How I Set Up for Taiwan Bees

EbiAqua

Here is a guide on the steps I take in order to prepare a tank for crystal shrimp and Taiwan Bees. These steps differ slightly from keeping Neocaridina and hardwater Caridina such as Tigers or Sulawesi shrimp.

1 - Equipment

TDS Meter
- measures the total dissolved solids in your water, which you can use as a general guide on your parameters; also useful for calculating water changes.
Test Kits - you will need to be able to test Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Alkalinity (KH), Hardness (GH), and pH. I will list proper shrimp parameters later on in this post.
Adequate Tank - while you can keep shrimp in tanks as small as gallon (about 4 liters), it is not advisable; begin with a minimum tank size of 10 gallons (40 liters).
Filtration - sponge filters are your safest option, as they have no moving parts that can kill small shrimp; any filter can be used but you need to cover the intake.
Lighting - this is more for plant/algae growth than for the benefit of your shrimp, but establishing a light cycle may be beneficial.
Heater - this is unnecessary, unless your home gets quite cold; ideal temps for Taiwan bees range from the low 60s to the upper 70s.
Substrate - one of the most important factors in keeping Taiwan Bees, you need an active substrate such as ADA Amazonia, Fluval Stratum, or Controsoil; some aquarists also use akadama (bonsai potting soil) which will make your water quite acidic (pH as low as 5.0); many active substrates release ammonia for several weeks, so be sure to keep an eye on parameters and do not put any shrimp in the tank.
Botanicals - driftwood, leaf litter, seed pods, etc. will release beneficial tannins, prevent fungus and disease, and provide a source of biofilm for shrimp to feed on.
Shrimp Salts - for Taiwan Bees, you will need to remineralize RO or distilled water to ideal parameters unless your water is naturally suited to them; salts such as Salty Shrimp GH+ will only raise hardness but not alkalinity which is very important; alkalinity needs to be as close to 0dKH as possible to prolong the life of your substrate, keep water acidic, and prevent molting problems in your shrimp; you will need a GH test kit and/or TDS meter to remineralize to the proper parameters for your shrimp.
Plants - while you can do a completely barren tank, it is recommended to keep plants in your tank for nutrient export, biofilm surface area, and hiding places for baby shrimp; mosses and floating plants are very easy and popular choices for shrimp tanks.
Rocks - with few exceptions, most rocks will affect water parameters in ways that are counterproductive to keeping and breeding Taiwan Bees. Lava rock is inert and is the only rock I recommend with softwater Caridina.

2 - Cycling

When I set up a Taiwan Bee tank, I first wipe my tank down with distilled water to remove any dust and debris. I put in at least an inch of substrate, but IMO more is better. Slope the substrate towards the back to give your tank a better sense of depth if it is going to be for display. If not, it really doesn't matter if it is pretty!

Next you need to add water. Unless your tap is the following parameters:

pH - 5.8 to 6.8
dGH - 3 to 5
dKH - 1 or less
TDS - 90 to 120

Then you need to start with an RO/distilled base and remineralize. Depending on your mineral salt of choice, your results may vary. With my salts, I achieve a GH of 5 at TDS 90, and my pH is at 6.6. The higher end of the pH is better for Crystals, Tigers, and Neocaridina, while the lower end of the pH scale will be better for Blue Bolts, King Kongs, and Pintos.

Place your filter, lighting, and heater (if needed), but do not plug them in. Now is the time to place in any plants. Place the plastic bag from your substrate or a sheet of cling film on the bottom when filling to avoid dirty, cloudy water. Plug in your equipment and make sure it is all running. If this tank is for breeding purposes and not display, keep lights on for 12 hours a day; the more algae and biofilm the better!

Now for the cycling part. Many substrates will release ammonia, so it is just a matter of testing your water at least once a week. Top off evaporation with distilled or RO water if necessary, and don't do water changes unless ammonia is very high, over 2ppm. If using a substrate that does not release ammonia, it is best to dose pure ammonia to a specific concentration, ideally 2ppm.

Once cycled, which may take several weeks, you can add snails to maintain the cycle, but do not add shrimp yet. Give the tank another 4 weeks to mature, it will drastically improve the survival of not only adult shrimp but the babies as well.

3 - Acclimation

There are conflicting schools of thought on this, so I'll just say what has worked for me. Drip acclimation is the best method IMO, as it slowly changes the parameters the shrimp are in over the coarse of several hours. With more sensitive shrimp, some people even drip overnight. Here is how I drip shrimp after receiving them through the post:

1 - inspect bag for DOAs, and notify seller
2 - take bag, open, and pour into narrow, tall container; if dead shrimp are present or a long time was spent in postage, add a drop of Seachem Prime
3 - using airline tubing with a flow valve or kink tied in the line, slowly drip at 1-2 drops per second into their container; to prevent overflow, place the container in a bucket or tub, and periodically top off the tank with clean, remineralized water
4 - allow the shrimp to drip acclimate for a minimum of 2 hours; measure the TDS of the acclimation water to see if it matches your tank water
5 - after acclimating, remove excess water from the acclimation container, and gently pour the remaining shrimp into the tank and turn off the lights for the day

4 - Breeding

This is the most fun part of keeping shrimp, watching them churn out babies at an exponential rate. This comes down to keeping parameters stable, a high quality diet, and patience. To keep parameters stable, do not do large water changes. Some people only do a small change per month, topping off with RO as needed. I do 20% weekly most weeks simply to replace minerals and keep TDS in the target range between 85 and 95 in my tanks. Calculate what the TDS of the new water needs to be to get the current TDS of the tank into the target range. For example, in a 10 gallon tank, if your TDS is 130, but you want 120, a 10% water change needs the new water to have a TDS between 25 and 30. Make sure the new water is close to the same temperature as well.

Abrupt changes in parameters cause shrimp to molt prematurely, which is very stressful on them. This can result in failed/partial molts, shock, or a compounded immune system.

Feeding shrimp a high quality diet is important. Biofilm, the layer of bacteria and algae that accumulates on surfaces, is the bulk of their diet, and can be provided naturally with botanicals such as alder cones, leaves, and driftwood. Also feed a high quality shrimp food that contains plenty of healthy greens, and ingredients such as algae, spirulina, yeast, soy bran, and healthy leaves such as mulberry, and these foods should be offered once or twice a week; I highly recommend brands such as Shrimp King, Benibachi, Pure Nordic, and Borneo Wild. Supplementing shrimp with a source of protein once a week encourages egg production and prevents cannibalism due to protein deficiency; mine really like frozen bloodworms. Powdered foods such as Bacter AE should be used sparingly 2-3 times per week, or in very small amounts daily. Any uneaten food needs to be removed after a few hours.


I will not get into the specifics of grading and culling shrimp, but this should be a straightforward and comprehensive guide forgetting started with these beautiful and rewarding crustaceans!


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