Aqua Dragon is an informative site for all the new and seasoned shrimp enthusiast out there! I will discuss my experience and share my story of how I began exploring this hobby.
My Story: A Couple Years Ago...
Back in 2017 my (then) girlfriend (now fiancee) purchased a baby red-eared slider from some random person at her college’s homecoming. Who would have thought that this baby turtle would have been the start of my adventure into the hobby.
While caring for that darling little turtle, by the way we named him Georgia, I began researching about the types of fish eat. That curiosity in fish researching lead to me raising guppies for a while, along with a plethora of other community co-existing aqua critters. Among those critters were the dwarf shrimp. These little guys intrigued me! Why are there so many different types and color variations? Why are they so popular? And why are they so expensive?!
These are some of the questions and many others I will answer on this site. So, join me as we start this journey into the hobby of shrimp raising!
What Are Dwarf Shrimp?
As defined by Wikipedia, Dwarf shrimp also known as Neocaridina davidi is a freshwater shrimp from Taiwan which is commonly kept in aquariums. The natural coloration of the shrimp is green-brown. There are a wide range of colors such as red, yellow, orange, green, blue, violet, black, etc., however, the red morph is more frequently sold. The density of coloration on adult shrimp, dependent on breeding, determines their sale price and "quality" (grading). This "quality" is purely aesthetic, as the size, behavior and other characteristics of the animal is more or less equal across varieties.
How To Care For Your Shrimp Colony
Full-grown shrimp reach about 4 centimetres (1.6 in) long. They prefer clean water, with a pH of 6.5-8, and a temperature of 14–29 °C (57–84 °F) They are most comfortable at 22 °C (72 °F). N. davidi shrimp are omnivores that may live 1–2 years.
Habitat & Supplies
Tank Size & Equipment
As small as 2.5 gallons and up to 5 gallons are good starter tanks for those who are new to the hobby. Although, it is advised, for tanks that are 2.5 gallons to keep no more than 3 shrimp.
For more serious shrimp keepers, who want to dive in. As small as 10 gallons is a good place to start and up to whatever you can afford.
Note: For a rule of thumb, try to stick with a 5:1 ratio. Meaning 5 shrimp for every 1 gallon of water; e.g. 25 shrimp will be comfortable in a 5 gallon or more tank.
Filters - There are many types of filter out there. HoB (Hold on Back) Filters, Internal Filters, External Filters and Sponge Filters.
- HoB Filters - This type of filter is okay for a low maintenance tank. Although, over time, if not probably maintained, these kind of filters tend to get clogged and will overflow. If use, make sure to keep up with the maintenance of the filter and also cover the intake porous material (e.g. sponge, cheese cloth, etc.)to insure you shrimp do not get sucked in by the strong current.
- Internal Filter - Unlike the HoB filters, the internal filters are a great choice for keepers who want to keep all in the tank. These type of filters are usually on the quiet side. If used, monitor the intake and cover with a porous material to protect the shrimps from strong currents.
- External Filter - External filters are a bit of a hybrid solution, in my opinion, of the HoB and Internal filters. These type of filters tend to be a bit pricey and I would only suggest this route for more seasoned shrimp keepers with 30 gallon tanks or larger. They are a bit of an overkill for smaller tank. External filters also known as canisters are semi-large canisters that are placed under the tank and uses a set of tubes to force water in (outtake) and out (intake) of the tank. If used, they do require maintenance every once in a while as shrimp do not release much, but it does depend on how many shrimp you are raising.
- Sponge Filters - In my experience, its best to use sponge filters. Sponge filters do require an air pump and air tube. Usually when you purchase an air pump, a tube is included. The great thing about this of filter is that they are simple to set up in your tank, double as an oxygen supplier (yes, all aquatic creatures require some degree of oxygen), and help keep your shrimps from getting sucked into the filter.
Thermometer - Used to keep an eye on the water temperature of the tank. There are several types out there.
Heater - Depending on your location, some shrimp do perfectly fine in room temperature water (e.g. Tropical Regions). For others, a heater ,with a temperature regulator, will help protect shrimps from sudden fluctuations in water temperature.
Water Test Kits - A water test kit will be one of your key resources. There are many different brands out there to choose from. I personally enjoy using [API water test kit]. Water testing is vital for determining the condition of your water. Having the right parameters will gain success in your tank and will help to insure your colony doesn’t get wiped out during their molting period.
Water Conditioner - A good quality water conditioner will neutralize any harmful metals in the water (e.g. copper).
Setting Up The Tank, Decor & Tankmates
Tank & Decor
Substrate - Usually some form of mineral (e.g. sand, soil, and gravel) is used, and there are many brands available. It depends on weather you are creating a planted tank or not. Planted tanks require a balanced environment that will benefit both shrimp and plant life.
Tank Set Up - Your tank can be set up to be bare (i.e. no decor) or resemble a natural environment (e.g. using substrates, live or fake plants and possibly rocks/stones).
When setting up this type of tank, it’s best to use about 2” of organic soil, if organic soil is out of reach. You may also try everyday topsoil. When using topsoil, try sifting the soil to remove unnecessary additives. With your 2” layer of soil applied, continue by adding a top layer substrate (e.g. sand, gravel or any other brands) about 1” should be enough. The top layer substrate acts as a stabilizer, keeping the soil from kicking up too much.
Note: Now, it should be noted that when using any particle like substrate (i.e. sand and soil). There is a chance of “clouding” the water. Clouded water may take up to a week or so to dissipate. This range depends on how much was kicked up and/or the amount of water in the tank.
Plants & Hiding Places - Live plants provide not only nourishment but also a sense of security/shelter. (Chart coming soon)
- Driftwood - Driftwood is an optional aesthetic decor. Depending on the type of driftwood used, it could affect the parameters of the tank.
- Lighting System - Just like an plant that grows on land, so do aquatic plants require adequate light source.
Rocks & Stones - Rocks and stones are optional decor. It’s necessary to add them to your tank other than for aesthetic purposes. Although, when adding anything to the tank. You should consider the parameter affects it may have.(Chart coming soon)
Choosing a Tankmate - Shrimp love living in large groups called a colony [link to colony information]. This qualifies them as being a community type of animal. When considering to add other types of aquatic critters think about these questions:
- Do I want to breed my shrimp?
- Do I already have shrimplets in my tank?
- Will the fish I'm considering become larger than 1.5" as fully grown adults?
If you plan to breed your shrimps, it’s best to keep all types of fish out of the tank. When shrimps give birth, the shrimplets (baby shrimp) are very tiny and typically become a meal for any fish in the tank. When it comes to nature, if it’s smaller than their head it will be eaten. (Chart coming soon.)
Behaviors & Care
Molting - Molting is necessary for shrimp growth and development, and during this process, they are vulnerable. Their new exoskeleton is relatively soft and is shed. Upon completing their shedding process, they will then hide for about 48-72 hours to allow their shell to harden.
- pH - pH is a key and vital factor for all aquarium life. Each species has its own recommended level of pH to be kept in. Keeping them in that recommended level will allow them to thrive.
- GH - GH stands for General Hardness. General Hardness is a measure of dissolved minerals your water contains. Most of the minerals in your water will be calcium and Magnesium, however there will be others, but they will be in small amounts and not as significant. Depending on if you use Tap water or RO (Reverse Osmosis) water it will contain different levels of dissolved minerals. Understanding what GH you water has is a huge part of shrimp keeping.
- KH - In your aquarium you have what is called Carbonate Hardness otherwise referred to as KH. KH is something that does not play a direct role in shrimp health however it should not be taken lightly by any means. KH directly plays a role in your aquariums pH levels.
- Ammonia - Understanding Ammonia is so vitally important for Aquarium hobbyists and especially shrimp farmers alike. Understanding ammonia and the science behind is often never done. Aquarium hobbyists more times than not simply don't “get it”. Ammonia is a compound that is a part of nitrogen cycle and is in the everyday cycle of life! The decaying process of all living things produce ammonia, so in turn this means the breakdown of dying leaves, dead fish, dead shrimp…etc in your aquarium produce ammonia.
- Nitrites - A cycled tank has bacteria that consume the Ammonia and turns it into nitrites which are more toxic but instantly convert into nitrates which is relatively harmless.
- Nitrates - Nitrates are not an immediate danger to your fish like ammonia and nitrite. However over time nitrates can accumulate within the aquarium and become toxic to the fish. If nitrate levels become extremely elevated (50 ppm+) the fish in the aquarium may lose coloration, appetite general health. It is best to keep nitrates as close to 0 ppm as possible. This can be done by having a densely planted aquarium. Plants uptake nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in their diet. Fish excrement is composed of all these elements. This is a great way to make a mini-ecosystem that literally recycles micro elements within the aquarium, requiring less maintenance and adjustment.