Crystal Red Shrimps (scientific name: Caridina sp.) is a bred variant of Bee Shrimps. They are exactly the same species, the only difference is in colour. This colour is bred through selective breeding like the way different colour morphs are bred in bettas(fighting fish) and guppies.
This is why it is best not to mix CRS with normal bee shrimps because they are the same species and will readily interbreed, resulting in less red shrimps down the line. Keep the bloodline pure by only keeping crystal red shrimps with only crystal reds.
All shrimps are very sensitive, very much more than fish! In fact, there are some commercial fish farmers who got burnt when they swiched to shrimp farming thinking they are the same. As a result, whole seemingly healthy stocks literary dropped like flies overnight! If you are there to witness it you can see how it is shocking. If you are the owner then it is a nightmare!
Of the shrimp species, the most sensitive is crystal red shrimp. This is because of a smaller gene pool. In fact the world's crystal red shrimps all has the common ancestors from from a breeder in Japan who found 3 redder varients in his thousands of normal bee shrimps. These 3 redder shrimps were then bred, and their redder offsprings were selected and bred again. After many cycles he finally arrived at the crystal red shrimps that you see today.
Another sign of their sensitivity is the high market price they command. This is because importers have to pay for the express transport, express quarrantine services and extra care. When the stocks finally hit the shelves many have perished and all this losses goes into the price of the survivors. Crystal red shrimps is not available in many places of the world because the high cost for importing a few shrimps is just not viable. It is only worth it if they are imported in the hundreds, so that the high cost of bringing it in will be distributed. It is not easy for a LFS to sell such sensitive shrimps in the hundreds unless there is a ready pool of shrimp hobbiests in the area. Besides, don't forget that the longer the LFS has to hold the shrimps, the more casualities occur.
Ok so now that you have an idea of how sensitive crystal red shrimps are, lets get on to the water conditions
There should be no ammonia or nitrite present in your crystal red tank. If you do not have an already cycled tank, do not even think about it.
Optimum Temperature: 22 to 25 degrees celcius.
Can tolerate up to 28 (but only with strong aeration and non-overcrowded density.)
Optimal pH: 6.2 to 7.2
Low alkaline to neutral pH is good for shrimps because invertebrate shells are alkaline in nature. Acidity is detrimental to shrimp shells (same for crabs and snails) as it reacts with its alkaline nature, causing microscopic pits. These pits can act as better platforms for micro insects to perch on. In an acidic tank, shrimp shells are less shiny because of these micro pittings, making it more like a matt surface. Also, you may see your shrimps trying to brush off microscopic insects on its body.
However, if your water condition is less than perfect, it will be BETTER to have a moderate to low pH because at low pH, nitrogenous waste is less toxic.
This is why, because of different pollution factor in different tanks, some people report best crs behavior when kept at low pH while others notice the opposite. Do not try increasing your pH if you are unsure of your water quality. For fragile species like crs, the result can be fatal.
Water changes: 30% weekly with well aerated,dechlorinated and dechloraminated water. If pH of your new water is varies from your tank water, introduce it to tank slowly using a scoop.
They should be constantly 'busy' and active. If a large proportion of your shrimps starts keeping still and not behaving or eating as normal, check the water! If you see them swim up and then open up and 'freeze' motionless and let themself get carried by the current then your water is in a state of emergency.
Shrimps moult on a regular basis. This is a process where they shed their outer shell so they can grow bigger. A new shell will be formed which in time will be also be shed and replaced in time. This is like if you can grow T-shirts, you need to keep throwing them away as you get bigger. So, if you see an empty shrimp shell, you don't have to be alarmed. In fact, just leave it alone and it will be eaten back as a source of calcium.
They should be fed a varied diet rich in vegetable matter. It is also good to have moss or riccia in the tank so that they have a ready snack when they are hungry so they never starve. They also eat algae but there should not be algae in your tank because if so your nitrates is too high. Algae tablets/pellets for botom feeders are available at most aquariums. You can also feed them food meant for plecos (sucker/janitor fish), corydoras or crabs.
A planted tank is best because there is always some food for them. They will not destroy your healthy plants, preferring to eat decaying plant matter or algae which is softer and easier to pull apart with their tiny claws. If you are using CO2 injection, be careful that pH does not drop too low for them.
Lightning should not be on for 24hrs continously unless there is dense plantings that provide shaded areas.
Bare tank floor without gravel is ok if water current is not strong.
At no time should any parasite killer or any kind of 'super magic cloudy water clearer' chemicals be used in any shrimp tank, especially a crystal red shrimps tank.
Don't be discouraged keeping these shimps because of their requirements. In fact, due to their high sensitivity, it gives you a heightened sense of satisfaction to see them healthy and active in your aquarium. And of course, I don't need to tell you they are absolutely beautiful in their stable colours.
Crystal Red Grade
Crystal Red comes in grades of SS,S,A,B and C. The standard crystal red grading convention is as follows: