Crystal red shrimp are a striking red and white strain of the wild bee shrimp, Caridina cantonensis, a freshwater shrimp native to Japan. Breeding such shrimp is not impossible but it is difficult, and it is one of the reasons crystal red shrimps command high prices. A single shrimp of particularly good quality can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars. It is certainly not a shrimp for beginners, as it has very specific needs and won't live in an unsuitable environment. However, if you have experience in raising other freshwater dwarf shrimps, breeding crystal reds can be a rewarding and potentially profitable experience.
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Things you need
- 10-gallon or larger tank with gravel, heater, filter, light, rocks and aquatic plants
- pH monitor
- Fish food
- Nitrate and phosphate test kits
- Hardness test kit
Set up a freshwater tank and include a pH monitor. Ten gallons is the minimum tank size for this species but a tank 20 gallons or larger works better and is easier to maintain.
Maintain a temperature of around 18.3 to 21.1 degrees Celsius and a pH of about 6.2 to 7. The shrimp survive and can breed at higher temperatures but this range should mean more of their offspring survive.
Introduce several male and several female shrimp. Crystal reds are a little difficult to sex, but if you have enough individuals a mistake won't matter. In comparison to males of the same age, females are larger and have longer, wider tails.
Feed the shrimp daily on a high quality food for bottom feeders supplemented with well-boiled vegetables such as lettuce. The shrimp will also find some algae and scraps in the tank but probably not enough to sustain them. As a rough guide, feed as much as the shrimp can eat within a couple of hours but no more. Leftover food pollutes the water. Skipping the occasional feed won't cause problems.
Conduct weekly partial water changes. Test nitrate and phosphate levels weekly. Both should be close to zero. Nitrate in particular causes problems to these shrimp if it rises. Increase the water changes if either rises.
Test the water hardness after set up and once a month thereafter. Crystal reds need medium hard water -- Gh 4 to 6 and kH 1 to 2 -- if your water is soft, address this with hardeners such as crushed coral.
Feed the shrimp fry, which are miniature versions of the adults, on a similar diet to their parents. As there is no larval stage, you don't need to supply a special diet.
Tips and warnings
- Like some pedigree dogs, crystal red shrimps are highly inbred. You'll get healthier, although less valuable, offspring if you crossbreed them with standard bee shrimps.
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