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I've read on theKrib.com that Takashi Amano recommends 2 shrimp for every
gallon. But that seems a little overkill, not to mention expensive (I'm
sure he can get all he wants, but the only place I can get them around here
costs around ten bucks for three). If you're adding them as a preventive
measure, and you don't actually have an algae problem at present, I'd go
with maybe one for every two gallons.
I thought I'd mention my most recent experience with C. japonica. Until
recently, I thought they were "indestructible" because I still have the
three in my 10-gallon tank that I got last year. I actually had four at one
point, but I think one jumped out the gap in the back. I basically threw
them in the tank without acclimatizing them, knowing that the pH of the LFS
tanks was around 6.8 and mine was closer to 8.0. So I figured I could do
nothing to kill them.
Well, about a month ago, I set up a cute little Eclipse system three to try
out some low-light plants and maybe some white cloud mountain minnows. I
had some crypts in there for a few weeks, good growth following complete
melt, you know... I finally decided to get the minnows, but I also wanted
to put a numa-ebi in there to eat up the melted leaves and maybe clean up
some of the brown algae that was showing up in small patches. So I went a
little overboard in a completely uncycled tank. To add to my stupidity, I
had left out the biowheel, thinking that any nitrifying bacteria would
compete for the ammonia that the plants could use. The white clouds seemed
a little stressed just from the move but they were fine after a few days.
The shrimp sort of stayed in one area and didn't do much. A few days went
by, and I decided to get the little guy a friend. So I did. Together, they
cleaned up all the mess on the sand better than I could have expected.
Then, after a few days, one molted. I noticed one of them swam against the
current of the outlet and made it into the filter. I left it alone,
thinking it was going to come right out when its new exoskeleton hardened.
Well, next morning, I found it dead on the filter floss. The other went
back to being shy and a bit out of sorts. I quickly did a water change and
transferred an established biowheel from another ES3, and the surviving
shrimp seemed to perk up a little afterward.
The point to my extremely long-winded story is that C. japonica are
apparently very sensitive to ammonia. I *knew* this from all the material
I've read, but I got a little cocky from the great luck I've had with them
in my other tank. You'll want to add them after the tank is
well-established. They'll appear fine at first, but once they molt, they
are very vulnerable. If they survive that first molt with no problem (and
you don't do anything silly like put any copper-based meds or shrimp-eating
fish in the tank), then they'll stick around for a good long time.
Good luck with these fun critters - I do enjoy them so!