I love the shrimp so much, I think it makes a perfect pet for kids. We've had two childrens' birthdays to plan for, and I asked the parents if it's OK to give their child shrimp as pets. Both sets of parents have said yes.
Each time, I run down to the store to buy shrimp. They come in a tiny cup of about nine or ten for $7 at Shirokiya, which is the best deal I've seen so far. The pet stores charge $1/shrimp.
I already have the bottle of spirulina, which I transfer to a small container with a toothpick to scoop it up with. I give food along with the jar of shrimp, and a strong suggestion to not overfeed. I've seen someone else's jar full of dead opae because they were overfed and the water got polluted.
At Shirokiya, there are little containers of snails alongside the shrimp. They're black nerite snails, or pipipi, found commonly in the tidepools of Hawaii. They're promoted as algae cleaners to discourage heavy buildup on the tank walls. Unless you are OCD about collecting shrimp, as I admit I am, in which case there will be two dozen tiny mouths scouring the tank walls for the first sign of algae to eat.
The most recent time I was at Shirokiya, I decided to buy myself a cup of two snails for $1. I had Olivia with me, and I handed her the cup to hold. She immediately shook it like a rattle. "Hey! That's not very nice!" I chided, and asked her to hold it gently.
We got home and I put the snails in the ecosystem. One flipped over and started crawling up and out of the water. Olivia named it Brownie, because it looks dark like the brownies we made earlier that day.
The other laid where it fell. I suggested we not name that one, because I suspected it wouldn't need a name. When it was still lying the same way on its shell the next morning, that confirmed it was dead.
I didn't think the living one would stray that far from the water, but in the morning, it was gone. My counter is black (and cluttered) so I didn't immediately see it, but I finally found Brownie a foot away from the tank.
I picked Brownie up and dropped him back in the water. He started crawling right up again. Claus got some plastic wrap to cover the top of the tank.
I mentioned this to the pet shop guy (who doesn't sell the snails), who'd heard similar things from other customers. It doesn't appear the snails like that type of environment. Apparently everyone's snails try to commit suicide.
I'm not sure what to do about Brownie. Maybe I should return him to the ocean rather than risk him continually running away from home?