Setting up a new shrimp tank

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Drewbacca

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Original poster
Mar 20, 2019
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I've been setting up my old 10 gallon recently and turning it into a red cherry shrimp tank. I'm doing it with plants and have a few questions. So far, there aren't any animals in it. I bought a 10 gallon starter pack of plants and put them in an Eco-Complete substrate. The plants include Anacharis, Anubias nana, Cryptocoryne spiralis, Dwarf Lily, Java fern, Pennywort, and Pigmy chain swords. I also have a foot-long piece of cholla wood in the tank. For a filter, I have a sponge filter that is rated for 20 gallons hooked up to a Tetra Whisper 20 air pump. For lighting I have a Finnex Planted Plus 24/7 running on the 24 hour cycle.

First question: What are your suggestions on the quickest/easiest method of cycling the tank before I put animals in it? I have a HOB filter on my 55 gallon and was planning on taking the filter out of it and placing it in the tank for a short period to help seed it with bacteria, is that all I need to do? I've read multiple opposing opinions on whether to add ammonia to it. I also read some articles that the plants would cycle the aquarium on their own, but I don't think that's right based on other sources I've read.

Second question: I want to have some other type of animal in the tank. I've read that shrimp alone have a hard time keeping a tank cycled. I was going to put a single mystery snail in there to help with that. However, I also wanted to add some kind of fish to the tank to make it a little more lively. I was thinking otos. However, once again I've seen conflicting opinions on whether a 10 gallon is too small for otos. I've also read that they can be difficult to start in a new tank, so I'd likely have to wait awhile until it was well-established before adding them.

Third question: One of the mistakes I made with my 10 gallon tank initially was overstocking it, which let to my upgrade to my 55 gallon tank. I don't want to make the same mistake. If I start with 20 cherry shrimp, I know they're going to multiply. I don't know what the stable number eventually even out to be, so I was having trouble estimating how much more the tank could hold. If I use AqAdvisor.com, a site I know I should use with caution, putting in 20 cherry shrimp, 1 mystery snail, and 6 otos puts me at 105% capacity. I know that shrimp population is going to go up. Am I setting myself up for having too many animals? Also, would that exceed my filtration capacity? This is my first sponge filter, and I've been unsure how to factor it in.

Finally, just let me know any further thoughts or warnings you'd have. I'm not completely sold on anything except for the shrimp and can make adjustments to my stocking if needed.
 
Last edited:

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Well, I kept a "start" of 10 cherry shrimp & added 6 micro-rasboras in a very heavily planted 10g. It was a long time ago, I "think" I started with a bit of used filter media...but with a wall to wall ton of plants it wouldn't have mattered.

I was disappointed the fish & shrimp were both the same color & size. I would chose differently "next" time. There are several neocaridina shrimp colors readily available now, I like the blues!
 
Apr 2, 2002
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Plants can be your filter. The kep is not to fully stock a tank all at once as you can with a fishless cycle.

Start with the plants, let them establish and then then add the shrimp. When you are satisfied all is well, you can begin to add fish.

Basically, it is all about the bio-load in a tank. Think of it this way, the total weight of the inhabitants determines the bioload (ammonia peoduction). So if adding one fish gives you bioload x, then adding two should produce a bioload of 2x. Therefore, try not to increase the bioload all at once by more than 25 -35% of the current bioload living safely in a tank.

When we acquire new plants they come with bacteria living on them and their roots. So you not only get the benefit of ammonia eating plants but also of the bacteria for cycling. However, in a well planted tank most of the ammonia consumption will be done by the plants.
 

Drewbacca

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Mar 20, 2019
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Right, I tend to add organisms slowly to the tank... never more than 4 fish at once. I guess I had been told that I needed to fully cycle the tank before adding any animals in, so I was trying to figure out how to do that. If adding the old filter media and the plants is enough, then I'll just monitor my parameters until it all converts over to nitrates. I'd previously cycle a tank using fish with 4 white cloud mountain minnows, and I lost 2 of them. I hate to do that again. I asked my LFS who recommended adding a guppy or two to the tank then giving them back to the store once I was done... but that seems cruel too.

My current plan is to wait until the parameters settle, then add in a mystery snail. I'll let that sit for 1-2 weeks then add in about 20 shrimp. After that has become really well established I'll consider some otos or dwarf rasboras (although I heard the latter will still eat the baby shrimp).

Currently, I'm waiting for a big piece of cholla wood to sink in my tank. It's been floating for a week, but I don't want to boil it as I've heard that causes it to break down sooner and lose some of the beneficial tannins.
 
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