10g Shrimp Tank (Neo and Caridina) Start to Finish - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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10g Shrimp Tank (Neo and Caridina) Start to Finish

This project began when my dad began building his 75 gallon community tank. He and I have been in and out of the aquarium hobby, but never really focused on planted tanks. My trips to the LFS got me interested in building a nano shrimp tank. We already care for praying mantises, isopods (roly-polys), cockroaches, and cockroaches so inverts are familiar to us. Shrimp are very similar to isopods since they focus on the selective breeding of small animals rather than caring for individual animals as pets. Shrimp have the benefit of being more decorative and easier to observe. Here is one of our giant canyon isopods and one of our mantises.



So I started by getting myself a 7 gallon Imagitarium tank with an integrated filter November 2018. We set it up with some mopani, eco complete, plants, about 10 blue velvet shrimp, about 10 PRL CRS shrimp, and two small nerites. We soon ran into problems with pests from the plants from our LFS despite rinsing well. First was pond snails. We eradicated them by carefully watching the tank and snail hunting for about 10 minutes each day. We were successful. A few weeks later, more pests. This time it was two types of detritus worms, plenaria, and hydra. We took the same course of action, but due to the tiny size of these pests we only could keep them at bay. We decided to add some micro fish to combat the pests, understanding that some shrimplets may become food. We added 6 celestial pearl danios. They made short work of all of the pests. All was well and the shrimp began breeding. I was dosing some excel a few times per week, no CO2.





Fast forward to Christmas 2018. I received a Kessil A80 to help replace the poor light that came with the Imagitarium tank. It made things look instantly better. Within 3 weeks we began seeing blackbeard algae. Our shrimp and snails were eating most of the green spot and hair algae, but the blackbeard algae continued to establish. I got more serious about dosing excel. Now, 3 weeks later, the tank looks bad. Not the nice green you would like, but lots of brown and grey covering the plants. We had bacopa in the back, some microsword carpet establishing, one large s. repens, and many small ones (not a carpet).




I struggled for a week doing increased doses of excel and reducing the light. I believe there were 3 main issues. First, leaving the Kessil at 100% power for a 9 hour daily photoperiod. Second, dosing excel only in the evening. Third, a consistent 0 reading for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. These may be obvious to most of you, but were definitely not obvious to me at the time.

So the new course of action is to start fresh. We hope to keep all of the shrimp and fish and some of the plants that can be saved. Now I am using a Dennerle 10g cube. Substrate will be eco-complete. It will be filtered with a Fluval C2 HOB. Our plants will primarily be bacopa, s. repens, java moss, and some carpeting plant (haven't yet decided maybe monte carlo or dwarf baby tears). The micro-sword looked nice like a lawn, but is too tall for this sort of tank IMO. Shrimp will now number 30-40 since we have some berried and obtained a few more PRL CRS. We will have 2-3 small nerites and 6 celestial pearl danio. We will be injecting pressurized CO2. The tank will be unheated, and usually remains about 69-72 degrees. Light will still be the Kessil, but more at 50% brightness to start until we can be sure we aren't having algae problems. For ferts, I will be dosing Potassium and Nitrogen per the Seachem instructions as well as Flourish Comp. Hopefully these changes result in a more attractive tank with better plant health and fewer algae problems.

Here is the tank and the cabinet we got for it.


Any advice appreciated, the supplies all come today and tomorrow so we will be setting it up through this week.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 06:11 PM
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Looks like you have researched and aren't jumping into this without knowledge. First thoughts, be careful as to not rush the new tank setup, unless you are seeding the filter. Shrimp don't always take kindly to newly established tanks.
That window behind the tank could cause issues with heat and light. How often are the blinds opened and how much light gets into the tank? Otherwise looks like a good start!


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jamo33 View Post
Looks like you have researched and aren't jumping into this without knowledge. First thoughts, be careful as to not rush the new tank setup, unless you are seeding the filter. Shrimp don't always take kindly to newly established tanks.
That window behind the tank could cause issues with heat and light. How often are the blinds opened and how much light gets into the tank? Otherwise looks like a good start!
Thanks. I will say that I thought I went in the first time with plenty of knowledge, but there is so much to learn that I was still missing many peices to the puzzle. I am sure I will be able to continue to learn and improve this second time around.

I am seeding the new filter with a used bag of purigen and some ceramic biomedia from the 7g, so cycling should be fairly quick. Still, I am thinking this will be a 3-4 week process to make sure the plants are established and we don't have algae issues. I will probably add a large mystery snail and the nerties right away to keep the cycle going, then fish once I know its safe, then half of the shrimp. Eventually the rest of the shrimp. That way if there is a problem in the new tank I only lose some of them. I plan to keep both tanks running for at least a month while this transition happens.

I also need time to figure out the CO2 bubble rate without killing off fish. Based on charts like the one below, I am going to try to target 15-20ppm so that I don't drop the pH too low. Caridina shrimp like low KH and ours is at 1-2 currently. It will be a bit difficult to balance the (contradictory) needs of the caridina and the neocaridina in the same tank while also dosing enough CO2 for the plants. the blue velvets dont like the ph to be as low as the CRS so I am going to aim for a KH of 1-2 and a ph of 6.4. I am trying to favor the CRS' parameters somewhat knowing that the neos are hardier.



The window is a north-facing window shaded by a cottonwood meaning that it never gets direct sun and only ever gets minor indirect sun. We leave the blinds closed 24/7 on that one since it looks right at the side of our neighbor's house. We never use it for air circulation either, so dust and contaminates isn't an issue. The closest window that gets real sun is about 20 feet away. In the summer it is never warm to the touch. No skylight above it. We placed it there because it is a good central location where we can view it from the couch and enjoy it more often.

One question, I also intended to use water change water from the 7 to start the 10. Will that add to my algae problems? Am I better to start with fresh water? I want to make the transition as easy as possible on the shrimp.

Last edited by ohaple; 02-11-2019 at 06:38 PM. Reason: more info.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 08:43 PM
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I recommend aiming for 10-15ppm CO2, and dimming your light. The plants you're listing will do fine with low-medium-ish light and low-to-medium-ish CO2 (though I recommend Monte Carlo over dwarf baby tears if you go this method).
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jayo View Post
I recommend aiming for 10-15ppm CO2, and dimming your light. The plants you're listing will do fine with low-medium-ish light and low-to-medium-ish CO2 (though I recommend Monte Carlo over dwarf baby tears if you go this method).

Thanks for the advice. I have a 2.5 gallon low-tech tank planted with monte carlo and really like its general look even though it struggles somewhat in my low tech tank.
10-15ppm would make me feel better about the pH for the blue velvets.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-13-2019, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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I got a little distracted last night pinning a mantis that passed, but I was able to find time to set up the CO2 system.

The regulator seems to be working well, as does the diffuser. The SO decided that she wants to try getting new plants and wood, so this is going to be more expensive and more of a change than originally anticipated.
The Fluval C2 is the second one I have had. While the first was perfect, this one is very noisy. Working to get a replacement.
So far so good, but the next few weeks will be slow going while we get everything set up.

Side note, I must be doing something terribly wrong in treating the BBA in the bowl. I have added more excel every day as well as more peroxide. The algae hasn't changed color or density one bit. The plant looks a little worse, but thats the only change. I am quite surprised that a 20x+ excel dose and a heavy dose of peroxide isn't touching it.

Last edited by ohaple; 02-13-2019 at 04:05 PM. Reason: info about plants
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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We were able to take the time to plant everything this weekend and to get new plants. I decided to abandon all of the plants from the old tank except some little s. repens that have no BBA (but the leaves melted off).
We went to the LFS and were lucky to see that they had a 50% off plants sale and 30% off spiderwood sale for their 5th anniversary. Unfortunately their plant stock focuses on larger plants. We bought two bunches of lilaeopsis brasiliensis, two bunches of Purple Temple (not sure of scientific name, there seems to be debate online), a 1-2-Grow cup of Taxiphyllum "spiky", and a 1-2-Grow cup of Hydrocolyte tripartita.

As a side note, the Tropica website was a lot deeper than I knew, and helped us a lot in determining the plants we wanted and helped with inspiration by looking at their example tanks.

We treated the plants from the LFS tank with a bleach dip to hopefully avoid snails. Then we boiled the spiderwood for a while to reduce the tannins. We set the filter and CO2 where we wanted it and then put the wood in place, trimming some of the longer branches to make it fit right.



With just a little water on the substrate, we began planting. We plan to use the lilaeopsis to conceal the CO2 in the back right and make a little forest for the baby shrimp. The front right will be mostly empty to give us a simple place to feed and clean. The front left will be a hydrocolyte carpet, and the back left will be the purple temple forest. The moss will be planted on the wood to make a sort of tree style using thread to tie it in place.











The spiderwood still wasn't sinking on its own, so we had to use a butterknife to temporarily hold it down while planting, but otherwise it is all planted. Difficult to see the few s. repens we planted around the base of the tree, but they are there also.


The Kessil A80 is on its coolest temperature setting and at maybe 30% power. We have the CO2 and the light set right now for a shorter 6 hour photoperiod while we get things figured out. The CO2 is running on a timer with the light.

Next, we are going to use the next few days to dial in CO2 to get to our desired range. After that we will add some snails and the cycled filter media. Once we have confirmed the cycle is still going, we will add some shrimp and fish. I think we will be able to add the shrimp and fish next weekend since we already have the cycled bio media and purigen bag.

I don't think we have done anything particularly controversial, but as always advice is appreciated. We will probably need to dose some Iron with the purple temple, but I think the plants should all be ok with our CO2, light, and fertilizer otherwise.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 12:44 AM
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Looking good!!

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Looking good!!

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Thank you!

The last two evenings we have run water tests to make sure the parameters are acceptable to put snails in and begin cycling. TDS is a little low and kH is a little higher than we are aiming for, but overall the parameters are good and show about 10ppm CO2. Safe to add snails. We added 4 zebra nerites, one small horned nerite, and one of our baby mystery snails that we hatched out. These snails will not be in the tank long-term and are mostly to keep the cycle going. Eventually the tank will just have two horned nerites.



We put a used bag of purigen in the Fluval C2 chemical media basket, and filled the biological tray with cycled biomedia from our 7 gallon. Hoping the bacteria all stays good so that we can expedite the cycling process some. Water is clear and we added food since there is very little for the snails to feed on otherwise.

The problem we are running into is that, even after being in the tank for a few days, the spiderwood doesn't want to stay down well. I think we are going to need to pull it up and add weights to the bottom so it doesn't want to shift so much.

So far so good. Going to probably add fish and some shrimp this weekend if I am able to confirm that the tank is cycled. Planning a slow transition so that if I have any incident I don't lose my entire stock of shrimp. I am mostly concerned about the stability of the pH and CO2 with the CO2 coming on and off with the lights. I have not run any tests during the off cycle to see how much it swings.

Here is the tank today. My SO is planning to get some sort of decorative basket or something to better conceal the CO2 once we move the green table away. It would fit in the cabinet, but only with substantial modifications.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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So this weekend we learned that the spiderwood is not sinking. I want to wood to be fairly stable in the substrate so that I don't have to worry about bumping it during cleaning. We decided the solution is to silicone some sterile rocks to the bottom as a weighted base. To save the moss we have tied on, we just inverted the wood and tied it up so that the moss isn't bothered, but the base is out of the water. Used a good dose of silicone and let it dry 24 hours. Replaced the wood, and it sits much better now.




The cycling isn't going as quickly as I expected. I thought using all cycled media would mean that the cycling was almost instant, but I believe the concentration of bacteria was too low on the cycled media, so it will take a little more time to build up. Nothing crazy, but a solid 0.5 ammonia reading. Dosing Prime to protect the snails.

My bigger concern is balancing the shrimp and the CO2. Caridina shrimp want a kH of near 0. That makes pH unstable, causing day/night swings. Add injected CO2 and the swings are larger. It will be difficult to find a balance where the plants grow well, but the shrimp are able to comfortably live and breed. I am thinking I will aim for 1-2 kH, and 10-15ppm CO2 in the day. I will only transfer half of the shrimp in case there is a problem in the new tank, but I am still needing to wait for the ammonia to drop.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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We are a couple steps closer to where we want to be. Once we saw the tank was cycled, we added our 7 celestial pearl danios. We removed two of the larger nerites when we added the fish, hoping to keep a somewhat stable bioload, and since the snails were only temporary anyways. Shortly thereafter we ran into an issue with a defective CO2 regulator, so had to pause for the replacement. After a few days of tinkering with CO2 to make sure it would not gas out the fish or shrimp, we drip acclimated 6 CRS and added them to the new tank. Everyone has been doing great in the new tank for a few days, and the plants are starting to show some decent growth after they initially melted back some. Once we have a couple of weeks without deaths, we will add the rest of the shrimp and remove the extra snails.
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40g high-tech planted with CRS, CPD, and other nano-fish:
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2.5g low-tech with CRS, Amano, and Nerite
No longer in service: 10g high-tech planted with CRS, and CPD:
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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We keep making progress. I noticed that the moss in the center was doing great but the others were browning some. I figure this is due to the reduced PAR from being off-axis. I raised the light another few inches and increased brightness maybe 10%. I am not getting any diatoms like I am used to with my low-tech tanks. Maybe this is typical with the CO2 injection, but it sure is nice. The plants are growing slowly so I think I can probably push light and ferts a little bit but I am trying to move slowly so I don't end up with algae issues.

I added another set of shrimp. 7 more CRS and 3 blue velvets. Now all of the animals are where they should be, except the berried females and babies that we are leaving in the old tank until they hatch out and the babies are more appropriate size to transfer. I love how the tank looks with more shrimp in it. I can't wait for them to keep breeding. It is great to watch them climbing on the branches. The celestial pearl danios have been getting better, brighter, color but they are very timid and usually hide in the purple temple forest when the lights are on. Since they are so small and speedy it is difficult to photograph them.



Next step is to work on ferts and CO2 dosing. I have been following the default Seachem dosing instructions, but it sounds like there are better dosing methods out there. Then we can focus on breeding shrimp and establishing the carpet.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Wanted to update this tank since it is now being torn down. The fish have done great in this tank, but the shrimp did not. I am not sure what contaminate we had, but the shrimp died off one at a time. I could not find a cause in the water parameters so I assume it was either the pH swing from injected CO2 being too great or some contaminate like copper. I suspect a contaminate because even our neocaridinas died off. Only one remains. A blue velvet with some of the worst/strangest coloration I have ever seen. (sorry for out of focus)


Our snails have been doing great, only lost one when it climbed out of the tank and we didn't catch it in time. It was a shame because it was the "Alpha" from our mystery snail breeding. It grew significantly faster than the others and had great color. It is the baby in the photo above with the zebra snails. It was double the size of the zebras when it climbed out.

The CPD went from 7 to about 25 in number. I believe the moss tree was largely the reason for this. It provided a sheltered pool at the top where the fry could swim without being eaten, like a built in breeder box. When we noticed a few fry we also introduced live brine and vinegar eels as food. We have seen the numbers go up faster and the coloration of the adults be brighter since adding the live food. Plus they are more fun to watch feeding.

Here is a little video of them eating in the 10g:

The tree grew to the point where we could no longer conduct tank maintenance properly.We could not trim the other plants or gravel vac because the tree was far too large for the tank. We didn't want to trim all of the moss back because it seemed to be so beneficial to the fish. To "compromise" we decided to set up a new 40g tank where the fish could continue to breed. I feel that 25 CPD is about capacity in a 10g. We are keeping the tree and making it a focus of the new aquascape. For now, the 10g is still set up as a holding area until the new tank is ready for the fish. The new setup will be more attractive, allow more flexibility, and be easier to maintain since it will be automated using an Apex system. You can visit the link in my signature for the details on that new tank, but here are two photos showing the tree in place and the new scape. We still have more plants to add and need to add the livestock as well. Right now it is minimally planted. That's the end of this tank journal but I would be happy to answer questions about the tank, the plants, and its inhabitants.



40g high-tech planted with CRS, CPD, and other nano-fish:
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