Hello PlantedTank members!
This article here will outline the basic requirements for crystal bee shrimp breeding. I will provide what I feel is both the most efficient way to breed crystal bee shrimp.
I write this article with the assumption that you know what the basics of keeping a shrimp tank are. Therefore, I will not go into depth of what gH, kH, pH, or TDS is, or what it means to cycle an aquarium. These pieces of information are available in the other stickies.
Note: This guide is the basis of how I breed my crystal bee shrimp. Others may have success breeding there crystal bee shrimp using different techniques and guidelines. What works for me may not work for you. Regardless, topics discussed in this guide can be taken as useful information.
Table of Contents:
1. Tank Size – What is a good size?
2. Parameters – What are the ideal parameters?
3. Substrate – Investing in Active Substrate
4. Water – Using RO Water
5. Feeding – Schedule & Nutrition
6. Plants & Breeding Aids - Floaters, mosses, mineral rocks, etc
7. Equipment – Filters
8. The Laws & Recommendations – What to avoid and what to abide by
1. Tank Size:
I would recommend having a tank size of at least 10 gallons or more to easily breed crystal bee shrimp. Breeding crystal bee shrimp in smaller tanks is possible, but will be require work than breeding in larger tanks.
Water changes are necessary in smaller tanks and will compromise parameter stability for those who are inexperienced. The bigger the tank the better, since you have a larger water volume to work with and parameters will not be as impacted by change.
Having a bigger tank, parameters are easy to keep stable and maintenance will be minimal, where consistent water changes are not necessary. A 10 gallon tank is a good standard size to start breeding crystal bee shrimp.
Crystal bee shrimp will thrive in the following parameters:
Temperature: 70°F - 73°F
pH: 5.5 – 6.5
gH: 4.0 – 6.0
kH: 0.0 – 1.0
Nitrate: As low as possible
- Having an ACTIVE substrate and limiting your WATER CHANGES will be the key to obtaining and keeping these parameters.
- The key to having them breeding is keeping the parameters CONSTANT.
As mentioned before, investing in ACTIVE substrate will make your life easy. It buffers (AKA brings down) your pH to a level that crystal bee shrimp will prefer.
The most commonly used substrate for crystal bee shrimp from observation seems to be:
ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia
NOTE: This substrate will leech AMMONIA. This means you will have to make sure your tank is CYCLED before introducing any livestock.
It is recommended to leave the tank running for two or more months before introducing livestock so that bio-film will be established and the tank will be mature when starting your tank. Baby shrimps need lots of bio-film to survive during the initial weeks of life.
In addition, active substrates have an expiration date. Once expired, they will LOSE their ability to buffer pH and will RELEASE positively charged nutrient ions that they have stored. Having floaters to absorb what is released is HIGHLY recommended. Otherwise, algae will form on your walls due to the excess amount of nutrients released.
Other active substrates on the market are:
Netlea Shrimp Soil
Benibachi Black Soil
Borneo Wild Shrimp Soil
Lowkeys/Crimson Breeders Soil
Ebi Gold Shrimp Soil
Ebi-Ten Shrimp Soil
Shirakura Red Bee Sand
Akadama Bonsai Soil
Fluval Shrimp Stratum
Up Aqua Shrimp Sand
Mr Aqua Shrimp Soil
Using RO water for the tank is highly recommended.
When performing water changes, use REMINERALIZED RO water. For top-offs, use pure RO water. This allows you to control what is going into your aquarium. The only thing you are required to do is to remineralize the water to your target gH to use for water changes and to initially start-up the tank. In addition, because RO water has a kH of 0, your active substrate will easily change the pH of the RO water used into the desired pH.
NOTE: Having a 30 gallon or larger aquarium that is planted well and adequately filtered will not require you to conduct weekly, bi-weekly, or tri-weekly water changes. Water changes should only be done prematurely if something has gone wrong within the tank (ex: bacterial infection). Water changes (20% max) should be done every 6 months, and top-offs should be done weekly to compensate for evaporation.
The recommended remineralizer for Crystal Bee Shrimp is:
Bee-Shrimp Mineral GH+ from Salty Shrimp
This remineralizer seems to be the most cost effective as well as cleanest one out there in terms of affecting TDS.
Other remineralizers on the market are:
Fluval Shrimp Mineral Supplement
Mosura Mineral Plus
BorneoWild GH Up
and much more
A good diet for crystal bee shrimp is a balanced one. The variety of foods you feed your shrimp should include a source of protein, veggies, vitamins, and baby food.
Here is an example of what I feed my shrimp:
“Protein” Day - Mosura Excel Flakes, Genchem Biomax
“Veggie” Day - Ebita Breed Hinomaru Bento, Borneowild Spinach, and Blanched Veggies (generally spinach, but you can use many other veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, collards, stinging nettles, swiss chard, yellow squash, etc)
“Shrimplet (Baby)” Day - Aminovita-P, Biozyme, Eikoso, Polytase, Mosura Bioplus
What I provide as a side food source in the tank – Indian Almond Leaves, and Barley Pellets
I feed 6 days a week, leaving 1 day as a grace period. I would have 2 Protein days, 2 Veggies days, 2 Baby food days. It is not necessary to feed every day unless you have a ton of shrimp.
Be sure not to overfeed and use your discretion on the amount of food you feed for your number of shrimp. Feeding what they can finish in an hour or two is a good guideline.
Also, for messy foods such as barley pellets, I would recommend a feeding dish.
"Micro algae's are typically quite high in protein. Blue/Green Spirulina algae for example is 65% protein! Green algae/Chlorella 45% protein.... Algae specialists of all kind are used to high protein diets. The problems typically seen when feeding high protein diets to these species is more due to the origin of the protein than the levels. High levels of animal protein are not processed the same in the gut as algae protein, and obligate algae eaters can indeed have troubles with this type of food. The cell walls of many algae species are difficult to break down and likely require a specialized gut to process efficiently. IMHO, an obligate algae eating species that eats a variety of algae in nature is probably eating a diet that is higher than 35% protein. This is more than twice the level of what you consider a classic "herbivore" that eats normal plant fodder such as leafs and vegetables."" - Allen Repashy (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showpost.php?p=3003274&postcount=6
6. Plants & Breeding Aids:
Amazon Frogbit, Water Lettuce and/or Floating Riccia
Floating plants are very good at sucking up nitrates in the water. Amazon Frogbit, Water Lettuce and Floating Riccia all provide great hiding places for shrimp and are very easy plants to take care of.
Java Moss, and any other type of hardy moss.
Having Java Moss or any sort of Moss in your tank will greatly benefit shrimp. Java Moss is the hardiest and most common of the mosses. Moss in general will provide shrimp with a grazing area, a place to feel secure, and will suck up excess nitrates.
Java Fern, Marimo Balls, etc
Aesthetically pleasing and will aid in absorbing nitrates, shrimp also love grazing off of Marimo Balls due to them being “fuzzy”.
Many other plants can be used in the tank since active substrates are rich in nutrients such as ADA Aquasoil Amazonia. The plants listed are recommendations as they are hardy and require little to no care. Planting your tank will reduce nitrates.
Cholla Wood, Driftwood, Coconut Caves, and PVC Pyramid Pipes
Providing hiding places for your shrimp will allow them to feel secure. Cholla Wood and Driftwood also provide a lot of area for shrimp to graze biofilm.
Used to provide shrimp with trace minerals that RO water may be lacking in, I personally use Ebiken Nagomi and Ebiken Shou.
In order to minimize amount of maintenance required, I would suggest
having the following 3 types of filtration in your aquarium:
1. Sponge Filter:
ATI Sponge Filter, SeaPora Sponge Filter, or a Dual Sponge Filter
Sponge filters provide a grazing area for shrimp and add aeration to the aquarium. They also offer a large surface area in which bacteria grow on. They are effective at biological filtration which is very important in keeping and breeding shrimp.
2. HOB Filter:
AquaClear HOB Filters
When used with the following filter mod (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1871747&postcount=32
allows for an extra filtration step as well as reducing the output flow of the HOB so it doesn’t make a dent in the substrate or toss shrimp around.
HOBs are very easy to use and will provide a lot of filtration (look @ the rating of #gal/hr to see for yourself). For example, for a 30 gallon tank, having an AC50 rated for 200 gal/hr means that the AC50 will filter my entire tank 6 times an hour.
The output of a HOB Filter breaks the surface of the water and provides O2 exchange.
Eheim 2213 or 2215 with Purigen
Canister filters are made to filter large amounts of water and allows you to use various filter medias. The canister is very roomy and will allow the user to use any combination of mechanical, chemical, or biological media. In addition, you can attach many mods along with the Canister such as a reactor.
Attaching a spray-bar on the output of the Canister will provide a ton of oxygenation for your tank.
4. Under Gravel Filters (UGFs)
Under Gravel Filters provide a large amount of aerobic bacteria using all the soil in the tank as a filter medium.
Make sure you set it up correctly, using a poorly constructed UGF with active substrate will lower the lifetime of the substrate by causing it to break down and may become clogged.
They are however well worth it if built well.
- When picking a HOB or Canister model for your aquarium, typically choose a model that is an upgrade of the model recommended for the aquarium size. For example, an AquaClear 20 is rated for a 5-20 gallon aquarium, if you had a 15 gallon aquarium you would instead get the AquaClear 30 (rated for 10-30 gallons) or AquaClear 50 (rated for 20-50 gallons) so it would filter the total amount of water in your tank many more times in a timeframe.
- Be sure to have some sort of pre-filter attached to your HOB Filter or Canister Filter; whether it is a sponge, a pantyhose stocking, or a stainless steel pre-filter. This will prevent adults and baby shrimp from being sucked up and chopped into pieces.
- Don’t bother using activated carbon in the tank. Consider it useless in a shrimp tank. Instead, replace it with either BioMax, Purigen, or another layer of sponge. Carbon will expire and release what it has stored back into the tank. Carbon is typically used to remove medication that is dosed into an aquarium.
8. Laws & Recommendations of Bee Shrimp Keeping:
- Snails may be added, they benefit the tank by being a back up clean up crew and provide infusoria with their slime trail (a source of food for baby shrimp).
- Do not add fish into the tank, the only 100% shrimp safe fish is the Oto (Otocinclus), any other fish will be detrimental to breeding.
- A starting colony of 10 or more shrimps is recommended. You can start with any number you wish.
- Every few generations, introduce different stock from another source to prevent inbreeding, and to increase genetic variety to strengthen your stock
- Slowly pour in your top-offs and water changes at a steady rate. A shift in parameters is detrimental. Consider dripping if there has been an extreme amount of evaporation.
- Limit the evaporation of your tank by using a hood or glass-hinged top.
- Keep easy-to-maintain plants, fertilizers, and CO2 as it will make life more difficult; keep it simple.
- Whenever introducing anything new into your tank (such as plants), quarantine.
- Provide good surface agitation for O2 exchange via spray bars, air stones, bubble wands, sponge filters, etc. (Prepare for blackouts and find an alternative method to cause agitation - ex: scooping water out of the tank and pouring it back in, running a drip with tank water, battery powered air pump, oxydator, etc)
- It is recommended to leave the tank running for two or more months before introducing livestock. This way, bio-film will be established and the tank's water parameters can be confirmed as stable. Baby shrimps need lots of bio-film and stable parameters to survive during the initial weeks of life.
- Do not change what works. Leave your tank alone as much as you can. This means, don’t touch your filters unless they are 95% clogged and isn’t flowing well, and don’t perform water changes unless absolutely necessary. The less you mess with your tank, the more likely your shrimp will breed. Shrimps like stability.
- Invest in a Test Kit and TDS meter to check the water parameters. Without this, you can never know if your water parameters are where it’s supposed to be at despite dosing according to the label. Having a test kit that tests for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, gH, kH, pH, and Copper will allow you to identify most if not every problem that may be occurring within your tank.
- Recommended to use organic when feeding blanched vegetables.
In the end, the key thing you should take away from this article is:
“If it works don’t change it”.
Feel free to share what you feel is essential on breeding crystal bee shrimp or think is missing from my guide.
Best of luck breeding and caring for your crystal bee shrimp!