names e.g. a Red Fire shrimp with a Fire Red Shrimp – one is saltwater the other is freshwater!
  • Shrimp colour – some places actually feed shrimp food which changes their body colour – so without the colouring, your blue shrimp might actually be clear after a few days and never go blue again – and you will have been conned.
  • How knowledgable about shrimp are staff?

The first aquatic shop I tried (attached also to a garden centre) had tanks of dead fish and when I asked staff if they were getting any shrimp in, the response was ‘no they don’t breed at this time of year’. I had read that shrimps will breed all the time given the right habitat – they don’t just mate a few months in the year. This is a Neocaridina shrimp we are talking about not a panda.

The next shop was the one I normally bought my fish from. The stock was healthy and the staff very knowledgeable. I asked which shrimp they could get in and learnt about Cherry types and colours and Tiger shrimps – so went for a few of those. As soon as they came in, the shop called and I went to pick up my new tank mates for the fish (at the time my shrimp lived with my fish). They looked healthy and just like I’d seen on the internet (bagged and taken care of nicely – and I saw the tanks they had kept them in at the shop).

So I was very pleased and they moved into the fish tank and produced lots of babies and were very happy.

 

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Second batch onwards – I had them posted from a shop I found on the internet.

When I decided to start a planted tank just for shrimp – I wanted more choice, so I searched the internet and found two shops – both who specialised in shrimps.

I would never buy shrimp from a random eBay seller or person on a forum – there are sellers out there who breed shrimp properly and ship them with the greatest of care – but unless I knew them well, I personally would only trust a specialist shop.

Things to consider when using an internet shop:

  • Wider choice of shrimp and products
  • Usually very knowledgeable and can help you with your choice
  • Usually well packaged
    • Expect to pay around £10 postage and choose a delivery date (if you are like me, you will be excitedly waiting for the postman anyway and not likely to be out!!)
    • A good shop will provide heat packs during the winter – although I have had a package of shrimp survive being left outside the door on a frosty day with a failed heat pack – they were icy cold.
    • Good packaging is double bagged with a small amount of moss or something for the shrimp to cling to is often added – and the bags may be padded with polystyrene or similar to protect from banging around.
    • Double check whether all shrimp will be put in one bag – you might not want them interbreeding if they are to live in tanks just for their own type – and you never know what might happen during their transit!!
  • Don’t be afraid to buy through the post from a reputable place.
  • Accidents happen – maybe the parcel was kept next to something cold, maybe a heat pack failed, maybe the shrimp got too hot or were handled badly in the post? Sometimes accidents happen that is out of the control of the seller.
    • A good dealer will have a policy on what to do to get a refund if your shrimp arrive dead (usually take a video or photo of the packaging intact clearly showing shrimp that are dead – so they can determine if they really did arrive dead or died because of how you opened the bag for example)
    • You usually have to tell the store within so many hours of them arriving or within the first day – so read the details and don’t just dive in, open the bags and realise you can’t claim if you see any dead.
    • Order shrimp in smaller quantities – if you spend hundreds of pounds for one shipment – and that shipment goes wrong or there is a problem you can’t prove was the postal service, you could lose a lot of money.

Personally, I buy from Sharnbrook Shrimp most of the time, I’ve never had any dead shrimp on arrival and the quality of shrimp has been excellent. I’ve used a few other places for things they haven’t stocked and never had any dead shrimp or nerites arrive or problems with my on-line orders.

Shrimp / fry net box – my thoughts.

New_Trixie_Breeder_Hatcher_Net

So I wanted to catch my shrimp, and hold them in one place whilst I did the new tank (and have a holding place to breed shrimp separate from the main tank inhabitants).  This was £3 (16x13x12cm) from eBay and when assembled was pretty good for the price. The net was fine and easily went around the frame and it hung on my tank fine. I liked how easy it was to assemble, felt study enough, and you could take off the bag to wash it out.

However, what I didn’t realise was that the shrimp could get stuck between the net and the frame – you know how they are so curious they crawl around anything. So when I thought the were all out of the net – they were hiding under it (and at this point out of the tank and about to be stored away in my cupboard!). Shrimp crawled between the grooves of the frame and wouldn’t come out without a lot of hassle.

So, I think for large adults, it would be ok as a mating box, but smaller shrimp, they can easily trap themselves or wedge themselves out of view.

It is a good little basket for growing out moss – put in a little from a new plant, and it can grow to the amount you need for a project without escaping – so thumbs up for plants, thumbs down for shrimp.

Glue for aquascaping – best thing ever

DUPLA_PLANT_FIX_LIQUID Glue is my best friend. The hours I spent with fishing line, aquarium/aquascaping nylon, hair nets, plastic grids etc, trying to get the darn plants and moss to stay where I wanted … ah ha…. not any longer. This time I glued them on and it was much less stressful, very quick and …. well a no brainer to do it any other way.

What I used: I used Duple Plant Fix Liquid. It’s basically a gel type of superglue and costs around £16-25 depending from where you get it from (It is generally imported from Europe and not usually stocked in shops where I live).   It comes in a metal tube which is easy to squeeze and control with a fin tip nozzle. The glue lasts about 6 months from opening. It will glue your fingers together somewhat – but you can’t really use it for aquascaping without getting it on your fingers.

IMG_6106 How I used it: First up, my Anubias (a plant with rhizomes that needs the main root to be above the soil) was glued onto a piece of stone – just a few dabs, hold in place, press, unglue fingers, and easy as that. Fixed.

Next up was the moss. I wanted to glue it onto a stone and the the ends of some twigs to make some trees. So I smeared the gel all over the top of the twig (pre soaked and gently patted dry with kitchen paper), grabbed a bunch of damp moss and pinched it onto the twig. Water oozed out, some bits broke off. It was a bit messy as some moss then got stuck to my fingers and they looked more like a tree than the twig. However, most of it stayed on – and I just kept adding it until it looked good. I then glued the tree onto a stone – holding it in the glue gel for about 10 seconds. Job done. I placed each item in a bowl of tank water to keep the moss wet.

Result: I am super pleased with how easy this was and I’m never trying to use thread again to hold down moss. At first the glue goes bright white when placed in the water – but as the moss grows, you can’t see it. I can’t see any glue on the Anubias root – it just look like it magically holds.

Other glue: The active ingredient in the gel is: Cyano Acrylate which hardens under water.

Website: http://www.dupla.com/en/p/80293/PlantFix-liquid

Instructions: Available in pdf from their web site and in the box.

Banana and chocolate bread

  

Just plain yummy. Fluffy with gooey chocolate.

Mix 200g of brown sugar with 55g of butter. Add 3 ripe bananas, half a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and mixed spice. Beat in an egg and combine 250g of self raising flour. Put as much choccy in as you like! 

Cook it in a loaf tin at 180 for 1.5 hrs.

The top should be crispy and the inside fluffy :-)

 

Not easy but I voted

Last general election I walked to our tin pot shed of a village hall to vote. It was a bumpy walk involving lots of crossing the road to find dropped curbs. There are about two parking spaces at the hall which is why I decided to walk but it wasn’t something I wanted to repeat again. Even worse was the 90 degree turn to get in the door from the ramp – and a door lip that my assistant had to half lift me over. 

So this year I thought I’d try the easy way and apply for a postal vote. What a faff that turned out to be. I didn’t realise the process took so long or I’d have applied sooner. My card said to phone the local helpline to register. After waiting several minutes listening to rubbish music I was told they’d printed the wrong information and I had to apply on line.

Next I had to download the form, print it, fill it in and post it! I didn’t have time to mail it so heard I could email it. It took all day to find this out. I had to email my local registration place and ask where to send it. In the end I received an address, took a photo and hit send.

I heard nothing to say they had received it. My papers came in the end – not an easy process all in all.

Trying to fix plant melt

So, the symptoms are losing leaves, holes in leaves and plant leaves that become ‘skeleton’  like, pale, transparent and seem to melt away and die. Sometimes only the root is left.

This is the first case of plant melt I’ve had – the same plants were fine in my old tank … so what has changed? I scoured the internet to find out what to do.

IMG_6075
What causes plant melt?

Well first time round, I had no problems.

Putting plants underwater

Apparently plants that grow above the water (with only the roots below – called emmersed plants) can melt when they are put under water completely (immersed). It’s the shock of adapting to water / gas exchange / C02 levels and new soil. Some plants are more susceptible.  They try and shed their old leaves and grow new ones which are used to being under water.

Since my Cryptocoryne costata and Anubias were already in my other tank, this can’t be the reason.  I read that sometimes the new shoots take over and the plant recovers.

Natural death

Also, plants don’t live forever – they can die naturally after a few years! I have no idea how old my plants were when I bought them – so it might even be natural!

Could it be low CO2?

Plants feed on CO2 – it is absorbed during photosynthesis in the daylight. Well actually – they don’t feed on it – more like they use CO2 and other nutrients to turn it into sugar – which is their energy food. At night, plants release CO2.  I have a low tech tank – which means I don’t add CO2 gas to the water. Maybe there isn’t enough in the water, or too much?

So what causes low CO2?

  • lots of plants using it up too quickly? – It’s not heavily planted so maybe not this.
  • Low flow – circulation is lacking a bit in my tank as the spray bar from the filter is higher up and not pushing much water around. A plant will take up C02 better in a good flow. Plants are supposed to waft gently in the water – mine don’t so I can try and alter the angle as it’s on maximum as it is.
  • High aeration causing the plants to use more CO2? – I certainly pushed a lot of oxygen into it in the first few weeks. Water agitation can ‘gas off’ the CO2 as well.
  • Weak light – they can’t photosynthesis well and are in a state of stress …. or maybe too much light and they are absorbing a lot of CO2 but it’s not enough to meet their growing needs?

The light is certainly not as good in this tank because it is higher up – but the plants I chose are low light plants and not super fast growers – so not sure about this one. If they haven’t got enough light they can’t make food!

I could try and increase C02 in the tank – or at least stabilise it as it appears to be more often a lack of C02 in relation to the amount of light.

I could reduce the light so they don’t photosynthesis as much (if that is even true) – but I’m not happy with the low light as it is!! Oh what to do. My gut feeling is not enough light. Altering the period of ‘on time’ for the light won’t work – as it’s the intensity of the light that needs to change – if it’s not strong enough you could leave it on 24 hrs a day and it would not work!

Could it be the soil or water they don’t like?

  • Large water changes altering the stability – only done one small water change so far, so I don’t think they are dropping leaves in the hope that new ones will cope with the new water.
  • Lack of nutrients in the soil or roots not getting to the soil – this is possible as I had to trim the mass of roots on the Crypt before I replanted them – but I left a lot more on it than I had originally. It doesn’t explain the other plants though.

Light bulb syndrome

I use a fluorescent light – apparently after around 12 months they can still be on but not putting out the right light frequency – possible.

 

All about shrimp tank 2

So a week last Monday was ‘Shrimp Day’. Here is what happened.

The all day (and half the night) process of setting up the new tank to replace the first was very exciting.

 

IMG_6041

For tank 2 there were some key things I knew I wanted to do different – having learnt from tank one.

  • A bigger tank – only 5cm wider but around 10 cm taller.

The mantra seems to be the smaller the tank the harder it is to keep looking good.  It’s harder to landscape with plants, harder to do water changes without disturbing the layout, harder to maintain a stable temperature and water conditions, hard to clean/scrape – you get the idea. It’s HARD!!!

So, although this increase is only from a 25-30 litre tank – it feels like a massive amount of room – and looks so much bigger (but takes up very little desk space).

  • An aquascape (planting scheme) that doesn’t touch too many sides of the tank – so much nicer for water to flow round, shrimps to ‘do their thing’ and I’m hoping less algae and disturbance if I do have to scrape.
  • My filter is the same but this time the spray bar is about an inch above the water – so much better flow, not blocked by ‘stuff’.   Also, the empty water space above the plants has been changed from about an inch to a 2-3 inches. This gives lots of room to scoop out and replace water without knocking over ‘stuff’ in the tank.

Basically, it is less cluttered and designed to be easier to maintain. I can see my shrimps better and I’ve invested in a shrimp feeding tube to keep their food out of the substrate and on top of a rock.

The only down side, so far has been that the light no longer penetrates as well because the tank is taller – so will have to see how that goes. It definitely isn’t as well illuminated.

Tank Set Up.

1) Dennerle Nano Cube – 30 Litre tank – £37.99 from SwellUK

It’s a nice tank with curved front edges (that you can’t see in the picture), tested it out for leaks and was fine – bit messy on the silicone though and the glass top is very thin.

The glass top sits on plastic hangers – which were a very tight fit and I worried the glass would shatter. I have discarded the top and my husband made a new one to fit around the filter out of acrylic.

Dennerle_30L_Nano_Cube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Same filter as last time

3) Some new wood and plants + old ones replanted – £40 approx

4) Rain water, filtered for large particles, boiled and remineralized.

4) Dennerle Scaper’s soil + topped with Fluval Shrimp Stratum

5) Same light

6) Same cooler

Set up:

It took all afternoon to set up and all evening to catch the shrimps and swap over the filter and cooler and take out the other tank. I had a plan and itemised the order of things to keep organised.

First the tank was tested for leaks within 24 hrs of it arriving (to enable a claim to be made if needed for a replacement). Then substrate was added (no washing needed apart from the Fluval topper) and the prepared water (boiled and remineralised) was added just so it soaked into the substrate to saturate it.

The shrimps were taken out of the old tank – well as many as possible and transferred to a net/fry box sitting in a bowl of water. I’ll review this later – but basically they got out of the net and into the bowl – some got stuck and that part was a bit of a nightmare. A thermometer was placed in to keep an eye on them.

Next the wood and plants were added to the new tank (the old one now became a swirling mess of remaining shrimp and soil).

Water was added – about another 4 inches.

We took down the old tank and closed down the cooler and filter. Water staying in that part of the circuit to keep the important filter bacteria wet and alive.  Next we carried in the new tank, connecting it up to the cooler and filter.

The old tank went into the kitchen so my husband could catch more baby shrimps – my motto is ‘leave no one behind’!!

So, the tank was then topped up to the top (gently and slowly pouring water in so as not to disturb the soil) and left for the evening to settle down.

I tested the water and the ammonia reading was really high – the soil leached a lot more than I thought it would. I dosed with Prime, added a top up of bacteria for the filter and in went the shrimp.

A few days later I dosed with AmGuard – for emergency ammonia removal as it was still showing up and my pH was above 7.

Than tank seems ok now, all shrimp (plus babies and berried females) survived and apart from the slight problem of floating wood (now held down by dragon stone) – the water is clear, the shrimp are happy and it’s looking great. Ammonia is reading zero and I feel relieved!

I will do a 25% water change next week, as soon as it rains to lower the Nitrate.

Next blog

Over the next weeks I will review how to catch shrimp – what worked well and what didn’t plus some of the equipment and test kits I used (and whether they were any good!).

You can also find out what happens when you drop a pot of shrimp remineralisation powder into a bowl of water…

 

Will it be sunny in June

  

Without the right level of health or social care a life once filled with colour can turn into a miserable grey existence.

A spring flower that once bloomed brightly and stood tall can swiftly become a shrivelled, dull and lifeless plant. With not enough water and sunshine it is destined for the compost heap.

Yes readers, life would be that shitty if I lost my health and social care support that is my water and sunshine.

Yesterday the clouds came. Like many disabled people in the UK my Independent Living Fund is withdrawn in June. This money gets added to some from the council and I use it to employ my assistants. I’ve done this since 1993. It’s been known for over a year that the Fund was closing – yet the council leave it to the last minute to come up with a funding proposal.

Assessments are physically and mentally draining. They cause a lot of worry and need a lot of concentration. They make me ill.

I sat through a 2.5 hr assessment from Adult Social Services to gather information. A panel of people who don’t know me will then decide on whether to take over funding or cut my money. 

I meet the criteria for the NHS to fund my assistance. The information will also go to them. A NHS panel will also see a letter from one of my specialists and may send someone out to ask more questions. They have 28 days to make a decision. 

I’m told that they rarely fund anyone in Kent. Most of my friends with the same level / type of impairment are funded this way.

It’s left me exhausted. I worry that the complexity of my care won’t come across on paper.  What if I forgot something? I keep going over and over it in my mind. 

After the last care assessment (about 6 months ago) I explained my needs. The copy of what they wrote had three glaring errors.  Two of them were getting the name of my medical condition wrong and saying I used oxygen when in fact the machine is a ventilator breathing for me. Based on that alone leaves me with no faith in the system.

At least I get to see what they wrote to check accuracy before the panel see it.

So I will just have to wait and see what happens.