Something is slightly wrong in new shrimp tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Something is slightly wrong in new shrimp tank

Hello again folks,

I had finished cycling a new tank recently and put in Taiwan bee shrimp a few days ago. At first the shrimp seemed pretty happy and active, swimming around and grazing. After 2-3 days they started slowing down to the point where some will just stand around motionless for hours at a time. At the same time, some other shrimps will be slowly grazing away and pooping up a storm. The food that is laying around is an IAL and dried mulberry leaf. When I gave shrimp food, they ignored it so I removed it after a while. They were also always crowded on the left side of the tank and wouldn't graze in the section that had MC, DHG, and Ludwigia for some reason. AFter I added the airstone yesterday there is sometimes a shrimp or 2 in the Ludwigia, but they still won't graze the DHG nor MC segments.

Any idea what could be wrong? So far I have done 2 15% water changes a few days apart, and that didn't seem to make a difference. Maybe run carbon to take out mystery chemicals?

Tank setup:

I attached here a picture of the tank. It is a modular setup with everything separated by acrylic boxes. Starting from the left:
sand + moss + lava rocks
UNS controsoil + gravel + s. repens + driftwood + buce
... + MC + a different driftwood
... + DHG + driftwood + buce
... + Ludwigia [something]
HMF filter

In the back is the pump outlet. I purposely leak a small amount of air into this water flow to make a stream of tiny bubbles. I also temporarily put an airstone up front in case there wasn't enough oxygenation in the water. Light is a custom DIY using ramp timer and currently set on "dim" to hold back hair algae growth.

Parameters and etc:
Temp goes from 70 to 65 during the day
pH 5.9-6.2
RO water + 80% SS GH and 20% SS KH for a total of TDS 100 GH 5 KH 0-1
Ammonia / nitrite / nitrate = 0 (checked every day)
Nothing dosed except partial dose of Prime, no ferts, etc

The long version with details:
The tank took 3 months to cycle because the water has no buffering so if the pH drops below 6 or so, the bacteria stop. Plus when I added ThriveS, it caused the pH to plummet due to no buffering if I was using SS GH only. Thus I decided to use 80% SS GH and 20% SS KH to nudge up the pH a touch and keep the bacteria going and also give at least a little buffering so there won't be as much pH swing day / night.

About 10 days ago I added 2 BKK 2 Blue Bolt, but the seller screwed up and packed them in ammonia and low TDS water. (1 hr acclimation given) One BB died after 2 days, the other one would be inert for several hours, then eat a little. I thought it was starting to get better but died today after 10 days. The two BKK seemed to recover from the ammonia and were doing fine initially, but now one of them is also being inert.

About 5 days ago I added a second batch of shrimp from a different seller (3 BB, 5RWP) and while none of these have died yet, sometimes one or more of them will go inert for a while. (They were also all active initially)
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 08:42 PM
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Do you have any other creatures in the tank? It sounds like the bacteria might have stalled out again?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 03:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JoT View Post
Do you have any other creatures in the tank? It sounds like the bacteria might have stalled out again?
No other critters.
It's possible the bacteria shut down. But I measure the ammonia every day and it comes out to zero. Plus there's always a little bit of Prime floating around just in case. But that reminds me, may as well check ammonia first thing in the morning before lights on when the pH is lowest.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 01:50 PM
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I don't think your tank was ready for shrimp when you added them.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
No other critters.
It's possible the bacteria shut down. But I measure the ammonia every day and it comes out to zero. Plus there's always a little bit of Prime floating around just in case. But that reminds me, may as well check ammonia first thing in the morning before lights on when the pH is lowest.
It sounds like your cycle is broken--there isn't anything actively creating ammonia in your tank. Shrimp have a tiny bioload, so something like a snail at least would help maintain a cycle.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-07-2019, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
I don't think your tank was ready for shrimp when you added them.

I think you're putting together incomplete info, but you could still be right in some way.
The pH fluctuation and cycle stalling issues I had were due to SS GH only having no buffering, and both ammonium chloride and ThriveS dropping the pH. I followed your instructions in that linked thread, except this time I used:
mostly SS GH plus a little SS KH
no Thrive S dosing this time
used household ammonia instead of ammonium chloride


Thus the ph didn't drop and the cycle went thru (Ammonia to nitrate)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoT View Post
It sounds like your cycle is broken--there isn't anything actively creating ammonia in your tank. Shrimp have a tiny bioload, so something like a snail at least would help maintain a cycle.
Well if the ammonia and nitrates are always zero, how can I tell the difference between:
a) shrimp not producing ammonia (what does that even mean? I thought they always produce a little ammonia)
b) shrimp producing ammonia, but the bacteria / plants eat it up

Edit: it looks like this forum software combined the above two replies. That's fine - let's assume for the moment that something with the cycling is busted. I still measure no ammonia and there is a little bit of Prime floating around. So what would the shrimp have to complain about?

Last edited by beanbag; 11-07-2019 at 08:32 PM. Reason: combined replies?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 02:21 AM
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Wait... back up a moment.... household ammonia? What ammonia?

Most ammonia found on shelves is actually bad to use in tanks because it may contain dyes and almost all of it contains surfactants... if you used ammonia with surfactants, then I could see this possibly causing a problem with your tank.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 03:35 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
Wait... back up a moment.... household ammonia? What ammonia?
Don't worry, it's the ACE brand that is ammonia only and nothing else
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 03:46 AM
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Good to know! Puzzling issue you've got there...
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 02:04 PM
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Unfortunately, I don't think it's incomplete information. It's exactly what was occurring in the other thread.

Rather than allow your tank the time it needed to complete the initial "cycle" - you switched from ammonium to ammonia (ammonia turns into ammonium anyway - you only complicated matters - here's a primer on YouTube, just used a URL shortener so it isn't embedded) and altered water parameters. Parameters that you aren't using now that you've added shrimp. That would potentially cause a mini cycle as bacteria adjusts to new parameters. Probably something you can't detect unless you're monitoring things constantly.

That's why it's important to "cycle" your tank with the parameters you'll be maintaining when it comes to shrimp. Even if it takes a long time. You don't want bacterial die-offs or mini cycles to occur because the bacteria have to readjust to different parameters. Even a tiny die-off can impact shrimp in ways that most fish would never have issues with.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-10-2019, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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The difference btw ammonium chloride and household ammonia is that one will lower the pH of the water and the other will raise it.
Also, I did not "alter water parameters" because I am using the same water and pH now (SS GH + KH) that resulted in the cycle going thru. U could say I "stopped shooting myself in the foot" by doing things that stall the cycle, e.g. dose ThriveS.
As for mini cycle, maybe? I measure ammonia every day and it always comes out to zero.
Maybe it is due to "bacterial die-off" you mentioned, since initially the bacteria are getting 1ppm ammonia per day, then suddenly nothing after the last water change and adding shrimp. Then after a few more days, shrimp poo starts building up and a small but new source of ammonia shows up. So maybe some ecological rebalancing going on. Thank u for pointing out that it is important to pay attention to what the bacteria are up to.
The good news is that things have been slowly improving since the initial post and the shrimp are more active now. Some of the inertness was due to pre- and post- molt behavior.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-10-2019, 03:13 PM
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All right. Let me try to respond without coming across like a jerk.

You altered water parameters, as you've explained in multiple posts. Including this one. Water parameters aren't just gH, kH, pH, nitrite, that sort of thing. They're literally anything you add to the water or that already exists in the water - like ammonia or ammonium. When you add them? They alter water parameters. Ammonia also gets broken into ammonium, as explained in the video I shared with you. I would encourage you not to be dismissive so you don't kill off a bunch of shrimp again. Impatience and corner-cutting = likely why your shrimp died. Your tank was not ready for them and is not currently stable regardless of what you currently think. It's too late to change what you've already done, obviously, but it 100% could have been avoided and should be avoided if you set up a new tank.

You swapped ammonia sources and started adding carbonate while trying to establish bacterial colonies to process waste, which altered pH and osmotic pressure. Likely enough to result in small (heck, it could have been large and you just didn't notice because it can happen quickly - that's what I suspect) bacterial die-offs that could harm shrimp. That's where patience should have been exercised, as you were advised by more than one person in more than one thread on the subject.

On top of that, carbonate is not necessary and can be detrimental for Taiwan Bees if osmotic pressure is constantly changing because of water changes and buffering substrate competing against each other. Your substrate's gonna remove/bind carbonates = that's going to result in parameter swings, no matter how slight, and could result in an overall pH crash. So... your tank is not yet stable.

Bacterial colonies don't always die off quickly. It could happen over the course of a couple days depending upon the specifics of the tank. Or, in the case of a swing caused by carbonate slowly being absorbed by substrate, over the course of several days. That's why we use buffering substrates and only work with gH - for parameter stability, so things don't bottom out and your waste-processing bacteria don't die off.

Note: Shrimp generally aren't inert pre-molt. They're more active than normal and bend, stretch and move around in order to loosen their exoskeleton up. Once they're out of the old shell, they're far from inert. They move faster than normal in order to get out of harm's way and hide. Even then, they're still pretty active. This is typically when breeding occurs - immediately following a molt. So... not inert at all. To say the least.

We don't just tell you these things for the thrill of it. You've run into quite a few beginner shrimp-related issues in the past year: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. So I think it's fair to ask you to slow down, take a breath and exercise patience. It will pay off and you won't constantly be struggling with the basics of shrimp keeping. I promise that nothing good happens fast in a shrimp tank.

It's good that your shrimp appear to be doing fine now. Hopefully that continues to be the case. And hopefully your experience in these threads helps other newcomers to the hobby, as they illustrate the importance of patience.

.....

For anyone else reading along who isn't looking to cut corners: don't alter your shrimp tank's parameters just because you want things to quickly move along or you'll potentially harm bacterial colonies. Start your shrimp tank with the parameters you'll be keeping your shrimp in. Adding carbonate hardness (that only gets sucked up by your substrate) and abruptly altering something like pH can result in bacterial die-offs. Not always enough to harm fish but definitely enough to harm shrimp. Have patience. If it takes 3 months for your tank to be ready? Then it takes 3 months for your tank to be ready.

Patience. Patience. Patience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
The difference btw ammonium chloride and household ammonia is that one will lower the pH of the water and the other will raise it.
Also, I did not "alter water parameters" because I am using the same water and pH now (SS GH + KH) that resulted in the cycle going thru. U could say I "stopped shooting myself in the foot" by doing things that stall the cycle, e.g. dose ThriveS.
As for mini cycle, maybe? I measure ammonia every day and it always comes out to zero.
Maybe it is due to "bacterial die-off" you mentioned, since initially the bacteria are getting 1ppm ammonia per day, then suddenly nothing after the last water change and adding shrimp. Then after a few more days, shrimp poo starts building up and a small but new source of ammonia shows up. So maybe some ecological rebalancing going on. Thank u for pointing out that it is important to pay attention to what the bacteria are up to.
The good news is that things have been slowly improving since the initial post and the shrimp are more active now. Some of the inertness was due to pre- and post- molt behavior.


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