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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Aquatic Invertebrates

Aquatic Invertebrates

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Traits & behavior

Non-aggressive
Many species of aquatic invertebrates are peaceful and can be kept with tropical fish, but be sure the sizes are compatible so neither group sees the other as food.

Bottom swimmers
You will see crabs and shrimp swimming at the bottom of your aquarium or climbing on the decor. Snails, however, will adhere to the aquarium glass and crawl up the sides of the tank.

Molters
This is a characteristic of crabs and shrimp and means they need to shed their outer skin in order to grow.
 

Things to remember

Multiplying snails
Snails readily reproduce in an aquarium environment.

Cover your aquarium
A tight-fitting aquarium hood is essential as many of these invertebrates can escape from an uncovered tank.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.
 

Nutrition

Staple diet
Although snails will move along the surfaces of the aquarium scraping green algae with their mouths, they will also accept all kinds of commercial flake and pellet foods. Crabs and shrimp must be fed sinking pellet foods that they can find at the bottom of the tank.

Frequent feedings
For optimum health, feed your aquatic invertebrates as much food as they will consume in 1-3 minutes, twice a day.

Health

Signs your aquatic invertebrates are healthy:

  • Eating vigorously
  • Clear eyes and smooth, clean skin or shells free from any lesions or inconsistent colorations
  • Active

Things to watch for:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Shell damage or discoloration

If you notice any of the signs described above, check your aquarium water quality and consult a PetSmart Aquatics Specialist.
 

Environment

Aquarium
Most freshwater aquatic invertebrates require an aquarium habitat similar to any freshwater tropical fish. A good rule of thumb is one gallon of water for every one inch of full-grown fish or invertebrate. Minimum tank size should be 10 gallons.

Décor
For crabs, hiding places should be offered as they prefer a secure area as a retreat. Live aquatic plants are beneficial for snails, which will graze on their leaves.

Compatibility
Snails can be kept in most tanks, but some gouramis, skunk loaches and other large fish may eat smaller snails. Juvenile shrimp and crabs can be kept in a general community aquarium, but as adults they may harass their tank-mates and should be kept by themselves or with other large, tough fish.

Filtration
An outside power filter, an internal box or an under-gravel filter should be provided to keep water clean and invertebrates healthy.

Water changes
Test water weekly to assess water quality. It is recommended that 10% of your aquarium water be changed per week. At the very least, 25% of your aquarium water should be changed per month.

Water temperature
Water temperatures should range between 72-82° F. Use an aquarium heater to maintain water temperature.

Aquarium placement
Place your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Aquarium stand
An aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium.

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