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Neocaridina Shrimp in Planted Aquariums

I fell in love with shrimp a few years back and started doing research on them. Everyone said

things like, "You can't keep neos in a planted tank"... "You can't inject CO2 while keeping shrimp!"... "You can't dose copper in a shrimp tank"... "TDS is everything, you need a TDS pen".. Well today I am here to tell you its all a lie!

So let me tell you what I learned in the 2-3 years of keeping neocaridina in a planted tank. I will start with my setup. My tank was a 28 gallon bowed front (not that the bowed front matters) running a Fluval 406 with an active substrate. Specifically, Fluval Stratum. I'm not a Fluval fanboy, their products are just everywhere. I have a pressurized CO2 paintball tank setup injecting enough to get me that 1.0 PH drop that we preach. I also dose the EI method and I'll tell you why that is important later. I started off with 10 bloody Mary shrimp from FlipAquatics and this was the tank months later!

Now let me address 3 of the larges myths that we can not seem to get rid of in the hobby and why I think they are still spread.

1) TDS is everything - This is false. The TDS range I was supposed to keep was around the 220TDS range. This tank, because of dosing fertilizers, usually sat around the 400-450TDS range which was double the "target". So why do I think this is spread? Well because TDS pens come in handy when remineralizing RO water. Its much easier to whip out a TDS pen and take a reading than it is to use something like APIs GH or KH liquid test kit. If you're using something like SaltyShrimp GH+KH booster and you can just add the power till your TDS pen gives you a reading of around 220TDS and you know the water is perfect... but again, that is when remineralizing RO water, not after it goes into the tank and that is why I think the myth is still spread.

2) You can not inject CO2 while keeping shrimp - This too is false. I have been inject CO2 for over 2 years in this tank with no shrimp deaths. I inject my CO2 over a course of 1-1.5 hours prior to the lights coming on so the PH drop is slow and this is why I think they don't mind it. I also keep a KH of around 3-4, and this helps keep that PH from swinging really fast as well. I think this myth is spread because people say shrimp are sensitive. I kind of agree, but also I don't. I really just think they are sensitive to quick changes. Slow or gradual changes they are fine with.

3) Dosing copper will kill your shrimp - Another false myth. When dosing the EI method in this tank, which is covered in our guide here, there is chelated copper in our micro nutrient mix. This is dosed 3-4 times a week! If my shrimp were to die from copper, they would have done so VERY quickly with how frequent the dosing schedule is. But again, my shrimp were happy and breeding. No issues with copper at all! No any heavy metals are toxic to livestock, so I can't say that is a myth, but there are two things that I think come into play. One is that I'm dosing in really small quantities that are diluted. And two, aquasoils develops a natural hummus that detoxifies heavy metals as Diana Walstad talks about in her book Ecology of a Planted Aquarium... and this is why I always preach about running an aquasoil in any planted tank. There are LOADS of benefits over a inert substrate. There is a time and place for inert substrates, but I do love the benefits of an active one like an aquasoil.


So let me talk about the biggest challenge with keeping shrimp in a planted tank, and its the water changes. The first difficulty is shrimp are picky when it comes to your water's GH and KH. This can somtimes effect the plants you keep, but most plants will adjust to the new parameters. So both of us remember, this information is below:

  • Ph: 7.0 to 7.6

  • Gh: 7 to 15

  • Kh: 2 to 8

  • TDS: 180 to 400

  • Temp: 68 to 72

I always remineralize RO water in my tanks, so this was each to adjust. A lot of new aquarists don't have an understanding of water chemistry and try to toss shrimp into water that is not suitable for them, and they all end up dying. Secondly, my planted tank method dictates that we need to process 50% water changes to help keep nutrient levels from building up. However, shrimp like smaller water changes as they don't like the quick change in mineral content sometimes causing them to molt prematurely and die. With that, we have some competing goals but nothing that could not be overcome. I ended up just processing 25% water changes 1-2 times a month, and also cut my dosing of the EI method in half to ensure we were not getting a build up of nutrients in the water column. This that little adjustment, everything seemed to stay in harmony for years.

So! Don't let shrimp keepers tell you that you can't inject CO2, or dose copper, or even that TDS is everything, because its all a myth. There is nothing more a shrimp loves than running around a planted tank grazing on all the plant leaves and hardscape.

Happy aquascaping everyone!

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