Shrimp, shramp, shrump-tiny invertebrates add cheerful action to aquariums

Digital Originals

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — That Fish Place near Lancaster has been busy, even during the pandemic.

When it comes to a reason, Fish Room Manager says “it comes from people being home. They definitely have an interest in the aquatics hobby. So obviously sitting at home seeing your tank, they to come in and try to make sure it’s looking good.”

The Fish Room has dozens of tanks, stocked with all manner of fish. There are also things that swim with the fish, such as freshwater shrimp. Nick Brown says the idea of adding them to aquariums originated in Europe and spread to the U.S. There are several species of freshwater shrimp for sale; they have become very popular as part of the aquarium cleanup crew.

“Truly omnivorous, they’ll eat excess food,” says Nick, “They’ll help eat some algae in the tank, if you have, like, hair algae issues or whatever the case may be.”

Not only are they useful, but they’re also colorful and fun to watch. Teanna Byerts of Dover learned about freshwater shrimp when a friend who was moving gifted her with a thirty-six-gallon fish tank. She put in some fathead minnows (“A native east coast species” she notes) and some snails from a pond to do cleanup work. Then someone suggested adding shrimp. They quickly became her favorites. When she talks about why she likes them, she tends to wiggle her fingers in imitation of the shrimps’ legs.

“They are just so amusing,” she says. “They’re always busy, they’re always doing this (wiggle fingers) with their little front feet, cleaning things up, scooping up algae. They’re fun to watch. They’re always poking up debris and they’re like busy little cleaning ladies. When they do swim,” she adds, “They can swim in any direction. they’re like the hummingbirds of the water. They can go in any direction, forward, backward, sideways, up, down. They’re like little spaceships.”

Both snails and shrimp help keep the algae under control but work in different territories. “The snails will eat it off the walls, the shrimp will eat it off the plants, the rocks, the bottom, and everything else and basically that’s your cleanup crew.”

Teanna is keeping tabs on one female shrimp carting around a load of eggs in her abdomen. “Those are eggs, those tiny little ping pong balls, and yesterday she had several dozen of them.”

Teanna’s shrimp produce babies in a lot of different colors. Color morphs are part of the fun with raising shrimp, and she’s got the whole crayon box.

“I have a full-blown genetics experiment happening here. I’ve got red, I’ve got yellow, I’ve got orange, I’ve got a black one, I’ve got a blue one, I’ve got a party shrimp, it’s actually called a candy shrimp, it’s kind of red on both ends and clear in the middle and has a little bit of white and yellow.”

She posts a lot of pictures of her shrimp, and has done a series of Facebook livestreams in which they star.

Nick Brown notes you don’t need a big tank to hold a lot of shrimp.

“So, somebody might not have a lot of space at their house, you want like a 10-gallon tank even a 5-gallon tank, there’s a lot of species of shrimp that you can maintain in that size system.”

Teanna agrees. “You can get a handful of shrimp and have a good time. It’d be a good project for kids.”

And if she was starting from scratch, would Teanna go with just the shrimp?

“I might. I’m still debating whether when these fish keel over, do I just go with shrimp.”

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