Shrimp 101 (Freshwater Tank)

treehugr
  • #1
Hello all. I am considering getting a few shrimp as a "clean up crew" for my 14g Freshwater (and, of course, because shrimp are so cool to watch). I've looked at lots of posts on here but still have some Qs so I thought I'd make a new thread to cover them Suggestions/advice is most appreciated...

Q1: What substrate do shrimp do best with -- smaller, traditional gravel or pebbles? I have the latter - they look like little (1/4-1/2 inch) river rocks.

Q2: Will the shrimp keep the bottom clean, or will we still need to vacuum the bottom every time we do a WC? I ask because it's a royal pain having to take the decor in and out every time I vacuum, especially since I just spent quite a bit of time moving things around and getting it all "just right". Got a new bubble wand (and a cave structure) this weekend -- they are cool but you really have to work at it to get it positioned just right (every time I would get one end under the gravel, the other end would pop back out - ugh!!).

Q3: What chemicals/additives do I need to add for the shrimp and how often? Those won't adversely affect the fish, right?

Q4: Do Cherry shrimp need brackish water in order to breed? I don't want them to multiply like crazy and run out of room for them. Though, perhaps one of the LFS would buy the extras from me?

Q5: What to feed? I've seen posts on here for algae wafers, seaweed (nori), fish food (scraps), blood worms. What would be a good varied diet - a different food each day?

Thank you in advance!
 
sirdarksol
  • #2
1) Not sure, but they're adaptable, so don't worry about it. They'll spend most of their time on decorations (they prefer live plants, and love Java moss)

2) They will clean extra food out of the bottom, but you still need to vacuum. You only need to vacuum around plants and decor, however, so there's no need to move everything.

3) I don't add anything. Just feed the shrimp a bit of norI periodically to give them the iodine they need to molt.

4) No they don't, but in a small tank, the young will often be found by the adults as well as the fish in the tank, and be eaten. It's very unlikely that a colony of shrimp will push the bioload too high.

5) I don't feed mine anything. They get leftovers from the fish, as well as a periodic norI treat.
 
Amnagrla
  • #3
1) Not sure, but they're adaptable, so don't worry about it. They'll spend most of their time on decorations (they prefer live plants, and love Java moss)

2) They will clean extra food out of the bottom, but you still need to vacuum. You only need to vacuum around plants and decor, however, so there's no need to move everything.

3) I don't add anything. Just feed the shrimp a bit of norI periodically to give them the iodine they need to molt.

4) No they don't, but in a small tank, the young will often be found by the adults as well as the fish in the tank, and be eaten. It's very unlikely that a colony of shrimp will push the bioload too high.

5) I don't feed mine anything. They get leftovers from the fish, as well as a periodic norI treat.

ditto. hahaha I've had a few different shrimp. They really are cool. Ghost shrimps are popular. They are little, clear, (cheap!) and stay out of trouble. I actually bought lunar lights so I could see mine at night swimming around. Really cute. I've never had any trouble with them.

The other one I've had is a bamboo shrimp. They get bigger, maybe like 2"-2.5"... but they are wicked cool. Their front legs/claws are like little venus fly traps and they filter the water for their food. It's awesome to just sit there and watch them eat. These guys are wicked fast and climb on everything. Mine has ended up in the filter many a time so you might want to get a screen to block off the filter hole. But they are awesome.

None of my fish ever bothered either type of shrimp... or vice versa!!
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
1) Not sure, but they're adaptable, so don't worry about it. They'll spend most of their time on decorations (they prefer live plants, and love Java moss)

2) They will clean extra food out of the bottom, but you still need to vacuum. You only need to vacuum around plants and decor, however, so there's no need to move everything.

Thanks for the info Couple of comments/follow-up questions...

1) I just thought the larger gravel rock might be too hard for them to push up/get under to get the scraps. I don't have any live plants -- am waiting until we get a larger tank.

2) I have the fake plants along the back of the tank side-by-side so I wouldn't be able to get in between them without taking them out. Also, the vacuum I use (one of those clear tubes that has a larger suction end and then a thinner hose running from it) is pretty powerful and, if I use it too close to those, they will float up (they're hard to keep in place - I may have to experiment by tying some fishing weights to them or something).

Are live plants easier than fake plants in that you don't have to worry about them moving when you vacuum? Or, maybe you don't even have to vacuum live plants because the organic matter that settles among them is a good thing (just like terrestrial plants benefit from organic waste in the soil)?
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks, Amnagrla. I could tell you were from BAS-tin as soon as I read your first "wicked" I am originally from Beantown so I have been known to use that dead giveaway a time or two myself.
 
sirdarksol
  • #6
Not sure how to get around the vacuuming thing. You don't have to vacuum too close to live plants, since their roots will suck up what you would normally be vacuuming. Unfortunately, you do need to find plants that do well in gravel, and you would have to supplement nutrients. I have had luck with dwarf onions and root tabs for these two things. You can also get a small bit of driftwood and tie some Java fern or Java moss to it. If you push the driftwood into the substrate, you don't have to worry about vacuuming under it.

If the gravel is too big for the shrimp to move around, that means they'll be able to reach into it. Aside from that, they really prefer to pick algae off of higher things. Your artificial plants would work well for that.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Not sure how to get around the vacuuming thing. You don't have to vacuum too close to live plants, since their roots will suck up what you would normally be vacuuming. Unfortunately, you do need to find plants that do well in gravel, and you would have to supplement nutrients. I have had luck with dwarf onions and root tabs for these two things. You can also get a small bit of driftwood and tie some Java fern or Java moss to it. If you push the driftwood into the substrate, you don't have to worry about vacuuming under it.

If the gravel is too big for the shrimp to move around, that means they'll be able to reach into it. Aside from that, they really prefer to pick algae off of higher things. Your artificial plants would work well for that.

If...or I should say when I get live plants (when I get a larger tank), I was thinking of having the plants in the center or on one side -- with no gravel, just whatever soil/substrate is required for the live plants -- and then having the other side open space with some gravel, rocks, etc. That way I could easily clean the open areas (it's not a big deal to pick up the rocks or little decorations) and I wouldn't have to worry about the planted area. What do you think of that set up?

Also, was just thinking...when you vacuum, how do you not suck up the little shrimp? I get nervous enough when my fish are swimming around...I will be a wreck trying to avoid those little guys!
 
sirdarksol
  • #8
I hope that's a good setup. That's what I'm going for in one of my tanks.

I have not yet had that problem. When I was using buckets to do water changes, I would shine a flashlight in the bucket to see if I got any shrimp. Now, I use a Python, and I keep my finger on the shutoff valve to shut it off if a shrimp gets sucked in.
However, the shrimp are really strong swimmers, and are more than capable of resisting the pull of the vacuum, and have never gotten more than two inches into the vacuum before deciding they don't want to go that way.
 
Amnagrla
  • #9
1) I just thought the larger gravel rock might be too hard for them to push up/get under to get the scraps. I don't have any live plants -- am waiting until we get a larger tank.

Well, they will get what they can grab. You will still have to vacuum the gravel. I would say get the substrate you want and you'll be fine!


2) I have the fake plants along the back of the tank side-by-side so I wouldn't be able to get in between them without taking them out. Also, the vacuum I use (one of those clear tubes that has a larger suction end and then a thinner hose running from it) is pretty powerful and, if I use it too close to those, they will float up (they're hard to keep in place - I may have to experiment by tying some fishing weights to them or something).

Are live plants easier than fake plants in that you don't have to worry about them moving when you vacuum? Or, maybe you don't even have to vacuum live plants because the organic matter that settles among them is a good thing (just like terrestrial plants benefit from organic waste in the soil)?

I still vacuum around the real plants but I don't go too deep around them. And I use weights for both real and fake plants. You can get fishing weights or plant weights at the LFS.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I hope that's a good setup. That's what I'm going for in one of my tanks.

I have not yet had that problem. When I was using buckets to do water changes, I would shine a flashlight in the bucket to see if I got any shrimp. Now, I use a Python, and I keep my finger on the shutoff valve to shut it off if a shrimp gets sucked in.

However, the shrimp are really strong swimmers, and are more than capable of resisting the pull of the vacuum, and have never gotten more than two inches into the vacuum before deciding they don't want to go that way.

Wow, they can actually swim out of the vacuum pull? Cool. So, what is a Python - how does it work? You don't have to siphon to a bucket?
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I still vacuum around the real plants but I don't go too deep around them. And I use weights for both real and fake plants. You can get fishing weights or plant weights at the LFS.

I'm assuming if the live plants are well rooted they wouldn't move/come up even if you did vacuum them deeper? For me, that's just one more lure to get live plants -- not only are they better looking and better for the fish, they are permanent (meaning, I wouldn't have to take them in-and-out every time I cleaned). Of course, live plants in and of themselves are more maintenance so I guess it's a trade off

I will look to see if my LFS has the plant weights and try those. Thanks.
 
Amnagrla
  • #12
That's the python. It's a syphon that hooks up to the sink. It does make carrying buckets a thing of the past... but I don't use one. I think it's great for the vacuuming part but I like to add my dechlorinator to the water before I put it in the tank - AND I like to feel for the temp. of the water before I put it in the tank.

Yes, real plants are rooted but for me, some of the more leafy ones change position when the water level goes down during a change. That's all.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
That's the python. It's a syphon that hooks up to the sink. It does make carrying buckets a thing of the past... but I don't use one. I think it's great for the vacuuming part but I like to add my dechlorinator to the water before I put it in the tank - AND I like to feel for the temp. of the water before I put it in the tank.

Yes, real plants are rooted but for me, some of the more leafy ones change position when the water level goes down during a change. That's all.

Thanks for the link (love that aquarium they have on their page!). Now, how does that work - does it first vacuum out the water and wastes and then you fill the tank. OR does it vacuum AND refill in the same step?

I ask because, if it IS the 2-step method, it would still be useful as a vacuum (to avoid having to get suction by hand and filling the buckets with the dirty water) but, for people who don't want to use water directly from the tap, you could just pour in water from whatever source you happen to use (bucket method).
 
Amnagrla
  • #14
I think it vacuums first THEN you put the water back in.

In another thread someone was telling me that they add the water conditioner right to the stream of water going into the tank and they all said that is okay.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I think it vacuums first THEN you put the water back in.

In another thread someone was telling me that they add the water conditioner right to the stream of water going into the tank and they all said that is okay.

So, you could just use it as a vacuum and just do the refill using the bucket method. Right?
 
Amnagrla
  • #16
true.
 
nanoman923
  • #17
I hear ghost is really good
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
I hear ghost is really good

A lot of people mention the ghost shrimp. I guess I could try those - though, I would like to be able to see them better so that's why I was thinking the Cherry Shrimp might be better.

Are the ghost shrimp any more hardy than the Cherry?
 
sirdarksol
  • #19
Yes, you drain the aquarium (vacuuming at the same time if you choose to), then you refill. You can use the bucket method to refill (I have to for my brackish tank). You can switch it the other way around, too. I use the extra long hose to drain into my garden and then hook it up to the sink to refill.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Yes, you drain the aquarium (vacuuming at the same time if you choose to), then you refill. You can use the bucket method to refill (I have to for my brackish tank). You can switch it the other way around, too. I use the extra long hose to drain into my garden and then hook it up to the sink to refill.

Yeah, I've been dumping the buckets of old water into my plants too - I figure it's great fertilizer . Definitely doesn't make eco-sense to have it run down the drain.

Even if I do still siphon the water out into a bucket...it would be worth having a vacuum that gets the suction going for you. The last WC I did I got a little splash of the water coming out - eeuck! Thank goodness for Listerine
 
sirdarksol
  • #21
That's my favorite part about the Python. The long hose lets me know when I've started a siphon. I get a rush of air about two seconds before the water hits the end of the hose.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
That's my favorite part about the Python. The long hose lets me know when I've started a siphon. I get a rush of air about two seconds before the water hits the end of the hose.

But you're not suctioning it yourself, right - aren't you using the sink attachment to get the suction going?
 
sirdarksol
  • #23
No, I actually usually drain it out in the garden, which means it's not hooked up to the sink. You can use it hooked up to the sink (which I do for my brackish tank, since I don't want that salt going into the soil), but then all of that water goes to waste. The easiest way to get the siphon going out in the garden is to suck on the hose.
 
angelfish220
  • #24
The easiest way to get the siphon going out in the garden is to suck on the hose.

I just start it with a shop vac!
 
sirdarksol
  • #25
I could do that, but then I'd have to get my shop vac out, set up an extension cord, etc, etc... That's a lot of work.
 
angelfish220
  • #26
My shop vac is on battery, its so much easier for farm work, and is kept in the celler way, aproximatly 5 feet from the end of the hose. So I just take the easy way out.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
My shop vac is on battery, its so much easier for farm work, and is kept in the celler way, aproximatly 5 feet from the end of the hose. So I just take the easy way out.

Hmm, hadn't thought of that little trick. I have been thinking about getting a small shop vac anyway for house cleaning. I think they have small ones that you actually wear on your back like a backpack. Is that what you have?

Does the shop vac fit snugly onto the hose, or is there an attachment you have to put on the end of the hose to get a solid suction?
 
angelfish220
  • #28
no its a big one. We had to buy the battery seperate, but it is so worth it, its just easier when there are no plugs around.

No I don't use a special attatchment. I just use the shop vac to start the syphon and let gravity do the rest.
 

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