I am currently running the tank empty for a few days before I get some heartier fish in there to get everything going.
As MtAnimals mentioned, try a fishless cycle. You can get Dr Tim's Ammonia, or pick up Ammonia from a hardware store. It needs to be clear and, when shaken, no soapy bubbles at the top.
I was wondering if anyone had any tips on what they like, how long I should wait to add shrimp to the tank and what not.
- the natural bacteria that grows in the tank - can purchase products to increase biofilm
- Amaranth, Mulberry, Indian Almond, Guava, Beech, Oak, Nettle, etc (and alder cones!)
- Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Carrots, Zucchini, etc
Good water parameters
I had planned on some simple neo shrimp. Any suggestions on which shrimp I should get?
Neos come in many colors. There are at least 3 varieties of red, and those come in 4-6 "grades". (higher grades have higher coloration)
There are about 6-9 different colors of blues, although it may be hard to get the desired blue that you want as many people sell lower grades of one blue off as something else...
There are about 5 different types of blacks.
About 3-4 different yellows.
About 3-5 different oranges.
At least 2 types of greeens.
If you can't choose one color, then purchase a "Skittles Mix". These shrimp will be 6(?) different colors, and will have the least chance of producing wild colored shrimp as compared to creating your own "skittles mix".
I'm currently looking into getting live plants in there too.
- Anubias, java ferns, bruce, crypts, swords, etc. Low light plants are fine!
- Any kind, such as Java, Christmas, Flame, Pellia, Subwassertang
Also what fish work well with them
Otos. Some people have had good luck with tetras, raspboras and other small fish, but any could make a snack of baby shrimp. It's not recommended to keep fish and shrimp together unless you have a heavily planted tank. Start off with shrimp and get a healthy colony going (6+ months) before even considering adding fish.
I've also been able to keep Kuhli Loaches and "BN Pleco" (Bristlenose Catfish) with shrimp without issues. A Dojo Loach on the other hand harassed the shrimp.
Any specific substrate to use? I have some fine gravel in right now.
Sand or gravel is fine. Just make sure not to use any "painted rocks" (Petco gravel...) Many people use Media Blasting Sand, Play Sand, Pool Filter Sand...
I don't know what size tank you have, but would definitely recommend a tank that is at least 10 gallons, as shrimp prefer stability, and a 10 gallon tank has the best stability in it. You can also go with sponge filters (driven by air pumps) instead of HOB's or canister filters. There are the HMF filters, sponge filters with weights (some could be dangerous), or the sponge filters that use a suction cup to attach to the side wall. Sponge filters are a feeding ground for shrimp, so if you go that route, the HMF is the best.
Unless you can match the water parameters of where the shrimp came from, they do best with a drip acclimation.
Also recommended to invest in the API or Sera GH & KH test kits as well as a TDS meter.