We periodically go through our inventory and review what's proven to be popular, unpopular, and just plain...well, dull. We tend to remove the "dull" stuff from the inventory...We may get excited about a certain botanical item, but if you don't, well- it doesn't really matter, huh?
And we receive a lot of questions about various botanicals and how to utilize them, which is a lot of fun for us, because we're full of ideas about them!
One of the questions we're asked a lot is, "Will this botanical work with_________?"
And the reality is, most of these botanicals will work with fishes that are accustomed to having submerged materials in their environments (hmm, that's like, ALL fishes, right?). Granted, it's not really appropriate (particularly from a chemical standpoint) for say, Catappa leaves to be included in your Mbuna tank, or for a brackish water system, but you could probably how in some of the harder, less "reactive" items, like "Jungle Pods", "Savu Pods", etc.
Other fishes, like my beloved Characins, Apistos, Plecos, etc., are perfectly fine with almost any of the botanicals you'd want to use, taking into account aesthetics and such!
You could. I'm not sure that you'd necessarily want to.
One group of hobbyists who are very much into using botanicals in a wide variety of situations is shrimp keepers. Those of you who keep the colorful Caridina, Neocaridina, etc. have realized for a long time that shrimp are not particularly fussy when it comes to what they eat and graze on!
The real "limiting factor", in my opinion, with the use of aquatic botanicals in a shrimp aquarium is the issue of creating stable environmental parameters and maintaining high water quality. In smaller aquarium, such as are typical for shrimp, the impact of ANYTHING we place in them on the environment is potentially critical. It's not secret that, under certain chemical parameters, (i.e.; very soft, already acidic water) aquatic botanicals can influence pH more significantly than in more alkaline, more "hard" conditions, so you'd want to do what we recommend for any situation: Go slowly and monitor.
In a small shrimp aquarium, the influx of a large amount of organic material into a small, but established, stable environment can degrade water quality rapidly, and create a possible ammonia spike or other nasty problems! Again, it's about going SLOWLY!
As far as what shrimp will consume, my experience with my own shrimp and aquatic botanicals is that they will graze on ANYTHING that recruits biofilm and/or algae, and actually physically consume many of the botanicals which have softer internal components to them.
There are literally dozens and dozens of products, including things like dried leaves and other botanicals (some of which we carry), marketed as (supplemental) shrimp feeds...and I think it's entirely correct and accurate to label them as such. Now granted, it's hard to say what exactly the shrimp are consuming of the actual botanicals, and what nutrition they're deriving from the various seed pods, etc. that we offer.
I did some research online (that internet thing just might catch on...) and learned that in aquaculture of shrimp, a tremendous variety of vegetables, fruits, etc. are utilized, and many offer good nutritional profiles for shrimp, in terms of protein, amen acids, etc. In fact, other than sorting through mind-numbing numbers ( .08664, etc) on various amino acid concentration of say, Mulberry leaves versus say, Sugar Beets, or whatever, there are not huge differences making any one food superior to all others, at least from my very cursory examination!
What is interesting is that some foodstuffs, such as various seeds, root vegetables, etc. DO have different levels of elements such as calcium and phosphorous, and widely varying crude protein. Now, I have no idea what some of the seed pods we offer as aquatic botanicals contain in terms of protein or amino acids, but one can make some huge generalizations that one seed/fruit is somewhat similar to others, in terms of basic amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, etc.
What that tells me, the over-caffeinated, under-educated armchair "scientist"-wannabe, is that most of the botanicals we offer here at Tannin have nutritional values that are acceptable for shrimp health, when not their sole "diet."
In other words, one botanicals is pretty much as good as any other, so use whichever ones you prefer to 'scape your tank...perhaps with a bit of an eye towards the ones that we know from experience that shrimp seem to be particularly attracted to. Which ones are those?
Well, in no particular order, here are the ones that we've noticed (along with our customers) that shrimp seem to really go for:
"FLOR RIO" PODS
"RA CAMA" PODS
MISC WOOD AND PODS
"MANTA PODS" (COMING SOON!)
So, the bottom line is that, if you're into shrimp, you'd be in pretty good shape to utilize most any of the above botanicals- or just about any of the many we offer, as long as you go slowly, prepare them for use, and apply a healthy dose of common sense and environmental parameter monitoring during their use.
It's fun to look to new supplemental feed sources that provide natural grazing and foraging opportunities for our shrimp; and if they happen to look cool in your aquarium- well, that's a real bonus!
Stay enthusiastic. Stay informed. Stay experimental...
And Stay Wet!