I don't know where to start other than I made some really bad choices, and then made some more on top of those.
I had a planted 20L tank that was a year+ old that I used to grow out some golden weather loaches. It was cycled and happy and once I moved the loaches into the big tank with the fancy goldfish, I didn't want to simply dismantle it. I remembered an article in an aquarium magazine about dwarf shrimp and thought that would be fun to put in the tank.
I found a vendor [Edited by mod] online and bought some red rili and orange shrimp from them that were described as easy, with high tolerance of various PH and temps. Then I had this bright idea to get more moss and plants for the tank, so I stopped by a local fish store who happened to have a lot of dwarf shrimp. I asked the owner about my setup and he suggested replacing the sand in my tank with ADA aquasoil and it would only need a few days to re-cycle.
Since my shrimp were going to come in a little over a week, I bought it and promptly replaced the sand and replanted everything and turned the filter on. I tested the water the next day and ammonia was 8ppm (which is as high as my drop test goes). I knew with ammonia that high, the bacteria colonies in my filter were probably dead. Water change after water change, the ammonia would shoot up in a few hours. It wasn't until then I did a google search and found out that is typical for this soil.
I tried contacting the vendor [Edited by mod] to cancel or hold my order with no luck. In desperation I bought a 10 gallon tank, filter, driftwood, heater and moss to set up a temp holding area until the 20L cycled. I used 1/2 distilled 1/2 tap water since my water is horrible, and dosed with Microbe lift special blend and nite out II (in addition to a chloramine neutralizer). Most of the shrimp arrived dead, not to mention the "orange" shrimp came as natural bees. The survivors went into the 10 gallon tank (after the drip acclimation method) where they immediately went to work scavenging bits and pieces. The next day 3 shrimp died. Did a 20% water change, dosed more nite out II and the next night lost 4 more shrimp, and 2 molts were floating around.
Today I did a 50% water change and am hoping no more losses. I've been testing the water and have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 0 nitrate. They are not interested in any pellets but seem to be actively eating something in the moss. Out of 24 shrimp ordered, there are 2 bees and 3 rilis left
Any help with what I should do, test, change, etc to keep these little guys alive? I don't know if it is something I did, or if it is because they weren't healthy to begin with or a combination
Any advice MUCH appreciated!!