Maintaining your shrimp tank.

Once you are up and running, you will occasionally have to maintain the conditions in your tank to keep shrimp healthy.


My tank glass is covered in algae

My fish tank is algae free on the glass walls. My shrimp tank … not so much!!!

The cause in my case was 

  1. direct sunlight 
  2. build up of Nitrate
  3. No filter cleaning

So, I used a metal blade tank scraper to clean the algae of the sides. Did a third water change (re mineralised rain water), and cleaned out the filter (put in some new filter pads/wool). I also cleaned out the cooler to maximise its effectiveness for the hot days when it will be working hard to keep my shrimps cool. 

If your tank is balanced (cycling well to keep Nitrite at zero and water changes to take out Nitrates) , your glass may stay totally clear. To help, Nerite snails will keep it clean but they don’t like low PH/acidic water so they may not be an option for shrimps that like low Ph water. 

Water changes

Some people do it daily, others weekly or even monthly. Some people take out a third water, others 50% or more.

Personally I do two checks to decide on what to do.

  1. How is my TDS?
  2. How are my Nitrates?
  3. How does it look!

If my TDS reading is a little high and the water is low from evaporation, I just top up with filtered rainwater. If it needs a big top up I add mineral powder. 

If my Nitrates are high (and algae is blooming) both are indicators for a good 25-50% water change. I re mineralise and make sure the water temperature is not going to dramatically change.

My shrimp are observed – irrational/frantic swimming can indicate the change is too much from what they have become used to … so slowly does it.  

Filter maintenance 

I have an external canister filter and an internal filter that came as a single unit. The internal filter sponge needs washing out monthly and the spray bar weekly. (Dental floss brushes are great for cleaning the nozzles). 

The external canister gets done yearly. 

Never throw out all your filter medium. Inside the canister are two sponges and the ‘stones’ which hold the good bacteria that keep your tank cycling. The sponges can be easily and cheaply changed or even washed out. The stones I change every 12-18 months – but only half of them. Don’t throw away your stones or your nitrogen cycle will reduce or stop! Never wash out your stones.

Here is my filter sponge!! Totally black and decayed. No wonder it wasn’t working.

I tipped out the filter stone medium and sieved out the black water. I then replaced them back into the filter. You don’t want to leave your stones out of water for very long  because the bacteria could die.

Anyone for coco pops?


Cooler maintenance 

Every year the cooler gets flushed out with tap water and reflushed with rain water. This pushes the slurry out of the unit and gets it working efficiently for the hot summer days. It’s an expensive bit of equipment so I want it to last. 

Soil changes

I never change the soil. Nutrients may deplete but my tank is a living tank with live plants and shrimp/snail poo which are also giving nutrients into the soil and water as well as taking them. The plants are healthy so I’ll take that as confirmation all is well.

Plant trimming

If you have live plants and good conditions they may grow like crazy! I have some aquascaping tweezers and sharp scissors to prune my plants. In the summer this might be weekly. 

Hygiene

If your hands are submerged most of the time, wear pond gloves to avoid transmitting poisons to your tank and being poisoned by bacteria etc in the tank. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. 

Other

Avoid over feeding shrimp so that food build up doesn’t accumulate for algae to flourish. 


All clean and looking much better.

Beginner FAQ

  
Starting With Shrimp

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:

  1. A tank – the bigger the better (easier to look after).
  2. Tap water that has been treated to remove chlorine/chloramine or ‘pure water’ eg rain/spring that you will add shrimp minerals to.
  3. A cycled tank
  4. Some plants/moss and substrate (gravel or  shrimp soil)
  5. All round shrimp food to give them all the nutrients they need.
  6. 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.

  
Q5. I put my cherry shrimp in my tank. They began to swim frantically then by the next morning most were dead. What went wrong?

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.

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.

easy_shrimp

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

Beginner shrimp 2