Neos slowly dying, don't know why - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 12:26 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Neos slowly dying, don't know why

I've had my neos for a couple months now in a cycled, relatively heavily planted tank.
Ever since I got them, I've been losing about 1/week. Given that I started with ~15, I'm now down to the last 6. It's been pretty frustrating since I don't really know what I can be doing to prevent it so I figured I'd ask for some help.

The deaths sort of correlate with water changes (sometimes I'll get a death the day of or after a change) although not tightly enough for me to really establish a pattern. I was doing small top-offs like 2-3 times a week (like 2.5-5%, so not a lot) which means that even if the shrimp were dying for totally unrelated causes, it would look like it was because of the water change.

I have a pool of red rilis and blue rilis. I can usually predict when a red is going to die: their body goes slightly cloudy (not milky white like the pictures I've seen of bacterial infections, but they definitely look stressed), they get slow and don't want to swim, and start bumping into stuff. They're usually dead the next day. The blue rilis are harder to predict because they're more lively overall, I can't see through their shells, and I have a harder time differentiating individuals so I can't track behavior.

My water parameters

pH 6.6-6.8 (hard to tell based off of color but there might be a 0.2 shift caused by CO2 injection)
Temp: 74.5F
kH: 3-4
gH: 4-5

Ammonia: none
Nitrites: basically none
Nitrates: 15ppm when the last shrimp died (sometimes closer to 30ppm)

Copper: nope
TDS: 170ppm
CO2 injection: 0.5 bubbles per second in a 10 gal. I removed my dropper thing because it got in the way but it never went past green.
Circulation: It's pretty reasonable, I'm using an EHEIM 250 (made for 50L+) on a 10 gal (~40L).

The "best" part is that the females are berrying quite well (I've had 3 females hatch eggs and 1 currently berried right now) so I have more shrimplets now than adults by a large margin. Will they all die? I hope not.

Parasites? I treated one shrimp for ellobiopsis a month ago and haven't seen it come back. I also had a minor case of scutariella in my tank: I tried treating with salt dips but they always came back. I just treated the whole tank with fendendazole earlier this week.

Planaria? I heard reports that planaria could be killing shrimp. Mine look like they're going to die ahead of time but either way: treated with fenbendazole earlier this week. After the second treatment, another red rili died.

A couple days ago, I noticed some dark coloration on my remaining red rilis and wondered if I was seeing some rust disease but at this point I can't tell if I'm just becoming paranoid about everything. Maybe they had it all along and I simply didn't notice (images attached).

I'm guessing I have some sort of persistent bacterial infection. When my shrimp shipped, one of the bags had a dead shrimp in it that I originally thought was a sliver of carrot because of how orange it was. It likely died at the beginning of the transit which might have given bacteria a chance to set it.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Help!?
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post #2 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 12:33 AM
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i wonder if you have planaria, thats mostly shrimps death no one notices, neos are pretty hardy to water parameters
i ask this cause i recently had in 60g tank never knowing

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post #3 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by StrungOut View Post
i wonder if you have planaria, thats mostly shrimps death no one notices, neos are pretty hardy to water parameters
i ask this cause i recently had in 60g tank never knowing
He treated the tank with fenbendazole which would have killed Planaria (assuming he followed the directions properly).

I think you need more calcium in the water. Try increasing your GH to at least 6 (I keep my cherries at 8dGH). I think they are having a hard time developing a good shell, and they eventually die from failed molts. This would also explain why it seems to correlate with water changes as well.
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post #4 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 02:57 AM
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I agree that your GH is low, and if the fenbendazole treatment was a success I'd point to that as the culprit (at least until you get more information). I keep some broken up pieces of cuttlebone in my tanks. It's a calcium supplement for birds that will slowly leach calcium into your water, or your shrimps can pick at it if they need to. Break it up with a hammer and beware of sharp edges.

I'd also suggest dropping your temperature a little if you can. From what I've read 70-72 is a good place for shrimp since it makes bacterial infections less likely. They also don't burn out as quickly at lower temps.

How much water are you changing and how frequently? Water changes usually induce molting in shrimp and if they aren't ready (low calcium generally) they'll fail to molt and die. Also, shrimp really prefer stable parameters so I'm curious if there's a chemistry difference between your tank and tap.
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post #5 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 03:12 AM
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If not already, I would suggest dripping in new water when adding or doing changes. I usually do 2-3 drips per second. This usually encourages molting, even just slowly topping off the same amounts you mentioned. Any change of water conditions will make them want to molt to suit the new conditions. Otherwise they are literally uncomfortable in their exoskeletons. Especially in cleaner water. Try to keep it as minimal as possible. Less change is better, more so when you see berried females. Maybe try only to top off every other week and water change once a month if you can get away with it. I also had a cloudy looking shrimp that I didn't expect to make it when I got it. That cleared up though so it is possible it will pass. I hope the same for your shrimp. A tip too is when adding or removing water put an airsrone on the end in the tank and baby shrimp won't get sucked out removing water and they won't wander into it when adding water. One less thing to worry about.
Edit-I have heard fenben can cause a ph drop. That may be what happened when that red rili died on the second dosage.
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post #6 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by BigMek View Post
I agree that your GH is low, and if the fenbendazole treatment was a success I'd point to that as the culprit (at least until you get more information). I keep some broken up pieces of cuttlebone in my tanks. It's a calcium supplement for birds that will slowly leach calcium into your water, or your shrimps can pick at it if they need to. Break it up with a hammer and beware of sharp edges.

I'd also suggest dropping your temperature a little if you can. From what I've read 70-72 is a good place for shrimp since it makes bacterial infections less likely. They also don't burn out as quickly at lower temps.

How much water are you changing and how frequently? Water changes usually induce molting in shrimp and if they aren't ready (low calcium generally) they'll fail to molt and die. Also, shrimp really prefer stable parameters so I'm curious if there's a chemistry difference between your tank and tap.
Do you ever worry about too much cuttlebone dissolving and causing molting issues?

Also, those temps are quite low for neos, and they may not breed well or at all. I'd shoot for between 74-76 for neos as you get a good balance of growth, size, age, and reproduction.

I agree that stability is key, and especially for the first couple of months, you want to limit water changes as much as you can (while still keeping parameters ok).

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post #7 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 05:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by StrungOut View Post
i wonder if you have planaria
Me too so I treated with fenben earlier this week. I erred on the side of lower doses since I want to get my (quarantined) nerites back in the tank as soon as I can.

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Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
I think you need more calcium in the water.
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Originally Posted by BigMek View Post
I agree that your GH is low
I also think it's not as high as it could be but this is with a 1 kilo rock of limestone literally inside my canister filter (so lots of calcium!). My tap water is super soft (gH/kH = <1) so it's hard even to get it to 4-5. I've heard of people raising shrimp tanks with gH/kH in that range so I think it's ok? (I'm mostly hoping I don't have to start dosing mineralizer)

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Originally Posted by BigMek View Post
I'd also suggest dropping your temperature a little if you can. From what I've read 70-72 is a good place for shrimp since it makes bacterial infections less likely. They also don't burn out as quickly at lower temps.
It's funny you mention that. In a bid to reduce the progression of any potential bacterial infection, I dropped the temp from 74F to 72F on Thursday evening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMek View Post
How much water are you changing and how frequently? Water changes usually induce molting in shrimp and if they aren't ready (low calcium generally) they'll fail to molt and die. Also, shrimp really prefer stable parameters so I'm curious if there's a chemistry difference between your tank and tap.
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Originally Posted by Corydoradaxplora View Post
Less change is better...
I try to do water changes as infrequently as possible. Usually I just top off evaporated water (<10% a week) although I was doing 10% water changes 1x/week for a couple weeks when I first got them because I wasn't sure what kind of bio-load they were imposing on the tank.

There is definitely a strong difference in chemistry between my tap water and tank water. The tap water is very soft (gH/kH < 1 )and comes out very basic (pH = 9). By contrast, my tank water is medium soft (gH/kH 3-5 ) and acidic (pH = 6.6-6.8). The way I top off the tank is by putting a drop of Prime in a large 1.5L glass jar, filling it with tap water, leaving it >12h to off-gas and reach room temp, and then pour half of it into the tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corydoradaxplora View Post
A tip too is when adding or removing water put an airsrone on the end in the tank...
Not a bad idea, I have the airstone so I might as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corydoradaxplora View Post
Edit-I have heard fenben can cause a ph drop. That may be what happened when that red rili died on the second dosage.
I checked all params within a couple hours of the death (found the shrimp after work, was white but not pink so I'm assuming I found it less than two hours after she died) and couldn't see a noticeable pH drop or ammonia spike. A small drop could have contributed but nothing I noticed.

Last edited by aotf; 04-16-2017 at 06:00 AM. Reason: More stuff
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post #8 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 06:02 AM
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Sounds like you are on top of it! The only thing I can think of myself is maybe the softer water from the tap going in is doing it since it isn't getting regulated by the limestone right away? Maybe another piece of limestone in a bucket to prep new water for a day or two before going in the tank would help. Shoot you might be doing that already from your responses lol!
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post #9 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 06:04 AM Thread Starter
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Do you ever worry about too much cuttlebone dissolving and causing molting issues?
I've heard that argument as well. I think you'd have to keep track of the gH/kH/TDS to make sure you don't make the shells too rigid, but I've heard of people raising neos at like gH/kH ~10-12 without too many issues.

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Sounds like you are on top of it!
Haha, thanks! Unfortunately, the more crap that goes wrong in my tank the more research I have to do. To some extent, the less you know the better your tanks must be doing.

(I'm not 100% serious but there's probably a nugget of truth in there. )

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Maybe another piece of limestone in a bucket to prep new water for a day or two before going in the tank would help. Shoot you might be doing that already from your responses lol!
I hadn't thought of that! That's a good idea. I've been straying away from the idea that my water changes are responsible but it doesn't hurt to try to get my tap water and tank water to match as closely as possible just to be safe.
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post #10 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 06:15 AM
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I'm also one of those way up there, 12gh 11kh TDS right around 225. No problems at all. Some shrimp molt usually when I top off with distilled. I wouldn't worry about those numbers going up. Even tds can soar for neos as long as they get accustomed to their surroundings slowly. Also I have no heater on my tank and shrimp are at 69 right now and all the ladies are saddled up.
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post #11 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 06:32 AM
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I also think it's not as high as it could be but this is with a 1 kilo rock of limestone literally inside my canister filter (so lots of calcium!). My tap water is super soft (gH/kH = <1) so it's hard even to get it to 4-5. I've heard of people raising shrimp tanks with gH/kH in that range so I think it's ok? (I'm mostly hoping I don't have to start dosing mineralizer)
I'd still be worried about not having enough of the calcium dissolve. Add to that the fact that you probably have little to no magnesium, and is seriously consider something like the powder form of Seachem Equilibrium. It's much easier to control and dose appropriately. I use Tom Barr's GH booster which is similar in cost. Probably cost about the same for a year supply as the dog dewormer

Quote:
Originally Posted by assofthefist View Post
I try to do water changes as infrequently as possible. Usually I just top off evaporated water (<10% a week) although I was doing 10% water changes 1x/week for a couple weeks when I first got them because I wasn't sure what kind of bio-load they were imposing on the tank.

There is definitely a strong difference in chemistry between my tap water and tank water. The tap water is very soft (gH/kH < 1 )and comes out very basic (pH = 9). By contrast, my tank water is medium soft (gH/kH 3-5 ) and acidic (pH = 6.6-6.8). The way I top off the tank is by putting a drop of Prime in a large 1.5L glass jar, filling it with tap water, leaving it >12h to off-gas and reach room temp, and then pour half of it into the tank.
Don't add prime until right before you put it in the tank. Prime only binds things for up to 24 hours, and you are losing some of that time. Also, if your water is treated with chloramine instead of chlorine, you are essentially unbinding the ammonia from the chlorine, offgassing chlorine, and then dumping a timebombed ammonium into your tank.

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post #12 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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Add to that the fact that you probably have little to no magnesium, and is seriously consider something like the powder form of Seachem Equilibrium. It's much easier to control and dose appropriately. I use Tom Barr's GH booster which is similar in cost.
I really had not thought about the Mg content of my water, that's a a good piece of advice. I'll check out the boosters as I'm also not convinced my limestone is doing enough.

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Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
Don't add prime until right before you put it in the tank. Prime only binds things for up to 24 hours, and you are losing some of that time. Also, if your water is treated with chloramine instead of chlorine, you are essentially unbinding the ammonia from the chlorine, offgassing chlorine, and then dumping a timebombed ammonium into your tank.
I had no idea this was the case. I figured my chlorine was just slowly off-gassing and that the Prime was a bonus good-measure. Guess I should have looked into the specific chemistry at play. I just checked the utilities and we're indeed using chloramine to disinfect the water. Thanks for the tip!
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Last edited by aotf; 04-16-2017 at 06:43 AM. Reason: Words
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post #13 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 08:30 AM
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Weird that they are breeding but also dying. Maybe they are just really old? Unlikely though. Your parameters look fine to me, Neocaradinas can do well in a huge range. Are you topping off with RO water? Maybe the topping off with tap water is leading to a TDS creep? But IDK still doesn't make sense why only the old folks are dying but you are getting babies.


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post #14 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 03:36 PM
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My recommendation????

Start over.


You are trying to do a high tech tank with tap water and limestone. Buffering substrate *DOES NOT* like KH, so you could be causing pH swings through the roof! With substrate like that, you *NEED* to use RO/DI water with a GH+ remineralizer (unless your tap water has no KH, then that should, in theory, be fine, too)


So.... if you want, keep this tank the way it is, then set up a new tank using sand substrate and get a remineralizer for Neos. Keep it basic and simple. You can even use sponge filters instead of a HOB or canister filter. Let it cycle using straight tap water, some ammonia (no detergents or dyes) and keep the temperature around 84-86. Once the tank is cycled, drop the temp to 68-72, do a large water change with remineralized water to 6 GH (and whatever KH that may come out to), then add shrimp. Keep it very simple, low light plants in there. Moss, java fern, anubias, hornwort, maybe some buces?
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post #15 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Woke up this morning to find a blue rili slowly dying in my tank. *sigh*
One of my reds is also looking slow. Looking at it closely, I think the dark splotches on its shell have spread. I'm leaning towards some type of bacterial infection although it's looking like it's probably too late to save them.

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Maybe they are just really old? ... Maybe the topping off with tap water is leading to a TDS creep?
Only one of them looked large enough to be old, all the others are relatively small. Also, the odds of me getting a batch of 15 shrimp all dying of old age within a couple months of each other are low...

I was also concerned about TDS creep but I'm at 170 right now, which is well within the neo range.

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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
Buffering substrate *DOES NOT* like KH, so you could be causing pH swings through the roof! With substrate like that, you *NEED* to use RO/DI water with a GH+ remineralizer (unless your tap water has no KH, then that should, in theory, be fine, too)
Can you explain that a bit? How does buffering substrate disagree with kH? I thought that adding limestone would gradually raise my kH, how is this causing swings? My tap water is also really soft with undetectably low gH/kH.

Thanks!

(Also, my substrate is Amazonia. The limestone is in the filter. Doesn't make a huge difference, just figured I'd point it out.)
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