Today I am going to talk about the 7 things every shrimp keeper should plan on getting even before they purchase the very first shrimp. Therefore, if you are setting up your first shrimp tank, I would strongly recommend getting all of the items that I list in here. These things are a must! They will make your shrimp keeping life easier, simpler 10 times than ever. If you are an experienced shrimp keeper, I would be very surprised, if you do not already have all of them.
I am just going to cut to the chase here. These things are RO/DI unit, minerals (buffers), TDS meter, test kit, water conditioner, siphon hose, medications.
As you can see, I am not going to talk about air pumps, substrates, lights, filters, etc. (because this is a basic set-up), without them, it is almost impossible to even start the shrimp tank. I will talk about things that will make a huge HUGE difference so you will not struggle anymore.
Without further ado, let’s start.
1. RO/DI unit
I would like to start off by saying that it will change your shrimp keeping life forever. You will never look back again.
Frankly saying, everybody at one point or another has been told to use RO/DI unit. Yet so many shrimp keepers make the terrible decision not to. Usually, because people are lazy or they just do not want to spend the money.
So what is RO/DI unit and what makes it so special?
RO/DI stands for reverse osmosis/de-Ionization. Basically, it is a multi-stage water filter which takes ordinary tap water and produces zero TDS water (TDS – total dissolved solids). TDS shows how many all kind of elements (like phosphates, chlorine, copper, etc.) your water has. All these solids in our tanks can cause a lot of stress to shrimp.
RO water has GH, KH of zero and a neutral pH. Therefore, it gives you a good foundation to start building the kind of water that you want for keeping shrimp. It lets you make your water to your own specifications. With RO/DI unit, you will be able to define all parameters of the water (pH, KH, GH, and TDS).
You can read more about “Water Parameters: Everything about TDS in Shrimp Tank” right here.
As a bonus.
With RO/DI unit you do not have to buy water from the local fish store anymore. You do not have to hope that your tap water does not have anything dangerous for your shrimp. Of course, some of you will be lucky enough to get away with doing it with tap water. However, it is still very risky and one day your luck might run out.
In conclusion, I cannot stress enough, how crucial RO/DI unit is for shrimp keeping hobby. This is the most important tool you are going to need to completely have the perfect water chemistry and the ability to keep any kind of shrimp that you want. Absolutely must have!
What RO/DI system should you pick?
Actually, there are many good options.
However, for a small shrimp tank with a limited budget, I would consider the RO Buddie 4-Stage System (link to check the price on Amazon). It is compact, very easy to connect to the water supply and makes up to 50 gallons (~225 liters) per day.
For bigger freshwater shrimp tanks the LiquaGen 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis/Deionization (RO/DI) is recommended. This is a heavy-duty RO/DI system with lots of features. It is easy to clean, install and makes up to 100 gallons (~450 liters).
2. Minerals (Buffers)
If you are planning to use RO water or some other form of pure water (rainwater, fully desalinated water, etc.), it is absolutely essential to use re-mineralizers.
As I have already mentioned, RO water does not contain any trace elements and minerals in it. It is absolutely pure water. Therefore, you will use shrimp mineral to re-mineralize RO water.
Minerals and trace elements are vital for shrimp, snails, and fish, as well as for a functioning bio-system in a tank. A lack or an imbalance may lead to severe problems, manifest in poor plant growth, algae growth, odd behavior of the tank inhabitants, molting problems or even losses.
It is important that you get the best ones available on the market. Keep in mind that a lot of them can be designed for fish keeping. That is why they are not good enough for the shrimp.
Your shrimp will get all the essential minerals and trace elements via the water, for their health, wellbeing, an intensive coloration, and successful breeding. So if you want to have a successful tank, you need them. Period.
Note: I will repeat that we use them to add minerals back into the water when using RO water. It is not recommended to use them with tap water as it might add too much minerals to the water. This is the main reason to buy a RO/DI unit.
3. TDS meter
Using RO water and re-mineralizers is not possible unless you have a TDS meter (pen). You need a TDS pen to see how much salt you are actually putting in the water. TDS pen will show you exactly how much solids you already have in your water.
TDS numbers will tell you how dirty your tank is getting. It will allow you to track the history of your water, which is very important in shrimp keeping hobby. Therefore, you will know when it is time to do a water change.
This is an extremely important tool in shrimp keeping hobby.
Tip: If you are buying a TDS meter (link to check the price on Amazon) for the first time, make sure that it measures in parts-per-million (PPM). Otherwise, you will have to convert parts per trillion or all parts per thousand into PPM. It is very inconvenient.
4. Test kit
The reason you need a test kit is to make sure that all the parameters in your aquarium are normal. Without a test kit, you cannot estimate the real condition of the growing nitrogen cycle (ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, which are extremely poisonous to dwarf shrimp). In other words, you are pretty much flying blind and hoping for the best.
Of course, there is another option. You can have your tank tested at almost any local fish store. Just take a cup of water, ask them to test it and give you the numbers for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, KH, GH, and TDS.
However, what will you do in case of an emergency? Let’s say if something goes wrong at 3:00 a.m.?
The test kit will give you control over water parameters and your time. You will not depend on anybody anymore. It is also going to help you to diagnose problems if you have them in the future. It will give you an idea of how your tank is doing.
Thus, everybody should have a test kit. It should be one of the first things you buy. It is critical in the hobby to make sure everything is okay in your tank and that it is a healthy environment for your shrimp.
5. Water conditioner
Unfortunately, this is something that new shrimp keepers often forget because they do not see it as being something that is so important.
However, they cannot be more wrong!
The water conditioner will play an important role regardless of what water you use. For example, if you are using tap water, in this case, a water conditioner is a must if you do not know your waters make up. It will make your tap water as safe as possible for your shrimp.
But what about RO water you might wonder?
I am completely aware that some people think that it is redundant and a waste of money. Well, I disagree. First of all, it is like a secondary precaution. In case, my RO/DI unit let something through.
Second, it is really useful in case of emergency when you have an ammonia spike or your nitrates are rising. Basically, it will give you time to react to the problem.
Unlike most aquatics companies, which produce conditioners that remove only chlorine. Prime® removes chlorine, chloramine and detoxifies (binds for up to 48 hours!) ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate making them harmless to the inhabitants and still bioavailable to the beneficial bacteria (allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them). It is non-acidic and will not impact pH.
It will also detoxify any heavy metals found in the tap water at typical concentration levels. In addition, Prime® can be re-dosed every 24 hours. It is one of the few products that you cannot overdose. Prime® does not have an expiration date! If it has been stored properly, it will last indefinitely.
This will always be my #1 choice and recommendation when it comes to water conditioners. Highly recommend trying this if you have a shrimp tank.
6. Siphon Hose
This is another tool, which you will use all the time. So, you better get used to using these.
There are a few different varieties. Some of them are really nice and they will plug right into your sink and do it all for you. Also, there are the old-fashioned types that you actually have to manually start the siphon on.
In any case, you will use these for doing maintenance (vacuuming) and water changes. So siphon hose is an essential tool for shrimp keeping and should be a must have for all shrimp keepers.
My personal choice is The python water changer (link to check the price on Amazon). It is just amazing. So, if you have never used any type of Python or water changing system you got to do it.
It has proven to be the best in terms of functionality and durability among its users. Therefore, if you are using buckets, stop with that! Because it is so much unnecessary work.
These things are worth their weight in gold they are not that expensive considering the amount of time and real energy that you can save with them.
Note: If you do not have money for the python water changer, you can also DIY siphon hose. There are plenty of instructions on the internet for that. You need one in any case!
Si vis pacem, para bellum (Latin: If you want peace, prepare for war).
You never know when any of these things are going to happen. You will need to have different medications in case your shrimp get sick.
Actually, at first, instead of medication I was planning to write about a small quarantine tank. Although it serves the same purpose, most people will find it very difficult to do. Therefore, I had to approach this problem from another angle because we cannot skip it.
Unfortunately, shrimp keeping hobby is not sunshine and rainbows all the time. That is why you need to be ready for bad times for your shrimp as well.
There are some well-known parasites and diseases in shrimp. On this blog, I am trying my very best to find absolutely all information about these problems and how we can deal with them.
I have spent countless hours searching on the Internet and reading different scientific studies about them. You can read it all in my articles about Scutariella Japonica, Planaria, Vorticella, Hydra, Ellobiopsidae or Green fungus, and Dragonfly.
Medications will help you intervene in time and potentially save your shrimp.
I will list some products that shrimp keepers have been using for years and some new ones. They work really well. I believe that every shrimp keeper should have them on hand at any time. So, if you ever have a situation happen you will be glad you have them. You can check the price:
Note: You can find proper usage of these products in my articles.
This is my top list of must have things for shrimp keeping hobby. All of them are absolutely crucial and will make a huge difference. Especially if you want to enjoy this beautiful hobby.
Do not get me wrong, I am not sponsored with API, Seachem, Salty, or Python in any way. (I wish I was! *Subtly hinting to these big companies*. No…? Nothing? Well, it was worth a try! 🙂 )
Really, no jokes, their products are simply too good and beat any competition easily.