Saturday, November 1, 2014

How do I set up a bee shrimp tank

What's on This Page:
The way I set up a bee shrimp tank. There are  many ways to do it, I think mine is probably one that's on the easy side as I generally tend to go for a lazy way if one exists.

Before You Read On: 
I know a picture is worth a thousand words, I will add more pictures later on. But here is a post I made about my setup, you can take a quick peek before you read on.

What are Bee Shrimps:
All crystal family (CRS/CBS/Golden/Snowwhite), Taiwan bees, Pintos. I actually set up my OEBT and BTOE tanks exactly the same way.

1. What You Need
You will need a tank, filtration, substrate, and water. Optionally and strongly recommended, some plants.

1.1 Tank:
Any tank will do, the main consideration here is the size of the tank. In general, I think anything between 10G-20G should work well for most applications. A few other consideration,
 - When selecting a tank for shrimp, pick the ones that gives you a bigger bottom area. I have used 20G talls and they don't work as well as the shallower ones (12" or less).
 - If you only have 10 shrimps, it would work better to start with a smaller tank (5G-10G range). Reason is that shrimps feel safe in number, especially in a new environment. Try to have at least 2 shrimps per gallon. The symptom of not enough shrmips is that they would hide most of the time, not responding to food, and generally less active. If they stay like that for an extended period, it is not good for them. Healthy shrimps should be always moving, maybe a few 5 minutes breaks in the corner everyday.
 - A 10G tank can hold more than 500 bee shrimps safely, but there's a difference between introducing 500 shrimps in a 10G tank all at once and having 20 shrimps in there and they breed out 500. The formal won't work too well, the later is every bit possible and I've done it many times.
 - Half Bare Bottom or not? If you read the link above, you'll see my setup. Most of my tanks are set up that way because it works better for me. I've listed all the thinking behind the idea in that post.

1.2 Filtration:
Shrimps don't eat a lot, so they don't produce a large amount of waste. Most filters will work, following are some of the considerations,
 - The most important thing about the filtration in a shrimp tank is not the type you use, but that you should cycle the filters properly.
 - You should have a solution for the filter intake unless you're using an air-driven sponge filter. You should cover it so baby shrimps won't get sucked in.
 - For some reason, canisters don't work as well for me as the HOBs. So I don't think you need to spend the extra money for them.
 - For my 15G - 20G tank, AquaClear 70 with a double sponge filter as the pre-filter (avoid baby shrimps being sucked in) is my top choice. For a 10G - 15G, an AquaClear 50 is enough. For 5G tanks, you can either use just double sponge filter or a small HOB.

1.3 Substrate:
ADA Amazonia. You can try all different active substrates, but ADA Amazonia is the one I find most consistent and with pretty good lifespan. Do make sure you properly cycle the tank (filtration + substrate) as Amazonia leaches Ammonia for at least 3 - 4 weeks (perfect for cycling the tank).
 - Bare bottom? Yes, I have seen people trying it, most of them stopped after a while, at least those I'm aware of.

1.4 Water:
Other than the initial fill (I use tap water for that), you should use remineralized RO for water changes.
 - There are many products for remineralization, I personally only use MK Breed Blue Diamond now as it's in liquid form, made from natural sea water, and affordable.
 - Don't mix tap with RO to achive the same TDS/GH, it's NOT the same. You can find many many unwelcome substances in the tap water. Aovid using tap water entirely, it will increase your chance of success many many times.

1.5 Plants:
Having plants in a tank makes a more stable environment. It promotes growth for many micro organisms and most of them are beneficial to shrimps. I find that most of the tanks that have good breeding result have lots of plants (moss, mostly).
 - I strongly recommand moss of any type(s). Java moss if you don't mind the growing pattern (or lack of), coral or phonix moss if you want the slow grower. I use peacock moss in most of my tank, they grow reasonably fast. It's personal preference.
 - You can use many things to tie your moss on, I find drift wood or colla wood work the best. But it will serve the same purpose even if you just float a clunk of moss in the tank.
 - I find that, when moss doesn't grow well, shrimps don't do that well in the same tank.
 - Moss or similar plants provide good hiding and feeding areas for baby shrimps, very good to increase baby survival rate.

1.6 Other things I would recommend:
 - Cholla wood. Shrimps enjoy picking on it for food and it provides more hiding places when shrimps find it necessary to hide.
 - Indian Almond Leaves. Very good stuff to have in your tank. It provides some food for shrimps and also has some anti-bacterial effect and PH lowering ability (although very limited). The verdic is, I find shrimps like them and they don't do anything bad to my tanks. One leave per 5-10G is good, and add a new one when the old one starts to decay or be eaten by shrimps. You can just rinse it with clear water then drop them in to where you want them to be.
 - Airstone. I find an airstone can noticeably improve the shrimp activity level, especially when the tank is considered warmer (over 23C / 73F).

1.7 Others:
 - You can have your favorite decorations in, but note that some stones will affect PH and/or GH/TDS. My policy is, no stone in my shrimp tank, except maybe the red larva rocks which I have used to no bad effect.
 - I find that, the simpler the tank is, the less issues you will have in the long run.
 - You want some water circulation in the tank, you also want to make sure shrimps can find a peaceful spot to chill easily if they want to.

2. Setting up a tank:
I'll list the steps I use to set up a tank, the ones listed as optional can be ignored completely
1. (Day 1) Wash and clean the tank, even if it's a brand new tank.
2. (Optional) spread a thin layer of bacteria additive of your choice. Try not to use multiple types unless you are SURE they work together.
3. Add substrate, about 1" thick.
4. (Optional) spread a thin layer of bacteria additive o fyour choice.
5. Add another layer of substrate, total about 2.5" - 3" thick. If you really want to be thorough, screen your substrate and use the bigger granule ones in step 3, and smaller ones in this step.
6. Flatten the substrate or make it however you like, most people make it so that the front is about 0.5" thinner than the back. This makes scaping and viewing easier.
7. Place a clean plate on the dry substrate, then add water in. Direct the water flow to the plat so the water won't distrub the substrate.
8. At this time, your water should be very slightly cloudy or completely clean (depending how well you place the plate and how carefully you added the water).
9. Turn on the filter and let it run for 24-48 hours.
10. (Day 2 or 3) The water should be very clear now. Sometimes it will still be a bit cloudy, this can be a result of certain batches of ADA substrate. This is not a big issue and there's really not much you can do about it. Doing water change won't fix it, nor will stuff such as active carbon.
11. (Optaionl) Clean the filter, as it has sucked up all the dirty stuff from the new substrate.
12. Let the filter run, no need to turn on light.
13 (Day 7, optional) Add some more bacterial additives if you have it.
14.(Day 14) You can add drift wood, cholla wood, and plants in now. And start the regular lighting period. My lights for shrimp tanks are on 7-9 hours a day (depending on the size/shape of the tank, and lighting strength), but at this stage, I would normally lengthen the lighting period to 10 - 12 hrs a day.
15. (Day 21) You can start testing for ammonia(NH3/NH4+), every 2 - 3 days. When ammonia is very low, you can start testing for nitrite (NO2) as well. You can add bacterial additive, little and often like a little every day if you have it.
16 (Day X) When you find both ammonia and nitrite are zero at least two days in a row, your cycling process is done.
17 (Day X) Do a 100% water change (or as close to 100% as possible) with remineralized RO (NO TAP WATER). I adjust my new water to about GH5 (TDS varies depending on what you use as mineral additive but should be between 100-180, again, use GH as the indicator, not TDS).
18. Turn lighting period to normal if you started with longer period at step 14.
19 (Day X+5+, i.e. at least 5 days after step 18), you can add shrimps in.


  1. Hi EbiLei, I am curious on the difference between pinto shrimp and tibee shrimp? how do we get both of them?

    1. TIBEE = TIger x BEE shrimps. They can be of a wide range of colours (phenotypes).

      Pintos are similar but with Taiwan bee gene so they get the colour intensity of Taiwan bees.

  2. very helpul article.
    good information on how to cycle with ada sol.
    thank you very much