About 4 years ago I had a 55 gallon tank of live bearing fish like Guppies and Mollies. I was slowly becoming more disinterested in them so I decided to check out Ebay and see what other aquarium critters were out there. I quickly came across cherry shrimp. I did a little research and asked the seller for larger juveniles and adults as I was going to be adding them to my already well established livebearer tank. Asking for larger shrimp would help them survive in my heavily planted tank. I also purchased 4 yellow and 4 snowball shrimp. I received the shrimp and added fish food to one side of the tank and while all the fish were distracted I added the shrimp to the other side of the tank. They all shot down into the plants and decorations, where they hid for a few days. Once they started to come out and explore their tank I quickly realized I wanted a whole tank of them. I put an advertisement on craigslist and gave away all of my fish within a week. I then started a 2.5 gallon and 10 gallon tank which I would eventually use to house the yellows and the snowballs.
A month or 2 passed, the cherries were breeding like crazy. I had added some flame moss pads and some malaysian driftwood, removed the plastic and ceramic ornaments from the tank and added some Marimo moss balls. I was looking around on shrimp specific sites and came across a picture of an Orange Eyed Blue Tiger. I was excited to see that their suggested parameter range matched my tap water. They were about $15 a shrimp and I wasnt quite ready to spend that type of money. I went on craigslist and to my amazement a guy about 3 hours south of me was selling them for $8 each. He lived in the same city as my brother. I contacted him and made arrangements for him to drop the shrimp off with my brother, and talked my brother into driving halfway to meet me. I was so excited to be finally getting these shrimp. I rushed home and and started to acclimate them to my tank water. They were as beautiful as I had imagined. They were smaller juveniles as I had requested, to help make acclimation more successful. The blue color varied from a light ice blue with black tiger stripes, to dark royal with stripes. I added the 8 Orange Eyed Blue Tigers to my tank about 3 years ago. That tank has since produced thousands of shrimp I have sold, and currently houses about 3000 shrimp. I will share with you what I believe has made this tank so successful.
Substrate: The substrate I use is basically inert. I use a mix of Fluval shrimp stratum, black sand, and pea gravel. Only about 10 pounds of each. For a standard 55 gallon tank that makes the substrate layer about ¼ inch. A thin layer does not allow a buildup of muck in the substrate, with Blue Tigers being prone to bacterial infections, I feel less areas for muck buildup the better.
Environment: As I stated earlier, their tank was very well established before ever adding shrimp. This is one of the most important factors. From the second these shrimp hit the tank there was algae and biofilm all over the place, including the glass. From my experience the Blue Tiger newborns and juveniles prefer the biofilm on the glass and sponges over the substrate, wood and moss. The size of their environment (55 gallons) is huge for a shrimp only tank. The size allows for minor variations in water being added to not make a big difference. Tons of driftwood, moss and sponges. Blue tigers are very active compared to other dwarf shrimp, I find them constantly picking at the biofilm that grows on the sponges, glass, wood and moss
Parameters: The water parameters for my Blue Tiger tank fluctuates a little, but in general these are what I have found to be the best parameters. Ph 7.2. Total dissolved solids (tds) 220-260. General hardness 8-12. Carbonate hardness (kh) 3-5. While others have had success keeping Blue tigers in a more acidic ph, I prefer the higher ph of about 7.2-7.4. It is also important to keep your water cold and clean. I do not allow my tank to ever get warmer than 70f. During the winter my tank sometimes dips into the mid 50's. It is believed that warmer temps can lead to bacterial infections in the colony. Nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia are basically non existent in my tank.
Filtration: I over filter all of my tanks, but especially my Blue Tiger tank. The right side of the tank I have an Aquaclear 110 hang on back filter I have set wide open to maximize the flow. The filter inlet is covered by a sponge that is approximately 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. On the left side of my tank I have an oversized sponge filter designed for tanks that are 150-200 gallons. Inside the Aquaclear I have a sponge, and the rest of the compartment is filled with Seachem matrix. I clean it maybe once a year as the prefilter sponge catches most of the solids. The sponge filter I clean about every 2 months. While doing a water change I clean it in tank water I am removing from the tank.
Diet: I have fed the tank almost every major food available over the last 3 years. They have taken most without issue. My current feeding schedule is much more often and in larger quantities than your average shrimp tank, due to the high volume of shrimp I feed a powder and a pellet food almost daily. I am a big believer in a lot of leaf litter. Currently in my tank I have 5 Indian almond leaves, 5 oak leaves, 5 walnut leaves, 2 papaya and 2 guava leaves. My weekly feeding regimen does vary, and I will throw in shavings of other foods throughout the week but I will try to be as accurate as possible.
Day 1: Shrimp Nature Yellow 3-4 pellets ( a veg/animal protein) and Shrimp Nature Baby Bio.
Day 2: Shrimp Nature orange 3-4 pellets ( moulting aid) and Shrimp Nature Baby Shrimp ( veg./animal protein powdered feed).
Day 3: Shrimp Nature Brown 3-4 pellets (health aid) and Ebiken EI
Day 4: Shrimp Nature Green (veg protein) and Baby Bio.
Day 5: Ebiken Han 3-4 balls and Shrimp Nature Baby Shrimp.
Day 6: Shrimp Nature Nettle 3-4 pellets and Ebiken EI
Day 7 Shrimp Nature Brown and Orange 2 pellets of each
*I will also feed bloodworms about every 2 weeks, and add blanched veggies when available.
Water changes: I do a 10-15 gallon water change every 2 weeks. Depending on the amount of time I have I either replace the water with tap treated with prime, or I mix salty shrimp gh+ into ro water until I get a tds of 220. I use ¼ inch hose to run the new water back into the tank. I position the hose under the flow coming out of the Aquaclear. I feel frequent smaller water changes (15-30%) are much better for the shrimp than larger water changes.