Friday, October 23, 2009

From the Mailbag

Actually, there is no mailbag--but feel free to send me an email. There are the Google keywords people are using to find this blog, and some of them look like questions. So, in an effort to be helpful, here goes:

euthanasia snails ... euthanasia aquatic snails ... killing water snail humanely
If you want to humanely kill a snail the options are unfortunately limited. I am not aware of a humane chemical method. Physical methods are unpleasant but have the ability to be humane (that is, instantaneous). You take a very strong plastic bag, insert the snail, crush completely flat with a heavy flat object, dispose. I would not recommend freezing or any form of live disposal (flushing etc).

tums in fish tanks ... tums for snail ... how to give snail calcium ... snails calcium tums
See: Providing calcium to snails

shrimp in a three gallon ... under 1 gallon, shrimp tank ... SHRIMP IN A 5 GALLON TANK ... shrimp 1 gallon ... 1 gallon tank how many shrimps
I have kept dwarf shrimp in a one gallon tanks, but they never seemed to thrive so I gave up on it. I have formed the impression that even dwarf shrimp really need at least 2 gallons.

betta with rcs shrimp ... betta splendens eat cherry shrimp ... betta with cherry shrimp
It may work, it may not. I would suggest providing plenty of hiding areas, introducing the shrimp after dark, and having a Plan B. Bettas have trouble eating a shrimp, but they will hunt and harass them and damage them until they die.

yellow shrimp hybrid cherry
Yellow and cherry shrimp offspring are a brown "wild type" shrimp.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alby the Color-Changing Ramshorn Snail

This is my latest arrival, Alby the ramshorn snail. I am not sure that he is actually a genetic albino, but he does have a translucent shell and a foot without red or pink color. Presumably this means he does not have normal haemoglobin which makes it surprising that he has grown to adult size. I hope he settles in well.

Alby arose spontaneously in a population of red ramshorns. The picture below was provided by the gotglock at Aquaria Central.

If you have an albino ramshorn or know someone who does, please drop me a line at psycheskinner at and I will add them to this page. I am especially interested to know if anyone has successfully bred them.

See also:
Colombian Ramshorn Snails (includes a picture of an albino common ramshorn)

After a few days Alby started to develop a much pinker body color, to the extent that I thought he might transform into a normal "pink" ramshorn, This was quite a surprise as research has shown that pink ramshorn snails do not change their haemoglobin levels in response to water oxygen levels.

Coloring can change between generations with newly hatched snails in poorly-oxygenated water having a bright red color. But individuals seem to be born with a level of coloration that stay with them throughout life. Other than Alby, that is.

Alby has returned the his original yellow coloration. Weird.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Arrival

I have lost one gambusia (a.k.a. mosquito fish), and gained one gambusia. Spot my melanistic male turned up dead one morning, despite all the water parameters reading normal and the two females being in good health. But later the same day I saw "Fry" lurking in the duck weed.

Gambusia fry tend to stay near the bottom early in life and then emerge to live near the surface once they a little too large to become a snack for their parents. Fry is my first next generation gambusia and he is showing signs of being a male with the same melanistic spotting as his father.

Fry is growing up fast, and the spotting is becoming more pronounced.

Several more gambusia fry have also appeared.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Four things you can do to make your Red Cherry Shrimp redder

When you buy red cherry shrimp, you want them to be red, right? Well, assuming your expectation are realistic, there is nothing wrong with that. There are four main approaches you can take.

1) Genetics
Cherries are a color morph of a brown colored shrimp that are missing some darker pigments. Breeders have selected them over many generations. The redness of your shrimp will depend on the genetic line your shrimp are from. Because red cherry shrimp (RCS) lack brown pigment genes you will not tend to get brown offspring unless they cross bred with other color morphs of the same (or similar) species. however over time you may get offspring that are speckled, pink or even completely transparent rather than red or mostly red. It is wise to remove females that have reached a reproductive age and still have little or no color, and let your reddest females contribute more to the next generation. It is also wise to occasionally add introduce new shrimp from good genetic lines to keep the color of your shrimp bright and avoid inbreeding.

2) Environment
Pigmentation exists mainly to camouflage the shrimp against its background and assist in predator avoidance. Darker backgrounds such as shadowed areas, black gravel or sand, dark wood and dark plants will encourage stronger color. The presence of curious fish can also provoke previous pale shrimp to color up, although aggressive and predatory fish should obviously not be kept with drwarf shrimp. The shrimp hiding in the picture below (can you see her?) was totally colorless the previous day, but was then moved into a tank with a female betta fish.

3) Diet
The shrimp makes its pigments from components in its food. It pays to allow shrimp access to natural algae and plant matter. I would also recommend a diet that includes algae (algae wafers or spirulina powder), invertebrate diet (such as Hikari crab cuisine) and a color-enhancing fish food (such as Tetracolor).

4) Wait
In most cases fully red shrimp are old shrimp. Most shrimp will color up significantly if given time to fully mature.

Keep these thee areas in mind and you should have your red cherries living up to their name in no time!

Read more:
Why aren't my Red Cherry Shrimp red?