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Starting a new aquarium or planted tank can be exciting. You can add all kinds of lush plants and fun pets to your aquarium setup. In this post, though, I’ll be talking about adding shrimp to your new aquarium.
Many planted aquariums have shrimp in them. In fact, these small pets are perfect for aquatic environments. Mainly because of their low bio load and easy care requirements! Still, you can’t just add your shrimp to your water right away. Shrimp have to be added to a tank at the correct time.
So, if you are just starting up a new tank for the first time, and want to put shrimp in your water keep reading. I’ll show you what you need to do to prepare your tank. In addition, I’ll discuss all the relevant information you need to know so that your new shrimp is successfully added to your tank!
When is the tank ready for shrimp?
You need to add your shrimp into your tank at the right time. But, when is it right to add in your shrimp? To start, your tank has to be set up properly!
You want to have your new tank on hand. And you should have any necessary aquarium supplies ready. At this point, decorations, substrate, tank devices, and your plants should be bought.
Lights and other materials can be purchased as well if you are starting a planted aquarium. Really, you want to have everything ready this way you can situate your tank and start the nitrogen cycle. No shrimp or other pets can go into your tank water without being cycled.
It is possible to start a tank without the nitrogen cycle. But, this could end up killing your shrimp. So, I highly recommend waiting to put in your shrimp till after you cycle your tank.
Once you have set up your tank with decorations, tank supplies, and your plants, fill your tank with water and start the nitrogen cycle. Then, once this process is complete you can put your shrimp in!
What is the nitrogen cycle and does it affect shrimp?
Still, what exactly is the nitrogen cycle? And why do you need to cycle your tank before you put your shrimp in?
To sum this concept up shortly, the crucial process of nitrogen cycling contributes to the health of your shrimp and plants. When you start the nitrogen cycle in your tank, your tank water and filter will fill with beneficial bacteria.
A cycled tank with beneficial bacteria helps to break down waste, dead plant material, and other debris. Without the nitrogen cycle, your shrimp will be swimming around in a toxic environment of excrement and pee.
Tank waste often has ammonia in it which is toxic to shrimp. However, the nitrogen cycle neutralizes waste and lets your pet swim in a healthy waterscape. The beneficial bacteria break down ammonia intro nitrite and finally into nitrate. This is way less toxic to shrimp and other critters!
Having a cycled tank is also helpful for your plants. Plant debris and other waste will also stay in your tank water. This can affect your plant growth. With a cycled tank, though, you won’t have to worry about these issues and will be able to safely put your shrimp in your tank. That’s because plant matter can start to rot and become another source of ammonia.
How to Start the Nitrogen Cycle?
How can you start the nitrogen cycle in your new tank and get your shrimp in your water faster? To begin, add a little food to your water. Think of this first step like you are feeding your shrimp that is not yet in the tank.
This fish food that you’ve added to an empty tank will start to rot and will be the first source of ammonia. Therefore, there now is food in the tank for the first beneficial bacteria.
Put in the amount of food you would give to your pet, then let the food sit for a while. You can add in flakes twice, or once every twelve hours. Let the food decay so it can release ammonia into the tank.
Next, you will have to get a testing kit for your tank. A testing kit will help you gauge the level of ammonia. You want this measurement to read at 3ppm for at least a week. Just add flakes in when the reading goes under.
After the week is up, you can start testing for nitrites. Nitrites indicate that the cycle has started fully. You keep adding ammonia into the tank until you see nitrites start to drop off. Once this happens, nitrates will come into the tank.
You’ll know the whole cycling process is complete when ammonia and nitrites are almost to zero, and you have a low nitrate level. At this point, you can add your shrimp to your tank! This whole cycling process will take around 6 weeks.
How else should you prepare your planted tank for shrimp?
To prepare for your shrimp, you can do a few extra things. Most importantly, though, make sure that you have bought the best quality tank devices. Before you start cycling you should have gotten a high-quality filter that has biological filtering capabilities. BTW: the filter should already be running while you’re cycling the aquarium.
Also, make sure that your tank is cleaned out and ready to be cycled. This means that any tank decorations should also be washed. Don’t use soap, but make sure any dirt or debris is rinsed off with water.
Tip: if something is really dirty you could use diluted vinegar to clean tank accessories. Just make sure to rinse them out thoroughly afterwards.
In addition, when picking plants for your tank, I suggest using carpet-like plants. Shrimps are especially fond of this plant type and will do better in a planted aquarium. For more inspiration I recommend checking out my article “The 11 Best Aquarium Plants for Shrimp” which you can find here on my site.
When Will My Tank Finish Cycling and Can You Speed up the Process?
Cycling can take a long time. It depends on your tank and the method you use to cycle. In some cases, it can take up to a month or even two months to finish cycling your shrimp tank. This can seem like an excessive amount of time. But, you don’t want to rush the process and dump your shrimp in before your tank is ready.
Generally the cycling process takes 6 weeks, but you do have to know what you’re doing. I’ve written an entire post about cycling a planted tank, in which I go into detail about all the steps you should take. I really recommend you checking out this article next. There’s a lot of helpful information in there.
You can speed up the process though with a few tricks. But make sure to be careful. One method is to take beneficial bacteria from another tank and add it to your tank.
You just take the media of another established tank filter and place it into your tank. If you use this method make sure that the other tank is clean and free of contaminants. Also, wait a little while to add in your shrimp, at least a week or two weeks. This way the bacteria can properly establish itself.
If you don’t have another tank to get beneficial bacteria from, there are products that contain the bacteria you need. The cycling process will go a lot faster when you buy something like API QuickStart, which is available here on Amazon. This way it only takes a few weeks to establish your tank instead of months.
How to add shrimp into your cycled tank?
After your tank has been cycled, you want to add in your shrimp in the water. Do this carefully and gently so that your pets are not stressed out. I recommend not dumping all your pets in at once. Instead, you want to slowly introduce your pets to their new home.
Add a few shrimp in at a time so that your pets and tank can get used to one another. Adding all your shrimp in at once can actually overwhelm your filter. So, I would say put in around five to ten shrimp at once for the first week. If you have more shrimp, add more in the next week.
Also, make sure that your tank is big enough for the amount of shrimp you have. Shrimp do have a low bio load, but when you have a lot of shrimp together you can create a substantial amount of waste in a smaller tank.
Choosing the right shrimp for your tank?
You probably know what kind of shrimp you want to put in your aquarium. But, if you are waiting to choose your shrimp until after you have cycled your tank, I’ll give you a few pointers here.
Typically you want shrimp that are easy to care for and will fit with your tank setup. I personally recommend getting freshwater fish like cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp, or Amano shrimp. These are great starter shrimp that get along with a lot of other aquatic pets. Still, the choice is up to you.
The benefits of shrimp in a planted tank: they help with cleaning
Overall, shrimps are great for planted tanks and new tanks in general. These small creatures don’t take up a lot of space and have minimal care requirements. Best of all, pet shrimp can help improve the quality of tank water. For planted tanks especially, this can be important.
Shrimp like to clean up after other pets with heavier bio loads and even eat waste and algae. So, tanks with algae issues and waste issues will greatly benefit from shrimp because of this.
Still, you want to make sure that you put your shrimp into your tank at the right time. If you add your pet into your tank too early they can suffer health complications and even die.
To prevent this, I went over when you should add them in your tank. Ideally, this should be done after you complete the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle can be a hassle to perform, but with my step by step guide, you should now be able to cycle your tank and add in your shrimp!