Dwarf shrimp keeping is exploding. Already extremely popular in Europe and Asia, these colorful little crustaceans are really beginning to make an impact in North America as well. With their growing popularity comes a need to understand what’s needed to keep them happy, healthy and active.
Members of the Caridina species such as Crystal Red shrimp, Crystal Black shrimp, and Tigers, have some of the most demanding water requirements of any of the freshwater critters commonly available to hobbyists. It’s very important to know what’s in your water, and what’s not in your water, to be truly successful in keeping and breeding these shrimp. A healthy shrimp population, living in suitable water conditions will double in population every three to six months as long as there are no predators. If you’re keeping shrimp, and not getting similar results, something is wrong. And it’s probably your water.
In our breeding and holding tanks we use remineralized water from aquarium reverse osmosis water systems exclusively, and there are a lot of reasons why. Aspects of water chemistry that are often ignored by freshwater aquarists are of great importance when dealing with dwarf shrimp. It’s no longer enough to just know what pH your water is. Things like gH, kH and TDS play vital roles in shrimp keeping. But more than that, it’s extremely important to know exactly what is in your water. And what’s not.
There is a ton of (often differing) information out there about what water parameters the various types of shrimp need in order to thrive and I won’t go into that here. I will say, however, that it’s much easier to reach your desired numbers for pH, gH, TDS, or whatever you’re measuring, when you start from zero. It’s a whole lot easier to add things to water than it is to take things out of it. An aquarium reverse osmosis system is a great source of the the pure water that gives you the ability to know exactly what is in it. You can make sure that the water contains all the things your shrimp need, and nothing they don’t.
Filter Your Tap Water To Prevent Harming Your Shrimp
Dwarf shrimp are beautiful but sensitive little creatures.
One of the most overlooked aspects of water quality is bacteria. Dwarf shrimp naturally have almost no immune system. They’re also extremely selectively bred to bring out the fantastic colors we prize so highly in our shrimp. This narrowing of their gene pool weakens their immune systems even further. The results are gorgeous little shrimp that have little to no defense against bacterial infection. This is one of the reasons why you’ll often hear people complain that they suffer losses every time they get new shrimp. Sometimes a bacterial infection will be visible in the form of discoloration on the body of the shrimp, and sometimes it won’t be. Tap water can contain a cornucopia of bacteria.
Dwarf shrimp are also extremely sensitive to heavy metals. Especially copper. Even the trace amounts of copper leached into the water by copper plumbing pipes can be detrimental to a colony of shrimp. This can lead to lower birth rates, lethargic behavior, and even death. There are a lot of products available that neutralize copper and other heavy metals, but I’d rather start with water that doesn’t contain them to begin with.
There’s a lot of stuff in tap water now days that is just plain scary. That’s why the bottled water industry is so successful. If you don’t want to drink it, why would your shrimp want to?
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