Are there any shrimps my fish won't eat?

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Neale Monks offers some freshwater shrimp choices for a reader who wants to keep them with his community fish.

Q) A friend has recently acquired half a dozen red Cherry shrimp and put them in with his shoal of Rummy nose tetras and Neons. They look fantastic and have done a great job of cleaning up the tank.

However, I am reluctant to add any of these to my tropical tank which currently contains an angelfish, a Ruby shark and a pair of gouramis, as I don’t think they will last long.

Would any shrimp survive in my tank though?

DANIEL MILES, BRISTOL

A) NEALE MONKS REPLIES: Angelfish will happily eat any shrimp they can catch! In fact few shrimps make good additions to community tanks other than alongside the smallest schooling fish, such as Neon tetras.

Smaller shrimp species will be eaten or at least damaged by bigger fish species, while larger shrimps are either finicky filter feeders like Fan shrimps — pictured above — or predators, like Long-arm shrimps.

Among the Long-arm Macrobrachium species, the most notorious is M. rosenbergii, which is better known as the Giant freshwater prawn.

It’s a monster, with a body length of up to 30cm/12” and long pincer-tipped arms more than able to catch sleepy fish. As a novelty species in its own tank it’s alert, active and impressive, but can’t be kept in communities.

Smaller Macrobrachium species are seen — the Red claw macro being perhaps the most desirable. It gets to about 8cm/3.25” and though just as territorial and opportunistic as any other Macrobrachium its small size means it’s usually OK with robust fish of similar size, especially if well fed.

Fan shrimps? The two traded species are Atya gabonensis from Africa and Atyopsis moluccensis from South-East Asia. This second species is widely traded as Bamboo shrimp, Wood shrimp or Asian fan shrimp. The African species is, for some strange reason, called the Vampire shrimp by some retailers.

In the wild both are filter feeders and starvation is common in captivity. While they will eat from the substrate, they benefit from proper feeding. The feeds used for baby fish and for invertebrates in reef tanks work particularly well.

Fan shrimps are big enough to avoid trouble, but are shy and appreciate clean, well-oxygenated water with a good strong current.

Both species could work well with angels or gouramis if given enough to eat.

The Ruby shark is a gamble because it’s territorial and sometimes boisterous, but if the tank is big enough for the shrimps to hide if harassed, the combination could work.

Copper and formalin-based medications are lethal to shrimps. If you need to medicate your fish, remove the shrimps to a hospital aquarium or choose safe medications such as salt.

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