I recently purchased two Ghost shrimp at Petsmart as tank mates for my betta Pete. Our setup is a 3.2 gallon cylinder tank for Pete and the substrate at the bottom is a conglomeration of those clear translucent rocks from Walmart and heavier rocks from Petsmart. After we initially cleaned the tank we dumped them in while I'm not sure if one of them are alive anymore, they stay primarily at the bottom of the tank and hardly ever surface when he swimming about. Their first interaction was him swimming after them, and they immediately positioned themselves inbetween the crags and dips in the substrate. As noted the ghost shrimp now predominantly spend their time at the bottom in the crags of the substrate, is this behavior normal as tank mates?
What does this behavior mean when he chases them? Do bettas normally prey on Ghost shrimp, or is he just chasing them in a territorial fashion? What can I do to normalize their relationship, and better yet how do I clean the tank without killing them as they are incredibly fast swimmers. Any tips or helpful information for cleaning the tank without having them die is appreciated.
Here is a picture of my setup, I know the image is grainy. But if you can see some of the crags, that's where the Ghost shrimp hide. One of them at this moment is underneath a massive brown rock, and barely moves at all.
Sad day =[ I'm not sure what exactly happened to the first two ghost shrimp I had (I may have stressed them out by doing a larger water change than usual that day), but I lost both of them within a day of each other. Weird thing was, I only found their heads, so I'm not sure if Barbossa found them after they died and gobbled them up... XD The current pair (Pintel and Raghetti), have been doing fine for a couple weeks, though.
One of my bettas ignored them, the other hunted them ruthlessly and after he caught one, swam around with it in his mouth the way a dog would with a bone. I think it's safe to say your betta has a taste for shrimp and if you add any, they're going to be lunch.
wow, your betta is a good hunter. mine loves chasing shrimp around, but he's never yet come close to catching one! one strategy people seem to use with shrimp-hunting bettas is to put some small hides in the tank for the shrimp, either just a ton of cover for them to get to or a couple things that are too small for the betta to fit in, like little tubes- i think i've seen fancy stuff being sold for this purpose on amazon and ebay but you could probably just saw up some pvc tubing or bamboo cane in a pinch and weigh it down. you'd have to be careful it wasn't of a size that your betta could get himself stuck in, though.
about the other stuff- shrimp are actually more delicate than fish generally, and more sensitive to water quality. i had several ghost shrimp in succession when i was cycling my tank as an early warning system for water quality problems. now i have some amano shrimp, they're a little more hardy, but if your betta's chomping on the ghosts i wouldn't try them, since they're more expensive and more visible. shrimp usually seem to stick around the bottom of the tank, and ime only swim around the top if there's something wrong with the water that they're trying to escape OR if you're feeding the fish and they want to play the dangerous game of racing a hungry betta for food. :p if your tank isn't cycled, or if you didn't acclimate them before releasing them into the tank, they might not make it. don't feel too bad about it, but if you want to try again sometime, it would be better to treat them like fish- float them in the tank for a while, adding a little spoonful of tank water to the container every 20 minutes or so for a couple hours or as long as you can stand.
I have a ghost shrimp in both my betta tanks. Gandalf likes to "play" with his shrimp, who's name is Dyson. Sometimes, but not always, Gandalf will sort of follow Dyson around, almost like he's trying to sniff him, like a dog would to something he's investigating, but if Dyson stops running away, Gandalf stops chasing him. Gandalf is an extreamly passive, calm, yet curious betta, nothing upsets him!
Now Merlin is another story, he trys to chase his ghost shrimp, who's name is Hoover, but Hoover is a tough little guy and won't "play", he just ignores Merlin or will even chase Merlin sometimes but mostly they ignore each other. Merlin is much more attached to his Zebra snail, Nessy, follows her everywhere, lol.
Neither of my bettas have actually tried to eat the shrimp thank goodness. :)
On another note, Dyson and Hoover have both shed their shells a couple times and have grown quite a bit. I've had them for about 8 months now.