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Shrimp Care Guide

TylerFerretLord

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So, you want to be a shrimp-keeper? Keeping shrimp is a rewarding hobby, and you become intimately aware of your tiny creature's behavior in a short amount of time. Shrimp have been selectively bred into many colorful varieties, and have not lost their intrinsic hardiness as in some not to be named fish species. In order to keep shrimp, you must know a few things first.

Please note that this guide refers to the keeping of freshwater shrimp.
Can I Keep Shrimp?
If you want to keep shrimp, ask yourself these few questions:
-Is my tank fully cycled and mature?
-Will the shrimp be harassed or eaten by their tank mates?
-Have I ever used copper-based medications in my tank?
-Do I understand that shrimp are sensitive to changes in the water chemistry?

Basic Shrimp Information
True shrimp are decapod(ten legged) crustaceans in the infrorder Caridea, and are related to crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and prawns. The freshwater shrimp commonly kept by hobbyists are usually in either the families Atyidae or Palaemonidae.

Generally, the first two pairs of legs have claws(chelipeds) and the next three are used for walking(pereiopods). There are also an additional five limbs used for swimming and, in the females, holding the developing eggs(pleopods). A shrimp's head has five pairs of appendages; The antennae and antennules used for smell, touch, and detecting water movement; The mandibles that are used to chew food and the first and second maxillae used to hold and position food. Shrimp also have a pair of compound eyes. See here for a more detailed look at shrimp anatomy.

The shrimp kept by hobbyists are usually omnivores, and will eat anything offered. Some shrimp are capable of catching and eating a sick or injured fish, or even other shrimp, so it is important that research be done on any new additions.

All shrimp will molt. During this time it is vital not to disturb the shrimp. After molting shrimp are soft and easily damaged until they harden, which takes about 24 hours.

Basic Shrimp Care
Shrimp are remarkably adaptable little fellows, and they can be kept in nearly any parameters minus the extremes. Most are best kept at ph 6-8, temp 60F-80F. They must be kept in a fully cycled tank, as they are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite as with any creature we keep in tanks. The tank must also be sufficiently aerated as shrimp are also sensitive to low levels of oxygen. The tank size is best kept over 5 gallons(US) for the small species, 10 for the larger species, and at least 30 for the shrimp that feed with fans. Please make another note: Some shrimp species may have different environmental requirements. The stats given here will work for many of them but research should always be done before you purchase.

If you have ever used a copper-based chemical in the tank you plan to put shrimp in you may be unable to keep most invertebrates. I suggest adding some ghost shrimp if you have used copper, and if they die the tank is unsuitable for shrimp. You may be able to make the tank safe for shrimp again by adding copper removing media to your filter or changing substrates.

If you use a HOB or canister filter place a sponge over the filter's intake. Shrimp can be easily sucked into a filter and killed. If they are not sucked in they can become stuck to the intake and be injured. The filter will lose some flow but it's better for the shrimp!

Suitable Tankmates
If you are keeping the shrimp with fish, consider the shrimp's size. Would you put a fish of that size in with the fish you currently have? If you would worry then the tank is not suitable for shrimp. Even if you do feel safe, would the shrimp have enough hiding places to retreat to? Are the fish that will be with it known fin-nippers? Fish can easily kill a shrimp in the process of molting, even if they can't consume it whole. Suitable tank-mates are the common livebearers, otos, most small plecos, among other things. Just use common sense.

Other invertebrates are great ideas for tankmates, as they share nearly the same requirements. Snails are a good option. Crabs, crayfish, and some prawns are not a good idea as they can potentially consume the shrimp.

Note: Most fish will eat baby shrimp. If you want most of the shrimplets to survive you should not keep the shrimp with fish. Only fish like otos will leave them alone.

Shrimp Feeding
Shrimp are very easy to feed. Sinking wafers and pellets will be taken with relish. Bloodworms can be fed as a treat. The food should be algae based, preferably. Basically, shrimp will eat whatever you would feed a bottom-feeding fish. Please note, however that shrimp eat much less than your average fish, and you should be careful not to overfeed.
Shrimp Breeding
Shrimp reproduce in several ways, but can usually be divided into two methods; The 'primitive' method and the 'advanced' method. In the primitive method the eggs hatch and the larvae are released. Depending on the species, the larvae go through a number of stages before becoming benthic(ground dwelling) juvenile shrimp. These larvae are usually carried downstream to brackish waters or even the sea, so breeding these shrimp is difficult. In the advanced method the shrimp hatch as tiny versions of the adults, and thus these shrimp are very easy to breed. There are also shrimp that have an abbreviated larval stage, and thus are also easy to breed.

The 'advanced' breeding shrimp(and those with an abbreviated larval stage) are usually very easy to breed. Simply keep males and females together and you will notice baby shrimp after a while. Baby shrimp feed on the micro-organisms that exist in the tank and will also eat what you feed the adults. If you want to see increased survival rates plant some moss in the tank. The moss will harbor large amounts of these micro-organisms.

The 'primitive' breeding shrimp are very difficult to breed. Good guides about breeding the species with larvae that require brackish/saltwater can be found here and here. Those with freshwater larval stages are easier to raise.

Shrimp for the beginner
Ghost/Glass/Grass/River shrimp
Palaemonetes sp.
Size: 1-2 inches(females a bit larger)
Ph: 6.5-8
Temp: 60F-78F
Breeding: Primitive(may be abbreviated depending on species)
Ghost shrimp are transparent, easy to care for shrimp frequently sold as live food. Several species are sold under the name Ghost(pictured is P. paludosus, very common in the US), and thus it is a good idea to to get an id on them. Sometimes Macrobrachium shrimp are sold as Ghosts.

Cherry shrimp
Neocaridina heteropoda (previously N. denticulata sinensis)
Size: 1-1.2 inches(females are larger)
Ph: 6-7.5
Temp: 60F-78F
Breeding: Advanced
Cherry shrimp are red, easy to breed shrimp. They are a good shrimp for a beginner. Also come in a Yellow color morph.

Amano shrimp
Caridina multidentata (previously C. japonica)
Size: 1.5-2 inches(females larger)
Ph: 6-7.5
Temp: 60F-80F
Breeding: Primitive
Amano shrimp are great at eating algae, and are commonly kept in planted aquaria because of this. May eat moss if no other food is available.

Tiger Shrimp
Caridina cf. cantonensis
Size: 1-1.2 inches(females larger)
Ph: 6.5-7.5
Temp: 60F-78F
Breeding: Advanced
Tiger shrimp are great little fellows, and are similar to cherries in behavior. Come in a blue color morph and a red striped morph(these are harder to keep). Prefer softer waters but will be fine in most conditions.

Snowball Shrimp
Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis
Size: 1-1.2 inches(females larger)
Ph: 6.5-7.5
Temp: 60F-78F
Breeding: Advanced
Snowball shrimp are white shrimp. Get their name from their white eggs. A good alternative to cherries for a beginning shrimp, just more expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can X fish go with shrimp?
A: Does X fish have a large mouth, or does it eat invertebrates in the wild? Would you trust it with a fish the size of a shrimp? You need to use common sense with this.

Q: Do shrimp eat plants?
A: Most shrimp will only eat a dead or dying plant. You should do research on the species you wish to keep beforehand. Also note that some plants may have been treated with chemicals to kill snails, so you should rinse them very well beforehand.

Q: Can fertilizers be used in a tank with shrimp?
A: Yes, so long as the fertilizer does not have copper in it.

Q: How big do shrimp get?
A: This varies from species to species. Your average shrimp will usually be from 1-2inches. An exception are the fan-feeding shrimp, which can get quite large.

Q: Will shrimp eat fish?
A: Your average shrimp are not active predators. They will consume a dead fish, however. Do research on what you plan to buy beforehand.

Q: Can I give my shrimp fresh vegetables?
A: Of course! Shrimp love veggies of all kinds. Suggested foods are cucumbers, broccoli, and spinach leaves. Wash them beforehand as they might have pesticides on them.

Q: How long should I leave food in the tank?
A: Shrimp are slow eaters. Give it about 3 hours or sooner if they seem disinterested. It can be left in longer if they are still eating.

Q: My shrimp died!
A: Are you sure? It may be a shed exoskeleton, which look exactly like the shrimp. Is there still flesh in the shrimp? If it is a shedding, leave it in the tank. The shrimp will consume it to regain lost nutrients.

Final Note
This guide is for use only by the Tropical Fish Forums. Some of the information may be incorrect, so if you see anything please let me know!

Links
Petshrimp - Good species profiles of shrimp
Planet Inverts - Good species profiles of many aquatic inverts
Shrimp, crabs, and crayfish - Good site
Shrimp Now - Good site
UK Shrimp - Great site
 

Liam

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All good stuff Tyler, I did a CRS profile which I sent in a few days ago, it should appear on the site sometime soon.
I vote for a sticky
:good:
 
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TylerFerretLord

TylerFerretLord

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I just realized that one of the links for shrimp anatomy was for a penaeid shrimp(prawn) and not a caridean shrimp. Link replaced with one that is relevant, and now I feel silly.
 

jonp

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Just answered all my initial questions in one hit :good:
 

jonp

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Ok next newbie question how do cherry shrimp fit into the inch per fish rule size wise?
 
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TylerFerretLord

TylerFerretLord

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Ok next newbie question how do cherry shrimp fit into the inch per fish rule size wise?
They don't, really. I have well over a hundred cherries in my 29g; that's massively overstocked if you go by the 1inch per gallon rubbish yet my nitrates barely rise between water changes and I don't have much algae growth.


I suppose I should put some more work into this now that it's been pinned. :lol:
 

jonp

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Ok that makes life easier!

And one more - what are typical lifespans of shrimp or the different species if more relevent?

Thanks

Jon
 

saltynay

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Dependendent on species what ones are you looking at? cherries 8-12 months, amanos 3+ years, hawaiin 25+ years, Crystal red shrimp 1-2 years and etc basically the ones that breed easiest live the shortest and vice versa.
 

jonp

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well I just wanted to go with Cherrys but my partner has something more expensive in her sights (Blood Shrimp/Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)) from our LFS.

I figured I will prob go down the route of a few Amano's (because they cant breed in freshwater on its own) to start with to prove the tank etc. is suitable and then upgrade to the more expensive ones a few months down the line. Still waiting for my tank to mature for a few more months first.
 
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