RCS Dying off In Planted Tank, Unable to Find Cause - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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RCS Dying off In Planted Tank, Unable to Find Cause

Hi there!



I put together a planted tank a while back, and being uninformed, I added my shrimp/loaches/snails after about a week and a half. Since then I have been steadily losing shrimp to what I assumed was an uncycled tank. At this point it has been over a month, and I have been taking readings of my parameters each day. Every few days, I lose shrimp.



Here are my tank's parameters as of today:



PH: 7.0

GH: about 75 ppm

KH: about 0 ppm

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 0.75-1.0

Nitrates: 5-10 ppm



Initially I assumed this was due to the Nitrate/nitrite readings, however a few days ago when I happened to test at night, I got a PH reading of 5.5. I'm not sure if this was a fluke or what, but I have seen PH fluctuation between 6.0-7. I'm wondering if this is due to my non-existent KH levels, and if treating that would be the best course of action. I do have Seachem Stability that I plan on using to rule out the Nitrate/Nitrite issue.



Please let me know your thoughts so I can fix my initial mistake with these guys.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:01 PM
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Likely, you are having failed molts.

GH should be about 7, or 125 ppm. At 75, you are only about 4 GH. What are you using to check your GH and KH levels?


I'm assuming you have a buffering substrate in the tank? The black substrate that is. In which case, if it is buffering your pH down, you don't want to add KH into the tank. If you are getting a pH reading at 7 though, there may be some concern.


What substrate?

What is your source water? What is your source water parameters?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
Likely, you are having failed molts.

GH should be about 7, or 125 ppm. At 75, you are only about 4 GH. What are you using to check your GH and KH levels?


I'm assuming you have a buffering substrate in the tank? The black substrate that is. In which case, if it is buffering your pH down, you don't want to add KH into the tank. If you are getting a pH reading at 7 though, there may be some concern.


What substrate?

What is your source water? What is your source water parameters?
Thanks for the quick response.

To test KH and GH I'm using the Tetra test strips, to test everything else I'm using the API Master kit.

In the tank the dark substrate is Fluval Stratum (obviously there's a ton in there to shape the scape), and the light sand is Carib Super Naturals which is inert.

My water source is city water (I'm in Sacramento, CA) treated with a conditioner. I just tested the water unconditioned, straight out of the tap, and it's at 8.2.

EDIT: I should also mention the GH/KH readings remain mostly unchanged, though the KH looks to be slightly higher at 20ppm
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:22 PM
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Your tank is not cycled. The exposure to ammonia and nitrites is most likely the cause of the death of the shrimp.
The test strips are very unreliable to test KH/GH and PH. I would recommend using the liquid so you know what your numbers are with more certainty.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:24 PM
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Your tank isn't 'cycled' and that's why you're losing shrimp. They're exceptionally sensitive to Ammonia.

While your hardness is not ideal, it's the Ammonia that's likely killing them. That's the problem.

Do you have another tank or a friend with a proper tank that could house your critters until your tank is ready?

Suggestion: Ditch the test strips (they're not reliable) and get your hands on some decent liquids. API at the very least. And, ideally for GH & KH, something like Sera.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
Your tank is not cycled. The exposure to ammonia and nitrites is most likely the cause of the death of the shrimp.
The test strips are very unreliable to test KH/GH and PH. I would recommend using the liquid so you know what your numbers are with more certainty.
Good to know, didn't expect to get an answer from someone so close!

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Your tank isn't 'cycled' and that's why you're losing shrimp. They're exceptionally sensitive to Ammonia.

While your hardness is not ideal, it's the Ammonia that's likely killing them. That's the problem.

Do you have another tank or a friend with a proper tank that could house your critters until your tank is ready?

Suggestion: Ditch the test strips (they're not reliable) and get your hands on some decent liquids. API at the very least. And, ideally for GH & KH, something like Sera.
I do have someone who can take them for the time being. Would adding Seachem Stability and continuing to test until the N's and A reach 0 be the best thing to do?

Do I need to worry about the KH/GH?
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:45 PM
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Adding Stability is not going to help with shrimp at the moment.

You should worry about the KH/GH but not while you have shrimp and fish in the tank. Get them re-housed temporarily. Then you can worry about that as your tank 'cycles' and settles. You'll need to feed the tank with an ammonia source (search the forum for cycling details if you need) until you're ready to add livestock.

Your substrate is going to pull a bit of KH from the water but it shouldn't be too big of a deal. Do you have a remineralizing agent you could use to create better parameters? Salty Shrimp makes products (GH/KH+ is the one you want) that are easy to use. Be sure to check them out.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 04:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrimp_Daddy View Post
Thanks for the quick response.

To test KH and GH I'm using the Tetra test strips, to test everything else I'm using the API Master kit.

In the tank the dark substrate is Fluval Stratum (obviously there's a ton in there to shape the scape), and the light sand is Carib Super Naturals which is inert.

My water source is city water (I'm in Sacramento, CA) treated with a conditioner. I just tested the water unconditioned, straight out of the tap, and it's at 8.2.

EDIT: I should also mention the GH/KH readings remain mostly unchanged, though the KH looks to be slightly higher at 20ppm
Agreed with the others that you'll want to use liquid test kits for GH and KH.

Fluval makes sense... it usually does not buffer very well... hence higher pH readings... add in tap water, and you probably have unstable water parameters. You didn't mention ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, GH or KH from tap.... unless you mean the GH/KH readings are same from tap?



Below 7 pH, the ammonia would be ammonium, which means that it should not be very toxic at all... but about 7 and higher when it's ammonia, it can be toxic. I would say that there's a lot of issues going on here, and having Fluval substrate probably isn't helping any... not considered to be good, and you don't want to use tap with a buffering substrate so that you'll have more stable parameters... however, this means that you need to use RO/distilled water with GH minerals.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 06:47 PM
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Anyone doubting anything I'm saying here is more than welcome to fire up their googler or use the search function on the forum. My advice isn't really based on opinion and stems from decades of shrimp experience and generally accepted science within the shrimp hobby.

Fluval Stratum is fine. Some people may have an opinion that it's not good but it's absolutely fine. I've used it since it hit the market about a decade ago. Tons of people here on the forum use it.

Ammonia could be ammonium below pH of 7 but not necessarily all of it - particularly in an aquarium like this where parameters appear to be less than stable. And there's no guarantee that the reading is accurate. So Ammonia is definitely something to worry about. Same for Nitrite - it's something to worry about and a big sign that this tank is not cycled or ready to house shrimp. pH, in this case, is not that important. It's almost never important when one has KH & GH squared away where they need to be for Neos.

Tap water is generally (not always) stable from most municipalities in the US because it's required to be. OP is in the Sacramento area, so water quality is generally stable - can even review water quality reports from municipalities in/around Sac online. If it's from a well or other private source, that's a different story. No two tap water sources is ever the same, though. All tap water is different. But tap water falling within generally accepted parameters for Neo shrimp is totally fine for use with Neo shrimp. It just has to be treated. And if it's not within ideal parameters (like this instance) but can be ideal with the addition of minerals, that's also fine.

And no, OP, you don't have to use RO/DI water. It's also fine to use tap water with buffering substrates. That's been demonstrated by hundreds of people here on the forum and elsewhere in the hobby for several years. It's just important to know how much buffering the substrate does so it can be accounted for with remineralization. It's easy to do and it works. As any substrate loses buffering potential, remineralization regimes have to be altered. Also easy to do.

Just get your tank cycled, parameters in check, GH/KH where you want it and when it's ready, move your critters back. Ignore bad advice from inexperienced people. It does more harm than good.


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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 08:05 PM
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Your tank isnt cycled.

You can overdose Seachem Prime to control ammonia and nitrite -- but that is a band-aid and not a fix until your tank finishes cycling.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all the advice, I didn't expect so much info! I've moved the critters out of the tank, and I'll continue monitoring the cycle. To be safe in the future I'm putting together a heavily planted tank I can fall back on in the future. I'll continue to poke around the forum.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2019, 09:19 PM
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That's great news!

Maybe you could start a tank journal so everyone can follow along? That may also encourage more people to chime in - the folks who don't always check the shrimp section.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 12:32 AM
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Wow!! What a great thread!!
This is my first post here and its refreshing to see great advice given and great advice taken......
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Update:

After investigating all these points and investing in liquid test kits for everything under the sun, I've come across something odd. It appears my tank is cycled, ammonia is undetectable, nitrites are 0 (after being elevated), nitrates are >10.

However, my gh is non-existent. After several drop tests my gh appears to be undetectable, despite the fact the shrimp were molting. Even odder is the fact that my tap water has a GH of 5. Anyone have any ideas how my tank could have a lower GH than my tap water?

As far as I can tell, my KH and GH are 0 according to the tests.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 12:24 AM
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Your substrate is almost certainly acid buffering from the photo. And you have a lot of it.

But by the way, much respect for going all out setting up your first planted tank! Most people use playground sand or gravel, stock lights (or Glo fish LEDS), and stuff out of a kit where pretty much everything but the glass box needs replaced in for what they are wanting to achieve when starting out. Kudos, my man. Give that tank a little time to mature and you're going to have something really nice for many years.
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