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.



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.















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.

Using Dragonstone Rock 

Dragonstone (also known as Ohko stone or Honeycomb rock) looks great but, as I discovered, needs to be prepared for a tank.

It’s a beautiful rock that is said to resemble dragon scales – orange, brown and yellow with hints of bluey grey in places. The rock has many pits and holes that remind me of Swiss cheese!

It doesn’t affect pH but may break down over time.

This is my rock after hours of cleaning which I’ve detailed below. 


The rock arrived in a large block. It easily shatters into smaller pieces . My first attempt involved throwing it onto the ground! Second time around I used a chisel for a flatter break.

It will probably arrive ‘dirty’ and needs to be cleaned. Prepare to get dirty!


Next I soaked it overnight in water. Imagine the hard rock is the skeleton and soft clay fills all the holes so you see what appears to be a block of rock without the deep pits and holes.

With a toothpick or similar, you need to scratch at the rock to remove the chalky clay filling. It feels like unearthing dinosaur fossils!

This is the colour my water turned on its first dunk after soaking! The stone looks good after being picked at.


Picking away all the crumbly soft clay parts of the rock.


Sometimes the rock fractures or is so soft you can poke right through it with no pressure at all.

It took three bowls of water to rinse it well. 

On the plus side it is a great natural cave for shrimp and for anchoring moss. It’s also light weight.

On the down side it took 2 hrs to prepare and crumbles easily.

Handy conversions for Nano tanks

The number of times I forget how US gallons translate into litres or dosages of things. So I’m noting it here.

1 US gallon = 3.78 Litres or

1 Litre is 0.26 US gallons.

Popular UK Nano tank sizes:

10 Litre =  2.64 US gal = 2.19 Imperial gal

20 Litre = 5.28 US gal = 4.30 Imperial gal

25 Litre = 6.6 US gal = 5.49 Imperial gal

30 Litre = 7.92 US gal = 6.59 Imperial gal

For my 30 L tank …. (20 L of water to treat)

* remember, dosages are for the WATER volume – not tank volume so it’s bit of a guess as to how much room all the wood/plants and substrate take up. Also I have an external filter and cooler which will hold an amount of water. I’m going for 20 litres.

Fenbendazole – 0.1 g per 10 US gallon, 0.1g per 37.8 Litres of tank water (10 US gallons), 0.05 g per 20 Litre

[ 0.1 / 37.8 ] x 20 to treat for worms  / planar / hydra

Malefix by API = 5ml per 10 US gallon, 2.6 ml per 20 Litre of tank water,

[ 5 / 37.8 ] x 20 = 2.6 ml for  antibacterial, fungus and cracks.

Paraguard by Seachem = 5ml per 40 L,

[5 / 40 ] x 20 = 2.5 ml per 20 L of water to treat external fungus/bacteria and viruses

1ppm = 1mg /litre

Killing worms, planeria and hydra


Parasitic worms can attach to a shrimp’s nose and burrow into their brain.  I dosed this shrimp with Panacur. It is also used to kill hydra and planeria. 

Panacur – 222mg/gm solution of fenbendazole.


A 1g sachet, divided into 20 portions for a dose. A portion is therefor 0.05 g of the powder per 5 US gallon tank is mixed with tank water. I estimated the dose by using a 0.05g measuring spoon for one dose in my 25 l tank.

Stir and mix well as its not very soluble.

I dosed a portion into the tank every every day for 2 days.

All shrimp plus newborns and my Nerite survived.

So far, no more worms!

My most used shrimp web resources

Keeping shrimp and a planted aquarium requires a lot of knowledge – I read tons of information and browsed many shops – then forgot where ‘that useful article’ was. Doh.  Sometimes things have gone wrong, shrimp infections or water parameters and I’ve needed to do more research and reading to figure out what to do.

So, I’m putting my most used links here, in one place (and to share with fellow hobbyists). I’ll add more as I re-locate them!

UK Shops (some have articles)






Shrimp soil and substrate choices

So… what to choose for soil and or substrate / stratum?

So I’m starting my second tank to replace the first – just to upsize a bit now I have an appreciation of what is involved.

My first tank used a base of Tropica Plant Growth Substrate, topped with Fluval Shrimp Stratum. My pH was around 7.5 with this combination with no leached ammonia, great plant growth and within 6 months no algae and always clear water. I had hard water so suspect the pH buffering was used up quick.

I’ve made notes on some that I have found – most say to use alone but other shrimp keepers use a combination. Substrate doesn’t last forever (and if it has to work hard against very hard water, it won’t bring the pH down for very long).

Possible choices I’ve seen include:

1) Scaper’s Soil by Dennerle (link here)

Scaper_s_Soil___DennerleThe website says this is a fertile volcanic soil suitable for shrimp. It is slightly acidic (buffers to 6-6.5) and made from ‘natural soils) to provide plants with trace elements. It has irregular grains 1-4mm and quite loose. It is a deep black colour (although in the picture it looks dark brown). It also reduce kH.

I like the idea of this one – and have always wanted slightly acidic water … but my Nerite (snail) likes to live in slightly alkali water and he is my main algae cleaner – so not so sure about that aspect.

It comes in 4 litres bags – suitable for a 30 L cube like mine (or 8 litres if you are lucky enough to have a 50L tank!). Costs around £15 for a 2.4kG bag.


2) Fluval Stratum -used to be Fluval Shrimp or Fluval Plant – now it appears to just be Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum. (Link here).

Fluval_2kg_Shrimp_Stratum__Amazon_co_uk__Pet_SuppliesThis is from Mount Aso volcano in Japan – so it is mineral rich, loose stratum that feels like little beads. It is dark black and my shrimp love to pick it up and turn it as they feed – which is quite amusing.  Fluvial say it promotes a neutral to mildly acidic pH.

It comes in 2,4,and 8 kg backs and you lay it about 1.5-2 inches deep.

A 2kG bag was fine for my 25 litre tank with a quarter left over (using it as a top soil). It costs around £8 per bag + £10 postage on Amazon (and currently can’t find it anywhere on the net for less). You can wash it to remove dust before putting it in.



3) ADA (Aqua Design Amano) Aqua Soil comes in three types (Africana, Malaya and Amazonia). It is the favoured soil of many highly planted tanks.

Colour varies from red brown to dark brown. They leach ammonia so cycling without shrimp is the way to go.

ADA also comes as a fine grain soil powder for small nano tanks (or layering it under of over other ADA soils. Costs can be £23-£50. Can last many years – but depends if you disturb it. Eventually the nutrients will be used up – so that could be a problem if you don’t use plant fertilisers like me.

*Note that ‘new’ versions of the soils may vary.

Here is a review over on red




4) Fluorite by Seachem.(Link here)

Seachem_Flourite_3_5kg_£12_99_-_Buy_Substrate_System_AccessoriesFluorite is a clay gravel that can be used with other products. It says it never has to be replaced and does not alter pH. You rinse it before use and comes in 3.5 or 7kg bags. (Comes in black, dark, red and also sand variations). The red version contains lots of iron and they are investigating it as a potential source of arsenic at plant toxic levels. See their website for updates.  It is also full of minerals like copper, potassium and they produce a chart to compare. *trace copper should be fine for shrimp. It is priced around £13-15 for 3.5kg.

5) Sands and gravel e.g. granite etc.

Many colours and grain sizes – huge range of good examples over on Aqua Essentials. I’ve used it in my tank to help keep the soil where I wanted it (although long term the soil made its way through). You have to wash it well in tank / dechlorinated water. They generally don’t alter pH but you do need a soil underneath for a planted tank.

6) Tropica Aquarium Soil and substrate range. (Link here)



This is what I used in my tank beneath Fluval and some granite sand. My plants loved it and it is a contender for my new tank. It is also cheap – £7 approx for 1 L which was enough for my Nano tank with some spare. (1 L does up to a 27 L tank)

It is a clay and sphagnum combination with slow release of nutrients to the plant roots. My water was clear (like any soil, dampen it down with the water your will use, top it off with gravel, and fill the tank up by GENTLY pouring water over a saucer – undisturbed the water will stay clear or at least clear up within 24 hrs).

Tropical have a soil range that doesn’t need covering up with a grain size 2-3 mm. It says it ‘naturally reduces KH and pH’ and ensure good water changes in a new aquarium suggesting it leaches ammonia but I’m only guessing.

7) Ebi Gold Shrimp Soil (Link here) or their rubbish website here.

This soil is popular amongst shrimp keepers. It has small grains 1-3mm and buffers the water to a pH of about 6-6.5 and TDS will reduce to around 150-180 (KH 1-2) Different types exist but it is essentially natural clay and volcanic minters. It might need to be replaced after a year and it does leach ammonia/nitrite – so only introduce in a shrimpless cycle. It is one of the more expensive soils.