Common Myths in the Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp Hobby
The freshwater shrimp hobby is very young, only popular for a few years, and is growing at a very rapid pace. Unfortunately there are growing pains with this new hobby. One of them being the lack of information on how to successfully keep and breed freshwater aquarium shrimp. The lack of information also coincides with false information making matters even worse. I have heard and read so many of these falsehoods. I felt compelled to write this article to clear up any myths and divulge the facts. It seems as if some people come to their own conclusions without really knowing what they are talking about. Perhaps they want to sound knowledgeable or feel important in the virtual world; I don’t know I am not a psychologist. If you take advice from another shrimp hobbyist make sure that the person has knowledge and experience. Check their post counts on forums, or ask others as well about the advice you were given before implementing anything.
Disclaimer: This is simply my experience and beliefs. Therefore it is my opinion, meaning that this is not a golden rule. Use this information as you wish, but please do not make it the common law.
ADA Aquasoil is bad for shrimp. It leeches toxic chemicals and fertilizers which end up killing the shrimp. It also produces a massive amount of ammonia which also kills the shrimp. Don’t use it.
MYTH. In my experience, as well as with other breeders, ADA Aquasoil is an excellent substrate for shrimp keeping. When first added you should change 50-60% of the water after the first week to remove any cloudiness/residue. After the major water change everything is perfectly safe for shrimp. I use ADA Aquasoil in all of my tanks and the shrimp are extremely happy, reproducing very well. Whenever setting up a new shrimp tank with ADA Aquasoil I practice the method above. During this week it is a good “cycle” time for the beneficial bacteria to spread. www.adgshop.com is where I purchase my ADA Aquasoil online. Please note: I use media/mulm from an established tank in order to speed the cycling process on a new tank. This is critical in order for your tank to be ready after a week as mentioned above. The procedure of cycling your tank in 7 days is risky and should not be done if you haven't cycled a tank before. Testing for ammonia after cycling is important and should be done to make sure the tank is safe.
CO2 is harmful to shrimp.
MYTH. CO2 is not harmful to shrimp at all. What IS harmful is having too much CO2, which allows the ph to drop to dangerous levels as well as create a lack of oxygen intake by the shrimp. It is not the CO2 itself, it is the consequences of having too much CO2 in a tank that harms the shrimp. More CO2 = low ph. Low ph is ok, but extremely low ph can harm shrimp by making the water too acidic. Also, too much CO2 can cause a lack of oxygen intake thereby suffocating the shrimp and ultimately killing them. So, if you are properly dosing CO2 in your tank you will not be harming your shrimp at all. If you are overdosing, you will have problems. Do not blame the CO2, blame the person in charge of managing it. Please read the species information pages to get an idea of the ph ranges that shrimp will happily and healthily live in.
Fertilizers are bad for your shrimp. Do not use any at all!
MYTH. Not all fertilizers are bad for your shrimp. Proper dosing of fertilizers can allow your plants to flourish and not cause any harm whatsoever to your shrimp. PLEASE read this article about dosing fertilizers for an in depth explanation: Ferts & Shrimp. Is it safe?
Shrimp lay eggs on other surfaces.
MYTH. Shrimp do not lay eggs on other surfaces like leaves, rocks, etc. The females carry eggs until they hatch and the babies/larvae carry on an independent life. The females carry the eggs to keep them safe and clean.
I don’t think that the eggs are fertilized!
MYTH. If your female is carrying eggs then they are fertilized. The eggs become fertilized as they move down into the “carriage”. The male deposits the sperm into the female before the eggs are in the carriage. As the eggs are moved from the ovaries and into the “carriage” they become fertilized by the deposited sperm. If you think that your female shrimp has carried her eggs for too long it is because the babies are not fully developed and are still growing. Be patient, it can take some time before the eggs hatch.
I never see my shrimp. They must be a very shy creature.
MYTH. There are several reasons why you may not see your shrimp as much as you like. First reason is that your tank is large, and the small number of shrimp are scattered all over. Second reason is that you have a heavily planted tank, so the shrimp are in the “bushes”. Third reason is because they are scared. If there are other inhabitants that the shrimp fear, like fish, the shrimp will most likely hide the majority of the time for fear of being eaten. Do not forget that shrimp are a major food source for many aquatic creatures. They are at the bottom of the food chain and they know it. Fourth reason is that they are unhealthy/unhappy in their tank. I have found that if my shrimp are not healthy/happy in the tank, they will hide the majority of the time and will rarely come out, even at feeding time. If your shrimp are always roaming around and at feeding time they all come out in a feeding frenzy then they are happy. Feeding time is the best way to observe your shrimp and get a good indicator on their health/happiness. Regardless of the amount of algae in the tank, when it is feeding time they will still eat.
I saw my shrimp eating another one of its kind! They are cannibals!
MYTH. Shrimp will eat the dead carcass of another shrimp, they are scavengers. Just because they are eating a dead shrimp does not mean they killed it then ate it. The shrimp either died because of ill health or old age. Shrimp live for about 2 years. If there are more than one shrimp dead at the same time then you should check your water parameters because something is wrong.
Iodine is a necessity to use for shrimp health.
MYTH. Iodine is not necessary whatsoever. Dosing too much Iodine can kill your shrimp in fact.
Do not feed your shrimp anything with copper. It will kill your shrimp.
UNKNOWN. This is a debated topic and the answer may never truly be known. Some say that it is ok as long as there is a very small amount of copper. Others say that it is surely to kill your shrimp regardless of the amount. Quite frankly I do not know the true answer. However, I can tell you my experience with feeding the shrimp with food that has some copper, and feeding with food that does not have any. I used to feed using Shrimp Pellets which according to the ingredients contained some copper. The shrimp did not seem to do well when fed the Shrimp Pellets, but did not instantly die. When I switched to algae wafers and other food without copper my shrimp have done a lot better. So, I do not feed them anything with copper and I feel that their health/behavior is much better.
Well that is it for now. I will definitely be updating this article as I hear more myths. I am sure I forgot some others as well. I hope that this helped clear things up. Send me an email ryan @ planetinverts.com if you want to submit another myth you have heard and need to clear it up. I am not a guru, but I converse with a lot of other breeders so I can always get a solid answer/consensus.