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I am very, very new to shrimp keeping and aquariums in general. I care for a tank in a local library.

The tank is a 10gal that was being cared for in a local pet shop. There are 7 neon tetras and I believe 12 dwarf shrimp. The tank came planted with a variety of live plants in sand, with a heater, filter, and light. It had been sitting as is in the pet shop for a few months, running smoothly, before being moved to it's current place.

On arrival a week ago, I placed a piece of spiderwood in the tank, and then just this week put in three alder cones and a 3d printed shrimp house that I ordered. They seem to be enjoying the biofilm on the spiderwood as well as the cones.

The fish and shrimp have been doing fine, as near as I can tell. They took a day to get a bit settled, but otherwise seemed to be doing well. Just yesterday, I noticed one of our blue shrimps had eggs! I think the term is berried? I also took the time to really look at our two largest females, and became concerned about possible rust disease but after examining MANY photos I believe it is simply their natural color as they are very dark red (painted fire red, it seems).

Today, one of the cherry dwarf shrimp is acting... odd? She was moving along the bottom of the sand rather erratically, spinning around backwards and backing into the plants. Her little "hands" were constantly working, and I did notice her eating. Every now and then she will settle, but then will start again with flipping her tail end up and backing into things. She has not been upside down or sideways. She almost looks like a little drunkard.

Is this normal? Is it molting? Is it hormonal/breeding behavior? Is this a sign that something is horribly terribly wrong?

I know this seems a very amateur post, and it absolutely is. I certainly was not expecting to suddenly be Shrimp Parent but I am now going to do all I can to take care of them. When we were given the tank, we were not given any water test strips but I have already put in an order for them and I am hoping they'll arrive very soon. I also ordered some things to help with water changes. The heater is a bit difficult for me to read, but I believe the temperature is resting at 75 degrees.

I appreciate any help or advice.

UPDATE

I emergency ordered some Seachem Prime and just gave the tank a dose.

This is the shrimp in question:

Ingredient Tints and shades Petal Fashion accessory Flowering plant

Organism Plant Insect Tadpole Aquatic plant


This is the tank. The mesh in the bottom corner came loose when I was shifting sand (I had read that it was a good idea since sand doesn't circulate water like gravel). I'll be removing it.
Water Plant Organism Wood Aquatic plant
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Uhhh this is a tricky situation. I'd also start with dosing Prime. Beyond that -

  • You're doing a great job with the hand you've bean dealt, and you will be a great shrimp parent I'm sure!
  • Shrimp are finicky, but mostly do ok if things aren't changed around too much. It's important to keep the parameters in the tank steady.
  • It's important to know what is going on with the water, sadly the test strips are wildly inaccurate and you really should get the liquid tests, one most people use is the API Master Test Kit that lets you test for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Above that you will also want to know the GH and KH of your water (general and carbonate hardness), as these can also affect shrimp. But I am assuming the tank is running on local tap water and the tap water isn't different between you and the fish store? In which case it shouldn't be a GH/KH issue.
  • How often do you change the water for the tank and how much do you change? Do you have a dechlorinator to treat the water with? Do you make sure the temperature of the new water is around the same as the temperature of the tank? Doesn't have to be to a degree exactly, just not too wild a difference.
  • Shrimp can be sensitive to some random things you might not imagine. Any aerosols sprayed in the area can outright kill them, especially things like bug spray. Even if it's used in the next room over. People have wiped out their whole colonies like this. Anything that contains copper is extremely harmful to them too. Also if you have anything on your hands, a bit of unrinsed soap, disinfectant, hand lotion, whatever, can also be harmful.... it's really important to keep tank tools away from everything else and wash hands thoroughly with clean water before putting them in the tank. But if in this case you had a problem with a toxin you'd probably have more than one shrimp reacting.
  • Shrimp sometimes go a little crazy when something changes in the tank, but I don't think any of mine went as wild as what you're describing. That said, I've had shrimp for about half a year now, so not like I'm some amazing expert.
  • If you have both blue and red shrimp, you're going to have lots of random colored babies! Including a bunch of wild types that are sort of clear/ brownish.
  • When shrimp molt I don't think they run around and bump into things backwards. Backwards motion is usually running from some threat and it's a single time thing, just to move them quickly away from whatever is upsetting them. When they're prepping for molting, mine do yoga, like they bend over and then arch their backs, like they're working that shell loose, which they are I guess. Your shrimp does sound like not all is well with her, but sometimes a tank inhabitant struggles and dies and it's not anything we've done wrong, it could be her time (cherry shrimp are not terribly long lived, one to two years from what I know) or maybe she's just being a weirdo and will settle later.... But it's important to do what you can to make sure the water is not the issue. Are all the other shrimp acting normal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Uhhh this is a tricky situation. I'd also start with dosing Prime. Beyond that -

  • You're doing a great job with the hand you've bean dealt, and you will be a great shrimp parent I'm sure!
  • It's important to know what is going on with the water, sadly the test strips are wildly inaccurate and you really should get the liquid tests, one most people use is the API Master Test Kit that lets you test for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Above that you will also want to know the GH and KH of your water (general and carbonate hardness), as these can also affect shrimp. But I am assuming the tank is running on local tap water and the tap water isn't different between you and the fish store? In which case it shouldn't be a GH/KH issue.
  • How often do you change the water for the tank and how much do you change? Do you have a dechlorinator to treat the water with? Do you make sure the temperature of the new water is around the same as the temperature of the tank? Doesn't have to be to a degree exactly, just not too wild a difference.
First of all, thank you so much for responding!

I'll go out to buy the Prime ASAP. I purchased the Tetra 6 N 1 Aquarium Water Test Strips, but if they are unreliable I will see what I can do about getting a different test kit as soon as I can.

The tank only just arrived here last week, so I have not yet done a water change. I ordered API Stress Coat Tap Water Aquarium Conditioner and a water pump. I plan on doing a water change as soon as these things arrive and I am able to test. The tank was transported directly from the pet store, water and all, so I don't believe the conditions should have changed much. I was planning for monthly water changes at 25%, but I am very willing to take advice on that.

I will look into aerosol use in the area.

Unfortunately, the tank arrived with very much the BARE essentials. I am doing my best to gather information on previous water changes, get the supplies necessary for care, and monitor the new friends.

  • When shrimp molt I don't think they run around and bump into things backwards. Backwards motion is usually running from some threat and it's a single time thing, just to move them quickly away from whatever is upsetting them. When they're prepping for molting, mine do yoga, like they bend over and then arch their backs, like they're working that shell loose, which they are I guess. Your shrimp does sound like not all is well with her, but sometimes a tank inhabitant struggles and dies and it's not anything we've done wrong, it could be her time (cherry shrimp are not terribly long lived, one to two years from what I know) or maybe she's just being a weirdo and will settle later.... But it's important to do what you can to make sure the water is not the issue. Are all the other shrimp acting normal?
All the other shrimp appear to be just fine! Everyone is doing the normal bit, hanging out on the shrimp lollipop, feeding on the wood biofilm, etc. The only other thing out of the ordinary is the pregnant shrimp, but I'd like to take that as a good sign.
 

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If everyone else is fine, it's probable that you don't have a major water or toxin crisis.

Thankfully a small tank doesn't take that much to keep running. Moving a tank full of water was incredibly dangerous though, you guys are lucky it didn't spring a leak somewhere... water is heavy and when the base isn't supported evenly (like when it's being carried and one side dips lower than the other) there is torque applied to the glass and the water mass pushes how it's not supposed to and the tank can spring leaks afterwards or just downright crack. Hopefully yours made it safe tho.

Moving the tank with everything inside could have also kicked up some ammonia trapped in the substrate, but again, if it were a major issue everyone would be feeling it.

In terms of water changes, how often you have to change the water mostly depends on how much bad stuff is collecting in it..... which brings us to the lolly, hahah. Shrimp do NOT require daily feeding. They might not even require weekly feeding. I feed mine once every few weeks, with either a morsel of shrimp food or, more often, a leaf of organic spinach, or thin slice of zucchini. I blanch them to let them sink and make them softer and easier for shrimp to eat. If they're not gone by the evening I take out the remains. Overfeeding is probably the greatest danger and most common mistake in any tank. Shrimp can subsist quite well on the biofilm and algae that form within the tank, feeding them is more an entertainment for us than something useful for them.... Unless the water is missing key minerals, say, and then you supplement with spinach or mineral-reinforced shrimp food to help them have good molts. But we will see about that when your kits arrive.

So yeah, if you don't overfeed (and that literally means feeding once every one to two weeks, a tiny amount) you can probably keep your water changes rare.... I'm guessing you're not giving any fertilizer to the plants? So if no minerals are building up in the water and no organic waste is building up in the water, it can go a while between water changes. You should still monitor the parameters each week for a while until you get a feel for how quickly the nitrates rise in the tank, that will tell you if you need to change water or not. Personally I change every week because I think both the plants and the critters enjoy a bit of a refreshment, you don't always know what's building in your water and changing it out from time to time is definitely good. But biweekly should be fine for a shrimp tank, and your tests will tell you if you can maybe go even longer than that (if nothing is rising alarmingly from week to week). You don't really need much gear for that either, I use a plastic milk pitcher and a bucket hahah. You could get yourself a hose with a gravel vac but for a tank that small it's not really necessary I think. Just gives you more stuff you have to store somewhere.

Pregnant shrimp is definitely a good sign!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If everyone else is fine, it's probable that you don't have a major water or toxin crisis.

Thankfully a small tank doesn't take that much to keep running. Moving a tank full of water was incredibly dangerous though, you guys are lucky it didn't spring a leak somewhere... water is heavy and when the base isn't supported evenly (like when it's being carried and one side dips lower than the other) there is torque applied to the glass and the water mass pushes how it's not supposed to and the tank can spring leaks afterwards or just downright crack. Hopefully yours made it safe tho.

Moving the tank with everything inside could have also kicked up some ammonia trapped in the substrate, but again, if it were a major issue everyone would be feeling it.
We haven't noticed any leaks, and the fish were removed for the moving process but placed back in the tank once everything settled. I was not here for the process, but I would assume that their transport water was originally from the tank or at the very least the same temperature.

In terms of water changes, how often you have to change the water mostly depends on how much bad stuff is collecting in it..... which brings us to the lolly, hahah. Shrimp do NOT require daily feeding. They might not even require weekly feeding. I feed mine once every few weeks, with either a morsel of shrimp food or, more often, a leaf of organic spinach, or thin slice of zucchini. I blanch them to let them sink and make them softer and easier for shrimp to eat. If they're not gone by the evening I take out the remains. Overfeeding is probably the greatest danger and most common mistake in any tank. Shrimp can subsist quite well on the biofilm and algae that form within the tank, feeding them is more an entertainment for us than something useful for them.... Unless the water is missing key minerals, say, and then you supplement with spinach or mineral-reinforced shrimp food to help them have good molts. But we will see about that when your kits arrive.

So yeah, if you don't overfeed (and that literally means feeding once every one to two weeks, a tiny amount) you can probably keep your water changes rare.... I'm guessing you're not giving any fertilizer to the plants? So if no minerals are building up in the water and no organic waste is building up in the water, it can go a while between water changes. You should still monitor the parameters each week for a while until you get a feel for how quickly the nitrates rise in the tank, that will tell you if you need to change water or not. Personally I change every week because I think both the plants and the critters enjoy a bit of a refreshment, you don't always know what's building in your water and changing it out from time to time is definitely good. But biweekly should be fine for a shrimp tank, and your tests will tell you if you can maybe go even longer than that (if nothing is rising alarmingly from week to week). You don't really need much gear for that either, I use a plastic milk pitcher and a bucket hahah. You could get yourself a hose with a gravel vac but for a tank that small it's not really necessary I think. Just gives you more stuff you have to store somewhere.

Pregnant shrimp is definitely a good sign!!
We give the neon tetras a very tiny pinch of food daily, and were intially told to give a shrimp lolly once a week. I will definitely space out the lollipops more. Will the tetras food be a problem? I haven't noticed the shrimp eating it, as they seem to instead enjoy the biofilm.

These are the best photos I could get of the shrimp who was acting abnormal. Is this coloration normal? I'm struggling to find photos of darker red cherries with rust disease, so I'm overly paranoid.
Vertebrate Plant Organism Insect Grass
Ingredient Berry Olallieberry Soil Dish
 

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We haven't noticed any leaks, and the fish were removed for the moving process but placed back in the tank once everything settled. I was not here for the process, but I would assume that their transport water was originally from the tank or at the very least the same temperature.

We give the neon tetras a very tiny pinch of food daily, and were intially told to give a shrimp lolly once a week. I will definitely space out the lollipops more. Will the tetras food be a problem? I haven't noticed the shrimp eating it, as they seem to instead enjoy the biofilm.
It's not a problem if the shrimp eat the tetra food.... that's sort of part of their role in the tank, they're part of the clean-up crew. You can think of them as tiny library employees from now on :) They can have a lolly once a week or once every two weeks, I'm not sure how big the lollies are? The issue with overfeeding the tank is not just about fat shrimp, it's much more about water quality. Whatever doesn't get eaten (and this can be microscopic bits we can't really see) will disintegrate and turn into waste, building up ammonia in the tank and fouling up the water.... So we want to feed only what the tank inhabitants can eat within, like, a few minutes of feeding (speaking of the fish food). No more. Otherwise there will be too much waste and ammonia will build up and you will have to change water more often, you might get algae issues, etc etc.

If you post a tank pic we can also give you tips on how to care for the plants?

These are the best photos I could get of the shrimp who was acting abnormal. Is this coloration normal? I'm struggling to find photos of darker red cherries with rust disease, so I'm overly paranoid.
View attachment 1043013 View attachment 1043014
Oooooh she's a bloody mary!!!! You can tell by the white triangles in the corners of the eyes. She looks ok from the pic? But it's really hard to tell. I can't see anything immediately wrong like a parasite or something. Have no idea what rust disease would look like on a bloody mary but it's probably just a random thing? If you're very worried you could try to isolate her but that requires a different appropriate container..... maybe difficult in the library
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's not a problem if the shrimp eat the tetra food.... that's sort of part of their role in the tank, they're part of the clean-up crew. You can think of them as tiny library employees from now on :) They can have a lolly once a week or once every two weeks, I'm not sure how big the lollies are? The issue with overfeeding the tank is not just about fat shrimp, it's much more about water quality. Whatever doesn't get eaten (and this can be microscopic bits we can't really see) will disintegrate and turn into waste, building up ammonia in the tank and fouling up the water.... So we want to feed only what the tank inhabitants can eat within, like, a few minutes of feeding (speaking of the fish food). No more. Otherwise there will be too much waste and ammonia will build up and you will have to change water more often, you might get algae issues, etc etc.

If you post a tank pic we can also give you tips on how to care for the plants?
I seriously cannot thank you enough! You have been so helpful! I just had some Prime emergency delivered and put in the 1 mL. Everyone seems to be fine! Even the wild child seems to have calmed down, so maybe she was just having a moment. Fingers crossed.

This is the tank!

Water Plant Organism Wood Aquatic plant
 

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Is this normal? Is it molting? Is it hormonal/breeding behavior? Is this a sign that something is horribly terribly wrong?
In short, yes, yes, yes, possibly. Most likely, it's molting behavior.

3d printed shrimp house that I ordered
Beware printed plastics in shrimp tanks. Without getting into the nitty gritty, the filament used can absorb all kinds of contaminants and there's never a guarantee the individual creating the print has any idea what the filament has absorbed. May be fine in a fish tank. May be potentially deadly in a shrimp tank. I don't take that kind of risk but it's up to you if you want to take that kind of risk. At the very least, definitely keep an eye on it.

I ordered API Stress Coat Tap Water Aquarium Conditioner and a water pump.
Try to get a bottle of Seachem Prime to use instead. While what you ordered isn't bad, per se, and will work okay, Prime is a better product. Not just for shrimp but in general.

Also try to get a liquid test kit so you can monitor for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. Testing for water hardness (kH and gH) would also be a good idea but those two aren't necessary, in my opinion, unless you continue to experience issues.

Could you post some photos of the tank? That may help others give suggestions you wouldn't otherwise think of. Edit: looks like you posted a photo right as I posted this, ha!
 

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on the plant side everything you have is very easy and probably won't require any special care beyond just the water changes..... but let us know if you want to get into the weeds of aquarium fertilizing :)

Yeah that lolly is immense lol. I see people stick them into tanks with hundreds of shrimp and that makes sense, you know they can strip that thing clean.... with just a few shrimp most of that is gonna be waste before it can get eaten... I'd definitely remove it at the end of the day and possibly break it up into smaller pieces in the future, give the tank just a piece and chuck it out after a few hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
on the plant side everything you have is very easy and probably won't require any special care beyond just the water changes..... but let us know if you want to get into the weeds of aquarium fertilizing :)

Yeah that lolly is immense lol. I see people stick them into tanks with hundreds of shrimp and that makes sense, you know they can strip that thing clean.... with just a few shrimp most of that is gonna be waste before it can get eaten... I'd definitely remove it at the end of the day and possibly break it up into smaller pieces in the future, give the tank just a piece and chuck it out after a few hours.
Sounds good! I left the previous lolli in the tank for a week and when I took it out they still hadn't managed to clean it off, so it makes sense that that's too much for them. Thank you!

on the plant side everything you have is very easy and probably won't require any special care beyond just the water changes..... but let us know if you want to get into the weeds of aquarium fertilizing :)

Yeah that lolly is immense lol. I see people stick them into tanks with hundreds of shrimp and that makes sense, you know they can strip that thing clean.... with just a few shrimp most of that is gonna be waste before it can get eaten... I'd definitely remove it at the end of the day and possibly break it up into smaller pieces in the future, give the tank just a piece and chuck it out after a few hours.
You are the library's Shrimp Angel today, thank you thank you!
 

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One other quick note - unless the library drops below freezing at night, you can remove the heater. The shrimp are a cool water species, and don't need supplemental heating.
The Neon Tetras in the tank likely need the heat. Though, I think they'd probably be fine in the low-mid 70s.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The Neon Tetras in the tank likely need the heat. Though, I think they'd probably be fine in the low-mid 70s.
Yep! The heat is primarily for the tetras, but I am considering lowering the temperature a couple degrees. It doesn't appear to be necessary at the moment though. If I should decide to change the temperature, is there any specific way I should do that (in increments, at water change, etc.)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Back again... Came in this morning. Feared one of the shrimp dead, as she was hiding in the plant and completely still. After a little bit of a poke, she twitched a bit and then got up and moved to rest on top of a blade rather than deep in the plant. She's now hiding again. I'm assuming/hoping that this is a molt.

However - there's this friend. Who just looks strange to me. I definitely did not notice any of the larger shrimps have ANY kind of translucence previously. Now, the dark red color has been replaced by some transparent coloration along the belly. The shrimp has been behaving normally, eating biofilm and swimming. Is this part of the molting process or is something nefarious afoot?

I know that this is probably the basics, so I apologize for so many questions! I'm just a bit overprotective of these little friends and want to give them a good life.
I added the recommended 1mL of Prime yesterday.
Plant Insect Organism Terrestrial animal Arthropod

Plant Vertebrate Leaf Organism Grass
 
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