How to Care for Your New Rudolph Shrimp
Aqualand's inside scoop on Caridina gracilirostris
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Fish (and you) love shrimp. These Rudolph shrimp love African cichlids.
Name: “Rudolph” refers to the red nose of the males -- the “rostris” in their Latin name. But not all Rudolphs have a red nose -- only the males that are mature enough to grow one. Females pretty much lack the rubrous schnozzola. Neither sex is allowed to play (or have any interest in) any reindeer games.
Origin: We’re seeing many more aquatic critters coming out of India these days. The jury’s still out on the Rudolph shrimp, but for shrimp fans and mini-tank keepers Rudolphs are an excellent addition to their menage au miniatures. They interact well with the other mini-shrimps available. Beware of the larger shrimps which consider Rudolphs tasty morsels well worth hunting and harvesting.
Size: You see Rudolph shrimps for sale at 0.75 to an entire inch long. Well, some people see them. Others just walk on by. Some dismiss them as “bugs” or food, while many just don’t even see them at all. If you decide to eat them yourself, we recommends lots of breading.
Foods: In the wild, Rudolph shrimp evidently live on algae and assorted orts and ends of detritus. Lots of mini-shrimps live on the same menu. If you put a clump of algae in their tank, about 25% of your Rudolphs will spend their daylight hours on that green clump. Sprinkle flake food in their tank, and they eagerly scurry (or swim) about grabbing as much as they can snag. Put in a dead fish and they cover every bit of available surface on that fish.
Sexing: On average, male Rudolph shrimp grow a bit larger and more colorful than the females. Of course, you usually see them for sale at about 3/4-inch -- awfully small for sexing. And if you want to breed them, you will definitely want both sexes. We haven’t had them long enough to breed them, but many mini-shrimps need salt in the water to inspire their urge to merge and go forth and multiply. Most of them come from brackish marshes.
Substrate: Most mini-creepers (bugs as well as shrimps) are thigmotactic or sterotactic.. That means they need crawlable surfaces and like to hide in crevices. Rudolph shrimp walk on the bottom (kinda sideways sometimes) but also swim very well. Not the tail-snapping twitches of many mini-shrimps, but actually a heads-up forward stroke powered by their back legs. Interesting.
Tastiest Food? We wondered why the above group of Rudolph shrimp were milling about in a gang. We hoped to see them breeding. However, closer examination showed us they were arguing over a piece of feeder guppy.
Last Words: If you like the looks of these little critters, add them to your planted tanks. Rudolph shrimp will help mow your algae crop if it grows on your plant leaves. Or keep them with your guppies. Rudolph shrimp make great little scavengers with small fish. LA
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