I am now and again asked if snails should be kept alongside shrimp in an aquarium.
Fact is, it does not take me very long to answer a resounding yes and in most of my shrimp tanks can be found Malaysian Trumpet Snails along with varying hues of Ramshorn Snails.
Along with those, a couple of my tanks also include the common pond snail, that found their way in on the backs of plants and have now established healthy populations over time.
OK, why would anyone wish to include these snails in their dwarf shrimp aquariums? Well, as it happens, they are awesome scavengers and they help keep your tank clean by consuming any uneaten food, algae, decaying plant matter and any poop they find lying about, and in the case of the Malaysian Trumpet Snails, they also aerate your substate, a bit like a farmer ploughing a field.
Those snails mentioned will not eat your baby shrimp and for the most part, will not bother your live plants and their numbers can be regulated by observing one golden rule, DO NOT OVERFEED!
From my perspective, there really is no down side to including these varieties in your tank, that is, as long as you are happy with their appearance as they go about their daily lives and perhaps don't mind a few Ramshorn egg deposits adorning the glass here and there. These deposits incidentally, will actually drop off the glass when the baby snails hatch and will sink to the bottom to be consumed or vacuumed up.
There are many hobbyists now, selectively breeding Ramshorn Snails for new colors, with red, brown, pink, gold, jade, ivory and blue being some of the hues offered, with the rarer colors fetching substantial sums when/if sold.
Bottom line, these snails are easy to breed and a self sustaining population will be developed quite quickly, so if you can live with the sight of snails wandering about your tank and would like to avail yourself of the numerous benefits these particular creatures have to offer offer, then I can recommend them wholeheartedly.
The chemical that causes salmon in the wild to enjoy such vivid coloring is Astaxanthin, which occurs naturally in among other things, algae.
When dwarf shrimp consume food containing this Astaxanthin (found in small doses in shrimp based foods but more concentrated in those foods designed to deliver higher dose's of this carotenoid pigment) then shrimp color will certainly be influenced.
Red Cherry Shrimp that are not predisposed to display the deep, darker reds of higher grade animals will display more color by eating foods containing Astaxanthin than those that do not and variations such as yellow shrimp, could potentially exhibit a new color entirely, such as a bluey green.
Should this introduced food source be removed and subsequently the Astaxanthin, any changes observed will fade and your shrimp over time, will revert back to the color it began with.
Experiments with foods having high concentrations of Astaxanthin have determined that your not going to change your Cherry grade shrimp into Painted Fire Red's, however results have demonstrated that the Red Cherry Shrimp appear to get darker in color, yellow shrimp appear to adopt a bluey green hue, and in the case of Crystal Red Shrimp, they appeared to display a little more contrast.
There is no downside to foods containing Astaxanthin and it's a great antioxidant, and if your looking for foods high in Astaxanthin seek out products containing Krill or those manufactured foods advertising Astaxanthin as a principal ingredient.
To begin with, lets assume that your tank is comprised of glass.
If this tank happens to be braced, there is potential not to require such a thing.
If however, your tank is of the rimless variety then a tank mat should be considered an absolute must!
Many with fish tanks dispense with the mat entirely, perhaps because they simply don't know any better, and more than one beginner has been guilty of throwing out the mat that arrived with their brand new tank believing it to be part of the packaging.
You are doubtless aware of that old adage 'better to be safe then sorry', so BEFORE you fill your new purchase with water and associated trappings, please place a mat underneath.
Why Do I Need This?
Because a tank filled with water is heavy and constructed with glass.
With a rimless tank, a good part of the weight will be borne by the bottom panel of glass which in itself is not a problem, its well and truly up to the task, providing the surface the tank sits on is flat and free of obstruction.
Here's the rub though, many surfaces aren't perfectly flat, and even brand new aquarium stands can come with uneven surfaces, with knots, screw heads and bows being just a few of the imperfections your tank can rest upon.
The weight of the tank is going to be focused on any high points found under it and your not even going to notice the tank struggling to deal with the uneven surface until one day your facing your worst nightmare, a cracked and perhaps leaking tank.
But it need not be so, given the ability of the mats spongy material to absorb those pressure points, thereby preventing stress and ensuring your tank lives to be a ripe old age.
Having said all that, it's possible that your tank may exist happily without ever having seen a mat but at the relatively cheap price they can be purchased for why would you wish to take a risk and dispense with peace of mind?
Using a mat under every new tank setup is a great idea and highly recommended.
Best Mats To Use?
That old stalwart, polystyrene foam sheeting.
Foam camping mats which are designed to keep you comfortable whilst camping, will do an equally good job of supporting your tank and are available in various colors.
Likewise, yoga mats are effective and can be sourced cheaply from numerous retailers.
Cork matting, if you can source it in appropriate sizing.
But whichever material you decide to use, ensure it has some give in it, this is the feature that enables the mat to counter any surface irregularities in the area your tank is going to sit.
Remember though, larger and heavier tanks will require a denser foam, given they will compress the foam more so than a lighter tank will, but given the correct choice, your new mat and tank will serve you well for many years to come.
So your considering painting the back of your tank huh, well this may help.
Firstly. why would anyone wish to paint the back of their tank at all, let alone paint it black?
1 - It provides a neutral background, allowing the natural colors of fish, rocks, ornaments, plants etc to stand out.
2 - Black is always in vogue, when has it ever been not cool? And it won't date even if you have that tank for years and that possibly helps with resale value in the event you eventually decide to sell it.
3 - Black will have the effect of camouflaging some of those algae and mineral issues as well as unsightly plumbing and electrical fixtures.
Paint Versus Backing.
1 - Paint is going to be permanent which is good or bad depending on your perspective.
2 - A tank is going to be extremely heavy. Water weighs 1 kilogram per litre, then add the weight of your empty tank, your substrate, rocks, etc and even a relatively small 40 litre tank could end up being around 100 kilo's.
Once its located and filled, you will not be able to access the back of the tank readily, so and background change is not going to occur without considerable effort, so it's advisable not to use anything your going to have to muck about with or change anytime soon.
3 - Adhesive backings can bubble and peel over time and paper has bee know to fade, making paint a very viable option for a long term background.
1 x You bewt fish tank.
1 x Litre black paint of your choosing.
1 x Small foam roller handle, cover, and pan
1 x Paint brush.
1 x Roll masking tape.
2 x Metre long 50x100 scraps of wood.
As well as that, a drop cloth, paper towel, rubbing alcohol and something like an old sheet or towel to put under your tank will be required.
Never use cleaners on the inside of the tank.
Never paint the inside of the tank, fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals.
1 - In a well ventilated area, lay your drop cloth and on top of that your timbers to slightly elevate the tank so as to avoid sticking and to allow you to get under it easily when moving.
2 - Thoroughly clean the tank using water both inside and outside, making it ready for use immediately after painting. Clean that part of the tank you will be painting with the rubbing alcohol and paper towels, removing any oil, grease and chemicals.
3 - Mask the sides of the tank with tape to protect them from any overflow, making sure to firmly apply the tape to avoid paint seeping under it.
4 - Using the paintbrush, cut in the rim and edges of the tank and with this paint still wet finish the bulk of the area with the roller, let this dry for about one hour.
5 - Repeat step 4 until the tank is a shade of black your happy with, but around three coats of paint should do.
6. Let the paint dry for around 24 hours before attempting to use it and remember, the paint will take about a month to fully cure and become hard, until then it's quite susceptible to scratching, so be careful moving the tank and setting things up.
7 - Carefully remove the masking tape.
Your now ready to set up your freshly painted tank and enjoy the fruits of your labour, enjoy !
You do not have to paint your tank black, colour is a matter of preference.
What's outlined here is not definitive, but rather a guide to get you started, their will be a myriad of different ideas and techniques offered up, please choose what suits your application.
Red Cherry Shrimp are one of the simplest creatures to breed in an aquarium.
There are 3 main things to consider when breeding Red Cherry Shrimp, inducing your shrimp to breed, carrying of the eggs, and raising the fry.
If all those considerations are favorable, your Red Cherry Shrimp will flourish and their population will quickly increase.
To induce your Red Cherry Shrimp to breed simply requires a pair of sexed shrimp, stable water parameters, and a ready supply of food source.
Male RCS are considerably smaller and much less colorful than females, with the females frequently having a yellow "saddle" which are the eggs developing in her ovaries.
When these shrimp are juveniles it is almost impossible to determine their sex, however one obvious distinction is that females generally have a rounder and and more elongated tail section.
Should be kept as stable as possible and within acceptable ranges.
The pH of the water should fall between 6.5-8.0. and the temperature should be maintained between 70-80°F.
The water hardness is not considered important as long as it is neither extremely hard nor soft.
When they are breeding, shrimp require a consistent food source.
If the population of your tank is small to moderate, frequently the naturally occurring algae in the tank ill be an adequate source of food.
If supplemental feeding is required, then commercially prepared fish foods and blanched vegetables are also appropriate food sources.
When both male and female shrimp are sexually mature (3-6 months old) and those other requirements are met they will breed, which occurs immediately after a female molts, which is the process of shedding the existing exoskeleton.
Molting allows the shrimp to continue growing and to re-grow a new exoskeleton which now fits the larger body.
During this time, the female shrimp is extremely vulnerable and she will hide wherever she feels safe.
At that point, she will release pheromones (sexual hormones) which have the effect of luring the male to her secret location and encouraging him to mate with her.
When the male eventually finds the female they will breed, with the male depositing his sperm into the female. When the sperm has been deposited, the female then passes the eggs threw it whilst on their way to the underside of her tail, where they will remain until hatched.
These eggs are then constantly fanned by the female's pleopods (swimming legs) to keep them both clean and oxygenated.
Once these 20-30 eggs hatch, the juvenile's are tiny replicas of their adult counterparts. They have no larval stages and the young shrimp will eat the same available foods as the adults, tending to use the nippers on their front legs to tear off small edible chunks of the food.
When raising young RCS it is important to have no predators in the tank.
Few if any, fish, can resist gulping a tiny shrimp as a midday snack and if breeding shrimp in a tank where there are predators then the only way to ensure young shrimp will reach maturity is to provide numerous hiding places but even doing this will not ensure success.
The inclusion of live Christmas Moss, Java Moss and any other slow growing aquatic plant in your tank will help increase the chance of your fry growing into adult specimens, with these slow growing plants typically harboring micro fauna and various other food sources for your young shrimp.
Whilst not essential for successful breeding, these plants will certainly lead to healthier, faster growing shrimp.
There you have it, provided the 3 variables important to breeding shrimp are understood, then establishing a happy, healthy breeding colony can be easy, fun and very rewarding.
If you have kept shrimp for a little, then it's likely you will have come across it given it's all the rage with shrimp keepers right now.
So what is this strange sounding stuff, what are its benefits and why should you use it in your own tank?
What's Cholla Wood?
Cholla wood does NOT come from trees but rather is a by-product of the Cholla cactus, when the cacti die and dry out, Cholla wood remains.
Benefits And Uses.
While this wood is certainly a very visually interesting addition to your aquarium, most aquarists do not employ it for the decorative value alone but rather it is added to an aquarium because the shrimp absolutely love it!
Unlike other types of wood used in an aquarium, Cholla is relatively soft and breaks down over a period of time but during the breaking down process all kinds of very beneficial processes begin to happen.
Just like alder cones and Indian almond leaves, tannins are slowly released into the water which may have the effect of staining it a slight yellow colour many consider to be unsightly, but this actually helps to imitate the natural habitat of many of the shrimp species you keep. More importantly though, these tannins have significant antifungal and antibacterial properties which help keep your shrimp protected from disease.
Additionally, as the Cholla wood breaks down, a layer of bio-film forms on it, making it a perfect place for your shrimp to forage, with a Cholla wood section likely have a number of shrimp enjoying it at any given time.
Lastly, because this wood is both holey and hollow, it will make an excellent hiding place for your shrimp, meaning you can use it as a natural looking alternative to commercially available hiding places.
Your shrimp will particularly appreciate it when molting, when they at the most vulnerable and are seeking a convenient, safe retreat.
Cholla wood is not terribly difficult to use in your shrimp tank. simply obtain your Cholla wood pieces and if required, saw them into smaller lengths, which will be quite easy as it's a very soft wood and not that difficult to cut through.
Like most other types of wood, Cholla will not immediately sink when placed into your aquarium with the water logging process taking a number of days to occur. If you're not happy with looking at a piece of wood floating about your aquarium, then you may waterlog your Cholla prior to placing it in the tank. You can do this simply by placing it into a bucket of water until it submerges.
There are those that recommend boiling your Cholla wood in order to both sterilize and waterlog it, but you should bear in mind that doing so will have the effect of causing the wood to break down much more quickly.
Ok, now that you have placed your Cholla wood in the tank you can simply leave it there until it's completely gone which may take years with larger pieces, it's as simple as that.
And remember, just like leaf litter, the decaying process involved is in no way harmful to your aquatic livestock.
If you're lucky enough to in an area where this cacti grows naturally, you might consider collecting your own.
It's best to acquire pieces already dead and dried out because you don't want to wrangle the live Cholla spines and besides, the drying process takes an extremely long time anyway.
If you don't live in such an area, there are many places where it may be obtained for a relatively cheap price, type 'Buy Cholla Wood' into a search engine and find a convenient place near you.
If your going to put rocks in your fish tank, there are a couple of ways to go about it.
Firstly, you could simply buy your rock requirements from any aquarium store with the other choice being to go out and find some on your lonesome.
It goes without saying, that a store bought rock will be ready to use immediately buth the downside is because they have been processed and prepared beforehand, they can cost you quite a bit of your hard earned cash.
If your a DIY'er and elect to gather your own aquarium rocks you will need to follow a few rules. Firstly, you cannot just add any old type of rock to your carefully managed aquarium. You will need to give consideration to a number of factors to safeguard your aquatic inhabitants and correct balance of your fish tank, becuase if you somehow managed to introduce the wrong rock, the result may well be catastrophic.
Choosing Your Rocks.
It's quite obvious that you could save some money by gathering your own rocks. but if you select the wrong type of rock, you could well be risking your aquariums health.
If you simply picked up some random rock in your backyard, there is a good chance that it may alter the water parameters of your tank. There are rocks that can change the pH and hardness level of the water and if you are attempting to maintain a specific, constant pH you may find that impossible to do with your new pet rock.
Something else to consider, is the growth for bacteria with some rocks harboring a host of bacteria which could easily thrive inside your aquarium.
A good rule of thumb is not to take rocks from dirty and polluted areas, sounds basic but it happens and you may also wish want to acquire solid rocks and not any brittle ones since they can easily fall apart inside the fish tank because of water erosion.
It may also occur to you, to source your new rocks from rivers and streams since these rocks are already used to water, problem solved, yes? Well actually it's not since rocks from rivers, streams and ponds can harbor bacteria and many microscopic organisms which are potentially harmful your aquarium.
While it appears to make sense, using those rocks which are found near bodies of water, it almost always ends up badly.
You should also ensure that the rocks you choose to put in your tank DO NOT contain any type of metal as many metals tend to rust when submerged under water and this is a very bad thing for the health of your fish.
Please avoid any and all metallic rocks in your aquarium at any all cost.
DO NOT JUST CHOOSE ANY RANDOM ROCK. DO NOT USE ANY ROCKS FROM POLLUTED AREAS. AVOID USING ROCKS THAT HAVE ANY METALLIC CONTENT. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO USE ROCKS FOUND NEAR BODIES OF WATER.
There's Always A But!
But if you absolutely have to include that rock specimen gathered from one of the moon's crater's, then it may be possible to prepare and treat this rare jewel yourself, if you are prepared to invest considerable time (weeks maybe) and effort into doing so ... this is the scope for another post and it will be covered later.
Artificial aquarium plants and associated decor can really make the appearance of your tank shine, creating an instant environment and a scintillating underwater vista.
Many keeping aquariums deliberately choose these artificial plants and various bits of decor for a number of reasons, not the least being there simple care requirements.
Gorgeous And Low Cost.
Why not place your decorations in different locations each time you clean the tank?
Your fish will certainly enjoy exploring their new environment and you take pleasure from creating a raft of new nooks and crannies for them to seek out and inhabit.
The potential is vast and it's likely that you will never create the same scenario more than once and as well as looking great, all your artificial plants, driftwood, logs, bridges etc providing all the shelter your aquarium inhabitants require need no special substrate, lighting or the use of any additional supplements.
As well as those points, your tank decorations can also be a great way to disguise plumbing which can be unsightly, and are relatively inexpensive when compared to their living counterparts.
Keep It Clean.
In order to maintain an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and create a healthy environment for all your underwater, it's important to put a few minutes each month to clean your aquarium decorations.
All this stuff in your tank need not be too much of a burden or indeed take up to much of your time as given the correct tools and a few minutes just once a month, your aquarium will flourish.
To help keep algae under control using an aquarium conditioner which employs a form of beneficial bacteria to eliminate any organic build up on decor and aquarium surfaces.
The water in your aquarium water is perhaps the most important environmental component for healthy aquatic life with it unfortunately being frequently overlooked and often neglected.
It should be remembered that fish, snails etc live in a closed environment from which they cannot escape if the water turns toxic and dangerous to them.
It is the responsibility of those keeping aquariums to learn about and influence water factors such as nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, phosphates and pH in a positive way, that no harm comes to your livestock and they enjoy a carefully environment in which to live.
Is likely to be the biggest single killer of aquarium fish and occurs predominantly with a new tank setup, however it can occur in an already established tank when too many fish have been added at any one time, when the filter fails for different reasons or if beneficial bacterial colonies die off as a result of medications or sudden changes in your water conditions.
Every time your fish appear distressed or there are sudden, unexplained fish deaths, your should consider ammonia as one possible cause.
Algae growth is something every aquarium owner faces eventually and while some algae growth is considered to be normal and healthy, excessive algae growth is an eyesore and can be hazardous to both fish and live plants.
Lighting, over feeding and frequency of water changes will affect growth in your aquarium and if algae is an ongoing issue then perhaps its time consider including algae-eating fish or snails.
Is this constant water testing really necessary?
Some fish hobbyist experts stating categorically no, whilst others test anything and everything.
Water testing can be beneficial where you know your tank is suffering a problem, but you are unsure as to the cause with various levels of testing seeking to identify different things.
There is no simple answer to what should be tested or indeed how often, it all depends on your particular environment and those problems you believe your experiencing.
There are several causes for this condition with there usually being a corresponding cure.
There is no one quick fix for cloudy water and it does take a little detective work to arrive at a solution, however given the waters coloration and events leading up to the event, you can usually determine the root cause.
Rocks That Can Affect Water Chemistry.
Rocks in your aquarium can certainly affect the waters chemistry.
It can be quite difficult to know if and how a rock will affect your tank but there are usually ways to determine if certain rock types your considering using could have an adverse overall effect.
Is it possible for waters changes to kill fish?
The short answer is a lot of factors can do that including water changes. The volume of water changed at any one time and other factors such as temperature, pH and chemical composition as well as bacterial colonies can adversely affect your aquarium.
Water changes are essential for a healthy fish tank and its vital to learn about the safe ways to change your fish tanks water.
Nitrite poisoning is likely to be the second biggest killer of aquarium fish after ammonia.
Just when you believe your on top of things after losing fish to ammonia poisoning, the nitrites rise and your fish are at risk once more.
Anytime ammonia levels become elevated, then elevated nitrites quickly follow and this can quickly become lethal.
Be on the lookout for any warning signs of nitrite poisoning in your fish tank.
This goes by numerous names, the start-up cycle, the biological cycle, nitrification, cycling and break-in cycle but no matter which term you use to describe it, each and every newly established aquarium undergoes a process of establishing a beneficial bacterial colony.
Established aquariums also undergo periods through which bacterial colonies fluctuate and failing to understand this process is likely to be largest contributing factor to the loss of fish.
Its vital to learn about nitrogen cycles and how to respond to critical periods during this cycle.
These are present in every aquarium, even though many owners are not aware of it.
If an aquarium is poorly maintained then phosphate levels may rise which contributes to algae growth. resulting in an unattractive tank and a potential threat to the health of your aquatic livestock.
Its important to learn what causes a phosphate build up in your aquarium and how to control the buildup before it reaches harmful levels.
Water pH is a determination of just how acidic or alkaline your aquarium water is.
There are numerous species of fish that live in vastly different water environments such as the ocean, estuaries, backyard ponds and a plethora of hobbyist aquariums and there is no one pH level that suits them all.
Saltwater fish can prefer a pH of 8 and over while freshwater fish may be more comfortable in a pH range of 6 or 7.
Some really good advice is to learn as much as you can about the species you intend to keep and try and mimic its natural habitat in your own aquariums environment.
Generally speaking, most aquariums have some sort of substrate covering the bottom of the tank. This substrate is available in a variety of materials and color, which gives aquarium owners a broad range of options when first setting up their tank.
Given this substrate is not as easy to change as other factors, it's very wise to spend a bit of time in selecting both type and color of this material before setting up your tank.
This substrate serves a number of purposes, not least providing a healthy habitat, as well as acting in an aesthetic capacity.
Substrate plays a role in the nitrogen cycle as a medium by which those beneficial bacteria may colonize and grow. Even though the substrate is not the only host in your tank for these very important bacteria, it is going to be a place where a significant number of them end up residing. Additionally, substrate is also one medium for live plants to develope their roots and to take up nutrients, with specialized substrates available designed to provide many key nutrients for live plants.
Substrate creates a natural habitat for any aquatic anaimals and it's extemely important for those fish that are keen to burrow. Bottom dwelling species enjoy foraging in the substrate for morsels of food that have inadvertantly been deposited there. The natural hues of substrate also add to the feeling of being safe. Some types of fish scatter their eggs around the bottom of the tank, and if the bottom is bare and eggs are clearly visible then it is very likely those eggs will end up as a meal for adult fish.
The substrates color means any eggs should be less noticeable and if this medium is coarse enough some eggs should fall between the gaps and end up protected.
Substrate importantly contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the aquarium and when combined with rocks, driftwood, plants and those other factors that come togethor in a tank it creates a vista that is pleasing to the eye and has a soothing effect overall. A well thought out and put togethor aquarium promotes a positive health benefit for those who spend time gazing at it.
Substrate is available in a broad range of materials with the majority of aquarium owners choosing standard type gravel that is readily available online or at pet stores.
This gravel comes in many different sizes and colors and even the shape can be chosen with any gravel marked for aquarium usage being treated prior to use. Apart from gravel, sand is very popular with burrowing type fish and snails particularly fond of it.
Another commonly used substrate is coral which has been crushed, providing the effect of raising pH and increasing the waters buffering capacity, with this being particularly helpful if keeping some species of cichlids that have a preverence for harder alkaline water.
Larger river rocks are sometimes singularly or with some form of gravel beneath it. Such rocks are attractive and make for a more natural setting. Marbles, while not being natural are frequently used when breeding those egg scattering species of fish, where the eggs will fall down between the marbles and out of reach of anything that might make a meal of them. They are also commonly used in fish bowls which allows for easy maintenance.
Should live plants be introduced it is very common to use vermiculite or laterite as a lower layer and then covered by gravel with these materials storing and releasing important nutrients for these live planted tanks.
Substrate is usually added to a depth of about one and a half to two inches with more depth being warranted if intending to keep live plants that produce a vigorous root system and as a result require that extra depth.
If using sand then the depth should be less, perhaps an inch and a half, because much more than that can cause anaerobic zones that may prove to be troublesome.
This is a topic that often provokes quite heated discussion with some feeling strongly that colos should reflect natural habitats whilst others make a selection based on their personal preference, such as electric blue, hot pink, fire engine red or a plethora of other vivid hues.
Plainly, those are not the natural colors that fish would experience in the wild but its unlikely its going to cause harm to your aquarium inhabitants and if you do a good job of caring for the inhabitants then the color of the substrate is of a minor consideration given that the majority of fish are very adaptable and if housed in a properly maintained tank with the correct water conditions and good food, they will flourish regardless of the color of the substrate
This variety of Paratya or Australian glass shrimp is likely to be the most under-rated shrimp in Australia, bar none.
Their common names of 'glass shrimp', 'ghost shrimp' and 'clear shrimp' do not do this group of dwarf shrimp justice and nor does the widespread use of these little creatures as live food.
This particular species complex (a group of closely related species currently described as being a single species) is much suited to life in your aquarium, being tough, great algae eaters, very widespread and extremely easy to collect, and yet their breeding will provide a serious challenge for even the most hardcore shrimp keepers.
Why are they awesome?
Simply because of their potential.
These shrimp offer an enormous opportunity for breeding new dedicated variations such as algae eaters for use in aquascapes, as hardy and tough shrimp for beginner keepers, as brackish water specialists for biotopes, and a whole lot more besides.
Paratya are found in a wide variety of colours (clear, orange, black, green, blue and even fully red individuals) and patterns (dorsal and tiger stripe patterns as well as speckled and blotched).
Not much is known whether their colouration is controllable by diet, stress or any other environmental factors, or if indeed line breeding may result in fixed colour variants, suggesting there is considerable potential for breeders to dedicate themselves towards fixing colours and patterns etc.
Taxonomy of Australian Paratya.
In Australia the genus Paratya has a most interesting taxonomic history.
First described by Kemp in 1917, it was in 1953 that Riek proposed a number of new species and sub-species of Paratya.
In 1979, Williams and Smith both reviewed the genus and made the declaration that all the Paratya from the eastern coast of Australia were indeed a single species, that being P. australiensis.
Recent phylogenetic analysis (comparing the DNA of individuals from differing locations) suggested that P. australiensis is likely a group of very closely related species or a species complex (Baker et al., 2004; Cook et al., 2006; 2007; Hughes et al., 2003; Hurwood et al., 2003).
Presently, Australian taxonomists are attempting to unravel the Australian Paratya species complex for the first time and it seems likely the 'species' we now call P. australiensis will most likely be broken up into between 9 and 11 entirely new species.
Its hoped this work will also shed light on the relationships between Australian Paratya and those Paratya found elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region.
The fact that Paratya from Australia have been determined to be a species complex has significant implications for hobbyists in terms of collecting, breeding, hybridization and collecting, and these issues bear further, close examination.
Where to find them?
Species from the genus Paratya are not just limited to Australia.
They can be found through-out the entire western Pacific region with a disjunct northern range encompassing the North Pacific region (Korea, Japan, Siberia, Ryukyu Islands, ) and the South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Lord Howe, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia).
In Australia, Paratya are to be found all along the east coast, from the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns in the north, right down to the east coast of Tasmania as well as being found further inland, throughout the Murray-Darling system.
In those areas, Paratya can be found in creeks, rivers as well as estuaries, but are also frequently seen in more static water such as dams.
Both adults and juveniles from south-eastern Australia are extremely tolerant of brackish water up to a salinity level of almost seawater or 33PPT, however both adults and juveniles very happily live and breed in freshwater hundreds of kilometres from any ocean.
This lends almost limitless scope for including Paratya in biotope aquariums, from brackish tanks containing sand, nerites and plants, on up to completely freshwater tanks containg leaf litter and rocks, but without plants.
Interestingly, Paratya are not to be found in the western half of Australia, and the 'glass shrimp' reported to be captured on the west coast around Perth are probably the entirely different shrimp, Palaemonetes australis, though its been reported that Caridina indistincta from eastern Australia has been introduced into several rivers surrounding Perth.
We would remind here, thats it is very important to never release any aquarium organism, including shrimp, into the wild.
That the very first Neon Tetra to arrive into the mainland U.S. was imported by the Shedd Aquarium from Chicago, IL and was flown from Germany on the then airship Hindenberg at a cost of some US$3000.00.