Designer Shrimp: A New Aquarium Niche
Designer shrimp can complement the new nano tanks that have revolutionized the hobby.
It continues to astound me how quickly a niche can develop in the aquarium hobby/industry, and one such niche that is exploding right now is filled with the new "designer” shrimp. The proliferation of these little crustaceans is being driven by two forces: the high-end shrimp hobby, where fanatics always are competing with each other (mostly on the Internet) to have the newest, brightest, rarest and most expensive shrimp; and the commercial breeders in the Far East, who are producing new colors in large quantities and varieties.
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Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata). Photo Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak/Wikipedia
The shrimp boom is nothing but great news for the local fish store, as it means more sales of nano tanks, as well as the little shrimp to fill them. Hagen has come out with its nice little Fluval Ebi Nano Shrimp Tank (ebi is the Japanese word for shrimp), so your customers can buy a tank specifically designed for their designer shrimp.
Of course, any nano tank will work just fine. These guys do not require a heater and do well with a gentle flow of filtration. They also like plants, and most low-light plants can be grown easily in most nano tanks.
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Feeding these little shrimp is simple--they eat anything, including the special diets you can sell just for them. I spend a great deal of time watching mine (yes, I have two nano tanks with shrimp only, and they are in a couple of my discus tanks), and they are feeding all of the time. They constantly wobble along, various appendages doing different things, but all of them toward the end of moving the shrimp into new feeding territory and to gleaning whatever can be found from every square millimeter of surface.
When they get used to being fed, they will come up to the water’s surface on their backs and take food from there. The true Amano shrimp also are available everywhere, and the price has come down significantly. The Amano shrimp do a great job eating algae--the little designer shrimp also to some extent.
All of the small shrimp that are showing up in different colors are variations on the basic Neocaridina genus. There has been so much crossbreeding that it is virtually impossible to say for sure what species the latest shrimp are--and it really doesn’t matter, as most hobbyists couldn’t care less.
I sell fish for Always Quality Aquatics (AQA), and we have every fish and invertebrates from every country in the Far East. This past week we put together an "exotic shrimp” list; the offerings were amazing, as the names will tell. Sapphire, Orange Sunkist, Chocolate, Blue Tiger, Black Rili, Blue Jelly, Crystal Black, Red Wine Crystal, Blue Bolt, Black King Kong and many others. While Cherry, Tiger and Bee Shrimp are priced for $.25 to $.54, the Blue Bolt and Black King Kong are selling for $49.99 each. The variety and availability of shrimp is incredible, and you can sell a lot of them (and the nano tanks to keep them in) with just a few displays at your checkout counter.