Planted tanks are becoming increasingly popular among aquarium enthusiasts. In contrast with traditional aquariums where the emphasis is on the fish, planted tanks are all about showcasing a variety of live aquatic plants. While most planted tanks do contain some aquatic animal life, any fish or other wildlife are intended to complement the plants rather than the other way around.
Shrimps are a popular wildlife choice for planted tanks, as there are many types of shrimp available that are easy to care for and are visually appealing within a tank. Two common types of shrimp that are bought for this purpose are ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp.
Both ghost and cherry shrimp are primarily freshwater shrimp, and they get along well enough to be kept in the same tank together with no issues. Today, we’ll be giving you an overview of what you need to know in order to properly care for your shrimp and how to help your planted tank thrive.
Ghost Shrimp Overview
Ghost shrimp, as the name implies, are a shrimp species that have developed translucent bodies in order to avoid detection from predators. They are a small species of shrimp, typically not more than 1.5 inches long when fully grown.
Ghost shrimp are particularly cheap and easy to breed, and as such, they are often sold as feeder fish. Unfortunately, this means that ghost shrimp are often kept in poor conditions prior to their sale since the assumption is that they’re going to be eaten anyway.
This, in turn, means that ghost shrimp sometimes have a tendency to die unexpectedly, even if you are keeping them in healthy conditions. Otherwise, ghost shrimp usually live for about a year.
Ghost shrimp enjoy having plants in their habitat, as these provide the shrimp with both a food source and a place to hide. Their natural habitats consist of areas with access to sediment and crevices that double as hiding places, so be sure to include both of these in your planted tank.
Your shrimp will likely try and burrow into whatever sediment is available, so make sure to line the bottom of your tank with sand or very fine gravel to avoid injuring your shrimp.
Ghost shrimp will eat algae and plant detritus, but if you’re concerned that your shrimp aren’t getting enough to eat, you can feed them pretty much any kind of shrimp food.
Cherry Shrimp Overview
As you might assume, cherry shrimp get their name from their red coloration. Cherry shrimp may be entirely red, or merely white with red patches. In any case, their red color helps them contrast nicely with ghost shrimp.
Much of what applies to ghost shrimp also applies to cherry shrimp. They live in similar conditions in the wild and grow to about the same size. They both eat algae and decaying plant matter, and they’re both easy to take care of and easy to breed.
Both types of shrimp can live in relatively small tanks (down to about 5 gallons) but the more shrimp you plan on keeping, the bigger the tank you’ll need. In general, you can have about 2-5 shrimp per gallon of water that your tank holds.
Can Ghost Shrimp and Cherry Shrimp Breed?
Since ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp are so similar overall, you may be wondering if it’s possible for these two species to breed with each other and create a hybrid shrimp species. However, ghost and cherry shrimp tend to breed in slightly different conditions, which makes them unsuitable for crossbreeding.
In addition, while ghost and cherry shrimp can sometimes produce offspring, the resulting hybrid shrimp are usually sterile. This means that even if you are able to successfully breed some hybrid shrimp, it’s unlikely that they’ll last for longer than a single generation.
How to Build the Perfect Planted Tank
The best kind of aquarium is one with a balanced and diverse ecosystem, and a planted tank is no exception to this. While planted tanks are typically easier to care for than traditional aquariums due to the lesser presence of fish, they require more planning beforehand to ensure that the plants within them are able to thrive.
When planning how you’re going to set up your planted tank, a lot of variables need to be considered. These include the pH content of your water, the lighting around your tank, the plants and animals you want to include in your tank, and the substrate and fertilizers you intend to use to grow your plants.
Let’s briefly go over what you have to know about each of these variables:
- For your lighting, you’ll need to adjust the intensity of your light depending on what kind of plants you want to keep. Some plants require high-intensity lights, while others do better in low-intensity light. You should also use lightbulbs intended specifically for aquarium plants.
- The pH of your planted tank should be between 6.5-8.0, as this is the ideal pH range for both aquatic plants and shrimp.
- For your substrate, you should use either fine gravel or coarse sand. Using a few pebbles is ok too, but only for decorative purposes; it shouldn’t be used as your main substrate. You can also buy substrates that are designed to be used in planted tanks.
- For fertilizer, anything containing iron, potassium, and magnesium will work well with aquatic plants. Avoid using any fertilizer containing copper, however, as this can make the water unsuitable for your shrimp to live in.
Shrimps are a pretty great addition to any planted tank, as they’re cheap to acquire and fairly easy to maintain. Ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp are both good fits in a planted tank for these reasons, and also because the color contrast between the translucent ghost shrimp and the bright red cherry shrimp is aesthetically appealing.
Knowing how to take care of a planted aquarium is quite easy in general, as long as you know what you’re doing. We hope that with the information we’ve shared with you today you have a better understanding of how to take care of your planted tank and the shrimp in it!