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Peppermint Shrimp Breeding Attempt


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Well I thought I should keep a solid diary of my progress, if not of interest to others at least it will help me follow my progress and track my results.

Adult Tank

First up, here are some pictures of the adults and their tank environment. I currently only have two parent Shrimp and at any one stage one is always pregnant, they are housed in a 60L Nano reef tank with no other fish or inverts. The parent tank along with another small 20L tank that houses my Picasso Clown Pair are plumbed into a small central sump running a Deltec SC 1455 which is way over kill for the system. 

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Pictured above: Left Gravid Parent coming over for a feed. Middle Parent hanging out in tank. Right Parent hanging out in tank.

Breeding Attempt

As of the early hours of the morning Sunday 20th September 2015 I have begun my first attempt at raising some Peppermint Shrimp Zoea. The hatch begun at 1.30am when I was just about ready to give up watching (it was nearly as boring as watching grass grow!) the mother of the eggs (technically father as they are only female for a short time after moulting) began to get very fidgety and then started spraying the hatched eggs from her pleopods (little paddles on its tummy) Almost as quickly as the hatch began, she started catching them and eating them - it was a race against her to try save as many as possible.

The Zoea at this stage are not exactly small as far as some species go - I would estimate around 2-3mm but what makes it difficult is they are transparent and you can only really see them when they move. Using a piece of rigid airline attached to some flexi airline hose I slowly began syphoning the young into their new home (a 70L tank) I only filled this tank with a few inches of water all from the display and placed an air stone in one corner and suspended a heater up from the bottom again using a bit of airline tube for this purpose. The thought behind suspending the heater and not just suction cupping it was to try prevent any areas the little buggers could get trapped and die. At a best estimate I suspect I caught around 100 little guys but there is no way to know for sure.

Day one: 20/09/15

Day one started with the hatch and it took until about 4.30am to get everything setup and then off to bed I went. On waking I feed some freshly hatched BBS which they took to quickly. When I could see them they looked full of energy with their tails in the air as they pounced at food as it bumped into them.


Pictured above: Left DIY Brine Shrimp Hatchery. Right Raising Tank Setup.

Day Two: 21/09/15

More BBS feed throughout today. The shrimp don't seem to be any different from day one, still active but near impossible to see. At this stage I have no idea how many I have managed to keep alive. Due to their transparency I don't want to risk sucking any up by completing any water changes so instead I have begun to slowly drip in freshly mixed Salt Water to dilute any toxins.


Pictured above: First image taken of the Zoea (sorry but even this was extremely hard to capture with over 100 photo attempts) 

Day Three: 22/09/15

This morning I woke up and nothing looked different at first. I could see a few shrimp darting around which was a positive sign, but then when looking closer I noted that there was a difference! The shrimp have completed their first moult and with that have gained "Stalked Eyes" pretty cool! More BBS feed today and now I am working on raising some Brine Shrimp in size for later in the Peppermints Development.


Pictured above: Image after first moult. Note the eyes are now protruding from the shrimps body. (This image was taken by capturing one of the shrimp, I most likely wont attempt this again due to the stress it places on them)

Day Four: 23/09/15

Well not much to report this morning. They still seem to be at the same growth size with no new fancy appendages unlike yesterday. From what I understand moulting usually occurs every 2 days so I can expect tonight to be another big moment in their lives as they develop their Uropods! (little fins on the side of their tail) There are certainly still survivors with at least half a dozen seen this morning arting around.

Today I have also shifted a small tank to a window ledge to start growing out some Brine Shrimp. At this stage I am feeding Spirulina Powder to the brine in this tank - if any one has any better ideas that are easily accessible in NZ I would love to know. The hope is that in 3-4 weeks when the shrimp can handle the adult Brine I should have some ready. Another change I have made today was the light - I have gone to a slightly lower wattage light which seems more ideal - after changing this they became a bit more active so my thoughts are I was most likely blinding them ekk sorry little guys!

With the depth of water increasing each day (to dilute any toxins) it is getting harder and harder to spot the shrimp. I am certain I have sustained massive losses already but far less than I expected (expected total loss by now) So with Day 4 to an end I really hope they have the strength to move to their next phase of life. Tomorrow I am going away for work for the day and leaving early morning so will try take a peak before I leave otherwise the next update will be late tomorrow evening or early Friday.

Day Five: 24/09/15

Not much of an update today as I was away for work and only got back just before lights out. In the short time I looked I saw at most 3 at one time - the exciting part is I can confirm all three had successfully moulted last night and now have new improved tails - Woohoo! I assume there are more alive than three but know I have had mass die off which was expected. Still in shock I still have some alive at day five!

Day Six: 25/09/15

Still at least 6 survivors seen today. Tonight will be another big time for them as they go through their last moult of week one. This moult gives them large "Spear" shaped legs out the back which seem to only be used for stabilising so they can hunt during this stage of their lives - they will loose these when they go through Meta. They should also near double in size from around 3mm to 5mm so a huge step for them. One concern I do have is the food - I think in my excitement and longing to have them eat I may have over feed. I have a large concentration of brine in the tank which is going to result in potentially a large die off of food and spike in tank conditions if I am not careful. This morning I have mixed up a small bottle with some spirulina and water and dripped that in to hopefully feed the brine and keep them alive and potentially a little more nutritious.

I am still too nervous to do bottom cleaning of the tank as the shrimp are still very hard to spot and I am almost guaranteed to suck them up. I still have a continuous drip feed going of fresh salt water into the tank which will hopefully offset any pollution through dilution but in the next day or two the tank will be full and I will have to resort to exportation of toxin. (Fingers crossed I can nail this!)

UPDATE: Thanks to Nathan Coker for the great idea! I cut a small hole in the blackout on one end of the tank and repositioned the light to this area. I then started syphoning the bottom of the tank at the opposite end. Have so far completed a clean of one half of the tank and only sucked up one of the Peppermint Shrimp (based on what I found hopefully there weren't more) I also made a small syphon out of Rigid/Flexi airline that goes into the tank but points back up at the surface - this seems to work great at cleaning scum off the surface which is a bonus too!

Day Seven: 26/09/15

Up early this morning and had a quick peek in the tank - at first glance it seemed as if there was no moult last night which is the first one they would have missed (all others have been 2 days apart) This could be the first signs of an issue or maybe they just weren't ready. The positive is there are still survivors! The reason for the delay could again be down to my feeding (I really need to get this nailed!) I noticed my Brine hatches were going a bit weird with husks staying stuck to the babies and random colouring etc. Due to this I have gone through and sterilised all my equipment and have a new batch coming along now so I will see if that made a difference. Due to this I missed the afternoon feeding yesterday with BBS and instead did what I mentioned above by dripping in the Spirulina mixture. The new airpump I need in order to streamline my food supply is now officially in transit to NZ so hopefully that should arrive early next week - in time for the next hatch out.

This evening when looking a bit closer I cant confirm they all have the new spear legs but I can now see them on at least a couple. They are really thin with little tips at the end - in a healthy larvae they should be pointing back towards the tail anything that is facing further forward than back is apparently a sign of distress and mine currently have them half way. The new legs remind me of the long legs that hang off the base of a honey bee. I suspect the reason these are not fully back is again due to the nutrition which I should be back on top of by first thing in the morning. As there shouldn't be a moult this evening this should hopefully be in time to give them the boost they need for the next moult.

Tonight marks the end of week one - what a mission! Many late nights, early mornings and some stressful moments but all so well worth it for the excitement and absolute honour to be able to keep these little guys alive as long as I have so far - hopefully I can continue this lucky streak! Again thanks for tagging along and being apart of the journey.

Week Two:

Day Eight: 27/09/15

This morning I have completed another bottom clean, as described above this involves shinning a light at on end of the tank while slowly syphoning the bottom at the other end. I did this using airline tube and very slowly taking out about 100ml at a time, checking to ensure no shrimp were in there, discarding that 100ml then continuing. I noted about three dead shrimp when completing this task and know they were fresh as you could see colouration in their tummies.

So far today I have only seen 2 live shrimp at the same time and neither looked in the best health as both had their spear legs facing forward up by their eyes. I will keep trying with them to see if they come around but its not looking good. I believe my main issue has been with my feeding - too much at a time to start with and then I started having issues with the hatches of my Brine resulting in inconsistent feeding.

I should have another batch of peppermint shrimp hatching out in about 2-3 days - if I am not away for work I will certainly try hatch these ones out and should have better processes in place for the brine hatching by then too. Will keep you all posted.

UPDATE: So this evening I decided I would strip the tank down to make some alterations to it in anticipation of the next hatch. I waited till the shrimp were at the surface and scooped both out into a holding container. In case there were more I slowly syphoned the rest of the tank out under light so I could see what was going up my nozzle. By the time I had the tank empty I had 7 Shrimp! I guess not is all lost just yet. While they were out I gave the tank a good wipe down, and stripped the black out off the sides and tore out the foam that was under the tank. I have now taped sheets of white paper under the tank and more carefully started placing the tape back on the sides. The white gives beautiful contrast on the shrimp making them "pop" out at you - very handy! By also re-doing the tape I have less air bubbles and therefore it also gives better contrast as before there were lots of air bubbles from rushing to put the tank together and for each air bubble it gave a reflective surface.


Pictured above: Change from textured aquarium base to white paper - see the shadows cast from the shrimp?

Unfortunately I only had time to do one strip of the black out tape on the sides, but I also only placed back in a small portion of the water so I can slowly fill up like I did at the start - This should help with the water quality and as I have time I will slowly increase the black out area to ensure it stays above the water level.

So what started as a downer day has ended on a slight high. April says in the book that a good success rate with this method of rearing is between 10-20% and to expect to fail for at least the first 10 attempts. Having around 7% going into week two to me sounds like a pretty good success then!

Day Nine: 28/09/15

Well this morning I still have seven (YUSS!) wow what a difference changing the bottom of the tank has made - you can spot each one purely from its shadow. I was able to shine the light on one end of the tank - do a quick vacuum on the other end and then swap the light back and repeat for the other side. This was so much easier as every speck shows up against the new white background. Like Mark said - water quality is a major and this is really going to help keep on top of that one aspect. Feeling Positive!

One more down - 6 to go. The big win today is the success of the Brine Shrimp Hatchery, I got a beautiful hatch rate with great separation. Instead of just a bottle bubbling away I have placed the bottle inside another tank with the water in that tank being heated - this should stabilise the temp in the hatchery allowing me to better fine tune when hatches arrive and giving stability to my food supply. Technically I would be able to fit 6 hatching bottles into the tank but am planning to run just two, one each morning and one each evening so I have fresh food every 12 hours. For any left over Brine I just tip directly into the tank the Hatching Bottles are housed in so they can grow out. This tank is placed on a window ledge which gets sun most of the day so hopefully that is enough to create algae for the shrimp to grow on until I am ready to gut load them and feed out.


Pictured above: New Brine Hatchery that I built. The Hatching bottle balances on top threaded onto a plastic rod that holds it in place. The 45 degree PVC elbow holds a piece of rigid airline in the main tank which slowly keeps this area aerated. Due to the Hatching Bottle being in the tank water the tank water will keep the bottle a constant temp.

Tonight I will setup 18 litres of fresh Salt Mix on a drip feed into the Larvae tank which should help increase the water quality. The tough part is I am away for work the next two days so hopefully they can be kept alive in my absence.

Next Update most likely will be Wednesday Evening.

Day Ten: 29/09/15

Away for work - no update just missing these little guys!

Day Eleven: 30/09/15

Back home and my wife did an amazing job! There are still 5 Survivors (maybe Six but that one isn't moving much so I have almost written it off) Tonight I will do another bottom clean and also take out the majority of water ready to start adding more from the display tank in anticipation of a second hatch tomorrow morning. So tomorrow could be a big day with some more additions :-)

As a bonus today I was also greeted by a couple of parcels. One was my new air pump and the other a new light stand that I got a company in China to make as a trial - it came out beautifully!

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Pictured above: Left New Air Pump, rated at 55l/min - shouldn't have air issues moving forward! Right New Light Holder - Clamps onto tank side with a flexible Goose Neck

Day Twelve: 01/10/15

Well I was expecting another hatch out last night but fell asleep about 30 min's before they were due (really need to get my catcher installed and operational) I haven't seen the adult Peppermint Shrimp come out today even when feeding which usually means one of them has shed its exoskeleton. So the next question is, was it the one that had the eggs or not - I will keep an eye out for another hour or so to see if they come out now that lights are out and fingers crossed I have a hatch rearing to come out.

Over night I lost one more of the larvae leaving me with just 4. All day they have each had their spear legs out in front of them which is not a good sign. I think this is purely down to nutrition as I wasn't able to hatch out Brine the day I was away for work. The positive side is I now have a schedule for my brine with one harvest both morning and evening which should solve this issue (as long as I can work my schedule around it)

The other component to their health is obviously the water quality and I am experimenting with ways to try and get the waste to build up in one area of the tank for easier cleaning. If I cant achieve it its not the end of the world but would help big time. This isn't about being lazy but that when the waste is spread along the bottom the shrimp seem to get snagged up in it - if I could gather it all to one spot and have the shrimp in a different section of the tank due to the light then this would be a big win... Not holding my breath.

Day Thirteen: 02/10/15 (Round Two)

Well over night I had a big change I went from 4 to about 54!! I wasn't going to stay up last night as I thought I missed the hatch the night before, but just as I was going to bed I spotted the parents darting around the base of their tank as if on speed! I turned the lights on and boom they were eating as many little ones as they could get there hands on!

Its very very hard to count the Zoea but at a guess I think I have captured around 50 or so. The sad thing is I wasn't expecting this hatch and so was again unprepared - I spent about 2 hours collecting and then organising the rearing tank so hopefully I haven't disturbed everyone too much. On a positive note though my Brine Shrimp cultivating is on track so hopefully I can get some good nutrition into these littlies right from the get go.

Still a little worried as the larger shrimp still have their spear legs pointing out front - I cant pinpoint what is causing the stress yet which is frustrating! I am starting to think it may be a delayed response to poor nutrition earlier on.

Day Fourteen: 03/10/15

Well today I am officially 2 weeks into this journey! What have I learned so far? Well for one there is nothing glamorous about trying to raise shrimp! If you are considering following in my steps or the steps of those that have gone before me you can certainly expect long nights and many hours per day in maintenance.

Today I had multiple thoughts of throwing in the towel but then my stubbornness kicked in and I began once again the process of slowly syphoning the bottom of the tank. During any syphoning I need to be careful not to throw away any of the babies by checking at regular intervals that I haven't syphoned up any shrimp and then ensure to replace the ones that made it into the waste bucket back into the tank. The day also consisted of more salt mixing to be done, more brine shrimp to cultivate, salinity checks to be done and a drip setup for the required amount of fresh water. All whilst maintaining my drip feed of new salt water.

On a good day I am spending a minimum of one hour in maintenance and on days like today up to 3 hours. The sad part of all this is I think I now only have one or two originals left - but with the new lot of Zoea mixed in its near impossible to tell. Some of the new lot have already gained stalked eyes while the rest should get this addition over night. While it is an extremely taxing project there is still something so extremely satisfying when looking down into the tank at all the tiny little shrimp and hoping that maybe just maybe I might get a couple through too their Juvenile stage. (here's hoping!)

Day Fifteen: 04/10/15

Not much to report on today, it seems like all the newly hatched have gone through their first moult and now have "stalked eyes" - While this is great to see it makes it impossible now to tell the difference between these and the originals so I have no idea as to the numbers between hatches now. There were many active shrimp to be seen today and at a guess I would estimate over 20. Food still remains to be one of my biggest issues, while I now have the Brine Shrimp Cultivating down to a nice schedule, I am still struggling with portions. Too much food and the moulting from the Brine spoils the tank quickly but I also don't want to go so light that the shrimp are finding it hard to catch anything.

This is exactly the area a book cant teach you and you have to "feel" for yourself. Hopefully I can pick this up quickly as the costs are quickly mounting!

Day Sixteen: 05/10/15

While cleaning today I did a rough count and got around 30 alive and active. One really positive is that they ate most of the Brine Shrimp in the tank over night! That means I must be getting closer to the ideal food levels which should in turn help reduce waste and increase water quality. It’s still early days for this batch but I feel I am doing better than my first lot which is all that matters!

Day Twenty: 09/10/15

Sorry for the lack of updates this week, I have been full noise with work! The shrimp have been doing well this last week, there has certainly been die off but I don't think as much as my first attempt. Two days ago I counted at least 10 in there, and today I can see around 3 so I would assume there probably is still around the 10 mark which is pretty cool. The tank is now full from my drip feed and this makes spotting the little guys extremely hard! I am not sure on their development stage as none have ventured up close enough to the surface while I have been watching to see.

Sadly at the end of this month I will be going away for a week with my wife (ok that came out wrong - supper excited about the trip haha) but for the shrimp this means they most likely wont make it through that period. I have therefore made the decision to save my resources and end this current attempt as they still wont have quite got to meta by the time we leave. This project is currently costing about $4 per day to maintain and with a baby on the way I only have so much resources put aside for this. Therefore I cant justify wasting more knowing this attempt wont get through to meta.

So stay tuned and I will pick this up hopefully around mid November.

To give credit where credit is due - the majority of what I have done so far has come from the book How to Raise and Train Your Peppermint Shrimp by April Kirkendoll 

Edited by TBrewerton
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Day Six update complete - few edits over the day. Do you guys want me to post when I have done updates or does it alert you when I edit the main post? Will only post down here to alert you if your interested otherwise I will just do the edits and keep the first post up to date for my own reference and documentation.

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Day Six update complete - few edits over the day. Do you guys want me to post when I have done updates or does it alert you when I edit the main post? Will only post down here to alert you if your interested otherwise I will just do the edits and keep the first post up to date for my own reference and documentation.

Please keep posting when you update, makes following the thread much easier :)

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Perfect will do :-)

The only reason I am updating the main post rather than posting updates down here is so that if anyone new to the thread comes in they only have to read the one post rather than sift through scrolls of pages to put all the info together - will keep posting down here each day after all my updates for the day are in. I am still in utter shock I have got to day 6!! Woohooooo

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Perfect will do :-)

The only reason I am updating the main post rather than posting updates down here is so that if anyone new to the thread comes in they only have to read the one post rather than sift through scrolls of pages to put all the info together - will keep posting down here each day after all my updates for the day are in. I am still in utter shock I have got to day 6!! Woohooooo

Agree, good idea! If only all "logs" were like that

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Thanks guys, yea I am extremely shocked I got this far too!

Totally agree Mark - and the great part about this attempt is that it has shown me the areas where I need to get those systems in place. As long as each try I improve the length of life and quantity of larvae then I will be very happy.

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