Red Cherry Shrimp Tank Setup and Water Parameters
Setting up a new Red Cherry Shrimp tank setup is very easy, as long as you do it correctly. RCS are low maintenance and are very self-sufficient, but choosing the proper size of their housing is nevertheless important. Sizes of tanks/aquariums vary and it depends on how many inhabitants you would like to house. The general rule in tank sizes is, the smaller the tank, the smaller are the chances of successful breeding. That being said, the perfect starter tank for a small colony should be between 3 and 5 US gallons (approx. 11 – 19l). This setup is on the smaller size, and it should house only a few shrimp, 10 – 20 should be fine. If the tank is overcrowded, your shrimp will not have the urge to reproduce, because of the confines of the tank. A medium setup of 5 – 8 US gallons (approx. 19 – 30l) will house a larger colony (between 20 and 80) and a large setup of 8 US gallons (approx. 30l) or more will allow for an active colony of 100 or more shrimp. If you are a beginner it is still recommended that a medium tank should be used as you will need to plant the tank for a perfect shrimp environment.
Filtration, cooling, lighting
Now, for the equipment. A good filtration system, such as Sponge filters is highly recommended for a smaller or a medium tank. They’re inexpensive, great vessels for »good« bacteria and it will not suck baby shrimp into the intakes. The sponge is also a great “food trapper”- the sponge traps little bits of food that the shrimp will scavenge for hours. For a larger tank you can use a canister/HOB (hang-on-back) filter, but is still not recommended due to baby shrimp intake suction. If you still would like to use this filtration system, a good way to prevent unwanted intake suction is, to slip a sponge over the intake. A cooling/heating system is required to keep your tank at the advisable temperature if your room temperature is not up to the recommended parameters. Aquarium lighting for Red Cherry Shrimp tank setup is optional. If you provide a good amount of daylight, 6 – 8 hours a day, it is not necessary.
Substrate is a vital part of any shrimp tank. It is the first thing that you scape into your aquarium. RCS react to the color of the substrate. If the substrate is light-colored the shrimp become paler (their colors fade) or even transparent. Darker substrate is more advisable as it looks more like their natural environment. It creates a great contrast between the dark of the substrate and the redness of the shrimp. Your RCS will have a deeper, more vibrant shade of red compared to them being on lighter substrate. There are also two types of substrate – Active and Inert. Active substrate purposely changes the value of some parameters in the water, mainly the pH levels, and inert substrate basically does nothing to the water.
It is highly recommended that you have some form of vegetation in your shrimp aquarium. Aquatic plants remove harmful water nutrients such as ammonia and nitrates; they’re a great food surface as well as a provider of cover for the shrimp, which is especially important if you plan a community tank. Moss is a commonly used vegetation. It is easy to maintain, a great hiding place and it holds a lot of microorganisms that the baby RCS feed on.
RCS can be kept in a wide span of water parameters. They prefer clean water with temperatures between 70°F (12°C) and 86°F (30°C) and pH levels between 6.2 and 8. The optimum temperature is around 76°F (24°C), pH levels at 6.2 – 7.3 and KH at 3 – 10.
Higher temperatures will lead to faster growth and reproduction. They will survive lower temperatures, but breeding at this temperature is not guaranteed as well as their overall health. Levels of pH at 6.2 – 7.3 will maximize health, color and hatching rates.
RCS are highly sensitive to nitrite (NO2) and ammonia. Both should be kept at 0ppm at all times. Nitrates (NO3) should be less than 20ppm. Adding plants and frequent water changes are both excellent ways of reducing nitrate levels. High levels (above 20ppm) in Red Cherry Shrimp tank setup, can cause infertility. The key is to keep water conditions at all times stable, avoiding ammonia, nitrites and nitrates spikes. Chlorine and chloramine in tap water is deadly to RCS, so you should equip yourself with a de-chlorinator that neutralizes both.
Your aquarium water should be changed at least 30% once a week. Fresh water must be as close to the temperature of the aquarium water as possible to reduce shock. It is also recommended that you prepare the water a few days before and let it sit with the de-chlorinator already added.