Does a shrimp tank need to be cycled? The answer is yes.
We can of course try to speed up the process so that we can faster introduce the shrimps and enjoy the hobby.
In this article, I am going to show you how.
Here are some of the fastest ways to cycle shrimp tank:
- Make use of existing tank’s water, media, substrate etc
- Introduce bacteria artificially
- Know how to grow biofilm in aquarium (2 ways)
- Reduce ammonia production with the right soil
How long to cycle a shrimp tank
The average time need to cycle a shrimp tank ranges between a week to months. The way to know if a tank is fully cycled is to check the water perimeters. In particular, ammonia/nitrites should be as close to 0 as possible. Some types of shrimps might survive in non zero ammonia water but it is always going to be a risk.
Why is cycling important for shrimp tank
The common misconception is that shrimps might NOT need a full cycled tank because they are resistant to non ideal water conditions. While that is true, there are other reasons why your shrimp tank needs to be fully cycled for a thriving shrimp colony.
- To have sufficient biofilm to remove the bio load of the shrimp
- To have sufficient biofilm to provide food for the shrimp
If your tank is not fully cycled, the lack of biofilm might either cause the tank to be dirty and unliveable or lacking in food and causing shrimps to die.
Make use of existing tank
If you have an existing tank (benefit of having multiple tanks), there are a couple of ways to take advantage of it to quick cycle your shrimp tank.
- Use water from existing water: This is particularly useful if you have a large existing tank and is planning to set up a smaller shrimp tank. Simply transfer the water over and you are good to go, assuming your existing tank’s water perimeter is ideal for shrimps.
- Use media from existing water: Besides water, you can also transfer media in existing filter to the new tank. They have been proven to be effective for your current tank so they should work well for your new tank as well.
- Adding substrate and any rock from existing tank: These stuff can also help to fasten the cycling of your new tank
- Add filter to existing tank: You can increase the speed of your filter cycle by using it on your existing tank. Let the filter work with the cycled water for a week before transferring it to your new tank.
If you can do this, you probably need just 3-4 days of cycling time.
Cycling tank with tetra safestart
If you do not have an existing tank, another way to quicken the cycling time is to introduce an external bacteria source that can bring the ammonia to zero.
Tetra safestart works from my experience but you need to use it correctly. If your Tetra safestart is not working, it might be due to the following misteps:
- Use the Tetra safestart plus, instead of Tetra safestart
- Check the back to know how much Tetra safestart to add. Get the right quantity! Most people don’t read the back and get the wrong volume for their tank (and complaint that this product does not work lol)
- If you just added dechlorinators, you need to wait 48 hours before using Tetra safestart. The decholorinator will killed any bacteria introduced by Tetra safestart and render it ineffective.
- Make sure the tank has a pH of 6 or higher. Anything lower will not be sufficient to keep the bacteria growing.
- Shake the bottle before unloading it.
- Pour Tetra safestart into the filter to get the bacteria growing there asap.
- Put shrimp or fish into the tank after 20 mins. They will produce the necessary ammonia that serve as food for the bacteria.
If you follow these steps well, you should complete your cycling within a couple of days, especially if you have a small tank.
Knowing how to grow biofilm in aquarium
As mentioned above, one of the real issue of cycling a tank within a short time is the lack of biofilm growth. While the perimeters of the water can be good, i.e. ammonia close to 0, that doesn’t mean the biofilm is sufficient to support a thriving shrimp colony.
There are two solutions to this problem.
A. Introduce artificial biofilm
If you are rushing for time, the fastest way is to introduce artificial biofilm during your cycling stage. My recommendation is the Bacter ae. I used it to increase biofilm development once when I was using a temporary tank. It did not have any plants and I noticed that my shrimps seems to be lacking food.
After doing some research, I ordered the Bacter Ae on Amazon, pour them in and saw some amazing results:
- The shrimps went crazy for it so it is a good shrimp food
- More importantly though, the biofilm production becomes more noticeable around my filter area
So, if you want to speed up cycling without losing proper biofilm production, you can use one of these.
B. Introduce Ramhorns (snails)
This is a natural way to boost biofilm production. Snails bio waste are actually a good booster to biofilm production. If you keep a couple of them around, they help to produce more food for the shrimps, even without a long cycling time.
However, you do need to remove them once in a while if you do not want your shrimp tank to become a snail tank.
Reduce ammonia production
Since one of the main objectives of cycling a tank is to bring ammonia levels down to zero, you can improve the speed simply by setting up the tank to produce less of it.
Since I am assuming that you are doing shrimpless cycling, the biggest contributor to ammoia levels will be your plants and substrate. For the latter, I would suggest Akadama as it wouldn’t as much ammonia as other substrate.
For a shrimp tank, cycling is important for 2 main reasons: (i) get ammonia to be low and (ii) create sufficient biofilm production capability. There are ways to shorten both of these 2 needs and if done successfully, will lead to a quicker cycling time for shrimp tank.