How to know if your shrimp are happy? Obviously, as shrimp keepers, we want to make sure that your pets have everything. But how can we really know if they are happy or not?
Unlike many other pets, shrimp do not show any affection, they do not complain or demand attention. Nonetheless, there are still some signs that we can help us to check their wellbeing.
Healthy shrimp are happy shrimp. Happy shrimp are active, inquisitive, and always looking for food. Happy shrimp are also prolific breeders.
In this article, I will be talking about 5 different signs you need to look for, to make sure your shrimp are happy.
Happy shrimp move around almost all the time. They rarely stay in one place for long. Therefore, any lethargic behavior is a clear sign that there is something wrong with them.
Some potential reasons for reduced activity in shrimp:
- Small number of shrimp.
- Natural enemies (fish, frogs, etc.).
- Bad water quality (ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.).
- Wrong water parameters (PH, GH, KH, and temperature).
- Unsuccessful acclimation
Shrimp are pretty shy inverts. They feel more confident in big numbers. In nature, shrimp are on the bottom of the food chain, which means that are at huge risk of being picked out. That is why they thrive in groups.
In large aquariums, if there are not enough shrimp around, they will be stressed. As a result, they will hide more often. It prevents shrimp from eating properly and also leads to poor nutrient absorption.
2. Feeding Rates
Generally, shrimp are omnivorous. They will eat just about anything they can get their tiny hands on. It can be detritus, decaying matter, algae, biofilm, etc.
Shrimp are always acting excited and eager for more food. That is a sign of a healthy and happy shrimp.
Lots of aquarists use these little guys as clean up crew. Therefore, happy shrimp should always be in the search of food. Any reduction of feeding rates is a warning sign and should be addressed immediately!
Some potential reasons for reduced feeding rates in shrimp:
- Bad water quality.
You can also read “How Often and How Much to Feed Shrimp”.
The physical health of the shrimp is another way to tell how happy they are.
Healthy shrimp are brighter and have more energy. Generally, their colors look more vibrant.
The pigment of shrimp is highly dependent upon:
- Feed quality.
- Water quality.
- Stress factors.
For more information, read my article “How to Enhance Shrimp Color?”
4. Breeding Rates
Under optimal conditions, your shrimp will start breeding in no time. I am talking about the shrimp explosion!
Depending on the temperature, the development of the eggs can last from 25 to 35 days (Read more about their life cycle here). In 3 months their babies will have their own babies and so on.
Dwarf shrimp are very prolific breeders once they are happy. To get them happy, your tank should have at least:
- Stable water parameters.
- Constant source of food.
- No natural enemies.
5. No Molting Problems
Like all crustaceans, shrimp need to molt to grow in size and also regrow any lost limbs. The molting process (the molt cycle) is the most important part of their life.
Note: With time, as they outgrow the existing shell (exoskeleton), they begin to shed their shells off. This process is called molting.
Unfortunately, molting is also the most dangerous process. Any disruption in metabolism or changes in water parameters can lead to increased mortality in the shrimp colony.
Therefore, the less molting problems shrimp have, the happier they are.
Some potential reasons for molting problems in shrimp:
- Unbalanced diet (not enough protein, calcium, etc.).
- Unprepared molt (because of the sudden changes in water parameters).
- Too big or too frequent water changes.
- Poor acclimation.
For more information, you can also read “Dwarf shrimp and Molting problems. The White Ring of Death”.
How to Make Shrimp Happy?
Dwarf shrimp are great pets and very easy to care for even for beginners.
However, if you want to have a happy and healthy shrimp for as long as it is possible, it is important to give them everything they need, including proper care.
1. Cycled tank
First of all, your tank must be fully cycled. Dwarf shrimp cannot usually survive in the uncycled tank or during the cycling period. Keep in mind that, they are susceptible to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.
Important: Pay close attention to these nitrogen compounds ammonia and nitrites. Keep them at zero at all times.
To get a better idea of your tank’s condition, I would recommend getting the API Master Test Kit (check the price on Amazon).
2. Stable water parameters
You need to have stable water parameters. Dwarf shrimp do not like changes.
Check your PH, GH, and KH periodically.
3. Optimal and/vs Ideal water parameters
Optimal water parameters, that you can find on the Internet, should give you a general understanding of their water requirements.
For example, Neocaridina species prefer:
|Optimal Temperature||22 – 28°C (~72°F – 82°F)|
|Optimal PH||7.0 – 7.5|
|Optimal GH||6 – 8|
|Optimal KH||2 – 4|
|Optimal TDS||150 – 200|
However, these water parameters may not be ideal for this particular batch of shrimp that you have.
Sounds a little bit confusing, I know. Let me explain.
Generation after generation … shrimp get accustomed to the certain water parameter. Therefore, those water parameters are ideal for them. So, it would be better to stick to them for better results even if they do not fully match optimal water parameters.
You can read more about it in my article “The Ideal Water Parameters for Fish and Shrimp Keeping”.
It is absolutely important to carefully acclimate them before putting them into your tank.
It will reduce the shock and increase their chances of survival in the future.
5. Routine Maintenance
Do small water changes every week and clean your filter regularly.
It is also a good way of controlling the toxic concentrates in the water.
6. Replicate Natural Environment
Freshwater dwarf shrimp, who were born to dwell in the lakes, ponds, and rivers, often suffer miserably when they are forced to spend their lives in tiny glass tanks. Robbed of their natural habitats, basically, they are denied the ability to act as they used to.
Replicate their natural environment to the best of your ability.
You will have to do your own research on the shrimp species you want to keep for this kind of detail.
7. Hiding spots
It is important to minimize stress to your shrimp by giving them a lot of places to hide. This is also crucial for the molting process!
When shrimp do not have enough hiding places they feel less secure. So, they are more likely to spend more time hiding.
Live plants, PVC pipes, pieces of bark, driftwood, stones, porous bricks, and other decorations will enrich the environment and provide shelter and hiding places.
8. Choose the Right Tankmates
Dwarf shrimp are very peaceful and they will not cause any problems to their tankmates.
Therefore, their tankmates should only include other calm and peaceful community tank animals, for example:
- Fish (like Panda Garra, Pygmy Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish, etc).
- Snails (like Japanese Trapdoor Snails, Brotia Pagodula snails, White Wizard Snail, Black Devil Snails, Rabbit snails, Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, Ramshorn snail, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Hairy snails, etc.).
- Big or aggressive fish species (like goldfish, gourami, discus, etc.).
- Most types of crayfish and freshwater crabs.
- Even small African Dwarf Frogs can and will try to catch shrimp whenever it is possible.
Keeping your shrimp happy should not be a hard task if the tank setup is right for them.
Keeping them happy is also an important step in increasing their lifespan. They are rewarding pets to have and care for.