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The freshwater shrimp commonly refered to as the "Ghost" shrimp is more
aptly named grass shrimp, and belongs to the familiy Palaemonetes. Either of
these will lead you to sites on a Web search. It seems most of the academic
world reserves the term "ghost" for the saltwater variety.
These shrimp will live off of algae, but also subsist on any decaying
vegetation in the wild. They also serve double duty as scavengers, and I
tend to view them as flies, both in habit and production.
The shrimp are not difficult to propogate. I keep some going in one of those
"kiddie"-type wading pools with a simple air-driven sponge filter for
filtration. The bottom of the pool is covered with a thick layer of boiled
leaves, and there is some water wisteria floating around with duckweed for
cover (the duckweed has to be harvested quite regularly, obviously - don't
want the surface completely covered).
The water is slightly acidic, around pH 6.6 now, but is really irrelevant.
They grow wild in the waters here in Florida, which tend a little toward the
alkaline side. Hardness is not too important, either. The pool is about
medium hard, 220 ppm or so calcium, but they also do OK in very soft water
if their food supplies them with sufficient calcium. The shrimp in my tanks
have lived and reproduced in less than 20 ppm.
My feeding habits tend toward letting them rely mostly on the decaying
leaves in the pool, but I often supplement with flake foods from my tanks
and the occasional netload of brine shrimp. They are quite adept at hunting
down the brine, and it has lead me to keep the pool uncovered rather than
screened as I had started out. Sure enough, there are no mosquito larvae in
the pool to worry about.
The two most important steps to their survival in a populated tank (where I
use them for their scavenging abilities - even in a tank full of Discus) is
a sponged intake on the filters and plenty of vegetative cover. This seems
to give any nauplii a fair chance at becoming shrimp.
Detailed info is available on the Web, now that you know what to look for.
David A. Youngker
youngker at ix_netcom.com