Cycling a new shrimp tank is a crucial step before adding any new livestock or plants. A cycled tank means that the tank is balanced and has all the different types of nitrifying bacteria needed to complete the nitrogen cycle, which converts Ammonia to Nitrite and Nitrite to less harmful Nitrates. The term Nitrifying bacteria is not just one type of bacteria, it refers to a complex concoction of bacteria that completes the Nitrogen cycle. These Nitrifying bacteria will need to be introduced and grown in the tank over a period of time until they achieve a balance when all the bacteria are present and in the correct amount.
Another important aspect of a shrimp tank is having biofilm and some algae present of the shrimp to feed on. Ever touched the inside wall of an established aquarium and felt a slimy substance? That is biofilm, and it is important not only for healthy shrimp growth, but also for shrimplet growth and development. It provides a consistent food source for the shrimp and their babies.
How do we achieve a balanced, cycled shrimp tank while growing beneficial biofilm and algae? The following is the method we use here at Shrimpy Business that has been working for us!
What do you need?
- Bacteria powder for substrate
- Nitrifying bacteria
- GH Salt
- Shrimp Nutrient Solution
- Aquarium Light
- Active substrate/soil
- Filter (Either Sponge filter, Hang-on-back or Canister filter will work)
- Air pump (if using sponge filter)
- TDS Meter
1. Add active substrate / soil. The purpose of an active substrate is to buffer the PH at around 5.8 to 6.4.
How much buffering substrate do you need?
Tank Length (inches) x Tank Width (inches) x Desired substrate height (inches)
= Total substrate volume needed (cubic inches)
Total substrate needed (cubic inches) / 60 = Total substrate needed (Liters)
We recommend a desired substrate height of 1 inch if there won't be any rooted plants and 2 to 3 inches if you plan to add rooted plants.
We use SL-Aqua Soil. SL Aqua Soil is sold in Liters, so this is simple calculation to determine how many bags of substrate is needed.
2. Sprinkle bacteria powder onto substrate. You don't need much, just a thin layer. The purpose of this is to seed the substrate with millions of beneficial bacteria. It is also beneficial for plant roots as it helps decompose organic waste that will naturally occur in the soil as the tank matures. (This step is optional, but it helps to speed up the process and provides beneficial properties for shrimp and plants.)
We use SL-Aqua Milione here.
3. Sprinkle a couple pinches of crushed fish or shrimp food onto the substrate. The purpose of this step is to provide "food" for the bacteria to consume and grow.
For this step, we sprinkle SL-Aqua Magic Powder onto the substrate. The Magic Powder is to add "food" for the seed beneficial bacteria to consume and multiply. It also has beneficial properties to increase overall health of shrimp.
You can find SL-Aqua Magic Powder here.
4. Fill up tank with Pure RO water.
5. Add Nitrifying Bacteria. Follow instruction on the bottle for volume needed depend on tank size. It is Ok to dose more at this point to give the tank a head start.
The Nitrifying Bacteria we use can be found here.
6. Turn on filter. If a Hang-on-back filter or a canister filter is being used, a pre-filter intake sponge is needed to prevent shrimp from being sucked up into the filter.
7. Add a cap full of nitrifying bacteria every other day for the first 15 days.
1. Turn on Aquarium light and leave the light on for the remainder of the cycling process. The purpose of this step is to grow beneficial biofilm and algae for the shrimp to have a consistent food source. The reason why we don't switch this on earlier in the process is because some beneficial bacteria grow much slower in the presence of light. There should be enough bacteria at this stage to add the light without hindering bacteria growth.
You might see significant algae or biofilm growth at this stage, but don't it won't hurt the livestock and it is just a cosmetic issue. You can scrap algae off the glass using a razor blade or an aquarium glass cleaner.
1. Drain 90% of the water.
2. You can add plants at this stage if you are planning on making this a planted tank.
3. Fill Tank with Pure RO water.
4. Remineralize RO water using GH+ salt to about 80 to 100 TDS.
The GH+ Salt we use can be found here.
5. Add Shrimp Nutrient / Vitamins solution per dosing instructions on the bottle. This is an optional step, but we found that this greatly helped with Shrimp Breeding and overall health.
The Shrimp Nutrient Solution can be found here.
6. Acclimate new shrimp! If you need help with that you can check out our blog post here.
7. Add shrimp to tank and watch them go about their Shrimpy Business! ;)
All our Caridina Shrimp can be found here.