Iíve been keeping crystal red shrimp for nearly a year now. I started out with some low grade crystal reds from a couple US hobbyists and kept them in a 5 gallon tank. They seemed to do well but did not breed at all even though a few females did carry eggs for short periods of time. I eventually moved them all to a 20 gallon tank and had it heavily planted with DIY C02 and they breed readily and I ended up with quite a few offspring from each batch.
A few months ago, I imported roughly 35 very high grade crystal reds from a hobbyist in Singapore and introduced them to my existing breeding stock. Itís been a few months and Iím finally seeing females carrying eggs. Iím excited to see how the offspring turn out.
I have quite a bit of experience with cherry shrimp and much of it translated to the methods I used with my crystal reds. However, Iíve learned a few things along the way that may be helpful to people that want to give crystal red shrimp a try. Crystal red shrimp are pretty easy to keep, but they will do much better if you do a few things differently compared to cherry shrimp.
Here is what has worked for me and what I suggest for other people if they want to try their hand at breeding crystal red shrimp
1. Tank size should be at least 20 gallons. I did not have much luck breeding them in smaller tanks.
2. Temp should be between 71-75F. Many people will keep crystal reds with cherries at higher temps (78F+), which is fineÖbut crystal reds display the best colors at lower temps and they tend to breed more readily at lower temps. I found this out after experimenting and having a lot of females carry eggs at 78.5F but very few off spring.
3. Moderate water hardness seems to work the best for robust breeding and coloration.
4. I highly recommend the addition of live plants to maintain good water quality and a natural environment.
5. Sponge filters are the best since they do not pose a danger to baby shrimp.
6. PH of 7.4 has worked well for me even though Iíve heard of breeders having success in acidic environments as well. Iím fairly certain crystal reds do NOT do well in very alkaline conditions.
7. Keep up with water changes! Crystal Red shrimp are HIGHLY prone to nitrate poisoning and they need good water to maintain good health and molting. I do weekly 30% water changes. I use plain tap water (moderate hardness, PH 7.6) and I treat it with declorinator (Amquel+ and Novaqua).
8. I use a little DIY Co2 just to keep the plants healthy and it helps to lower the PH slightly. Co2 is not necessary for successful breeding and poses little threat to crystal reds when used in moderation.
9. I use full spectrum lighting...10 hours a day on a timer.
10. I DO NOT dose liquid iodine as the shrimp will get all they need from a proper diet.
11. I feed them HBH Vegetable Wafers and HBC Crab & Lobster Bites exclusively. Any invertebrate food will suffice as long as it does not contain any large amounts of copper (READ those labels!). I will occasionally drop in a piece of boiled vegetable (squash or spinach). I feed my shrimp once a day in very small amounts.
The bottom line is you can keep Crystal Red shrimp in similar conditions as other common freshwater dwarf shrimp. However, the keys to successful breeding will depend heavily upon temperature and water quality.
I hope I haven't forgotten anything. Please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions or would like to provide your experiences. Iím still learning and would appreciate the feedback and advice as well. Thanks!
Here are a few websites with grading information:
Update with a few pics (sorry for the poor quality):
Here are some pics from this afternoon. I'm trying out a new food item and they seem to like it.