Q. I am 14 and have kept freshwater fish for more than six years now. I have a 10-gallon saltwater aquarium with one engineer goby, a 10-gallon quarantine aquarium, a 30-gallon aquarium for my two weather loaches that I’ve had for six years, and a 37-gallon blackwater aquarium with two pairs of Fundulopanchax killifish (all the same species), four Corydoras paleatus, three skunk cories and one blue ram.
Recently, I purchased a “bamboo” shrimp. The dealer told me that it lived in a softwater/acidic habitat. When I brought it home, I put it in my 10-gallon quarantine aquarium. On the basis of its four sifting “arms,” I concluded that it is a filter feeder, so I am now feeding it frozen Daphnia, Mysis shrimp and brine shrimp. It seems to be doing fine, but does it need anything else in its diet? Will it survive in my 37-gallon blackwater aquarium? What temperature should the water be? Should it have company of its own kind? Can it destroy plants? Any information that you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
A. The very interesting shrimp that you have in your aquarium is also known as a flower or fan shrimp, and is probably one of the many species of Atyopsis (most common is A. moluccensis).
Your assumption that it is a filter feeder is absolutely correct. Four of the shrimp’s front legs (two on each side) are equipped with the “fan” adaptation. They look like regular legs when the shrimp is just walking around and not actively feeding. When the shrimp feeds, the fans unfold at the end of each of these four legs (they look like the fan of a marine tube worm). The shrimp extends the fans into the water current, and every few seconds closes them to bring whatever delicacies they’ve sifted from the water into its mouth. It then sends the fans back out for more. In addition to sifting, this shrimp will also scavenge, looking for algae and any other delectable morsels.
It has been my experience that the best way to feed these shrimp is to grind flake fish food very fine and introduce it into the current in which the shrimp spends its time. If you don’t have a filter return current, you may want to set one up with a small powerhead. I guarantee you that your shrimp will claim its station in the water stream.
Mysis shrimp and brine shrimp may be too big for your bamboo shrimp to eat, although it will probably eventually eat anything when sufficiently hungry. A better “meaty” food for it would be frozen baby brine shrimp or Daphnia, which are very small crustaceans.
As far as temperature, pH and hardness, bamboo shrimp seem to do well in any condition that fish thrive in. As long as they have enough food, I’m relatively sure they will not harm your plants.
Be careful which fish you keep with them. Not because they would harm the fish, but because some fish (any large cichlid fish or other fish that could swallow a shrimp whole) would love to make a meal of the shrimp. I would also be careful with other “picky” fish, such as mollies, headstanders, larger tetras or barbs that might not be able to resist munching on your shrimp.