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Role of shrimp in planted tanks

5222 Views 11 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  dougiefresh
I am not sure of you guys are aware but recently some of the fresh water aquarium magazines have been including articles about freshwater shrimp. I know there is a lot of members here that do keep them and woul like to know what you think the role of shrimp in planted tank is.

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I have shrimp in all of my planted tanks (7). I am not sure what is meant by role in this context but I keep them because they consume any uneaten food without uprooting or mucking the plants about as cories and plecos etc. do. I find them attractive and interesting to watch as well. I think there algae eating prowess is way over-rated ( particlularly non-amano dwarf shrimp).
I think I'm with marrow. Not only do they add an interesting element by the way that they move and interact with each other but they eat the leftover food and any dead plant material. As for algae eating abilities I agree with marrow unless they're amano shrimp they don't bother,but that's what I have amano for :)
They play a variety of roles depending on their morphology. You have filter-feeding shrimp, scavengers/algae eaters and predatory.

Filter feeders help filter the water of food/algae particulates, while scavengers tend to either swift through the sand substrate or eat directly from the source (algae or leftover food).

The primary role of most dwarf shrimp that we keep is scavenging, they're great for picking off the piece of food all the other fish seemed to miss and to a lesser extent algae control. Not sure if Amano shrimp are the opposite (prefer algae over scavenging?) though.
I got 2 wierd looking shrimp from a batch of ghost shrimp that will recognize when I feed my fish. They make their way to the surface and find the food and try to get it. It has to be one of the funniest things i've seen in an aquarium. I'll try to tape it.
I have all the above morphologies, predatory, (macrobrachium pilimanus) who has her own tank because she could kill any of my fish easily. She is a neat freak and rearranges her substrate to suit her tastes.

My filter feeder disappears into the plants and I see her from time to time, she eats the microbes and that is her purpose. She adds an interesting element to the situation. Weird looking and yet pretty.

My other shrimp, mostly cherries are to act as scavengers and indirectly, as a food for my other fish through their not so swift offspring. Some survive, some don't. They clean up the crud and provide food for others, works well in my books, as long as I don't see it happening. They are just neat to look at, here there and everywhere. Shrimp add an interesting element of just something utterly different.

My ghost shrimp amuse me. So I keep them just for that. I find them, of all my shrimp just hilarious.
I agree about shrimps eating left overs. I gotta say for their size they can consume quite a bit!
I have 3 observations:

1. A tank that houses both Amano shrimp and any of the dwarf shrimp keeps very little mulm. The dwarf shrimp process the waste of the Amanos. Snails could do that too but it seems that the dwarf shrimp are faster.

For that reason I believe that a planted tank that strives to be as complete of an ecosystem as possible should have fish, Amano shrimp, dwarf shrimp, and snails. We can expand that to different species but the basic idea is clear.

2. Amano shrimp produce very little if any waste. As we speak I have 1600 Amanos in a 55 gallon tank. Since shrimp are sensitive to Ammonia I have to conclude that they do not pollute the water at all. They do stir the mulm when food is dropped in the tank and the water becomes murky. But the Amanos do not poison themselves with their own waste.

I do believe that it's possible to keep a planted tank healthy without any (or minor) fertilization if the animals in it are carefully chosen. Because the Amano shrimp (and I guess the dwarf shrimp too) pollute the water very little you should pay more attention to the choice/number of fish rather than the shrimp. Some fish - Cardinals, Dwarf Rainbows, Boraras - pollute very, very little. In bare bottom tanks housing these fish I notice very little waste compared to other fish species.

3. Amanos are powerful algae eating animals but their number must match the amount of algae in the tank. The good news is that they can withstand hunger very well so the danger of loosing them because of starvation is very small.

Here's an interesting example; 200 Amanos in a 25 gallon tank completely erradicated the 2" tall Cladophora colony covering the entire bottom of the tank. It took about 5 days. There was not a single piece of the algae left!

So to fight visible algae you need a good count of Amano shrimp. But what they really should be used for is to eat the algae that has not become visible yet. The tank conditions should help algae grow slow enough so the shrimp takes care of them before they become visible.

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Like Sunstar I keep red cherries to scavenge for leftover food and to be food, but the are also interesting to watch. The females are very red when berried, they are quite pretty darting amongst the plants.
I have 3 observations:

1. A tank that houses both Amano shrimp and any of the dwarf shrimp keeps very little mulm.

What do you mean "dwarf" shrimps?



- Jeff
What do you mean "dwarf" shrimps?



- Jeff
Yes they and many others are commonly referred to a Dwarf Shrimp.
I would say that controlling algae and cleaning debris is one aspect.

And as so many interesting shrimps are being brought to the marketplace by people like yourself. They're are really getting popular and I think will continue to gain popularity. Years ago the only freshwater shrimp I knew about were the ghost feeder shrimp. Well we know how many varieties are out there now. One thing that's nice about them is that you don't need huge aquariums or elaborate systems to house them.

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