The original Shrimphaus was crusted over with black beard algae which did not respond to systemic treatment, so I took down Shrimphaus, did a thorough clean and rebuilt Shrimphaus with a modified, more maintenance-friendly design.
In the original Shrimphaus concept, I was going for an all-slate hardscape with mainly epiphyte plants like Anubias and Bucephalandra. That created a difficulty because unlike in the Fireplace Aquarium where the mountain provides a lot of vertical hardscape upon which to grow epiphytes, Shrimphaus is shallow. I created vertical hardscape space in Shrimphaus by stacking slate wedges together such that epiphyte roots could be wedged into the cracks between the wedges. It was actually quite an austere landscape. Unfortunately the stacked up slate wedges meant there was a lot of dead space with very little water flow in between and at the bottom of the wedges that was impossible to clean leading to a build-up of organic material. Epiphytes tend to grow slowly which can make competition with algae problematic, and the gradual build-up of organics, along with providing too much light led to the downfall of the original design.
Cleanout and redoing Shrimphaus
After removing all the plants, hardscape and shrimp, the nature of the cleaning problem was pretty evident. I was quite surprised at how few shrimp there were, no more than maybe 15, mostly full adults but a couple juveniles as well. I had expected at least 50 shrimp, possibly hundreds of them. I was relieved however that there wasn’t a big pile of dead shrimp down there and the ones that were left looked vigorous and healthy. I was very careful to make sure no shrimp got left behind and they were pretty straightforward to net and release. All of the algae-infested hardscape got thoroughly dosed with undiluted liquid carbon and then rinsed – the algae is still attached but will die over the next few days (note: actually this took more like two weeks, but it did completely kill all the BBA).
New concept: flat aquasoil bottom
Shrimphaus 2.0 has the same two slate pillars holding up the river and retains the same passive filtration base as the first Shrimphaus. The new concept however has a relatively thick and even layer of aquasoil, with only one gentle depression in the back left where the pump to power the river will sit. The cryptocoryne species from the right side of the original Shrimphaus were relatively algae-free, likely because they were furthest from the light, and they went back into roughly the same place in the new Shrimphaus. The relatively fast growing stem plant from the front also had some salvageable pieces and went back into place. I decided I liked the Java moss better than the Christmas moss, or at least whichever one had the more open branched structure was the one I liked and kept and I discarded the more dense version of the moss – the moss went in the back under and behind the river. All of the submersed epiphytes, mainly bucephalandra, were not really salvagable from the algae infestation without herioc measures, and considering they didn’t really have anywhere to go in the new level soil-based environment, they all wound up going in the bin.
Lower light intensity, more stem plants, and liquid carbon
To keep things nice I have lowered the intensity on the light from 40% down to 20% whilst still keeping the same 4+4 hour daily illumination schedule. Without a lot of vertical surfaces I’m going to put in some stem plants which can grow faster than the epiphytes and hopefully out-compete the algae. I am also going with a ‘maintenance dose’ of liquid carbon – since the Shrimphaus has a filled-with-water volume of 15 litres, that means 0.3 ml of EasyCarbo every day. I have also started giving the shrimp a little dedicated shrimp food daily, which they seem to appreciate. Previously they had to “survive in the wild” on whatever biofilm they were able to scrounge. I will likely back off the feeding schedule to weekly after things settle down for a bit.