What is the best way to keep Shrimps in my tropical freshwater tank?
With their bright colours and compact size, freshwater crustaceans have quickly become a popular addition to the aquarium hobby. Many of the varieties appearing in our stores are line-bred forms of less glamorous wild species and as such, will crossbreed and produce less attractive offspring if mixed. As with many fish species, the perfect solution is to pick your favourites and keep a large number! Given their tiny size, a growing number of shrimp-fans are finding it easy to house a number of small aquaria for their expanding collection.
With few exceptions, the popular shrimp species are Asian in origin and a growing number of amazing animals are being found in the Malili lakes of Sulawesi. These species are characterised by a need for alkaline water, which doesn't need to be particularly hard - a small tank of RO water powered by an air operated filter, or small internal power filter with a venturi outlet, will ensure pH and oxygen levels remain high. Stream dwelling species are more tolerant of lower pH systems and are very much at home in planted aquaria using CO2 where their appetite for algae and detritus makes them very useful. Many of these species are happy living at room temperature and will often fail to thrive in systems kept at high temperatures.
As invertebrates, many commonly used aquarium medications are toxic to shrimps (particularly those containing copper) and like their marine relatives, high levels of phosphate and nitrate can prove damaging and especially problematic when animals are moulting. A need for calcium can be met by providing your pets with foods made specifically for them, although they will happily eat most fish foods.
Never forget that your shrimps may be a welcome treat for a number of community fishes such as loaches and dwarf cichlids and make sure that they remain unmolested. For best results, tailor your fish selection to the needs of your shrimps, or enjoy them in a 'desk-top' style nano tank where they can tank centre stage.