The Cardina Crystal Red Shrimp aka CRS are the “Bees Knees” of today’s aquarium shrimp market. It’s no question why this species is growing popularity around the world so quickly. Not only is the CRS a beautiful and vibrant shrimp, it looks beautiful and artistic in nature aquariums, a great contrast to the lush rich greens of the planted tank. They are a very active species which makes them fun to watch especially when they are in the mood to eat or to mate. Females are distinct from the males because of their thicker tails and skirt where they keep their eggs. They can live up to 1 ½ years if in good water conditions.
They are graded by their color and markings from C, B, A, S, SS, SS, SSS+ and all in between. The lower grades like C, B, and A’s being the less white on their bodies and less vibrant red, to the SSS+ that shine almost completely white with very little to no patches of vibrant red on their bodies.
All CRS originate from Japan, bred from 3 red versions of Black Crystal Bee shrimp bred by Hisayasu Suzuki. It is one of the more sensitive species because of the smaller gene pool created by the selective inbreeding, so naturally the higher the grade of CRS you obtain the more selective inbreeding was used and the more sensitive that shrimp will be to water conditions. This makes the lower grade crystals the ideal match for a beginner – intermediate shrimp-feverist to gradually upgrade their skills in shrimp keeping and breeding to the more expensive, more complicated and more sensitive species such as higher grade crystals (SSS+ and other variations like King Kong) and Sulawasi Species Shrimp.
CRS need to be introduced into a well cycled tank that is bountiful in plantation that includes a decent amount of hiding places and shady areas. Moss is and Riccia are great because they can nibble on them once in a while. CRS can be a great addition to some well established nano tanks but a 20 gallon or larger tank is needed if breeding is one of your goals. A sponge filter is necessary in order for a tank to be shrimp baby safe as well as soft flowing filtration. Small very friendly fish are a great addition to a tank as well if you are not breeding.
As for water conditions, moderate hardness is ideal and a PH of 6.2 – 7.2. Keeping the temperature at 22 – 25 degrees Celsius will allow your shrimp to show its best colors but 21-23 degrees Celsius is better for breeding. Low alkaline plus a neutral PH is needed for shrimp to have healthy hard shells. Their alkaline shells can weaken in acidic water and open the shrimp up to bacterial infections. Your nitrate and ammonia levels need to be as close to zero as possible because they are very sensitive to nitrate poisoning. Water changes can be made once a month at 30% and topped off a little bit whenever you notice a bit of evaporation – If you are good at maintaining good water quality then there is no need to change water often. Put your aquarium light timer on for 10-12 hours, too much light or too little light will stress your shrimpies out. CO2 should be used only if necessary and carefully as to not lower the PH levels in your tank.
Shrimp are very entertaining when it comes to watching them eat. They swarm around push each other, and run off with food. They love veg wafers, invert food and also boiled vegetables once in a while will make them happy. Shrimp are what they eat so it is best to get specialized food that your shrimp will benefit most from, as well as help the water conditions stay balanced, and there are plenty on the market such as Borneowild Shrimp Food and Mosura. Also leaving their molted shells in the tank for them to eat helps maintain their calcium levels.
Crystal Red Shrimps are so beautiful and diverse a species variation that I cannot ever see its popularity ever going out of style. Beginner and casual hobbyists can afford, enjoy and learn from them and add a bit of class to their tanks, while the more experienced more daring hobbyists that are willing to invest more will always find a challenge and have pride in having a high grade crystals in theirs.