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Thread: Guide on Setting Up Planted Shrimp Tank

  1. #1
    Shrimpy Lover hyoushoku's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Guide on Setting Up Planted Shrimp Tank

    Hi all,

    Do note that this article is for building full fledge planted tank to keep shrimp. If you just want a simple shrimp tank with a little bit of plants/moss, this article will be over-killed and is not applicable to you.

    Actually, I started of shrimp keeping only for 3 years but I started planted tank hobby for almost 20 years. When I first started shrimp keeping, with my rich experience on planted tank, I was adventurous enough to hit straight to keep shrimp in planted tank. However, I discovered that all the articles posted on shrimp keeping may not be true and some of them conflicted with planted tank practices. Therefore, I suffered a lot but at the same time I learned a lot. It took me almost a year of trial and error on quite a number of tanks (lost count), by using what I learn from previous tank and apply on the subsequent tank until I perfected the method (IMO) and proved what are myth and what are truth.

    I do see a lot of people wanted to start on planted shrimp tank but they do not have much knowledge and information on hand. If you tried to Google for planted shrimp tank, there is no one article that documented on how to do this, unless you tried to combine "how to keep shrimp" and "how to keep planted tank" articles together. At the end, you may hit the same problem as what I encountered previously. As such, I had decided to write this guide in order to help those people who wanted to keep shrimp and yet giving them a beautiful planted tank to live in.

    Quick Guide for Experienced Planted Tank Folks
    Personally, I feel that knowledge on keeping shrimp is much simpler than planted tank (if you don't go and listen to all those myth). Thus, I decided to write this quick guide for planted tank folks to summarized the differences between planted tank and planted shrimp and save them from listening to my nagging.

    Differences between Planted Tank and Planted Shrimp Tank
    1. Water Parameter
    a. pH - Planted tank always aimed for pH 6.6 to 6.8. This is to ensure acidity to make minerals usable. It never goes below this as Molybdenum is available at higher pH and this is the sweet spot. However for shrimp tank, if you are using a good buffering substrate and your water is at 0dkH, your pH will be at 5.8 to 6.4 before CO2 injection. After injected CO2 to 30ppm, the pH will be at 5.2 to 5.8. So far, I am able to successfully prevented lack of Molybdenum at pH 5.5 to 6.2 as long as I supplement more Molybdenum. Thus, I think the sweet spot for planted shrimp tank is at pH 5.8 to 6.2.
    b. kH - Shrimp breed more when kH is zero. It sounds weird but I had tested it before. All my shrimps breed from 0 to 5dkH. But when it is at 0dkH, they breed immediately (within 2 to 4 weeks) after all the babies are hatched. The explanation for this is that in the wild, shrimp breed during rainy season. Thus, when high rain water falls, the water is diluted to lower kH and is a signal for them to breed.
    c. Temperature - Both Caridina and Neo loves cool water. It seems like everyone said they love 20 to 22 degree C. However, low temperature will causes delay in eggs hatching. Therefore, if you keep them in low temperature and low kH, they tends to discard unhatch eggs during molting (they do it in between berried). The sweet spot I found is to keep them at 24 degree C. The eggs will take about 28 to 35 days to hatch and it does not cross the ovulation cycle (not sure this term apply to shrimp or not ).
    2. Fertilization
    a. CO2 -
    i. In shrimp tank, the kH is kept at near 0 and this will cause insufficient CO2. The only way to make sure the plant flourish like normal planted tank, you will need to push the CO2 to 30ppm plus supplementing with Excel or EasyCarbo at 2x daily dose (single dose at water change).
    ii. When kH is at 0, it defy all methods of measuring CO2. You still can use testkit and drop-checker but they may not be accurate as when water is at 4dkH. Thus, you will need to adjust slowly and gauge from the plant's and shrimp's reaction. Never use pH to gauge as low kH will cause pH fluctuate like stock market indices and you will never get it right.
    iii. At night, you need to air off CO2 but not all CO2 till the pH increases a lot. There are 3 approaches to do this. One, run the CO2 24/7 and use a timer to run a very small air-pump at night to increase the pH to about 0.3. Two, Use an intelligent controller that will turn on CO2 during lights on all the way and control the pH to be 0.3 above the day time when CO2 is a full load. Three, use two timer for turning on CO2 full-time during lights-on and intermittently at night and, the other timer to turn on air-pump full time at lights-off.
    b. Nitrogen - If you are keeping pure shrimps, there will not be much Nitrogen and you will need to dose plenty as compared to planted tank with tons of fish. Keeping NO3 at 15 to 25ppm is good.
    c. Phosphate - Most specialized shrimp food does not contain phosphate additive like fish food, thus you will need to dose a lot. I'm dosing 1.3ppm per day. Keeping it at 1.5 to 2ppm is good.
    d. Potassium - You need to dose daily instead of weekly or water change. This is keep the water parameter consistent and not large fluctuation. Keeping this at 15 to 30ppm is good.
    e. Trace -
    i. You need to dose a lot of trace as shrimp food and waste does not leech as much trace like fish. For Tropica Trace, I'm dosing the 2 to 3 times the recommended dose and for ADA Trace, I'm dosing at 5 to 6 times the recommended dose.
    ii. Shrimp has additional requirements on minerals compared to plant. You may want to get additional organic / chelated minerals to fulfill those requirements. Such minerals are Strontium.
    iii. Most planted tank trace does not contains calcium. You may want to get organic calcium for shrimp supplement. It is better to get those slightly soluble organic calcium where the shrimp can eat it directly and the excess will be dissolved into water as replenishment.
    3. Dosing Regime
    a. IMO the best dosing regime with planted shrimp tank is an approach that will not change the water parameter too rapidly. Thus, it is best to dose at every hour with a dosing pump. If you do not have a dosing pump, then you can split daily dosing to two or more times per day. Especially with Excel or EasyCarbo, it is best split into small dose each time. With hourly dosing, I can dose Excel up to 3x (after the plant fully grown) without casualties over extended period.
    b. It is fine with dosing either around 24hours or during lights-on period. I prefer dosing during lights-on period as this will save some K, PO4 and Trace, which reacts rapidly into precipitation.
    4. Water Change Regime
    a. Shrimp keepers has tendency of not changing water. I personally don't like this idea. For planted tank shrimp, it is strongly recommended to change the water frequently as long as you keep the water parameter similar to tank water to prevent stress then death. Furthermore, giving shrimp freshwater will stimulate them to molt and breed (just like rain fall in the nature).
    b. Shrimp tank folks favour reading TDS to gauge when to change water. For planted shrimp tank, this approach will not work. For planted shrimp tank, you will need to dose lots of Potassium and Traces, thus it will shoot up the TDS. My tanks, the TDS increases by at least 5 per day and my TDS can reach up to 450 after 2 weeks of not changing water and still no casualty and shrimps are still breeding happily.
    c. If you are using RO water, most shrimp specialty replenishing salt or solution only contains Ca, Mg and K thus, will lack of Manganese, Zinc, Boron and Molybdenum. Even though you are dosing trace, you will find that you will always lack of them. The problem with this is these minerals will kill fish and shrimp at high dose and they tends to make it at lean side. In addition, low pH will have lesser usable Molybdate, you will replenish it too. As such, if you want to use RO water with Shrimp specialty remineralization salt or solution, you will need to dose additional Manganese, Zinc, Boron and Molybdenum.
    d. Most shrimp specialty RO Replenishing solution usually contains acid to dissolve mineral and increase the concentration. This is good if you are pure shrimp tank as it will reduce the buffering capability of the substrate and also make the new water to be about the same pH as the tank water. However for planted tank, the pH may be too low after you inject CO2. Thus, you may want to watch out for this and have something to buffer back the pH. For my case, I uses PowerHouse filter media that has both for hard and softwater to buffer acid and alkaline ions.

    For more information on above, you can refer to the detailed article below.

  2. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to hyoushoku For This Useful Post:

    ARTRN (13th Feb 2015), atasp (13th Nov 2014), CatOhCat (3rd May 2014), Daddyshrimp (11th May 2014), Elfie (4th Oct 2013), gordontamf35 (29th Jun 2014), keenwerkz (17th Jul 2014), ratherbe (25th Mar 2014), Tserian (21st May 2014), zvirus (8th Sep 2013)

  3. #2
    Shrimpy Lover hyoushoku's Avatar
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    Guide on Setting Up Planted Shrimp Tank
    This is the full guide and hopefully, it will be useful for you.

    Myth vs Truth
    1. Myth: CO2 will kill shrimp. Truth: Overdosing of CO2 then will kill shrimp. Anything under 30ppm and air part of them out during lights-out will cause no harm.
    2. Myth: Excel kill shrimp. Truth: Overdosing Excel then kill shrimp. Overdosing meaning dosing much more than recommended in a single dose. If you are overdosing with small dosage, such as 0.5 to 1ml, per hour, it will not kill your shrimp.
    3. Myth: Dosing Trace will kill shrimp. Truth: Shrimp needs more trace elements than you can imagine. Many shrimp mystery death and color lost (non-white color area) are causes by lack of trace elements. In most trace fertilizer for aquarium, the concentration is very low and it does not contain ammonium based trace fert. In addition, cheap trace fert or agriculture trace fert, they tends to use simple inorganic salts that can be quite aggressive or toxic. As such, if you are using trace fert from respective brand and / or chelated / organic trace, your shrimp will thrive better than people who keep shrimp in RO water but does not supplement trace elements.
    4. Myth: High TDS kills shrimp. Truth: This is kind of true and false. The true side is applicable to shrimp only tank that does not dose any fert or change water. TDS / conductivity is used to gauge dissolved solid. However, it is not totally accurate as total dissolved solid can be in chelated or organic form that does not conduct electricity for the meter to work. The false side of this myth is that in planted tank, NPK fert conducts electricity greatly and will skew the reading. I never see any casualty even when my TDS is at 450.
    5. Myth: Some plant are toxic to shrimp when cut. Truth: Most plants from respectable source will not be toxic. I heard many horror story about Anubias plant. I think the whole issue is that they do not perform larger water change after they trim plant. Any plant will leech sap after cut and if the sap concentration is too much, it will kill anything in the tank. As a best practice, always perform 50 to 60% water (if you are using RO or filtered water; non-filter tap water may have to perform lesser percentage over a few days) after you trim the plant.
    6. Myth: Shrimp loves very clean water and you need many filters, especially sensitive breed. Truth: Shrimp loves water that has no toxic or irritant but they love to have organic accumulated in the substrate to produce organic acid (antioxidant). Thus, don't go and buy many filters. Remember something about plant, they are actually very good at removing ammonium and organics from water. Furthermore, nitrifying bacteria produce and die according to the bio-load and, they need days to reproduce to catch up with the load. As such, you have so many filters for bacteria to live but mostly will not be occupied.
    7. Myth: Shrimp's shell will grow better in less acidic water or slightly alkaline water. Truth: This aspect was not understand correctly. The truth is that shrimp will molt and alter the shell chemistry according to the pH and mineral level. If sufficient minerals are supplied, they should have nice thick shell and no molting problem in most pH (5 to 7.5). In actual fact, acidic water will assist in molting in certain way. Most shrimp keeper will aim for the ideal pH number 6.2 to 6.4; I used to do that and failed miserably. In more alkaline water, there are more minerals and shrimp thrive better but if in acidic water, you supply enough meso, trace and ultra-trace minerals, they will thrive equally well.
    8. Myth: pH fluctuation of more than 0.1 will kill shrimp. Truth: This is totally a myth. If the pH changes more than 1 degree with minutes then yes. Or else, it is not. My day time pH after injecting CO2 is 5.7 and night time I maintain it at 6. Thus, a 0.3 fluctuation does not harm or stress the shrimp.
    9. Myth: NO3 and PO4 kill shrimp. It should be close to zero. Truth: This is totally wrong. In nature, there are always NO3 and PO4 in water. In my experience, NO3 below 50 and PO4 below 3 does not cause harm to the shrimp if they are healthy. If they are not healthy, anything will kill them.
    10. Myth: Higher light intensity the faster the plant grow. Truth: Plant grown fastest with sufficient light (medium) than strong light. When there is strong light, the plant will go into making food and close all stomata from absorbing nutrients. Furthermore, it will starts produce lutein to cover up chlorophyll from getting burn, which makes your plant yellow instead of green. In addition, shrimp does not like strong light, thus having a sufficient light but not too strong will benefit both plant and shrimp.

    Equipment Needed
    1. CO2 System with electric solenoid and/or Excel or EasyCarbo - If you are planning to shoot for high CO2 demanding plant, especially on CO2 aspect, I will suggest you to use both CO2 injection and Excel/EasyCarbo. If you are planning on DIY CO2, I will strongly not recommending you. DIY CO2 is not consistent and hard to control.
    2. CO2 Controller (Optional) - If you are planning to get a CO2 controller, then it will be great. However, make sure you use it to control the pH during light-off and not lights-on. With 0 dKH, you need the CO2 to be turned on all the time in order to provide enough carbon to the plant. The controller is used to control the night time pH from rising too much when you run the air-pump. For my case, I am using GHL Profilux with custom logic to control this. Day time I just full blast the CO2 at approx. 8 bubble/sec to a 100L tank.
    3. Dim-able Lighting - Most lighting out in the market are usually over-spec. Meaning it can drive tank larger than their recommended. If you have strong light during the initial stage you will have algae outbreak. If your tank design does not have hidden place for shrimp, they (especially berried shrimp) will stress and die. If Dim-able light is out of your budget, get those lights that can adjust the height; the higher you place the light the less intensity. If your plant is not growing well, lighting is the last area to suspect. If you are planning to get LED lights, do note that LED has very focus beam. Even though some LED comes with wide-angle lens, the lumen/PAR of the center and side can differ a lot; not like HID or fluorescent that has more uniform intensity. To counter this issue, you generally need an over-spec LED / multiple modules and hang it higher.
    4. Filter - Any shrimp friendly filter will do and ensure the water flow is good but slow. To achieve good flow but slow flux, you will need bigger outlet hole/inverted venturi with bigger filter/pump (but not too big). I used to be ADA fan and have been coupling their inlet/outlet glassware with Eheim external filters. However starting this year, I have converted myself to overflow/sump tank combo. The reason for this is that 90% less cleaning work needed when compared to use the ADA glassware and it hides all the probes, CO2 equipment and it is very convertable (I can change my filter design anyhow anytime). In addition, sump tank has those micron sock that will remove any dirt in water within a night that no other filter can achieve. I never try sponge filter for two reasons and they are to small surface area and all I can find are made-in-China only stuffs. However if you intended to use sponge filter, it should work as well. Just do remember that Planted Shrimp tank will have more waste as compare to shrimp only tank (dead plant leaves).
    5. Air pump - For reducing the CO2 at night.
    6. Timer - If you are not using CO2 controller and/or power plug controller, you will need the timer. Refer to the "Quick Guide for Experienced Planted Tank Folks" section for the details.
    7. Testkits -
    a. NH3/4 (Optional if you use my fishless plantless cycling method; I prefer to use the Seachem stick in tank Ammonium test gauge as you can read it anytime without the hassle of chemical)
    b. NO2 (Optional if you use my fishless plantless cycling method)
    c. NO3 (Mandatory: You need a very accurate one; I am using Lamotte)
    d. PO4 (Mandatory: You need a substantial accurate one; I am using the Hanna Instrument one)
    e. K (Optional if you change water weekly or bi-weekly)
    f. Ca/Mg (Optional if you change water weekly or bi-weekly)
    g. General Hardness (Mandatory when you first start up as you need to know whatever you are dosing during water change is consistent and is the correct value)
    h. kH (Optional if you are using RO water)
    i. CO2 (Optional: This is not very accurate but it does give you some ballpark; if you keen on this you will need the laboratory grade because aquarium grade is utterly useless)
    j. Drop Checker (Optional: This is not very accurate but it does give you some ballpark)
    k. pH testkit or pH pen: (Mandatory and you need high resolution one that covers pH 4.5 to 7.5; optional if you have permanent pH probe)
    8. Fertilizer -
    a. Individual N, P and K fertilizer - No tank are the same and you need the individual one to fine tune accordingly
    b. Good trace mix or DIY trace mix
    c. Organic / Chelated Manganese powder or solution
    d. Borax a.k.a Disodium Tetraborate - This is optional.
    e. Organic / Chelated Zinc powder or solution - Zinc Sulphate is fine too but not most preferred
    f. Strontium Carbonate, Chloride or Citrate (this is also for shrimp) - This is optional but I highly recommend.
    g. DiSodium Molybdate - This is optional but I highly recommend.
    h. Selenium as L-Selenomethionine - This is optional but I believe it is essential as the same theory as Strontium. (***If you do not have very accurate milligram scale, do not try to dose this. Selenium is toxic at high dose)
    i. ADA Green Gain - This is optional but very useful to boost the plant to be greener and also makes the plant repair faster after trimming. I still trying to figure out what is in there that created this miracle; I know there is cytokinin but I can't imagine it has such a big effect
    9. Hydrogen Peroxide - This is the best tool I ever discovered for shrimp tank. Below are the usage:
    a. Disinfect tank maintenance equipment and container
    b. Disinfect new shrimp or fish
    c. Cleaning the tank glass after drain the water
    d. Kill algae either whole tank treatment or spot treatment (Do not use more than 1.5ml per 4L of water)
    e. Kill bacteria/fungi infection (Do not use more than 1.5ml per 4L of water)
    f. Cleaning gunk on Moss (Do not use more than 1.5ml per 4L of water)

    Water Chemistry
    I spent the most time and money in researching this aspect. Finally, I had perfected it IMO and I am glad to share with everyone on keeping planted shrimp tank so that no more shrimp will die or ugly plant growth.

    Below is the optimum water chemistry for planted shrimp tank IMO:
    - Temperature: 24 Degree C
    - Lighting: Medium Intensity
    - CO2: 25 to 30ppm
    - pH: 6.0 to 6.4 (after CO2 injection should be 5.6 to 6.0; sweet spot of Molydate availability in this pH range is at pH 5.8 to 6.0. However if you add Molybdate replenishment during water change, you will ensure sufficient Molybdate at all time. I can grow my plant nicely without lack of Molybdate sign at pH 5.4 too)
    - kH: 0 (If you are planning to keep high CO2 demand plant, you may want to do it at 2dKH)
    - gH: 5.5 to 6.5 (according to the pH of above; lower the pH, the high gH is needed)
    - Redox: No absolute value. My shrimp thrive from 300 to 600mV. As long as there is no unstable Redox, your shrimp is safe. If your Redox drop drastically (drop or increase 100 within a weeks or goes to negative), it is a sign of too much organic waste.
    - Potassium: 15 to 30ppm
    - NO3: 15 to 25ppm
    - PO4: 1.5 to 2ppm
    - Ca: 22 to 25ppm
    - Mg: 8 to 11ppm
    - S: 4 or more ppm
    - Fe: 0.1 to 0.5ppm (depending on the type of Fe you are using; organic Fe can has higher level than EDTA/DPTA and EDTA/DPTA can be more than simple mineral)
    - Mn (Manganese): 0.06 to 0.15ppm
    - Zn: 0.025 to 0.06
    - B: 0.01 to 0.3ppm
    - Sr: 1% of Ca
    - Mo: 0.002 to 0.01ppm
    - Cl: 0.002 to 0.01ppm
    - Co: 0.0005 to 0.001ppm
    - Ascorbate: 5 to 10ppm
    - Se: 0.0001 to 0.0005ppm (Beware: Highly toxic at high level)
    - Na: As little as possible

    Fertilization & Dosing Regime
    Some planted tank dosing regime is based on weekday to dose what. This method will need you to dose large amount of single type of fertilizer at a time, thus it is not feasible for shrimp tank. The best method IMO is to dose the fertilizer daily at small amount and can break into multiple dosing within a day. If you have dosing pump, it will be the best especially dosing Excel/EasyCarbo. If you are dosing manually, make sure you dose all the minerals first then wait at least 15mins before dosing Phosphate as they will react at high concentration.

    Starting Up New Tank:
    Most people will recommend you not to dose fertilizer or dose less fertilizer during the initial phase of planted tank. This approach is not totally true. In planted shrimp tank, you will be highly short of PO4 and Trace right at the beginning. I will suggest you to dose 0.25ppm of PO4, 1.0ppm of K and double the dosage of Trace as per the manufacturer recommendation daily. If you trace manufacturer recommended dose is by weekly, you just divide it by 7 then multiple by 2 and dose it daily. Since PO4 is measurable and it's level will only drop due to plant consumption and precipitate out, it is good to be used as a indicator for plant growth. For the first month, you will need to measure PO4 daily and on the second month, you will need to measure it weekly. After that, you can measure it every now and then when your plant is not doing well. Whenever you find PO4 drop below 1ppm, you will need to increase the PO4 dosage. At the same time, you should increase the same percentage for K and trace. I love E.I's dosing amount and concept (provide more than sufficient nutrient to prevent stunted growth; however I don't like the method, which is large amount every two days). I always use the E.I daily dosing amount as a ratio to compute the percent. For those who does not know the E.I. daily dosing amount, please refer below:
    NO3: 3.2
    PO4: 0.75
    K: 3.2

    For all my tank, I find that dosing same ratio of K and NO3 is not sufficient. Thus, I have changed it to 5, instead of 3.2.

    Example of adjusting the dosing amount:
    At the start, you are dosing 0.25ppm of PO4 and 1.0ppm of K. As the PO4 demand increase and to maintain the PO4 level in the water at 1.5ppm, you increased the PO dosing to 0.5ppm, you should adjust the K dosing to 2.5ppm. At the same time, you will need to increase the trace dosing amount gradually.

    If you are using my fishless plantless cycling, you should have about 20 to 50ppm NO3 after the cycling completed. If you perform a 50% or more water change at that time, you should be able to maintain a good amount of NO3 in the water. For the first three days, you should not need to dose NO3. Once you see your plant started to show sign of growth, measure the NO3 and dose accordingly. My past experience is that I only dose about 1 to 2ppm daily for the first two weeks. If on the third week the NO3 consumption is low, then either the plant is not growing well or there are too many decaying plant and you need to adjust the NO3 dosing amount accordingly to maintain 10 to 20ppm.

    For your reference, below is the amount of fertilizer I dose daily in all my 100L matured tank:
    NO3: 3.5ppm
    PO4: 1.4ppm
    K: 9.1ppm
    Fe: 0.5ppm
    Trace: 10ml of Tropica Premium Fertilizer
    Excel: 6ml

    Fertilizer Cut-over Period
    Fertilizer Cut-over Period is the milestone when the substrate is starting to deplete and the plant will absorb most of the nutrients from water column. If you ever tried to start a planted tank or planted shrimp tank, you will discovered that your plants are going very nicely for up to a couple of months and then suddenly, they started to have stunted growth and turn yellow or die. My experience with ADA AS soil, it takes about 1 to 2 month time. Knowing this period is crucial for your success as you need to work around it and take action to compensate it. Below are the items you need to ensure:
    1. Before the cut-over period, you have to make sure all your plant has grow enough roots and already started propagating. If your soil is not rich enough, the root growth will be bad.
    2. Some plant that has small and less leaves when you just plant them, such as HC, they need to absorb nutrients from root more than leaves (not enough stomata). Thus if these kind of plant has not grown enough leaves before cut-over period, it will be very hard to grow them again. This is also the reason why some people find that HC grow with root in water is better than in substrate.
    3. If the water column does not have enough nutrients and the substrate has almost zero nutrients, the plant will have stunted growth (especially immobile trace elements) and the leaves may turn yellow and rot. Thus, you will need to pay extra attention during that first to third month period and increase the fertilizer accordingly. I'm always traveling for work and I always missed this cut-over and always suffered. Usually, it will take about a month to let the plant repair themselves. Worst will be you have algae outbreak when the plant is stunted.

    Mineral Supplements
    This is an advance topic. Please PM me after you have stabilized your tank and wanted to enhance your shrimp color further.

    Plant Choice
    If you replenish the RO water with my recommendation of all the essential minerals and using CO2 injection plus Excel/EasyCarbo, you should be able to grow almost every kind of plant. However, if you are planning to grow high CO2 demand plants, please consider to adjust your water carbonate hardness to at least 2dkH. In theory, having higher KH will have lesser shrimp breeding rate.

    For beginner, please avoid plant that requires high CO2 and/or high light, plants that has very fragile leaves and/or red color plants. Example of these plants are:
    - Hemianthus Cuba (a.k.a HC or Baby Tears Drop)
    - Blyxa Japonica
    - Myriophyllum Tuberculatum
    - Rotala macrandra sp "Butterfly"
    - Pogostemon stellatus

    If you need to find out the difficulty and requirements of the plant, you can go to the following URL:

    If you are really keen on challenging hard to grow plant, we can discuss in here separately.

    Water change is a must for planted shrimp tank. This is due to large amount of fertilizers are added and some of them form into compound that does not precipitate and does not be able to absorb by plant.

    I recommend the water change frequency and amount to be one of the following:
    1. Weekly 40%
    2. Bi-weekly >50%
    3. Bi-weekly <50% you will need to do >50% every one or two months to reset the water parameters
    4. Twice or thrice a week at 20% (This will be easy if you have automatic water change system)

    Whenever you are changing water and if you are using RO water, you must replenish the elements to the level I mentioned earlier (mandatory). Just replenishing meso minerals in a planted shrimp tank will never be enough for both plants and shrimps. Especially the immobile nutrients for plants, such as Boron, Manganese and Zinc, will cause stunted growth or deformed growth that can't be repair later on. For your reference, below are the mineral levels (in ppm) I replenish on the RO water:
    NO3: 7.5
    PO4: 1.5
    K: 15
    Ca: 25
    Mg: 11
    Fe: 0.3
    Mn: 0.1
    Zn: 0.05
    B: 0.05
    Sr: 0.25
    Mo: 0.08
    Se: 0.0005
    Co: 0.001

    What I found out is that once you are able to balance the nutrients for the plant (not too excessive), the shrimp will be in very good health too. This is the result of creating a balanced holistic eco-system.

    If you are using those liquid form replenish mineral specially for shrimp, do note that they usually added acid in it; this is to dissolve the mineral and also reduce the pH. This will causes your pH to go down even further. Either you change away from this kind of mineral or you will have to add something to increase pH to your desired value. I am using PowerHouse filter media to bring back up the pH. However, I am gradually moving all my tanks to homemade meso mineral mix.

    Algae Warfare
    The best allies to combat algae are plant, friendly algae, light (can be your enemy when in excess), sufficient CO2 and balance nutrients.

    Healthy plant will rob nutrients from algae and slow down their growth or fill them. In addition, they may release certain chemical to kill algae too. This is definitely you number one ally.

    Master the control of light and CO2 will be the best skill to control algae. Thus, make sure always reduce light and increase CO2 when algae appears.

    Friendly algae? Is there such a thing? The way I classify algae as friendly is that they are food for our precious shrimp and at the same time does not causes your tank to be ugly. So what are friendly algae? Most soft green algae, such as Green Dust Algae (GDA), and diatom (not excessive) are friendly algae. Places where there is these sort of algae, no other type of algae will grow. Reason for this is that the algae will fight for nutrients with other algae.

    Below are some useful method I learnt on combating nuisance algae:
    - Green Spot Algae (GSA): This is the most easy to remove algae. If your NO3 is high, reduce it and increase PO4 and K at the same time. If they grow on plant, cut it off. This algae is favour to grow on rock and driftwood to give a aged and natural look.
    - Fur Algae, Hair Algae & Spirogyra: This is the most irritating algae, especially Spirogyra. Preventing them is the better than curing it. They will grow when there are ammonia spike and decaying plants or accumulated organic at plant. Thus whenever you see leave that is going to die and rot, cut it away immediately. Ensure all the organic either stays in the substrate or into the filter. Moss in high light tank tends to grow these sort of algae. The reason for it is that moss acts like a vacuum cleaner that suck everything in. To prevent moss from growing these sort of algae, ensure frequent water change and frequent cutting or cleaning (siphon or use H2O2). If you ever get outbreak, you will need to use H2O2 in spot treatment with filter turn off.
    - Black Brush Algae (BBA) & Staghorn: These sort of algae are usually caused by disturbing of substrate, too much organic/ammonia and/or low CO2. To remove them, you will need to firstly ensure the water has less organic, rebalance the nutrients and CO2 then after that cut them away. If they grow on your equipment, use H2O2 to clean them off. Alternatively, you can wait for weeks or months after you rebalance the nutrients and CO2 level and they will disappear slowly (usually, I don't have the patient to wait).
    - Pink Brush Algae - Actually, I love this algae. It is pink and furry in bunches that look quite pretty. If it grow on driftwood, it looks like fungi on tree in the nature. The cause for this algae is too much light and I find that it always hitchhike from Riccardia Chamedryfolia (Coral Moss). If you ever wanted to remove it, the method will be the same as BBA.
    - Rhizoclonium: This usually appear when the light is too strong, which is a good signal for you to dim the light. Although this is a soft algae, I never see shrimp or fish eat it. This algae can be decorative in some aspect and it is fine if you decided to keep it. However to remove it, you just need to dim your light and siphon it out. If it keep coming back, you can use H2O2 spot treatment too.
    - Green Dust Algae (GDA): Although I listed this as ally, it can be a nuisance when it has outbreak on the tank glass. Traditionally, people always thought this algae only grow on tank glass. This thought is partially right. In actual fact, this algae grow on bio-flim and requires significant light. This is why they always appear on the tank glass in highest concentration and usually in area where there is strong light (you sometime see it grow in a perfectly straight rectangular shape where light shine strongest on the glass). This sort of algae will also grow on moss, if your moss is placed up and near the light (moss tends to have bio-flim). I'm not sure GDA uses bio-film to stick on surface or it needs to feed on bio-film. The cause for the outbreak can be either too much organic and causes bio-flim boom, too much light shining on tank glass, too much minerals deposited on the tank surface (if your pH is based on my recommended i.e. 5.6 to 6.2, this will be least likely) or all of them. To resolve this outbreak, you will have to move and/or dim the light so that it does not shine strongly and directly on tank glass and remove as much organic from water as possible. If you see bio-flim grow back very fast, it is a sign of too much organic and you need to change water frequently. To clean off this algae from glass, perform the following steps:
    1. Stop the filter
    2. Before you drain water, scrap the algae in those area that is below the water level when you drain most of the water.
    3. Drain the water to the lowest level that will not stress your shrimp and fish.
    4. Wait for the tank glass surface to dry.
    5. Use paper towel soak with H2O2 and wipe the tank glass.
    6. Scrap the algae off without dripping into the water.
    7. Wipe the glass with paper towel and H2O2 again.
    8. Wipe dry with paper towel or cloth.
    9. Fill back the water and start the filter.

    There is another group of allies, who are optional, but I prefer to have them and they are:
    1. Amano Shrimp - Good for eating soft algae, fur and hair algae (not spirogyra)Need at least 1 per 5L of water. Put them in about after one or two weeks after you put in the plants.
    2. Otocinclus - Good for soft algae on flat surfaces, such as driftwood, glass tank and plant leaves. They need to be kept in school of 5 but 3 or 4 is still fine (to ensure they are happy). Put them in after put in the plant after a month.
    3. Panda Loach - Good for all kind of algae that can fit their tiny mouth. I saw them eating GSA and pink brush algae too, which are hard algae. Put them in after put in the plant after a month.

    Sorry for not posting any picture. I only have iPhone camera and GoPro, thus can't take beautiful picture. I am already planning to get the new FujiFilm X-1M special edition when it is out. By then, I will post some picture here.

    I was trying to rush this out for one of the member who is about to setup a planted shrimp tank, thus do pardon me if there are a lot of typo.

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    Thank you for sharing.
    I have learned a lot from the literature you shared.
    I will re-read and re-read to fully understand and will apply this on my next planted shrimp tank.

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    Shrimpy Lover hyoushoku's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leroi View Post
    Thank you for sharing.
    I have learned a lot from the literature you shared.
    I will re-read and re-read to fully understand and will apply this on my next planted shrimp tank.
    You are welcome.

    I wrote this while I'm on the plane, thus, it may not be clear at times. Please feel free to check with me if you do not understand any area and I can elaborate more.

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    Thanks for this write out.. really helpful to me

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    Thank you for writing this. I will follow what it says and name a shrimp after you

  9. #7
    Shrimpy Lover hyoushoku's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkNJD15 View Post
    Thank you for writing this. I will follow what it says and name a shrimp after you
    You are welcome but minus naming your shrimp after me. LOL!!!

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    thanks great article

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    Hi all,

    I forgot to tell you all more on dosing Molybdate and Borate.

    Molybdate and Borate salts are mostly insoluble, except those salt from Group I (such as Potassium and Sodium). With high Calcium and Magnesium level of shrimp tank, they will react with them easily and precipitate into the substrate or filter (there will be continuous ionic exchange, thus not lost forever). This will cause your water to look a tiny bit hazy for a couple of days.

    If you don't like the haziness or your filter is not good at filtering it, you can either:
    1. Dose lesser during water change and dose more during fine-grade filter change/wash.
    2. Inject it directly into the substrate around the plant (not touching the root). For better result, mix a little bit of K2SO4 or KCL.

    However if you have HC, I will suggest you to bear with the tiny haziness until you HC has fully grown; HC has very short root and may not able to absorb it when you inject deep in the substrate.

    If you are making trace solution, you will have to separate Molybdate and Borate as separate solution. The preservative to use must only contain sodium or potassium ion. Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Metabisulfite are OK to use.

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    Great thanks! Very useful information.
    I reading and re-reading this article many times.
    Now I planning to start new taiwan bee shrimp tank and I have a question. Can you recomend good trace elements for taiwan bee shrimp tank? Or DIY trace elements will be better?

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