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FISH / new pets

A Set-up Guide for Your New Pet Snail, Shrimp or Crab

Tips for home and health

Overview

5 things to know about your snail, shrimp, or crab

  • Literally spineless, they’re all “aquatic invertebrates”
  • They can live about two to five years
  • They grow between 1 to 3 inches long, depending on the species
  • They sometimes can share a tank with tropical fish
  • Crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs shed their skin in order to get bigger

Your aquatic pet’s home

Set up the aquarium at least one day before you add any invertebrates.

Aquarium and stand

  • The minimum size of your aquarium depends on how many animals and fish you have and how big they will be as adults. A rule of thumb: The aquarium should have one gallon of water for every inch of fully-grown shrimp, crab or snail, plus any fish.
  • The aquarium should be near a power source in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. Pick a very sturdy, stable base for your aquarium, then fill the tank with water.
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What to put in the tank

  • If you will be using an under-gravel filter, add it first.
  • Layer about 3 inches of gravel on the bottom of the tank. That works out to 1½ pounds of gravel per gallon of water. Rinse the gravel before putting it in the aquarium.
  • Fill the tank about halfway up with dechlorinated water.
  • Add the thermometer and other necessary equipment.
  • Time to decorate! Add plants, rocks and furniture. Rinse all décor before adding it to the tank.
  • Finish by filling the tank the rest of the way with water.
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Filtration

  • An aquarium filter should be able to process all of the water in the tank three to five times an hour. (For example, the filter in a 20-gallon tank would need to push through at least 60 gallons of water each hour.) Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing and setting up the filter.
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Heat and lights

  • Check the temperature your invertebrates will need before you bring them home. Depending on the species, they’ll prefer water somewhere between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Choose an aquarium heater with 5 watts of power for each gallon of water in the aquarium. A large aquarium may need a heater at either end.
  • Wait 15 minutes after filling the tank before turning on the heater.
  • Place the heater close enough to the filter to distribute the warmed water.
  • Run the tank’s filter and the tank’s hood light for 24 hours, then check the water temperature and adjust the heater if necessary.
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Your invertebrate’s tank-mates

  • Many species of aquatic invertebrates are peaceful and can live alongside tropical fish. But be sure the fish and the invertebrates are similarly sized.
  • Ghost shrimp can live with small fish in a community aquarium but could be eaten by larger fish.

What to feed your pet

Most aquatic invertebrates are scavengers and will eat algae and other food in the aquarium.

Use sinking pellets and algae wafers to be sure they are getting enough to eat.

Help keep your invertebrate healthy

Things to watch for

If your invertebrates display any of these symptoms of illness or distress, talk to a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian familiar with aquatic animals:

  • Swollen joints
  • Decreased appetite or activity
  • Excessive shedding of the skin
  • Inflamed or discolored skin or shell
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Water quality testing

PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. Bring in a sample and we can test its quality within minutes.

General aquarium health and environmental guidelines

  • Fish and aquatic animals can transmit zoonotic disease to humans. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after interacting with your aquarium. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with immune-system problems should take extra care.
  • Keep fish away from food and areas where food is prepared.
  • Never release fish into the wild.

PETSMART CARES:

Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.