As time goes on, the plants are generally growing in nicely and beginning to fill out the aquascape. My water parameters have stabilized, and I feel the time has come to introduce the stars of the show.
Choosing the right shrimp for your tank is largely based on the water conditions that you have. For example, my water is on the softer, more acidic side and Caridina species do better with that type of water. Once I chose what shrimp to order I had to figure out how many of each should be purchased. Keep in mind that, when kept under optimal conditions, shrimp will reproduce prolifically so you do not want to order too many at the outset and wind up with an overcrowded tank in the near future (unless, of course, you want an excuse to get another tank!). My TFH March 2010 column has more information about how to select the right shrimp for your own aquascaping project as well as the shrimp I chose.
Given that I ordered them during the winter months—something you may not want to try depending on how cold it gets where you live—my first priority was to warm the shrimp up as soon as they arrived. Shrimp are known to be extremely sensitive animals and must be carefully acclimated before being transferred to different water conditions. Only after I allowed the shrimp to warm up did I begin the acclimation process, otherwise I would have run the risk of shocking the shrimp with too much change at once.
As I mentioned last time, shrimp are also very sensitive to nitrogenous wastes and dissolved organic compounds. Before I ordered them I did a major water change so the water would be as clean as possible for the shrimp. However, keep in mind that shrimp feed on the biofilm and algae present in a tank, so sterilizing the tank isn’t the idea.
Although the shrimp hid for a while when first introduced, a female eventually came out and posed right in front of my camera, which brings me to a side note. Originally I used a dark blue paper background that is made for use on aquaria, but I realized that it reflected light and images, and it had water marks on it. I decided to go to a fabric store and I bought the thickest, heaviest, solid black material I could find and had it cut to match the size of the paper background. Unfortunately, once I brought it home I discovered that there were a few small spots where the material was thinner and light could pass through. Using some leftover material I had, I made a second layer of the backdrop and used binder clips to attach it to the aquarium frame. Light is no longer reflected and photographing my new arrivals is much easier.
I have also had to start trimming some of the aquatic plants and I unfortunately lost my battle with the subwassertang. As soon as I get some new subwassertang in I will clean it as thoroughly as possible (I don’t want a repeat performance) and attach it to the driftwood. Remember, preparation, persistence and patience (plus a bit of luck) all help make the aquascape come together.