How to clean up, and prevent, water pollution? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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How to clean up, and prevent, water pollution?

Hello folks,

To make a short story long, a few months ago I set up a shrimp tank. For the first 3 months or so everything went well. Using remineralized RO water with the "right" parameters, etc etc. One of the things I did (probably wrong in retrospect) was that I just threw in some shrimp food on an unplanted section of the substrate and let the shrimp pick at it. Anything that wasn't eaten by the next day got removed. Over the next few days, shrimp would randomly pick at that area of the substrate to find food crumbs. Haha, how cute. Then every 1-2 weeks I did a water change and gravel-vacced that area, removing a lot of crap.

Sometime around the 3-4 month mark, the neo shrimp starting going inert, although the Taiwan bees were still fine, and I never really figured out the reason why. Around the 5 month mark, the Taiwan bees had babies, and so I started dosing extra Bacter AE and Shrimp Baby. Then things went downhill quickly from there, where the adult shrimp and babies got inert, babies died off after two weeks, then adults starting dying. Nitrates starting creeping up past 10 ppm, and I had a break-out of these little aquatic mites, or whatever they're called. There appeared to be little brown chunks of debris over the substrate and plants. Water parameters like ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, gh, kh, TDS were all reasonable, tho. After a bunch of internet searching and getting advice from people, the only thing I could come up with was food-related water pollution.

So with advice from various people, I did the following things:
1. Put an intake filter sponge on, although it is not that big. I guess this is for extra biological filtration.
2. Occasionally dose H2O2 with the pump off. I guess the point is to zap bad bacteria and "oxidize" various pollution products?
3. Increase frequency of water change to 15% every few days
4. Cut way back on the feeding and use a dish and remove food after 1-2 hrs.

With this new routine, some of the shrimp sprang back to life, and some never recovered and still died after another week [grumble]. I still have the problem with the little aquatic mites, there is still some of that brown debris stuck in the plants (although it seems to be slowly decreasing), and nitrates have fallen back down to 2-3 ppm.

OK, now a bunch of questions:
1. What's a good way to quickly clean up food-related pollution?
2. Would doing a big water change be bad? I get that "shrimp don't like change", etc, but I slowly drip back in parameter-matched water over the course of several hours. If there was something wrong with the water, why not get rid of it as soon as possible?
3. Would it help to dose any of those bacteria that claim to eat waste, like Seachem Pristine, Dr Tim's Waste away?
4. Is it possible to save shrimp that have gone inert and would likely die in a few days? For example, put in quarantine with fresh water and give them some food.
5. If I cut way back on the feeding, how can I tell if the shrimp are starving? I know, biofilm, etc etc, but currently I don't have any more algae on the rocks (either due to low nitrates, or the mites ate them all)
6. How to prevent future tank pollution? The problem is that even if I feed with the dish, the Amanos like to grab a chunk of food, run off, and then drop it.
7. Still need to nuke the mites, somehow...
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 03:42 PM
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Probably just feeding too much. You don't have to worry about shrimp starving.

I had those mites too back when I was feeding too much for my tiny 10gal. I just reduced feeding and did water changes and the mites slowly went away. There's not really anything magical that need to be done.

Although a problem with using RO water is major water changes can get expensive
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 04:15 PM
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1. Using a dish like you do helps some. But shrimp are messy and it'll still get everywhere. Just use tweezers to remove what you can, turkey baster or pipette/dropper to remove the rest. Even a syringe or medicine doser will work.

2.Yes. It's not that shrimp "don't like" something it's that their bodies can't tolerate it. Small water changes are fine. Or if parameters are spot on in the tank and the new water - even temperature - larger changes are fine. Just do them slowly and over an hour or two.

3. You can. But it's not necessary. I wouldn't.

4. Probably not unless you know what's harming them.

5. They won't starve. Only feed what your shrimp can eat in about 20-30min. Remove the rest. I feed tiny amounts for tanks with huge populations. You'll know they're hungry when they swarm your food. If they don't? They're not hungry.

6. Stop using additives. Lots (most, in my opinion) of them are a waste of money. Just flush the money down the toilet and save yourself the hassle. Seriously. When shrimp run off with food, keep an eye on it. Pick up what you can. Add snails to the take to help with cleanup. When it comes to feeding babies? Don't. Just don't. And that's coming from me - someone who makes and sells shrimp food. You should only be feeding babies when you have large populations and know you need something extra for them - or when you're a super-experienced hobbyist and know it's a good idea. If you aren't sure? Don't use it. I consider myself extremely experienced and only use my baby food occasionally - and an amount so small it's laughable.

7. Mites? Show us a photo. They're probably just daphnia and are totally fine.

Additionally - don't vacuum your tank. Only remove detritus that looks terrible. No need to disturb your substrate.

Just to be safe... What are your specific water parameters? Water temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, kH, gH, TDS. pH won't matter if you can provide the rest. What's the volume of your tank?

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
Hello folks,

To make a short story long, a few months ago I set up a shrimp tank. For the first 3 months or so everything went well. Using remineralized RO water with the "right" parameters, etc etc. One of the things I did (probably wrong in retrospect) was that I just threw in some shrimp food on an unplanted section of the substrate and let the shrimp pick at it. Anything that wasn't eaten by the next day got removed. Over the next few days, shrimp would randomly pick at that area of the substrate to find food crumbs. Haha, how cute. Then every 1-2 weeks I did a water change and gravel-vacced that area, removing a lot of crap.

Sometime around the 3-4 month mark, the neo shrimp starting going inert, although the Taiwan bees were still fine, and I never really figured out the reason why. Around the 5 month mark, the Taiwan bees had babies, and so I started dosing extra Bacter AE and Shrimp Baby. Then things went downhill quickly from there, where the adult shrimp and babies got inert, babies died off after two weeks, then adults starting dying. Nitrates starting creeping up past 10 ppm, and I had a break-out of these little aquatic mites, or whatever they're called. There appeared to be little brown chunks of debris over the substrate and plants. Water parameters like ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, gh, kh, TDS were all reasonable, tho. After a bunch of internet searching and getting advice from people, the only thing I could come up with was food-related water pollution.

So with advice from various people, I did the following things:
1. Put an intake filter sponge on, although it is not that big. I guess this is for extra biological filtration.
2. Occasionally dose H2O2 with the pump off. I guess the point is to zap bad bacteria and "oxidize" various pollution products?
3. Increase frequency of water change to 15% every few days
4. Cut way back on the feeding and use a dish and remove food after 1-2 hrs.

With this new routine, some of the shrimp sprang back to life, and some never recovered and still died after another week [grumble]. I still have the problem with the little aquatic mites, there is still some of that brown debris stuck in the plants (although it seems to be slowly decreasing), and nitrates have fallen back down to 2-3 ppm.

OK, now a bunch of questions:
1. What's a good way to quickly clean up food-related pollution?
2. Would doing a big water change be bad? I get that "shrimp don't like change", etc, but I slowly drip back in parameter-matched water over the course of several hours. If there was something wrong with the water, why not get rid of it as soon as possible?
3. Would it help to dose any of those bacteria that claim to eat waste, like Seachem Pristine, Dr Tim's Waste away?
4. Is it possible to save shrimp that have gone inert and would likely die in a few days? For example, put in quarantine with fresh water and give them some food.
5. If I cut way back on the feeding, how can I tell if the shrimp are starving? I know, biofilm, etc etc, but currently I don't have any more algae on the rocks (either due to low nitrates, or the mites ate them all)
6. How to prevent future tank pollution? The problem is that even if I feed with the dish, the Amanos like to grab a chunk of food, run off, and then drop it.
7. Still need to nuke the mites, somehow...
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 05:26 PM
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One problem here is that you are assuming it is pollution(too much of something that is not wanted). But it could be the opposite (deficiency), maybe Something is missing from your tank that the shrimp need. And as a result the shrimp are note feeling well and are not behaving normally. I had this happen in may RO tank. To me the shrimp behavior was somewhat similar to how my dad appeared when he had a bad thyroid day. So I tried adding some iodine to may tank. The shrimp returned to normal behavior within hours of adding it.

So in my case it was a deficiency that took several months to appear. But once it did appear the health of my shrimp went down hill until I corrected the situation. Remineralizing water only adds calcium/ magnesium/ and sulfur which are plant nutrients. Fertilizer adds other nutrients plants need. however none of them add nutrients your shrimp need. Although shrimp need mineral found in fertilizers and remineralizes they also need sodium, iodine, selenium, and cobalt. Those might be in the food you feed your shrimp but but they won't be in your RO water. So if the food doesn't have enough your shrimp will suffer even if they appear to be eating enough.

You could try adding some Seachem Iodine to your tank to see if that helps. If you are using potassium bicarbonate to adjust your tank KH you could try sodium bicarbonate instead to adjust your KH and add some sodium. There was a post some time ago about a tank in which all the snails keep dying. In the end that person found sodium icarbonate (baking soda) instead of potassium bicarbonate solve the issue. solved the issue. Another thing you could try is try feeding your shrimp some seaweed. The ocean has a lot of sodium, iodine selenium and cobalt in it. so there should be some in the seaweed. You can find dry seaweed strips in aqurium shops.


Quote:
1. What's a good way to quickly clean up food-related pollution?
2. Would doing a big water change be bad? I get that "shrimp don't like change", etc, but I slowly drip back in parameter-matched water over the course of several hours. If there was something wrong with the water, why not get rid of it as soon as possible?
If pollution is your problem was water change is the quickest way to reduce the pollution levels. And to prevent future pollution if pollution is your problem. However if your problem is a deficiency doing a RO water change will not help. I personally have never had a problem with a 50% water change with fish and shrimp in the tank. Just make sure the RO water is remineriallized to your desired GH and KH levels and at about the same temperature as your tank water to minimize any possible shock to shrimp.

Quote:
4. Is it possible to save shrimp that have gone inert and would likely die in a few days? For example, put in quarantine with fresh water and give them some food.
Yes if the shrimp are teated in time and if you know the cause of the problem. But I don't know of any way to identify the cause without trial and error which can take some time.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 05:54 PM
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Agree with everyone above. Your "mites" are more than likely isopods and copepods. Those little white specks that bounce around are harmless and a good indicator of water quality. I'm an advocate of water changes but they should be done slowly in shrimp tanks. Even if you need to do a large percentage, it's best to add the replacement water in slowly. As hobbyists, our urge is often to grab something in a bottle when there is a problem and in many cases what would be more prudent is to add fewer things.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post

7. Mites? Show us a photo. They're probably just daphnia and are totally fine.

Just to be safe... What are your specific water parameters? Water temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, kH, gH, TDS. pH won't matter if you can provide the rest. What's the volume of your tank?
pic of mites attached. They're about 0.5 or 0.25 mm and very slow moving

temp 71-72F
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate : up to 10ppm during height of disaster, now 2-3pppm. A few months ago, it was 0, but I also had more floating plants back then.
kh 0
gh 6 (Using SS GH+)
tds 130
ph 6.5
2.5-3 gal

What snail is compatible with pH mid 6's and won't multiply?

I dosed the seachem iodide shortly before the height of the disaster, and it didn't seem to make a difference except one of my shrimp seemed to die of failed molt.

Regarding the water changes, my ongoing assumption is that there must be something "bad" in the water, or slowly leeching out of leftover food bits wedged somewhere. So what can I do beside change out the water more frequently? What benefit would there be from "just leaving things alone"?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 09:46 PM
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Dang, those look like water mites! But they are usually fast, not slow. But if there's 8 legs, I'd suspect that's what they are. I've never had to deal with them (knocks on wood) but my understanding is tons of fish will eat them, including guppies. Might be worth a shot.

Edit: Do they look like this:
?

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 10:26 PM
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Definitely don't look like daphnia. Look like Hydracarina to me. Nothing to really worry about. They'll eventually go away. If you have any tanks with fish, they may make tasty treats for them.

First and foremost: stop dosing stuff! You don't need it. Don't worry about the food that's been left behind at this point. Just keep up with what you add from here on out. Let your tank mature and do its thing.

If I had to guess at this point? I'd say you've been messing with your tank too much, adding too much, that sort of thing. Without knowing way more than anyone is really able to provide as a hobbyist, that'd be my best guess. You have a good understanding of the basics and are obviously more than capable. I'm betting your tank will stabilize if you just try to do less. With such a small tank, it's easy to overdo it - particularly with additives beyond Salty Shrimp or Prime.

Those parameters are not at all ideal for Neos, though. If Neos are kicking the bucket, hardness is probably why. Find a new tank for them.

Pond and Bladder Snails do well for me in those parameters. Pond Snails would be my preference but either are okay. Their populations correlate to the size of the food supply. Don't overfeed too much and their populations won't be terrible. If you're lucky, you'll get your hands on some pond snails that live long enough get to a decent size. They usually don't last more than a year, so I've never found water hardness to impact them that much.

Something else - have you ever tested for copper or other metals? Nothing stands out as copper poisoning but it may not hurt to check things out.

How's your RO/DI filter doing? Made sure everything is okay on that front? Sometimes things get wonky.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 11:24 PM
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Little to add that @somewhatshocked has not already covered. My biggest tip is not to tinker too much. The more processes you use, the more processes you can mess up. My grandmother kept a planted crystal red tank without knowing anything about water parameters. She overfed, kept temperature at 78F, and never once checked pH, gH, or kH. The worst that happened was detritus worms and blue-green algae. She never used ferts, and she never vacuumed the substrate. Her shrimp were breeding like crazy. That's not to say that you can be as reckless and get away with it, especially depending on your tap water. Its just to illustrate that many of us take things too seriously and add too many steps, ferts, and additives.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
Dang, those look like water mites! But they are usually fast, not slow. But if there's 8 legs, I'd suspect that's what they are.
Mine aren't red, but they are clear/white/tan when young and then eventually become black / dark brown. They move very slowly and can't even swim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post

Those parameters are not at all ideal for Neos, though. If Neos are kicking the bucket, hardness is probably why. Find a new tank for them.
Neos have done fine at these parameters (for me). I gave them a super slow acclimation to this tank water.

Quote:
Pond and Bladder Snails do well for me in those parameters.
What about nerite? At least they won't reproduce.

Quote:
Something else - have you ever tested for copper or other metals? Nothing stands out as copper poisoning but it may not hurt to check things out.
During the peak of the disaster, I measured 39 ppb of copper in the tank, although that may be a fluke. I don't think I added anything that has copper in it. The input remineralized water has 3ppb copper. The error on the test is 10 ppb. Copper measured 9ppb in the tank today.

Quote:
How's your RO/DI filter doing? Made sure everything is okay on that front? Sometimes things get wonky.
I have 2 membranes in the RO (no DI) only, and one of the membranes is about 2 years old now. I usually run the system until the water gets below 2ppm. I tested the "total chlorine" of this water with the Hanna ultra low range kit, and it came out to 0.
Should I occasionally add a drip of Prime to the tank anyways just in case?
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 11:57 AM
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Unfortunately, it doesn't really help too much that you acclimated your Neos to those parameters. Even if you did it over the course of several months. That's still not going to work well for them long term. If you're losing Neos or having failed molts with them? That's probably why.

It's possible to get to a fairly decent middle ground for Neos and Crystals to co-exist but it's still never ideal for either type. My advice is to pick one or the other. (I'd pick Crystals but that's just my preference)

Those parameters aren't really ideal for Nerites, either. Some of them may be okay - depending upon their sourcing. But I've never had them thrive in super-soft water.

You may be putting too much emphasis on snail reproduction. They aren't going to have population explosions if there's not an overabundance of food for them. They're easy to control and are ultimately beneficial - especially in a small tank like yours.

Wouldn't worry about that measurement of copper. It's good that you're measuring, though, just to be sure.

I add it (Seachem Safe - cheaper than Prime) to my reservoirs regardless of the age of my RO/DI filters just to be on the safe side. Because who knows when my myriad cheap TDS meters and various test kits will fail? Would definitely use it with older filtration units.


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2019, 02:46 AM
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Are you keeping Neocaridina, and Caridina together?

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Unfortunately, it doesn't really help too much that you acclimated your Neos to those parameters. Even if you did it over the course of several months. That's still not going to work well for them long term. If you're losing Neos or having failed molts with them? That's probably why.

I don't lose neos or have failed molts with them. Only two died during this period of water pollution. Otherwise, they have gone for months molting successfully. Longer than that, I wouldn't know.


Going back to my original post, I think in retrospect I should have just done bigger and more frequent water changes as soon as I realized what the problem was. It was a slow 3 week die-off, and it probably would have been better to remove contaminants ASAP at the risk of "making changes".
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