These are the things you need to buy and get ready BEFORE you ever purchase any plants or livestock.
A Tank: What size of tank you want? We recommend nothing smaller than 15 Gallons for shrimp to provide stable water conditions. Check your local pet store for sizes and styles of aquariums available. You can choose the one that you feel will look the best in your space, budget and for the livestock and plants that you want to keep. If you would like to save a little money, check on KIJIJI or your local Aquarium forum/communities to see if anyone is selling off their old tanks for a good price. Used tanks are just as capable as new tanks as long as they don’t have leaks.
Tank Stand: Tanks can be extremely heavy especially when you want larger tanks, so it is vital to make sure you put it on a stable and strong stand in order to keep it from breaking the stand and send everything crashing to the floor. So that skinny bookshelf or dresser that’s made from particle-board/chip-board isn’t going to be able to hold up a heavy tank filled with water. When you are buying your tank ask the customer service person about stands in stock for the aquarium you want if you don’t already have a strong and reliable place to put your tank. If you get your aquarium off KIJIJI or another similar source ask the seller if they have the matching stand, chances are they do, as well as all the other accessories such as lighting and filtration. See if you can get a good combo deal on those. Or you can always DIY a stand, make sure it is sturdy, even and made of strong durable materials.
Filtration: Majority of the filters on the market are suitable or more than adequate for keeping shrimp. You can just find one that is suitable for your budget, and size of tank. Other important things to consider before buying with filters are esthetic & noise. Some filters are bulky and sit on the side of a tank and are very visible, in order to have a more hidden/discreet filter you may need to dish out some more money. If you are planning to put your tank in a office, library, or bedroom it will be important to factor in the amount of noise your filter will produce as well. Some airpump filters can be extremely loud. If you are a first time buyer always consult the sales person about your filter needs AS WELL as do research online on reviews on different types and brands of filters. This is the best way to get what you want and make the most out of your money. If your filtration filter has large holes in its intake all you have to do is wrap some sponge or gauze around it so your shrimp or shrimplets don’t get sucked in.
Light: You will need a basic light to at least look at your shrimp properly. If you are planning to keep live plants you need to consider how strong your light you need for those plants to thrive. Approx 3W per gallon is enough. The easiest and cheapest way is to get a tank and light combo kit from your local pet store in the size you want. If you want lighting that is more intricate, stylish or for a custom tank it will cost more. Find one to fit your tank, and your budget. Look up your lighting options (and their reviews) online, and even go to your local aquarium forums and ask for others opinions.
Water Dechlorinator: This is needed if you are going to be using tap water for your tank. Chlorine is in our tap water to make it “clean” and “safe” for us to consume. It however kills off the necessary bacteria in our stomachs, which can be harmful to us in the long run, causing digestive imbalances in the body and other problems. It will easily kill bacteria and organisms in your tank that you need in order for the eco-system to survive. That includes your livestock. Dechlorinator neutralizes the chlorine in your tap water so that it is safe for your tank. Most dechlorinators are usually equally adequate for this job regardless of price and brand, so it isn’t necessary to dish an extra amount of money to pay for a more expensive brand of dechlorinator. Again, if you want more information, look up reviews online and see the opinions of others before you make a decision.
Freshwater Master Test kit & gH/kH Test Kits: You will need this to test your water for, pH, Nitrate, Nitrites, ammonia and gH. These need to be at certain levels in your tank in order for your shrimp to survive. The levels of these water elements can fluctuate dramatically and unless you have a means of testing their levels using kits like these there is no way for you to physically tell just by looking at your tank and its water what the levels are. You will need to test your water during cycling your tank for the first time as well so you know when your tank’s ecosystem and nitrogen cycle is stable enough for it to support life. Liquid Test Kits are more accurate than paper test strips. Test strips can become extremely inaccurate even in a short period of time after you open the package. Look online and to your local pet and aquarium store in order to compare prices and find sales.
TDS meter: TDS is the amount of Total Dissolved Solids in your water, which includes all and any minerals that can be found in water. Your gH test only tests the amount of Magnesium and Calcium in your water, however there are many more minerals that can be found in water. The TDS meter will measure using a very small electric current the amount of trace minerals you have in your water. This is not necessary for hardier fish or shrimp because they can withstand varying levels of TDS. However, when you are getting into the sensitive shrimp and especially if you are going to be spending more money on more expensive shrimp such as King Kong, Triple S Crystals and more, this will be necessary to keep your tank water at optimum levels. Little things like this can drastically change your success with keeping these shrimp.
It might take you a day or two to shop around for these important things and find the best price, size and design that suits your needs and your budget.
Once you’ve planned out how you are going to get all these elements there is one last thing you need to add to your list. This is the second most important element in your tank and this is why it will need its own section – Substrate.
For the other parts in this series:
Part 1: Things to Plan before heading to the Aquarium Shrimp Store
Part 2: Access to water