The most common questions from new shrimp keepers – part 1.
FAQ Volume 1 – general
Q1. What do I need to keep shrimp?
That will depend on which type you keep. Each variety comes from different places around the world and have adapted to different conditions. Fresh water shrimp need to have these conditions replicated to thrive. Generally you will need:
- A tank – the bigger the better (easier to look after).
- Tap water that has been treated to remove chlorine/chloramine or ‘pure water’ eg rain/spring that you will add shrimp minerals to.
- A cycled tank
- Some plants/moss and substrate (gravel or shrimp soil)
- All round shrimp food to give them all the nutrients they need.
- Heater or a cooler to maintain a stable temperature.
General care will include small water changes, feeding and glass cleaning (and possibly plant pruning).
Q2: Can you identify this shrimp.
It is not wise to put shrimp in any tank if you don’t know what type they are. There are many types of shrimp and each require different habitats and water conditions. To place them in the wrong conditions could harm or kill them.
Tip: If you don’t know what type it is, don’t buy it or take it from the wild.
Q3. I have a tank with fish, which shrimp should I get?
Firstly, find out what water conditions your fish live in. Shrimp can live with small, peaceful fish but consider these points:
- Fish eat adult shrimp and love eating baby shrimp.
- Shrimp will hide from fish so you might not see them for months at a time.
- If the fish can fit the shrimp in their mouth they will eat them.
- Tropical aquariums usually run at 25-28 degrees – shrimp prefer around 22-23 degree temperatures and will cook at around 30!
- Shrimp water conditions should match what is also good for your fish.
- Shrimp have a low tolerance to change in conditions and you won’t be able to treat fish illness with some medications as they can kill invertebrates.
Q4. My shrimp came in a sealed echo sphere/closed habitat but they are dying. What should I do.
Sealed units are usually a death trap and pretty cruel. Companies tell people they are self sustaining ecosystems – but they deprive shrimp of natural behaviours, access to foraging, access to varied foods, deprive them from breeding behaviours and shorten their life considerably. It may be impossible to find out the exact breed of shrimp to know what conditions to keep them in (usually a salt water variety) to set up a proper tank. Inability to maintain an optimum temperature can be a killer – so you might want to see if this is the problem. It might be that an infection is present, not enough oxygen being made, ammonia build up from decaying organisms, lack of algae to eat. Sadly there is no way to help organisms in a sealed unit.
Some advanced keepers make their own sealed habitats but it’s not for beginners and I would argue, not good for shrimp welfare.
Did you set up a drip to gradually get them used to their new water over 2-5 hours? If not then the cause could be stress. Other causes could be a tank with ammonia in the water or high concentrations of Copper or chemicals. Did you put your hands in the water – residues of soap, detergent, creams etc can cause deaths. Did you put them in spring/bottled/RO water without re-mineralising it?
A mass of shrimp deaths can cause an ammonia spike if left to decay and harm or kill the established residents.
Do a 50% water change, gradually lower the temperature to a stable 20-21 and remove all dead animals.
Q6. How big should my tank be?
If this is your first go at keeping shrimp, the general rule is the bigger the tank, the easier it will be. 28-35 litres is a good starter size. You want this to be fun – not hard work!
Q7. Do I need a filter?
You will need a filter to house ‘good’ bacteria, circulate nutrients/minerals/oxygen and clean your water – a sponge one inside your tank or an external filter (with mesh over the intake pipe).
Q8. Do I need a heater or a cooler.
Shrimp do not tolerate changes in temperature and if your water gets above 26 they can struggle to survive. Above 30 degrees and they will cook. Equally, drops to below 20-23 and they will breed and swim less. So you will need to stabilise temperature.
Q9. How often do I clean and feed them?
I only do extra water changes if my TDS has increased. Some people do a 20% or 50% change weekly! People have different opinions. For a shrimp only tank, I do 15% approximately every 6 weeks and feed as much as they can consume in 1-2 hours (all round shrimp food), every 2 days.