Beginner shrimps for new keepers

Beginners may want to start out with these shrimps. With optimum conditions they can live 1 – 2 years.

Good starter shrimp for first time keepers are Cherry (many colours but red is the hardiest in my experience) and Rili (again red has been hardier).

Click on the chart for a larger image.


Other good shrimp are Blue Jelly, Pearl and one of my favourites – the hardy Skunk or Rhino Horn shrimp.

Beginner shrimp 2

Re-mineralising rain/RO water

Shrimp are very picky – they like their water to have the right balance of minerals and trace elements.

If you have a tank that uses rainwater or RO water, then you will have to re-mineralise the water.  I use Salty Shrimp (other brands are available) – every water change I put my TDS pen into my bucket of filtered rainwater and add the salt (with the supplied scoop) a little at a time to the desired level.

What is the desired level.

Each type of Salty Shrimp suggests going to a certain level of conductivity – which you can convert to TDS (see chart below) or a d (degrees hardness level).

You choose the type of salty shrimp according to the label e.g. some are specific to shrimps like Cherry shrimp and others are made for Salawesi shrimp.

I can never remember which ones are suited for which shrimp – so I made a chart!

Problems to figure out the dosage

  1. Most keepers re-mineralise to a TDS level. The first thing to notice is the tub uses a different unit of measurement – the unit for conductance, MicroSiemens.
  2. What I have noticed is that the tub suggests a microsiemen amount e.g. 270 for the one I use (which is around 173 (plus or minus 32) TDS). However it also says you can go to 6 degrees Hardness (dH) which is a TDS of 107.4
  3.  Also consider that some shrimp keepers will just go to what they think is a good amount of TDS for their shrimp recommended from a shop or forum – e.g.220-240 is what I’ve heard several times and is what I chose.
  4. Lastly I have two types of shrimp in my tank (Tigers and Red Cherry variants). There are different powders for each of these!  Cherry are supposed to settle in a range of TDS but Tigers prefer softer water and much lower TDS. That said, my Tigers have done well in a high TDS.



Good Riddance to the ILF

Well, here we are at the end of the ILF era. It’s a key date, destined to be part of UK disability history. 

Reading the news, watching lobbying in Parliament and perusing  social network comments, you would think everyone using the fund wanted it back. Nowhere was there a balance of hearing from people like me. Long term fund users who were glad to see it end.

Disabled friends vilified me. How dare I be glad this is happening.  It would mean imprisonment, having no care and feeling you’d be better off dead.

I am going to celebrate a new beginning.

The good…

Actually, my needs had not changed and the local authority did the assessment. They agreed to fund me the part ILF covered. I had no drop in the amount and I’m financially better off as I won’t have to contribute towards my care. So, at least for now, things are good.  

The bad…

The ILF had many problems for me. No longer do I have to do exhausting 3-4 hr reviews -being questioned by the ILF to enable funding for another year. 

No more tears having to tell them over and over how impaired I am – repeating the same thing as Adult Services already knew. No more appeals and lengthy complaints procedures when they would cut my funding giving no explanation. 

No more rules like “we give extra funding for out of pocket carer/PA expenses… but only if you ask” and “you are not allowed to use your ILF funded hours for doing window cleaning, gardening …. “.  They even stopped disabled parents using their funds for Personal Assistance to enable them to care for their children.

Since 1997 I’d been trying to get them to communicate by e-mail because it was the easiest method for me that meant I could read  information privately and easily and access it without physical assistance. That never happened. They continued phoning and  posting printed information. They never understood my needs.

No more arguments between Adult Services and the ILF about exactly who would fund which hour. Would Adult Services fund the first toilet visit on a Tuesday or the ILF? That is how petty it would be. The ILF kept a chart of each hour on each day to see which ones they would fund.  In the end this was nonsense because they both put the money in my account and I just got on with paying my assistants.  

No more having to contribute 50% of my government benefit for care. I can now use that towards care and disability related expenses that fall outside of council funding. 

 The ILF was hardly run in the spirit of transparency and Independent Living.  In fact, it was so bad the Trust had to rewrite its constitution some years ago.

Using the fund was a necessary evil. It got me through university when Direct Payments didn’t exist.  It topped up my high care package that kept me living in my own home and employing PAs.  They reluctantly funded some hours to top up a third funding stream, Access to Work. What a hellish process of persuasion that was. 

and the ugly?

I don’t disagree that the switch over to council funding has been badly organised in England.  People are having a very stressful time. I have too. 

The local authority should have been made to ring fence the extra funding provided to them for ex ILF users.   The amount was only a one off and it seems wasn’t enough to fund people in those local authority areas, causing ‘your funding may decrease’ letters going out.   Also, councils left it until the last minute further adding to the stress. Finally, Social Care law changed in April so practitioners are still getting to grips with new procedures and guidelines which elongates the process.

Where I’m at today

My switch over was exhausting (made me I’ll for 4 days) but positive.  It was done in an understanding manner and I was informed what stage it was at along the way.  It was just a repeat of everything that should have been on file and some hoop jumping.

I am currently applying for Continuing Health Care and a Personal Health Budget.  It’s going badly. It’s a hundred times more stressful and exhausting than the ILF switch because of making me feel dehumanised.  I guess that story will become another blog post! 

Shrimp that change colour – some reasons.


A guide to why shrimps seem to change colour.

So, you just discovered your shrimp are a new variety of chameleon shrimp? You put a red one in the tank and now there are only white ones? You bought a blue one that was a rich blue and now it has faded? Perhaps you had one that completely changed colour – from white to green?

What happened?

Here are some top reasons why people have found their shrimp have changed colour.

1) Stress that causes coloured shrimp to become white or very pale.

Shrimp are like tropical fish. I had a bright blue and red cardinal fish once – well it was in the aquatic shop. When I got home the fish in then bag were white and looked a different shape!! I even made the newbie error of phoning up and asking what to do as I’d been given the wrong fish. I swear they looked completely different.

Well, I learnt something that day and felt very stupid. Stressed fish and shrimp can lose their colour within minutes. This can even change the shape we perceive them to be. My white fish soon changed back to the normal colour. Shrimp will do the same – and may also shed their skin (so you see the skin and think they died!!). Give them a few days (or even 24 hrs) and they should perk up.

2) Sick shrimp that turn opaque

Shrimp that start clear and turn opaque are usually ill from a bacterial or fungal infection.

3) Shrimp that turn green or blue when they were transparent.

Shrimp with full or partial segments that are transparent will show the colours of their inside organs. If they have eaten coloured food – then this can show through and a clear segment can turn bright green or blue!!

4) Shrimp that have been fed a colour dye.

Similar to the above, some crooks take clear shrimp, feed them colourings so they turn slightly blue/green/yellow or red … and sell them as shrimp of this colour. They are thus fake varieties and it is very wrong (so choose shrimp from reputable people). The duped person gets them home, they eat normal food, their bodies clean up and become their normal transparent/white colour.

5) Lighting on an aquarium (or reflection from coloured ornaments/plants)

Certain lights can change how the human eye perceives the colour of things in the tank. Some lights make plants look greener or shrimp look brighter. Change the light and they appear to have changed!

6) Age – older shrimps gain brighter colours

Shrimps will naturally get larger colour segments and brighter colours as they age – which can be enhanced by a good diet and optimum conditions.

7) Red ornaments and plants make duller red shrimps.

Shrimp appear brighter and colour up better on a contrasting background. This is why most people choose black substrate, dark wood and green plants.

8) Food options

Some foods and nutrients will keep a shrimp in good colour – I’ve never personally tested different types of foods and how much this is true – but it makes sense that good nutrition gives good coloured healthy shrimps.

Today in the shrimp tank


New observations this week

  • Rapid plant growth
  • Anubias leaves have pale patches
  • No algae on the walls which isn’t good for my Nerites .
  • pH is 6.4, TDS 230.
  • Dissolved a small amount of food and dropped the liquid around the tank to see if I can encourage some algae.
  • Lost a blue shrimp but all the others looking great. 
  • A few fungus spots on my wood. 

Little Hotties – temperature in the shrimp tank.

I learnt the hard way. Shrimp in nano tanks (around 30 litres or less) get hot – very quickly. I hear many people in the UK say they are not worried about temperature, then wonder why the shrimp died. It is also a key reason why you can not keep shrimp in small tanks without a suitable cooling method (or having them in a very cool, shady house or garage). My shrimp are not in the sun or by a heater – but they used to die from over heating.

Neocaridina like Red Cherry Shrimp and their colourful variations, have optimum (best and healthiest) temperatures for breeding and living. The hotter your shrimp tank, the quicker they will grow and breed – up to a point. That point is around 27-30 degrees C. They then slow down, start to turn white and die.

First attempt – do nothing

I had shrimp survive to about 30 – then sudden mass death. You see we had a heatwave and I was on holiday. I cooked my beloved shrimps. Even some of my tropical fish cooked.

Second attempt – bottled ice water and a room fan

Hot days (or cold winter days with the heating on) once more brought the temperatures up in the tank.

So I then did the only thing I could – put a fan on them and several times a day had a cycle of frozen bottled water going – one bottle floating in the tank, one in the freezer. Constantly rotating and watching the temperature was a real pain . It also meant sudden drops of 5-10 degrees for the shrimp – not good for their health.

The hotter it gets the less oxygen that dissolves into the water – so now I had a problem because the bubbles were on full blast and I couldn’t add any more air to the tank.

Why not an aquarium fan.

Simply the fact that an aquarium fan will only drop the temperature by about 2-4 degrees C. I needed a drop of over 10 at times. The temperature was rising faster than an aquarium fan could cope with. If my mega floor fan couldn’t cope then a tiny fan hooked over the aquarium was not going to cut it – no matter what angle you put it.

Third attempt – do it properly and automatically with a cooler.


I had lost so many beautiful shrimps that I knew the solution was to set up a shrimp only tank and regulate the temperature with a cooler. No more fiddling with bottles and fans.

It was expensive – they are around £300 – but worth every penny.

The water comes out of the external filter, into the cooler, and like a fridge, it assesses how much cooling in needed, and the water is sent back into the tank at the chosen temperature (or within a few cycles if the first pass through is not enough).

So my tank cooler is set on 23 degrees C (when the cooler senses a rise to 24, it cools it back to 23). No worries and it only takes a minute or two to get the temperature down.


We change the tubes to and from the cooler every 4-6 months depending on how much algae is in them. This week, we flushed some tap water through the cooler to give the inside a clean.

You need an external filter to run a cooler and the pressure from that filter pump must be high enough to push the water through the tube circuit and through the cooler. Mine came with detailed instructions.

It was very easy to set up. One thing I would say is don’t clamp the hose on too tight if using tube clips/clamps – I broke the nozzle on my cooler (but still had enough nozzle to reattach the tubes to).

When it’s on, it is a little noisy – but it’s only on for a few minutes at a time and sometimes only for about 3 times a day (hourly in the summer afternoons).