Is it safe to keep shrimps in a freshwater aquarium?

Gone are the days when only fish were considered the only inhabitants of aquariums. Today, shrimps, snails, and almost every aquatic animal that fits into a tank and are suitable for it make a place. Over the last few years, aquarium shrimps have become increasingly popular, and there are many reasons behind it.

Many people think that shrimps are difficult to care for and maintain. Also, several myths associated with shrimp discourage people from having them in the tank. If you are also under dilemma whether to pet shrimps, this article will unveil all the information you are looking for.

Continue reading to know why you should keep shrimps in your tank and how they can contribute to bringing diversity and fun elements.

Shrimps Maintenance and Care

The most common question among aquarists, especially the beginners, is how to maintain and care for shrimps? Are their requirements different than fish?

Firstly, shrimps are easy to care for and maintain aqua creatures. In fact, they are easy to keep than most of the fish that have peculiar requirements. For instance, shrimps are hardy and can easily survive in a wide range of water parameters. Even though keeping shrimps would be a completely different experience than keeping fish, you are not going to regret it.

If you are looking for something new and exciting for your freshwater tank, adding shrimps is the best idea. You can easily pet them and brag before the visitors. They are social creatures who get along with the tank mates very well and are pretty easy to care for. Apart from these, shrimps work as a cleaning crew of the tank that makes them more appealing. They eat up any gunk, especially algae coming through their way, making the tank look clean and tidy.

Shrimp Requirements

  1. Water requirements 

Shrimps are the least demanding aquarium inhabitants. When they are provided with the right water parameters, they will not bother the owners for anything. Since shrimps are hardy, they can survive in more or less 5 degrees of their temperature range. It makes them easy to put in tanks that have varieties of fish.

Having said that, you should not get irresponsible for their needs as sometimes it could get fatal. Maintaining the water parameters within the suitable range will ensure the good health of shrimps. Shrimps do pretty well when kept in slightly larger tanks that are not subjected to steep changes in water conditions.

A tank with traces of nitrite and nitrate levels and free of ammonia will keep the shrimps healthy and stress-free. Some of their requirements are-

  • Water with low toxicity of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate
  • Medium to low light intensity
  • Plenty of shelters to hide and play
  • Temperature and pH within the suitable range

Each shrimp has its own set of water requirements. So, before getting any of them, read some literature, research online, or ask fellow aquarists who have experience keeping the shrimps. It will give you a clear picture of their water requirements.

Talking about the size, shrimps are not very big creatures. They do not reach more than 7 cm in size when fully matured. Even though they do not grow very big, they do really well in big tanks.

  1. Shrimps diet

Shrimps are omnivorous and natural scavengers; therefore, they can thrive in tanks easily. They will eat whatever you provide them- plant-based feed and animal-based feed. Rest they will eat the gunk and algae of the tank and fill their stomach.

The best part is shrimps love to feed on uneaten food, algae, and bacteria of the tank. These are the common sources of their food. If you have a planted tank with lots of fish, it’s a boon to the shrimps as they will get more food to munch upon.

However, if your tank is not too dense, almost clean, and does not have algae growth, give them healthy food, for example, standard flake food and algae pellet. It will ensure that all of their nutrient requirements are met, which will keep them healthy and active.

Besides this, shrimps also need plenty of hiding spots in the tank. If you have live plants, driftwood, and aquarium décor, shrimps will find things to hold on to and hide whenever needed. When shrimps have their little spots to hide, they feel confident.

One important tip for the aquarists planning to have shrimps is to avoid excess calcium and copper in the tank. Shrimps, like other invertebrates, are susceptible to them. At the same time, do not use medications and treatments that comprise traces of calcium and copper. Likewise, you need to avoid having substrate, rocks, and fertilizers rich in calcium.

  1. Compatibility 

Another thing to be concerned about is shrimp’s compatibility. Although shrimps get along with tropical fish, make sure there are no fish that think shrimps to be easy prey. Research thoroughly before you bring a shrimp and make sure the fish in your tanks are compatible with it.

Shrimps are peaceful and do not pose any threat to the fish. However, carnivorous fish like angelfish, cichlids, and barbs may think of shrimps as their food and eat them mistakenly. So, make the right choice as the tank mates. Some of the best options are small-sized tetras, guppies, danios, and other small-sized tropical community fish.

Apart from fish, when we talk about shrimps, you have to make the right choice again, especially if breeding shrimps is your purpose. While most of the shrimps get along well, there are chances of cross-breeding. So, if you have shrimps solely for breeding purposes, get the ones that do not cross to get pure progenies.

Myths about shrimps 

Many people do not favor keeping shrimps in their tanks as there are a few myths associated with them. With a lot of misconceptions, shrimps have not taken the place they deserve to be. Although you need to make certain modifications in the tank and make your mind when you decide to keep shrimps, the result will always be fruitful.

Here we have come up with some common things (myths/facts) beginners often hear and ask about shrimps. These are:

A- It is very tough to keep shrimp as compared to fish- MYTH

Truth– Keeping shrimps in the tank is as easy as keeping fish. In fact, they are easy than most demanding fish.

Shrimps have certain requirements regarding water parameters, just like any other fish. When you can make adjustments in water conditions while keeping fish, why not with shrimp? They are not very demanding. They are simple and have simple demands. In fact, they are not specific when it comes to food also. They munch on anything coming their way and make the tank clean and algae-free.

B- Shrimps are cannibals- Fact

Shrimps are natural scavengers and opportunistic feeders. They try to eat anything coming across the way- be it uneaten food particles on the substrate, algae on the sides of the tank, or any other gunk. If you have more than one shrimps in the tank and one of them dies, you can see others swarming around it. Wondering what they are doing? Well, they are eating the dead shrimp. Mostly they eat up the shell to get the mineral-rich content that will help with its exoskeleton.

If such a thing is happening in your tank, do not disturb the shrimps and let them eat how much they can. You cannot keep a dead shrimp in a tank anyway as it will spike the ammonia content, which is harmful to the fish and shrimp. On average, the lifespan of a shrimp is around three years. If your shrimp has lived its life, there is no problem. But, it is alarming if you see multiple dead shrimps in a day. Check your water parameters immediately before the fish start dying too.

C- With shrimps, I will never have algae problem- MYTH

Truth– Shrimps feed on soft algae.

Shrimps indeed are great algae eaters, but if you think they will fix your heavily infested algae tank, you are wrong. Mostly shrimps prefer soft algae and can make a great impact on your tank by eating them. But if the level of algae infestation is severe, you can’t add a few shrimps and think the problem is solved.

Instead, try to make a few adjustments with water parameters, light, and carbon dioxide. It will eradicate the problem faster than shrimp.

D- I can keep betta with shrimps- 50/50

When it comes to the compatibility of shrimps with a betta, the answer is yes in some cases and no in others. It is because every betta has its own personality and requirements. As per some aquarists, adding betta to a shrimp tank or vice versa, it is possible that betta may not even look at shrimp for weeks or months.

Also, there is a possibility that one day you see, there is no shrimp in the tank, and betta has eaten all of them. The thumb rule is if the fish is large enough to take shrimp in its mouth, prefer not to add it in the tank.

E- Java moss is required for breeding shrimps- MYTH

Truth– In the wild, shrimps are seen reproducing in places with no live plants.

If you have shrimps for breeding purposes, java moss or any other moss will provide them with hiding spots, but they are not necessarily needed. Indeed moss and aquarium plants are helpful, but they are not a prerequisite. Shrimps breed and reproduce in tanks that do not have live plants.

F- Shrimps lay eggs- MYTH

Truth– Shrimps produce eggs, but the fun fact is they do not lay them.

The females do not require any surface or substrate to lay the eggs; instead, they carry them until they hatch. When the eggs hatch, the larvae start living an independent life. The work of female shrimps is to carry the eggs with them, care for them and keep them clean.

G- Shrimps feed on their young ones- MYTH

Truth– No, shrimps do not feed on their young ones.

Shrimps and shrimplets can be raised in the same tank as the adults do not feed on the larvae. Once the shrimplets come out from the eggs, they start living an independent life in the tank with their adults.

H- Shrimps need food every day- MYTH

Truth– Feeding shrimps after every third day is sufficient.

There is no need to feed shrimps every day as it may lead to overfeeding. It is the reason behind less movement, a decline in breeding, and sometimes death. Shrimps are natural scavengers. They will find something or the other themselves to eat. However, if the tank is clean and there is no gunk for the shrimps to eat, you can provide them food daily but in the right proportion to avoid overeating and its consequences.

I- Carbon Dioxide is harmful to shrimps- MYTH

Truth– Carbon dioxide is an essential element for every aquarium. Just like fish, shrimps also require oxygen. If you inject carbon dioxide into the planted tank, it will not harm the shrimps. But, you need to take care of the dosage. Excess of everything is bad and could be fatal in the aquarium.

J- You need iodine supplementation to keep shrimps alive- MYTH

Truth- There is no need to dose iodine for the survival of shrimps.

Shrimps are hardy water creatures. There is absolutely no need to dose the tank with iodine to keep the tank healthy. Even if you dose iodine for some other reason, make sure not to overdose at any cost. It could do more harm to the fish community.

With so many misbelieves and misconceptions, aquarists often retreat, keeping shrimps in the tank. Now that you know most of the sayings about shrimps are MYTH go and grab some of the species to make your tank more fascinating.

The best thing about keeping shrimps in the tank is they offer multiple benefits. While we all know about their habit of cleaning the tank and eating anything, there are a few more interesting pros of having them in the tank. Some of them are listed below-

Shrimps will clean your fish.

It is quite known that shrimps eat algae and gunk of the tank but do you know they also work as a cleaning crew for fish? There are different species of aquarium shrimps, among which some, like Lysmata amboinensis works as a cleanser for fish.

This shrimp attracts fish by dancing and waving its antennae around. As soon the fish opens the mouth, the shrimp enters inside and cleans off the bloodsucking parasites. Pacific cleaner shrimp is the most popular shrimps that perform such activity. It is so much fun and entertaining to see shrimp going inside and coming out of the fish’s mouth.

Shrimp are the cleaning crew of the tank.

Opportunistic feeders and scavengers shrimps spend most of their life eating anything that falls on the bottom of the substrate in the tank. When in the wild, they eat anything at the bottom of the water bed. The adult shrimps feed on both plants and animals, whether they are dead or alive.

When shrimps are young (larvae), they do not have much choice. In such a stage, they feed on things that come with the water current, which is usually plankton. As they start growing and restraining the water current, they feed on algae, remains of dead fish, plants, worms, snails, and even dead shrimps. When in an aquarium, they eat the algae, gunk, and remains of uneaten fish food.

Shrimps are easy to breed. They carry eggs until they hatch 

Breeding shrimps is pretty easy. All it needs is to have the right ratio of males and females in the tank. Along with it, providing proper water parameters will ensure that breeding is successful. When it comes to eggs, female shrimps do not lay them but carry them on the underside of their belly. A female shrimp carrying eggs are called berried shrimps.

When the females are ready to breed, they release certain pheromones or sex hormones in the water that attracts the males. Males search the females and deposit sperms onto them. Females pass the eggs underneath the tail, constantly fan them and let them stay there until they hatch.

Fanning eggs provide the required oxygen to them. Also, it helps to keep the eggs clean and prevents the growth of bacteria and mold on them. Usually, the eggs of shrimps are visible to the eyes. You can see them under the body of females. It is fascinating to watch the eggs. Cherry shrimp is one of the easiest shrimp to breed.

Certain species of shrimps are nocturnal. 

Lysmata wurdemanni, commonly known as peppermint shrimp, are nocturnal. You cannot see this particular shrimp in the daylight as it keeps on hiding all day in all the possible corners or hiding spots inside the tank. But, it would come out during the night and stay active while others sleep.

Now the question most people ask is, what’s the use of having a shrimp that you cannot see in the entire daytime? Well, peppermint shrimp feeds heavily on aiptasia anemone, one of the most common problems with a saltwater aquarium. So, if you have a saltwater tank and are fed up with the buildup of aiptasia anemone, try to introduce a peppermint shrimp into it. It can solve your biggest problem.

Shrimps molt while growing. 

It is one of the things that you can witness only when you have a shrimp in the tank. Molting is a natural process in which young shrimps shed their skin once a week. It happens multiple times in their entire lifespan as they grow.

People who have no idea about shrimps molting often think that their shrimps are dead and what is lying on the substrate is shrimps’ dead body. But, suddenly, they see their shrimps coming out from one of their hiding spots and start crawling.

It is important to know that whatever is lying on the substrate or aquarium floor is not shrimps’ dead body but its molted skin. Shrimps shed their dead skin as they grow. You can differentiate between the dead shrimp and shell by examining the color of the shell. If it is pinkish, it is probably the dead shrimp. The exoskeleton will look the same as a living shrimp in the tank.

As soon as the shrimps shed their skin, they become highly vulnerable. The reason behind it is their new shell which is very tender in the initial stage. It is when the shrimps start looking for hiding spots in the tank to confine them to a safer place. It will continue until the shells harden. The entire process is very interesting to watch.

Shrimps swim like a pro. 

Adding shrimps in the tank perks up the fun element. You are wrong if you think shrimps can only crawl or walk on the substrate. Shrimps can swim as well but not like your fish. It is because shrimps do not have fins. Shrimps move around very fast in the water; that looks similar to swimming. It is fun to watch them gliding on the water and making instant moves.

Shrimps are basically good in backward swimming. They flex the muscles of the abdomen and tail and propel their body backward. Gradually, they move their abdomen towards the body, projecting themselves quickly through the water. When swimming forward, their movement gets slow as compared to backward swimming. They use the limbs present on the underside of their body to propel themselves in the water.

Final words 

Shrimps are very interesting. If you want diversity in the tank and getting a little bored of watching your fish all the time, it’s time to say Hello to a shrimp. They are easy to care for, maintain and feed. Also, they offer so much to the tank by cleaning. It’s high time you should add some color, fun, and hygiene in your tank by adding a few shrimps.

 

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