In the last article we gave you a list of amazing fish that can thrive in a room temperature tank. To really make your aquarium interesting, you can add invertebrates. Invertebrates are sometimes an after thought in an aquarium, but more recently people have set up invertebrate specific aquariums after realizing how interesting they can be. Invertebrates tend to be a bit more sensitive than fish, but you can still find some cool invertebrates that will do great in your unheated tank. As I stated in Setting Up a Room Temperature Aquarium Part One, it is important there aren’t major fluctuations in temperature throughout the day and night. This is even more important with invertebrates. Also, if you are planning on keeping invertebrates, make sure you are keeping fish that are safe with them. Invertebrates are below fish on the food chain, so before buying any invertebrates, you want to make sure they won’t become a snack for your fish. Below is a list of invertebrates that would be a great addition to an unheated aquarium. In the next part, I will cover the plants to finish off your tank.
Zebra Nerite Snail: Nerite Snails are a great addition to an unheated aquarium. They are excellent algae eaters and won’t eat your plants either. If you are worried because you have heard horror stories of people introducing snails to their tank and ending up with hundreds of snails, the nerite snail if perfect for you. Nerite snails need brackish water to breed, so you won’t have to worry about having them overrun your aquarium. Just make sure to have a lid on the tank though, because they may climb out of the water and end up on your floor without one.
Ramshorn Snail: Ramshorn Snails are sometimes avoided for a fish tank because they are prolific breeders. Unlike Nerites, Ramshorns will readily breed in your home aquarium if left unchecked. If you decide to add one, then this wouldn’t be a problem. One big benefit of the Ramshorn Snail is, besides algae, they also eat dead fish, plants, and uneaten food. This is huge since those things can cause big problems for your tank, and even cause your tank to re-cycle.
Trumpet Snail: Trumpet Snails are excellent snails to have in your aquarium, the only unfortunate thing is you will rarely see them. Trumpet Snails spend much of their time buried in the gravel or sand. They eat the decaying matter, like extra fish food and fish feces. Trumpet snails will reproduce in your aquarium, but since they don’t eat plants, there isn’t much to worry about. They also stay small which is great for smaller aquariums.
Mystery Snail: Mystery Snails are actually a type of apple snail and come in a variety of colors. Mystery snails are readily available at most fish stores and can be great additions to your unheated tank. Unlike other snails, mystery snails won’t breed in your aquarium, unless there is a male and female snail present. They do get bigger than the other snails mentioned above, but not more than a few inches. Due to their size, they won’t live for too long off the scrapes of the fish food. In order for the mystery snail to thrive you will need to supplement it with algae wafers to ensure it is getting enough food.
Shrimp & Crayfish
Amano Shrimp: Amano Shrimp, like the other shrimp listed below, are very interesting to watch. They stay small in size, usually less than 2 inches. They do particularly well in a planted aquarium that provides some hiding spots. Amano Shrimp feed on algae so can be a great part of your clean up crew. They will also feed on dead plant matter as well. Another neat thing is these shrimp will potentially breed in your tank and give birth to live baby shrimp. Unless there are no predators though, it is likely the babies will be eaten by fish.
Cherry Shrimp: Cherry Shrimp are probably some of the most common shrimp available, and for good reason. They have beautiful color and interesting behavior, which makes them very entertaining to watch. In terms of temperature though, they would tend to do better in an unheated aquarium that is on the higher end, rather than in the 60’s. They will scavenge extra food in the aquarium and also eat algae, although not enough to clean your glass. Like the Amano and Tiger Shrimp, they stay small in size and will bred in your aquarium under the right conditions.
Tiger Shrimp: Tiger Shrimp are very similar in terms of care, to cherry shrimp and amano shrimp. They have similar diets, scavenging food in the aquarium and eating micro algaes. They are not as readily available as cherry shrimp, but do well in an unheated aquarium between 65 and 75 degrees. They could even do well a little higher or lower on either end. Despite having the name tiger shrimp, they are peaceful and do not hunt like a tiger, unless you’re algae.
Crayfish: Crayfish are very interesting creatures that do well in an unheated aquarium. They are not recommended for aquariums with fish or live plants in them however. Crayfish are opportunistic predators and will eat your fish if given the chance. They also burrow, and could potentially uproot your plants. If you decide to keep one, you’re best bet is to keep them in a tank by themselves. They are relatively easy to care for as long as good water quality is maintained. They do like to have hiding places so you should have some kind of a cave or similar decoration in the aquarium.
Dwarf Crayfish: If you are still thinking of keeping crayfish with your fish despite reading above, there may be some hope. Dwarf crayfish are considered to be reasonably safe with community fish. Like all crayfish though, they are still opportunistic predators, and may eat a fish if the opportunity presents itself. However, with the dwarf crayfish, most people have been able to keep them without any incidents as long as they are well fed. They also can do well in a planted aquarium since they are small enough not to uproot plants.
There are other invertebrates that can live in an unheated tank, however the above list provides a pretty good variety you can add to your tank. If you decide you want to keep live plants in your unheated tank, I’ll be covering which ones will survive and thrive in an unheated environment soon.
All images provided by Wikimedia Commons