Paludarium, 1 gallon water space, workable for cherry shrimp? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Paludarium, 1 gallon water space, workable for cherry shrimp?

I have an Exo Terra terrarium sitting empty. It's their 12" cube model. For those unaware, this is a terrarium with a door that swings open at the front, and a small wall area below the door to hold dirt in. They work as paludariums, though.
The water space in this would be 2" deep by 12" square. According to a random online calculator I found, that's 1.2 gallons I could rig up a way to deepen it somewhat, but not too much further in order to not interfere with the aesthetics. Since it's an enclosed space, evap shouldn't be too terrible. Not really any way to work a filter into that, but people don't seem to filter shrimp bowls much of the time anyway.

What I'd like to do is cover the walls of the terrarium in something called Hygrolon. It's a synthetic plastic material meant to grow orchids and other epiphytes on. It's completely inert, and is a sort of expanded mesh that plant roots and moss absolutely love. I'd cover the terrarium walls in this, and grow moss and other plants up them, maybe a water-tolerant vine or two. It will wick the water up to keep itself moist, so the plants on the wall will be able to make use of the shrimp nutrients.
The main problem I can see here is the lack of room for substrate. I wouldn't want to put more than maybe a quarter-inch in, at most. I could certainly rig a couple of teabag-type situations full of dirt to add some minerals for the plants. I don't think I'd grow any plants that have roots into the substrate, of course. The aquatic section would mostly just be Java moss. Maybe I can grow some anubias as if they're tiny mangroves, with the roots reaching into the water.

The other problem here is, how could I transport this? If I make it, I'd have to take it to and from my college dorm at the start and end of every semester. The paludarium itself would be easy enough to move if I just drained it down to half an inch of water, but there'd be so much sloshing in the car, I'd be afraid of all the shrimp getting sloshed to death and/or out. I can think of a couple ways to potentially just take all the shrimp out along with the substrate, but I think I'd leave some behind, snagged in the Java moss. Can cherry shrimp survive unscathed if they spend about 45 minutes in soaking wet Java moss, or do I have to find a way to prevent that?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 09:28 PM
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Welcome to the forum and the hobby! We are happy to have you!

1.2 gallons is way too small for shrimp to thrive IMHO. You need at the very least 5 gallons. I would suggest that you just get a couple of snails. Nerites are really nice. I am looking forward to seeing this come together.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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There sure are a lot of 1 gallon shrimp bowls on this forum for it being too small. Is it a matter of space, or of cleanliness? Because I could see your point on space, but if you have enough happy plants, you'd have a hard time seeing any nitrates at all in a small bowl.

I am, now, sort of wondering about a sort of tiered approach. An actual aquarium set inside the paludarium for a taller area to put shrimp in, with that shallow area of water around it just containing some snails. I might even be able to squeeze a 2.5gal in there.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 09:47 PM
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There sure are a lot of 1 gallon shrimp bowls on this forum for it being too small. Is it a matter of space, or of cleanliness? Because I could see your point on space, but if you have enough happy plants, you'd have a hard time seeing any nitrates at all in a small bowl.

I am, now, sort of wondering about a sort of tiered approach. An actual aquarium set inside the paludarium for a taller area to put shrimp in, with that shallow area of water around it just containing some snails. I might even be able to squeeze a 2.5gal in there.
It's not impossible to do, but the reasoning behind it is, it is harder to keep water parameters stable in such a small volume of a container. It will be too easy to change water chemistry even with just feedings. Anyway, I'm sure all shrimpsperts will be chiming in soon.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 01:27 AM
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Smaller volume = easier for parameters to get outta whack.

I currently have 7 setups under 3 gallons. 6 of them around 2.2-2.5. One of them is a 1.5gal vase. So it's absolutely doable if you have some experience under your belt. Just requires weekly maintenance, parameter monitoring and closely watched feedings.

I think 4-5 gallons is a good size as a starter shrimp tank. 10 gallons is probably ideal but not exactly necessary. If you're responsible, you won't have issues. My favorite tank for shrimping is under 3 gallons. Roughly 18x6x6. Plenty of surface area and enough volume for stability.

About transporting tanks and shrimp: Stick your shrimp in a small bucket, drain all the water out of your system. Keep filter media wet. Fill it all back up, test, put the shrimp back in once you get where you're going.

If it's a long drive? Shrimp can go in a small cooler with a battery-operated sponge filter or air stone. Can also put them in breather bags and pack them in an insulated box for really long drives.


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Last edited by somewhatshocked; 10-17-2019 at 02:21 PM. Reason: typo
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 03:40 AM
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Maybe opt for Opae Ula? They should be fine in such a setup.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 04:46 AM
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Maybe opt for Opae Ula? They should be fine in such a setup.
They probably would be, yes.... but then, the question comes... does the OP want a brackish water tank? Will the plants be okay with brackish water? Some the plants might be okay, but probably not all of them.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 04:51 AM
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They probably would be, yes.... but then, the question comes... does the OP want a brackish water tank? Will the plants be okay with brackish water? Some the plants might be okay, but probably not all of them.
Yeah, would be a new tank setup because my existing 2 active tanks have large colonies that are thriving.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 05:28 AM Thread Starter
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I already have opae ula! I don't think they're the best fit for a dorm tank, though, because they don't like being moved. Part of the fun of a shrimp tank is when they breed, and opae take, what, 8 months to start breeding after being heavily disturbed?
I have a 10gal tank of them that's staying at home, since all I have to do is ask someone to top it up once a week or so.
Also, very few plants will tolerate brackish water. I don't know of any off the top of my head that would creep and climb like I'm looking for. Mangroves and some grasses exist, but don't climb, and a lot of them want more nutrients than opae ula provide or want.

I'd like a bigger tank, but this is for my dorm. They limit to one 5gal aquarium per dorm room. My 5gal is going to be a pico reef tank with zoanthids, a few soft corals, shrimp, and a very small shrimpgoby. They do room inspections in the dorms, but the room inspection consists of someone walking into the room, looking around, and then leaving. So I figured, a paludarium is not, in fact, an aquarium, and at any given first glance would just look like a terrarium. Should escape notice.
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