The tadpole shrimp is a widely distributed crustacean. It is found in freshwater and temporary water bodies that form when it rains and then evaporate within several weeks or months.
These water bodies are typically 30-60 feet long and four feet deep. When the rain pours again, it brings new life, and the shrimp lays eggs before the next wave of drought.
Tadpole shrimps are also called triops since they have a pair of compound eyes with the third eye between them. Their bodies also resemble tadpoles with shields, and thus some people refer to them as shield shrimp.
Thankfully, they are very hardy species and make ideal choices for those looking for pets with low-level maintenance needs.
Here is a guide on the different things that will prove crucial when rearing tadpole shrimp in your fish tank.
Tadpole Shrimp Appearance
There are several species of tadpole shrimps. The common ones for hobby aquarists include triops longicaudatus, triops canncriformis, triops newberryi, and triops granarius.
The most common species is the triops longicaudatus. This is relatively large, with adult lengths of 10-40mm and widths of 3-8mm. Its body is grayish-yellow or brown and segmented into an abdomen, head, and thorax.
The tadpole shrimp has about sixty hair-like appendages on its abdomen’s proximal side that will beat rhythmically to direct food towards the fish’s mouth.
Male fish have slightly larger carapace lengths compared to the females. They also have a secondary antenna used as calipers when reproducing. Its egg sac primarily distinguishes the female tadpole shrimp.
Tadpole Shrimp Tank Requirements
A glass or plastic aquarium will suffice for your tadpole shrimp so that the fish are exposed to maximum light. This container should have no soap residue in it since soap is toxic to the fish.
Your aquarium should be at least one gallon. The ideal size will depend on your tadpole shrimp population so that each fish gets 2-4 water liters to remain comfortable.
Tadpole shrimps are primarily benthic dwellers meaning they will spend a large portion of their time at the tank’s bottom. You can include sand or small pebbles as the substrates for your tank to support this habit.
The ideal sand options are coral and aquarium sand since builders and beach sand generally contain toxins.
Tadpole Shrimp Water Conditions
Your aquarium should have fresh de-chlorinated water for tadpole shrimps to thrive. You can opt for rainwater or use tap water that has been left to settle for at least 48 hours to get rid of chlorine or treated with a commercial de-chlorinating agent. PH levels should be maintained at 7.0-.90 more so when breeding tadpole shrimps.
Experts recommend keeping water temperatures at 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Owing to this wide temperature variation, you might not need a cooling or heating solution when raising your tadpole shrimp. A partial water change of 25% weekly is essential to guarantee a clean environment for your fish.
Tadpole Shrimp Diet and Feeding
Tadpole shrimp is omnivorous. It feeds on aquatic crustaceans, insects, algae, roots, and tubers in the wild. In general, the fish eats anything smaller than it is and might even eat its siblings when starved.
It would help if you thus fed the fish periodically to avoid the eventuality of turning on its tankmates. Even so, be careful not to overfeed tadpole shrimp as this often kills them.
In your fish tank, you can feed the fish on commercial sinking, or floating pellets and flake feeds. You can also include bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimps as well as vegetables like boiled potatoes, and carrots in the diet.
Different shrimp populations have varying feeding habits and needs. You can understand yours by adding different food amounts into the tank at least twice daily and seeing what remains.
Here is a short video of triops feeding on boiled carrots, it is a lot of fun to watch them:
Tadpole Shrimp Tank Mates
Picking tank mates for your triops requires vigilance to keep the fish from eating each other. Moreover, the fish is generally a gentle species and should thus be kept with fish with a similar temperament.
The most popular tank mate for this fish is the goldfish. This is because other than similar temperaments and sizes, goldfish thrive in the same water conditions as the tadpole shrimp.
To guarantee your fish a chance at life when in the same tank as goldfish, hatch them separately. It would help if you then allowed them to grow to lengths of approximately an inch before transferring them into the aquarium with goldfish.
This way, they can compete with the predatory and fast-moving goldfish.
Tadpole Shrimp Breeding
Tadpole shrimps have a relatively short lifespan of 40-70 days in the wild and 70-90 in captivity. Thankfully, breeding them is easy, and you can get a new batch within a short time.
Tadpole shrimps will reproduce through one of three options. Hermaphrodites do it through selfing, where they fertilize their eggs.
Parthenogenesis is the most common reproduction method for triops. Here, females will not mate but rather get offspring from unfertilized eggs.
In rare cases, male and female triops reproduce sexually. When breeding, include about 5-6 tadpole shrimps in your group to increase the odds of having males, females, and hermaphrodites.
Ensure your fish tank has ideal PH, temperature, and lighting conditions to encourage breeding. Your eggs will hatch within 2-4 days when hydrated. If you do not want them to hatch at the same time, remove some and dry them out for rehydration in the future.
With the above information above, you are adequately prepared to keep tadpole shrimps in your fish tank. Most pet owners are concerned when they wake up to the skins of the fish floating in their aquariums.
This is just molted skin, and there is nothing that should concern you since it is a normal process in tadpole shrimps.
In the same way, you should not be as concerned if you do not come across molted skin in your fish tank. This is because triops will, at times, eat their molted skins to preserve nutrients.
This might happen through the day when you are out at school or work and thus leave your fish tank free of molted skin.