Setting up a shrimp tank for High Grade Shrimp

  • aquashops
  • 16/02/2013 1:55 pm
  • Shrimp

by shrimpsider

Crystal Red (CR) shrimp still are the most wanted ornamental dwarf shrimp in the hobby, followed by other color variations from the caridina cantonenis group. As their ancestors come from fresh and clean creeks with high dissolved oxygen, providing best and stable water quality is a must for keeping these shrimp – and even more for breeding high grades or pure lines. Be aware that everything you plan and do is focusing on this goal.

My advice for people interested in shrimp keeping is, to start with some easier shrimp, as the neocaridina group is: Try keeping and breeding Fire Red, or Yellow or Orange – and after a couple of months you can still switch to high price shrimp. Skipping the beginner’s level can cost you a lot of money and give you frustrating times, when your shrimp suddenly die off and you have no clue WHY.

Naoki Crystal Red Shrimp

Requirements & Equipment

Setting up a tank for Crystal Red Shrimp not only needs good planning, but also some money. Here my recommended equipment list for all things you need:

  • tank (minimum size 20L, the bigger the better)
  • filtration (at least one canister filter, one air pump driven sponge filter, one under-gravel-filter either attached to the canister or UGF)
  • lighting (a cold, bright lamp with 10,000-12,000K and 1 W/liter optimum)
  • soil (active or inert substrates)
  • reverse osmosis system or de-ionizer system (as most tap or fountain water is too hard or comes with unwanted, poisonous elements as nigh nitrates or heavy metals – rain water at your home might be an option to check)
  • (chiller: fan or external chiller for marine tanks when the temperature will be permanently higher than 25-26°C)
  • (CO2 system, for planted tanks)
  • bacterial starter powder (will help you cycling your tank)
  • tests (pH, GH, NO2, NO3 for the beginning)
  • salts (for re-mineralizing your RO water)
  • shrimp food
  • buckets
  • shrimp net

Now that you have carried everything to your home, and made another LFS happy with your money, let’s discuss the setting in detail…

Tank and tank size

It is possible to keep CR in a 10 gallon tank, but bigger tanks guarantee more stable water parameters. That’s why most Japanese breeder chose tanks around 90 L (25 US Gallons). I agree that a tank should have at least 54 L (14 US Gallons). That provides a high level on safety; remember that bringing in the gravel reduces net water volume, too. Besides, a rectangular tank with a big base area is better than a higher tank with the same volume. CR shrimp sit most time on the ground, and feed on the soil grains. Giving them a big base area will allow you to house more shrimps. A good rectangle measurement is: 90 x 30 x 35 or similar. If you earn superior wage, you can go for an opti-white glass tank (which is common in Japan): It will not distort the color of the shrimp. However, a regular somehow greenish tank glass will be enough to keep them – don’t worry!

Black Bee Shrimp

Gravel, soil and cycling

CR shrimp like softer water, best without carbonate hardness (KH = 0) and a controlled general hardness (GH), at pH around 6.8 or lower, best breeding temperature 23°C. In addition, target values for Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia, Phosphor and copper are zero! While most keepers in Asia use active soils, such as ADA New Amazonia or Akadama, it also is popular in Europe to use inert substrates (like sand or basalt) to have full control on the water parameter without the soil working in this or that direction. Besides, inert substrates are cheaper and will not dissolve on the longtime run. Active soils will help beginners to keep their water parameters stable, and they also can adjust pH in levels from 6.0-5.0 (ADA Africana, ADA Malaya). Those low levels cannot be achieved and maintained without the help of active soil, as RO/DI units only produce a PH of 6.3 and above. Besides, the grain surface for beneficial bacteria also is said to be better.

Personally, I would choose a shrimp soil which has few active parts for plants. The cheapest product in this field is Akadama bonsai gravel. KH will drop to zero but you should always monitor the GH which should at least be 4 or 5. What even is more important: Take your time to fully cycle your new tank; 4 weeks is the minimum, 6-8 weeks even better! Reduce lightning to 6-8 hours/day in the first weeks to avoid algae growing. Please read the manual and what the manufacturer recommends when using ADA or other brands. If you do not take the time to cycle properly, the nitrification process is not fully developed or irregularly. In addition, shrimp babies will starve because the bio film is too small.

Filtration

Filtration is a big issue in shrimp breeding, and honestly I mean ‘over filtration’. If you check photos from Japanese shrimp keeper blogs, you will see that they combine different filtration methods:

  • at least one or even more canister filter (in line, not parallel – for a better nitrification)
  • and UGF, either attached to the canister inlet or air driven
  • sponge-air filters or diffuser on the canister outlet for better aeration

I have found reports that for a 150L shrimp tank, three canister filter in line are used, in combination with permanent use of active carbon (breeder HIM LAU from Hong Kong). If you are planning to house expansive shrimp, an external canister filter is a must. With the possibility to insert different filter media, you can quickly invent with carbon, nitrate remover or other active filter pads to fight problems in your tank. For standard filter media, you will find different advises in the forums – ranging from a combination of mechanical and biological filtration to a biological filtration only. Approved biological filter media are Power House mono ball, Eheim Substrate Pro and Sera Siporax mini.

Also, the air-driven filtration will support the nitrification process and help berried females to make it through the hatchery period. As sponge filters are an ideal baby home, my advice is to at least have a sponge and a canister filter.

If you decide for a non-planted tank and an UGF, check out the capacity of your air pump, it should be strong enough to circulate the all water volume minimum twice per hour. Though the capacity depends also on the gravel height I would always buy a bigger pump and choke it when needed. I used to have a Sera 550R (550l/hour) for two 20L tanks with UGF. Almost every air pump makes a noise; this is why this set up is nothing for bedrooms ;) Gravel height should be at least 5-7 cm, and can be at maximum 10-12 cm high. By the way: I do not use zeolite as first layer on the plates, because bacteria will clog its surface quickly, and one cannot remove it when it is leached.

Lighting

Shrimp will show better white with a high power lighting – such as 1W per 1 L tank volume, and a cool light color (range from 10,000 – 12,000 Kelvin). Besides, you can also grow algae, micro fauna and plants better with bright lights. As the baby shrimp feed on micro film, a good lighting in combination with bacterial additives will give you a higher shrimplet survival rate.

Decoration

Some stones can raise hardness incredible high. Run a vinegar test – if vinegar drops on the stone cause foam, you better not use it. Do not use plastic pieces and Mopani wood; they can poison your tank.

Fauna and flora

A moss only tank is ideal for shrimps and their offspring. Java fern looks also very nice but anubia can harm shrimp when you cut their leaves. Anubia will release oxalic acid with crystal nettles, which are toxic to shrimp in higher concentration. Be alert that new plants from shops come with high pesticides toxic to shrimp! Surrender to the guppies, Tetra, betta, and most other fish, too: They will attack shrimp and eat the offspring in a sparely planted tank. Advanced shrimp keepers have shrimp dedicated tanks, as the saying is: shrimp breeding does not match with fish.

Shrimp group size and feeding

You should start shrimp keeping with at least 10 shrimps; 20 are better anyway. Feed only a little and what shrimp can eat in two hours. Remove everything what has not been eaten after 12 hours. Overfeeding shrimps is a very common problem even for advanced keepers. Natural leaves as mulberry, walnut, stinging nettle and spinach are highly recommended in addition to common shrimp food.

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