I have a couple pest snails, but really just the two cherries. Would like to get more cherries at some point but need to stabilize this setup first. I was told KH has to be at least 3 or they won't be able to molt. There's so much conflicting information! I've been thinking at this point, I should just pot my swords in there and keep the bottom of the tank bare so I'm not fighting the substrate.
Is it really okay to keep going with the way it is; this won't harm them?
Mine have no problem molting at less than 1kh. I have a tank full of baby blue dream neos so I feel good that my setup works. Two days ago many of them molted at the same time and I had close to 30 little shells floating around.
I have definitely learned that there is lots of conflicting shrimp information out there. I'm constantly questioning myself, but at the same time trying to be really consistent with whatever the tank conditions are. Seems that quickly changing conditions is far worse than less than ideal conditions.
Depending on your tank size, personally I'd keep the substrate (the shrimp will be much happier with something to sift through) and I'd start doing small water changes (5-10%) with RO or DI water using a water shrimp specific conditioner. Don't quote me, but I think it's calcium that helps with the molting and that falls in to the GH category (not kh) and the shrimp substrate won't mess with that.
This is the approach I take. I target 8GH in my neo tank, less than 1KH and my PH sits around 6.8 and I'd say my shrimp are thriving. I use seachem equilibrium (which isn't shrimp specific like I recommended above) to add minerals to my RO water for sake of simplicity since I also keep a few fish tanks and don't want to be troubled with different products for mineralizing water.