Need advice for sudden colony deaths - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice for sudden colony deaths

Hello plantedtank! I’m a long time lurker but this is my first time posting.

I have been keeping a small colony of PRLs for about 8-9 months, I started with five from a breeder and slowly got my numbers to about 20 (my breeding rate is another problem entirely) and recently I’ve experienced a problem that seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

My parameters for my tank are as followed:
PH: 6
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
GH: 6-7 (hard to tell from test)
KH: 0-1 (hard to tell from test)
TDS: 116

Substrate: fluval stratum
Other tank mates: chili rasboras
Tank size: 5.5 gallon
Heavily planted
RO DI + salty shrimp GH

The first thing I noticed is GH seems a bit high with the corresponding TDS my meter has always been consistent so I’m not sure if those values normally correspond to each other.

About two weeks ago I had 4 berried PRLs that had eggs hatch, during routine maintenance I trimmed my plants and ended up disturbing the substrate a bit while removing some over growth. Topped off evaporation with RO DI and called it a day. A few days later I added some dwarf hair grass I purchased online from a seller I have purchased from before, I immediately noticed the PRLs avoiding the area with the dwarf hair grass except maybe one or two of them going over there to explore. At some point last week I had one death, cannot confirm if it was molt related, shrimp looked intact. The following day I found another death and a sluggish shrimp, that shrimp died later that day, the remaining shrimp were acting normally. Around this point in time I realized all of my babies seemed to be gone. I began to suspect the dwarf hair grass and promptly removed it, covered the bare area with clippings from the tank from other plants in there. Shrimp were acting normal, eating, doing their thing after dwarf hair grass removal. This morning I found my eldest male dead and second dead shrimp. All the deaths besides the eldest male (who was probably about a year and a half old, one of my starter shrimp from a breeder) were adults who were born beginning of September. I noticed also this morning a large amount of molts in the tank that looked about the size of the shrimp who were all born during the beginning of September.

I’m beginning to think that I am having molting issues and that it corresponds to my GH being higher than it should be compared to TDS? Naturally adding more RO DI would be the answer but I’m concerned because my TDS is already so low that it could make things worse. Any advice from my fellow shrimp keepers? I’m extremely saddened by the deaths and want to save the remaining shrimp in my tank.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 03:56 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

I feel your pain---- I recently had a tank wipe out of my PRL's. Talk about devastating. Ironically, I had just noticed the same day that these shrimp had finally -- after 4 months of waiting-- had a group of shrimplets.

I still dont definitively know what happened, but I know several procedures I did right before losing them that may have been the cause.
My case was a bit different because I lost them immediately after doing this:

*Putting in new plants that had only washed under tap quickly. - Contamination on plants? Copper, possibly?

* Disturbed plants. Pulled out some deep rooted plants to put in another tank as were getting too large for tank. This is a 5 gallon tank that went from 1 inch of soil in front to a shelf in back of appx. 4 inches of soil. -- Possible gas pocket?

* Did I carry something on my hands into tank?

Your water parameters seem fine to me. Im not sure that your problem is here. It seems more likely that there is contamination.
I am a relatively new keeper of shrimp so my knowledge is limited. Hopefully some of the more experienced shrimp keepers will chime in and provide some insight.


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
Welcome to TPT! <a href="https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/images/smilie/icon_smile.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Smile" >:-)</a>

I feel your pain---- I recently had a tank wipe out of my PRL's. Talk about devastating. Ironically, I had just noticed the same day that these shrimp had finally -- after 4 months of waiting-- had a group of shrimplets.

I still dont definitively know what happened, but I know several procedures I did right before losing them that may have been the cause.
My case was a bit different because I lost them immediately after doing this:

*Putting in new plants that had only washed under tap quickly. - Contamination on plants? Copper, possibly?

* Disturbed plants. Pulled out some deep rooted plants to put in another tank as were getting too large for tank. This is a 5 gallon tank that went from 1 inch of soil in front to a shelf in back of appx. 4 inches of soil. -- Possible gas pocket?

* Did I carry something on my hands into tank?

Your water parameters seem fine to me. Im not sure that your problem is here. It seems more likely that there is contamination.
I am a relatively new keeper of shrimp so my knowledge is limited. Hopefully some of the more experienced shrimp keepers will chime in and provide some insight.

Thank you for the warm welcome! It has been rough seeing my colony slowly go and what I think was all my new babies perish (maybe some will turn up in a few weeks.) I’m thinking that maybe this is a contamination issue of some sort combined with me disturbing the substrate (I ripped out roots) and I’m best off with maybe adding a carbon filter addition and some extra gently water changes in hopes of eliminating whatever is still lingering in there. Whatever this is has to be involved with all the recent changes. (Hoping I replied back correctly here)
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odori View Post
Thank you for the warm welcome! It has been rough seeing my colony slowly go and what I think was all my new babies perish (maybe some will turn up in a few weeks.) Iím thinking that maybe this is a contamination issue of some sort combined with me disturbing the substrate (I ripped out roots) and Iím best off with maybe adding a carbon filter addition and some extra gently water changes in hopes of eliminating whatever is still lingering in there. Whatever this is has to be involved with all the recent changes. (Hoping I replied back correctly here)
You replied back just fine


Both the water changes and carbon sound like good ideas.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 09:20 PM
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Man, I'm really sorry to hear both of you guys have had this issue. I've yet to have to deal with this sort of situation, thankfully.

That said, if I had, I would strongly consider dosing my tank with H2o2, per Mark's Shrimp Tanks. In fact, I may start doing it if I ever have to move plants around a long established tank.

Here's his video on the subject, which contains the formula for dosing if you decide to do it:

Good luck with the tank!

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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After my initial post I ended up doing a partial water change and gently vacuuming the substrate without disturbing it. I also added activated carbon to my FOB to help remove any additional leachables that may be in the water. I immediately noticed my shrimp acting a little more normal and found almost all of them out in the open grazing some food and plants.

Everything was fine until today when this morning I found one dead shrimp, it looked fairly recent and hadn’t been there for more than a few hours. I then took a look at everyone in sight and no one seemed sluggish or abnormal. Later this evening I found my largest and oldest female dead in the same spot.

At this point I’m clueless to what could be causing the deaths, all parameters are the same as they were when I originally posted. One thing I noticed is all of the shrimp coincidentally died in the same spot (left open side of the tank not where the suspected contaminated plant was ) could this potentially be something? I’m going to try doing a small vacuuming tomorrow in that area and a small water change to try and offset whatever could potentially still be killing my colony off. It saddens me to know I’m down to less than 10 shrimps and I had worked so hard taking care of them and watching them grow. At what point do I scrap and restart the tank because at this point I’m very afraid the deaths are going to slowly continue.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 08:08 AM
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Basically from description that this happened right after pulling plants and planting DHG more than likely you unearthed a anaerobic pocket in substrate and itís releasing sulfide into tank. Note how shrimp avoided that area.

Whatís your circulation/filtration like in tank?

Got picture of whole tank?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Basically from description that this happened right after pulling plants and planting DHG more than likely you unearthed a anaerobic pocket in substrate and it’s releasing sulfide into tank. Note how shrimp avoided that area.

What’s your circulation/filtration like in tank?

Got picture of whole tank?

I think the sulfide from an anaerobic pocket is possible. The shrimp will now traverse that area (front right) but mostly like to stay front left, which also seems to be where they are dying. Is it possible that I have a slow leach of sulfide from the substrate on the left side?

I have pretty good circulation through out the tank, hob filter located on one side and an air stone located on the other. Lots of plants, pothos growing out of the top.

I’ve attached a picture of the tank as it currently is. It is in need of a trimming and evaporation top off which I’m going to take care after work today. Planning on boiling my trimming tools before trimming to make sure there isn’t a chance my tools are introducing something into the tank.

I’d also like to note the chili rasboras have been fine through out this whole ordeal no deaths, no strange behavior, etc which just confuses me further.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 09:32 PM
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Well all the symptoms fit is all that Iím saying.

As far as circulation with all those tall plants in front of hob you really have zero circulation at substrate layer. Itís not about GPH/LPH, itís about direction and having a current sweep across substrate layer which pushes micro currents of oxygenated water into substrate layer. The stratum is designed to have a good open pore structure to let water/gases in but you still have to make sure that it is getting some circulation, actually takes very little to do a tank with 16x9 footprint, 30ghp is plenty.

Move hob to right in that open area and put air stone in back left corner. That way current from hob has a chance to sweep down to and across substrate layer, bubbles in back left sweeping up behind plants will create a chimney effect there, pulling micro currents up out of substrate. Youíll create this little loop of currents pushing gases into substrate on right and lift pulling gases out back left.

I have a little 7gal bowfront, same footprint as yours just with a bowed out front. This shows kind of circulation that a little AC20 running at half pushes down to substrate. Very light current, you can see plants wiggling in breeze, but itís all thatís needed to keep anaerobic/anoxic conditions in control.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2020, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Well all the symptoms fit is all that I’m saying.

As far as circulation with all those tall plants in front of hob you really have zero circulation at substrate layer. It’s not about GPH/LPH, it’s about direction and having a current sweep across substrate layer which pushes micro currents of oxygenated water into substrate layer. The stratum is designed to have a good open pore structure to let water/gases in but you still have to make sure that it is getting some circulation, actually takes very little to do a tank with 16x9 footprint, 30ghp is plenty.

Move hob to right in that open area and put air stone in back left corner. That way current from hob has a chance to sweep down to and across substrate layer, bubbles in back left sweeping up behind plants will create a chimney effect there, pulling micro currents up out of substrate. You’ll create this little loop of currents pushing gases into substrate on right and lift pulling gases out back left.

I have a little 7gal bowfront, same footprint as yours just with a bowed out front. This shows kind of circulation that a little AC20 running at half pushes down to substrate. Very light current, you can see plants wiggling in breeze, but it’s all that’s needed to keep anaerobic/anoxic conditions in control.


I can’t believe I didn’t consider that &#x1f616;

I believe you are absolutely correct, before you posted I decided at this point there the shrimp are more important that the plants to me (they will always regrow) and I ended up doing a big trim on that area. I did immediately notice that the water flow greatly improved and the current reached the substrate. I had been a little lazy with trimming the aerial roots for a while and they had essentially created a web of stagnation in the back left corner and had piles of mulm back there from the lack of current and poor plant maintenance. I also found some 90% eaten bodies back there so who knows how long this has actually been going on and it might provide an explanation as to why my colony never really took off despite having berries females. I’ll take it as an expensive lesson in staying on top of things.

Later today I plan to temporarily take everyone out and give it a proper cleaning and probably root out the web of aerial roots old stems and I’ll probably plant some clipping tops and make sure to keep them short and manicured on that side. I’ll forever be a bit more mindful of my plants after this, but at the end of the day it was a learning experience.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2020, 08:22 PM
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Sounds like a real death trap. High organics soil balls, piles of mulm further suffocating that soil, no circulation to bring oxygenation to that area and dead carcasses. If youíve ever had pleasure of a sewer line backing up and that wonderful smell thatís what was happening in your tank.

Sounds like your a trim off the top and aerial roots and let it grow back guy. Iíd suggest you go the other way, pull plants up, trim off top 1/2 or so above aerial roots and replant those and toss the old bases. That way your clearing a area out, you can then see whatís building up down there and vac it up then replant fresh tops. Just work in small areas around tank each week, donít mow the tank and stun all your plants at once. The more stabile and consistent you can tank parameters the better. A bunch of small changes and consistent maintenance is what keeps a tank stable. Stabile tank=happy shrimp and fish.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2020, 09:08 PM
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If you are tearing the tank down, might I suggest less substrate? 1/2 to 1" in most areas may be sufficient.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-06-2020, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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I’m definitely going to start planting tops and removing small sections of old stems in the future. I ended up taking everyone out yesterday and doing so heavy maintenance. I figured at this point it needed to be done and I’ve already lost so many shrimp I’m essentially starting over again to begin with. It took a while to get all the mulm and roots out and let everything settle, but I immediately noticed the change in current at the substrate. Despite the stress of moving everyone already seems happier and is enjoying moving around all parts of the tank. I have a count now of how many shrimp I have left (ended up being 12) and a good ratio of male to female so hopefully the colony will take off again. I’m starting to think all of this is part of the reason my colony was growing so slow in the first place. I did check my substrate and I have about 1 inch around the tank after taking some out with the root system.

If anything Im glad I was able to find the problem before I had a total collapse and will work harder on balancing both my livestock and plants in the future. Just goes to show you can always learn some new things. I just hope removing so much doesn’t crash my tank, but I’m going to keep a very close eye on it for the next few weeks while plants grow back in. I’m assuming if I make it about 2 weeks without any deaths I’m probably in the clear.
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