A good thing about setting up a shrimp tank is the ease of maintenance, relative to tanks with fishes. Even so, there is still a need to clean them periodically.
In this guide, we cover the shrimp tank cleaning procedure.
Here is how often you should clean the different parts of the shrimp tank
- Prefilter sponge: once every 2 weeks
- Filter: once every month
- Change water: about 20-30% every 2 weeks
- Top up water: 4-6 times a week
The above is a general guideline on the frequency of cleaning shrimp tanks.
Your actual cleaning procedure will depend on a number of factors listed below. We will also discuss the following:
- Whether to vacuum the tank
- How to prevent baby shrimps from dying during cleaning
Factors affecting the cleanliness level of your tank
How frequent you need to clean your tanks depends on the following factors:
- Amount of food you are giving: If you are feeding shrimps everyday, you will probably need to clean the substrate more frequently. In additional, more food=more bio waste = more cleaning as well. Feed sufficiently but do not over feed. I recommend 3-4 times a week.
- Amount of plants: Some plants are better than others in absorbing ammonia, which means less nitrate in the water, which means less need for water change. The good news is most of these plants are easy to keep as they require very little maintenance. Examples of such plants include anacharis, duck weed, moss balls, water lettuce etc.
- Size of your tank: The smaller the tank, the more frequent the cleaning should be as the dirt builds up easily in a small tank. Small tank usually don’t have space for too much plants either to help you reduce your cleaning needs.
- Snails: Snails poop a lot. If you have them, you need to clean the tank more frequently, including regular vacuuming of the substrate.
- Fishes: If your shrimp tank contains other fishes, then your cleaning frequency will definitely higher. Most fishes have a lower tolerance of unsuitable water perimeters. If you don’t clean often enough, the dirt can cause havoc on these perimeters.
How to gravel vac a shrimp tank
For a shrimp, gravel vaccum is not really a must unless the TDS suddenly spikes. The risk of vacuuming the substrate is that it might release something that is harmful to the tank.
In that case, here is how you should do a gravel vacuum if you need to do it:
- Do some circulating movements above the area to get the shrimps out of the way
- Gently hold the vacuum about 1 inches above the substrate to avoid releasing a bacteria cloud
- Repeat this process, focusing on a small area each time to avoid disturbing the shrimps or accidentally sucking them in
- Check your vacuum bag for any shrimps that might be sucked in and release them back into the tank (see below image for how extreme your checking can be).
A better alternative to gravel vacuuming is to use a an airline tubing. They cannot remove large chunks of dirt but works great for sucking out leftover food and poop.
To enable ease of movement, I recommend that you tie the airline tubing to a chopstick. The increased weight helps to keep the tubing nearer to the bottom of the tank.
Using tubing has the advantage of not harming the baby shrimps or stirring up any bacteria cloud, which brings me to the next section.
How to clean tank with baby shrimps
One of the challenges of cleaning a tank with shrimps is to spot the baby shrimps. They are so small that I missed them sometimes. Here are a few tips that I learned which you might find useful:
- Know where they are hiding: every shrimp colony is different and they like to hide in different places. When you cleaning these hiding places, be more careful
- Use a cloth or mess: Place a cloth or mess over the mouth of the your sucking device will help a lot. It can probably keep out almost 100% of the shrimp babies and saving their lives.
- Use a bucket for water changes: When doing your water changes, place a shrimp next over a bucket and pour the tank water into it. In this way, any caught shrimp will be on the net, which you can easily put back after the water change is done. It is also recommended to use a white color bucket. It will be easier to spot any shrimps that might slip through the net.
How often to clean your tank depends on how much dirt it will accumulate. As mentioned above, your tank set up and your feeding frequency will have a huge impact on this. If you want to clean less often, changes those conditions first.