Shrimp Tank Breeding Made Easy in 10 Tips
Shrimp breeding is an amazing hobby and can actually be lucrative for those who are good at it and know exactly how to treat each and every species of shrimp or the ones that matter anyway. It does not require any prior experience, but it is also not as easy as it sounds either. Shrimp are very picky about their environment. There are two types of commonly bred shrimp and boy do they have a boatload of subclasses. Those who are familiar are waiting for me to say Neocaridina and Caridina shrimp, better known as red cherry shrimp and the crystal red shrimp. Fortunately, there are some tips to help steer you in the right direction on how to maintain a healthy shrimp colony and how to set up a tank for shrimp breeding. Let’s take a look at these top 10 tips on caring and setting up for shrimp breeding.
1. Be Mindful of the temperature of your shrimp environment:
Shrimp as with most life, operate and function optimally when certain conditions are met. Temperature is one of these conditions that some species of shrimp are very finicky on. An optimal or widely accepted temperature for breeding shrimp is right around 73⁰F. This is what is considered an appropriate temperature shrimp seem to enjoy. You may ask yourself what may happen if the temperature becomes much higher or lower than 73⁰F? While, a lower temperature will affect the health of the shrimp and their activity can suffer, becoming more sluggish at lower temperatures, so the entire breeding process can become constrictive and harmful to the shrimp involved in the breeding when the environment’s temperature becomes too low. Cardinia shrimp are much more picky about ideal water parameters versus the Neocardinia. Temperatures that are too high such as anything 78⁰F or higher significantly increase the chance of disease and death in shrimp. They may breed more initially, but problems will arise.
While lower temperature has bad effects, a higher temperature is known to speed the breeding process up and help shrimp reproduce more frequently, but not without consequence. The high temperatures of the water reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen that shrimp use to breathe. So, while you may think that you are helping your shrimp when you raise the temperature of the water, in reality, you are really killing them.
So the question now is, “how will you keep your shrimp breeding tank at the right temperature?” This is typically the least of concern and has a logical fix; buying a heater or something that is used to regulate aquarium temperatures will help keep the waters where they are needed. An example of basic aquarium heaters (very basic):
By far the best heater to use for shrimp tanks is the Cobalt Neotherm.
This is because, in testing, it is the only heater which shows very very little deviation from what you set it at. Many people don't realize that their heaters already create a range of temperature fluctuations. With the Cobalt Neotherm heaters, this swing does not occur. Bulk Reef Supply tested a variety of heaters and found this to be the most stable. Not to mention: Look at the slick thin design!
2. The reproduction process: Who’s Who?
Nature is nature, and with enough of anything and proper conditions, the adage, “nature will take its course,” holds true, especially when it comes to shrimp breeding. When starting out it, an important thing to keep in mind is, determining the gender of your shrimp.
This is not easy, which is why it is typically recommended to begin the reproductive process, using bulk shrimp. Start out with buying 10-15 shrimp, meet their growth demands and take good care of them, and before long you can easily increase this number to 100 hundred shrimp. In order to know how to make shrimp reproduce, you should start by understanding how shrimp breed.
The morphological characteristics of male and female shrimp can tell you if it is a male or female. Males are small when compared to females, and their tails are shorter and thinner than females’ tails. That makes females larger and with a kind of larger underbelly.
The reproduction process will tell you for certain, what the shrimp genders are. Let’s see how this works. In the following points we will briefly describe the breeding process for shrimp:
• When the female is ready, it releases a pheromone, which is an attracting agent or sex hormone.
• The pheromone will make the males dance frantically in the aquarium. They dance to locate the female who is releasing the pheromone.
• The shrimp that are not dancing are females.
• The female who release pheromones will be kind of isolated.
• Get a breeder box from a pet store or make one yourself, prepare it well by putting enough moss, and other material, then place it in the aquarium.
• Pick up the female and put it in the box. Leave it for a while until it settles.
• Choose a perfect male and put it with the female in the breeder box; that is the process of selective breeding.
• When the male and the female in the breeder box dance frantically, now that the male has done it and the female is now fertilized.
Check this video out to see how this works:
• After about 30 minutes, check the breeder box. Mostly you will find that the female is done with the male’s attempts. Pick up the male and return it to the tank and leave the female for a while in the breeder box.
• After about 3 hours, you will find that the female is carrying the eggs under her tail. Now release it into the tank.
• The gestation period takes about a month before the eggs hatch. During this period, the eggs’ color will change from black to red to white before eventually hatching.
3. Check your water chemistry to make shrimp happy:
To make the environment of the shrimp perfect, you should consider the volume and levels of some parameters and add or remove the following chemicals as needed to meet shrimp specifications:
• Nitrite, Ammonia, and Copper. These chemicals should not exist in the aquarium before adding the shrimp. Shrimp are highly sensitive to these so if you add shrimp in the tank make sure that it is cycled properly and with no copper *copper found in fertilizer IS generally okay*.
• Too much food waste is the main source of many harmful particles and should be promptly addressed. Make sure to clean the tank up but keep some food waste for the baby shrimp. This is easily accomplished with a sponge filter which allows baby shrimp a constant food source. If you are not sure on the food to feed your shrimp then after you are done reading go here: What Do Your Planted Tank Shrimp Love to Eat?
• Keep a low concentration of nitrate in the tank; it is good, but the concentration should not exceed 20ppm.
• If you fill the aquarium with tap water, be careful as it contains chlorine and chloramines which are harmful to the shrimp. Before filling the aquarium, add a de-chlorinator or use properly filtered water by RO or a popular choice like Seachem Prime.
• The best PH for shrimp breeding is between 6.2 and 7.3, and the perfect PH is often argued but agreed to be around 6.4 for Cardinia. Tap water tends to have a higher pH, so be sure to have a buffer to reduce pH. The easiest method to do this is to add peat filtering to your canister filter or overflow.
4. Think before you do routine water changes:
Shrimp are so sensitive to water changes. In fact, when you are about to change the water of the aquarium, make sure that its temperature closely matches your tank water. Try to also match the TDS which should already be in a range of 100-180. Then, slowly add water to the tank. You can add water faster if you can match the tank parameters. If the pH is a little off, that is okay. Try not to do more than 15%-20% every 4 weeks to ensure stability.
When the female shrimp are at the gestation period, do not make any water changes because it will put both the shrimp and the eggs in danger, disrupting the reproduction process. It is a stressful time for the shrimp, and when you make changes in their environment, you add extra stress on them. Adding fresh water when female shrimp are pregnant can also cause male aggression which can stress the female shrimp to the point of death. Adding fresh water mimics the cooler rainwater effect in the wild and sets off a breeding frenzy.
5. Plants and Shrimp can coexist:
Shrimp, algae, and plant detritus are friends. The beauty of the aquarium consists mainly of green colorful plants and variety of colors in shrimp.
In order to maintain plants well, you need to add fertilizers to the tank. In doing so, you risk changing the water chemistry. The amount of copper in fertilizer is generally safe. While we haven't tested a wide variety of fertilizers, the EI method we recommend has not shown any negative effects to shrimp health or breeding. Introducing CO2 into a shrimp tank will reduce breeding behavior in Cardinia shrimp. If your goal is to breed, keep the CO2 and excel out.
6. Lighting is important for overall tank health:
The main source of light on the planet is the sun; it is responsible for nearly all biochemical reactions that happen in our world. How will you bring the sun into the aquarium for the shrimp environment? Well, you obviously will not bring sun directly to the tank, but you will acquire an alternative, by using an external lighting source.
Planted LED lights have solved this problem. They are inexpensive and available everywhere. They consume less power and produce less heat. For plants, it is recommended to use at least 1w+ per gallon of lightning as this is sufficient for proper growth, but different setups, plants, and other lifeforms within each tank also provide unique requirements. Most LED lights get rid of the old school w/gallon method and are acceptable for shrimp tanks. Just be careful that your LED lights are not too high for a low tech tank or you could get Algae issues. Shrimp love algae, however, so if you don't mind it, neither will they!
There are three options here: metal halides, T5s and LED Fixtures.
• Metal halides are suitable for deep tanks as they are very bright, but they are not as good as other technologies because they produce too much heat which will subsequently increase the temperature in the aquarium.
• T5 is newer than metal halides. You may use T8 fluorescent bulbs; T5 is the thinner and brighter form of them. They can be easily fixed in the aquarium, but they are kind of expensive. A common appearance in most setups.
• The led fixture is the newest technology in this area. They are very efficient, consume very little energy, and its lifespan is about 50,000 hours. They produce the correct spectrum of light that captures the vital and essential wavelengths.
Be sure to choose the best source of light for your shrimp aquarium, depending on your tank's requirements. It is not just about how your aquarium will look; It is about the growth of plants and shrimp as well as the overall health and well-being of your planted shrimp tank. The light source should hover around 6500 kelvins, which is typically found in your T5 lighting systems, simulating an average summer day. If it’s lower than 6000, the aquarium will look yellow/Red and is generally only used to generate a certain aquascape look. If it is higher than 10,000, the aquarium will appear too blue/white and will look more like a reef tank!
Also, do not rapidly turn the lights on and off unnecessarily over and over; it is harmful. By switching the lights on and off repeatedly, you will make the shrimp afraid, and as I told you before, shrimp are very sensitive creatures, and you will put extra stress on it that way which subsequently will put it in danger especially the female ones who carry eggs.
7. How Scape Ornaments Can Create Happy Shrimp:
Scaping ornaments are important in the decoration of a planted aquarium and also serves a purpose in setting up a habitat for shrimp breeding. A beautiful aquarium consists of three things: Plants, Shrimp and Scape Ornaments. Well, there are some other things that make a beautiful tank, but we're talking shrimp. One of our favorite devices is the uxcell Plastic Moss Christmas Tree Trunk Moss Ball Ornament Aquarium Fish Tank Decor.
This device allows you to grow plants like subwasstertang within the ball easily. Check out the video below to see how it's done.
There are three basic scape ornaments used in decorating the aquarium.
• Drift Wood:
You can decorate the tank in a way that resembles the looks of nature. There are some points that you need to consider regarding driftwood.
1. Hide where you have cut the wood with plants.
2. If you cut the wood from a tree on your own, boil it before putting it in the tank and leave it for about 10 days to remove the tannins. If you didn’t boil it, it can stain your water with an ugly brown color and change the PH of the water, not to mention the many external diseases that can hitchhike on these pieces of wood.
3. You can buy it from a store but make sure that the buyer is reputable and has properly cleansed it. Stores apply chemical bleaches to the wood so that way you will be sure that they are free from any chemicals.
Want to understand Woodscaping a little more:
Using natural rocks can have reactions to your water. Not all rocks are perfect for aquarium use and some can react with your water, but how can you make sure your new rocks will not have a reaction. Make sure they will not react with your water by putting some drops of vinegar on the rock. If it does not produce bubbles, it is considered safe to use.
It is great if it is black. White gravel will not remain white forever and will look ugly after a while unless you can take good care of your tank by performing routine maintenance and completely jobs.
9. Cycling is a necessity, not an option:
Before using the tank for shrimp breeding or using it for any aquatic venture, you need first to cycle it. In this process, set up the whole tank as you normally would and do not add anything to it. You should turn the lights on for about 8 hours per day. The cycling process takes about 8 weeks, and you should test the quality of the planted aquarium’s water chemistry every two weeks before jumping the gun and assuming it is ready. Let the tank get all dirty and full of algae and then do a 90% water change at the end of 8 weeks. Test the water a couple days later to ensure no Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates are present before adding livestock.
10. Don't start shrimp breeding if you are not ready:
It is a hobby that needs patience and proper planning. Do not start it until you make sure that everything is OK. Consider the steps needed to make everything run and work smoothly as part of the beginning of the shrimp breeding process. This ensures you have everything in place and will have a successful breeding experience using your planted tank shrimp-breeding box.
Thank you for taking the time to check out these starter tips. For suggestions, questions, or to contribute, head on over to the shrimp forum and see what's happening!
P.S. for those who are looking to bred Caridina shrimp to get to a certain breed, check out our shrimp food link above and take a look at the chart we've made.
Shrimp Tank Breeding Made Easy in 10 Tips
When looking into breeding shrimp, you should consider several things. Here are 10 tips to think of.