First Time Remineralizing RO/DI and pH is way too high. Help! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 01:08 AM Thread Starter
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First Time Remineralizing RO/DI and pH is way too high. Help!

Hey guys, I tried and failed to breed blue dream Neocaridina in my tap water for 8 months. I wasn’t sure if there was some contaminant in there or whether my pH of 8.0 was just too much of an extreme though I know they are pretty adaptable. I had read a lot of top breeders and you tubers say that RO/DI remineralized with salty shrimp GH/KH+ was foolproof at least for your water. I set up my RO/DI system and generated some 0 TDS water and then I added my Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ until the TDS was at exactly 200 ppm. I assumed my pH would be somewhere in the 7.0 to 7.5 range, but when I checked, it’s 8.3!!! Even higher than my tap water. What gives? I’m thoroughly confused. I still need to run the KH and GH tests on the remineraized water, but I’m really disappointed I don’t have a more neutral pH. Would someone please help me figure this out?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 05:49 AM
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Well....have you aerated the water for 24 hours?

When you say you added the SS until the TDS was at exactly 200, how did you go about doing this? Did you wait between additions? How long? What temperature is the water?

I have a feeling that you may have supersaturated water, and bringing it into equilibrium via aeration/water movement will probably bring it down as CO2 gets reincorporated into the water.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 01:44 PM
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If your TDS meter is calibrated, you probably want to bring the TDS down to 150-180... which would put you at 8-10 GH. 7-8 GH though should be high enough, even if they can live at 15-20 GH.


As far as the pH goes? Don't worry about it. Seriously! The pH may change once it's been in the tank for a while and is less likely to cause stress than other changing parameters - i.e. a drastic change in GH, KH and TDS.


I would highly recommend you purchase from a "local" breeder (aka don't buy imported shrimp) and, if possible, for best chance of success, try to match the water parameters of the breeder you get the shrimp from.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 02:13 PM
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From my own experience, mistakes and testing over the past 6 months, I have come to the conclusion that all TDS meters are completely inaccurate unless you have recently calibrated them yourself with a good quality calibration solution. So, unless you have done this, don't be surprised if the actual TDS of your "200 ppm" water is somewhere between 150 - 250. They can be that out, maybe even more!

So my advice is not to use TDS to determine the amount of SS minerals to add to your RO. Instead, use a GH liquid test kit to keep testing the water as you slowly add the minerals keeping track of exactly how much you have added (by weight is preferable for accuracy, but you need a set of small precision scales, otherwise get a small spoon and record how many spoonfuls you add). Once you hit your target GH, then test KH to confirm that it is half the GH (which is the ratio of SS GH/KH+ from memory).

Only now once you know how much minerals to add to your RO water by weight or spoonfulls to get to your desired GH should you measure the TDS. This TDS reading is however completely arbitrary and unique to you, so you cannot compare it will what it says anywhere online. But (providing you have a decent quality TDS meter that is stable and gives repeatable results), this will be your target number for each subsequent time you make your water.

Just checking - you have inert substrate right being as though you are using GH/KH+ ? If you have active soil substrate you don't really want to be adding KH otherwise you'll quickly exhaust the buffering capability, in which case the SS GH+ minerals might be what you want.

The SS minerals dissolve pretty quick, but still best to leave the remineralised water for at least an hour, preferably overnight with airstone / pump to circulate and mix, before making final measurements. You might find that GH results go +1 by the next day as the final minerals dissolve.

The above advice from @Zoidburg about matching the water parameters of teh breeder is very sensible. Neo's have come along way in the last few years and you might find that a local breeder has quite different parameters than recommended ones found online! For example, here in Singapore, shrimp are typically kept at temp's much higher than you guys in the US would recommend / want because our room temp's are so damn hot!


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies! I have a TDS meter from HM Digital which I have calibrated with their solution. I checked in the solution about a week ago and was only off by one TDS, so I can say that my TDS readings are extremely accurate. I have my water in a 5 gallon bucket with power head and bubbler to make sure all salts get thoroughly dissolved and I put in little by little stirring vigorously to make sure I had them well dissolved before each TDS reading. I checked my GH and KH last night and with the 200 TDS, my GH was 9 and KH was 3, which isn't exactly the 0.5 KH to 1.0 GH I was expecting from salty shrimp KH/GH+. I may have only 8 GH though and I'll recheck tonight to see if I accidentally added an extra drop I didn't need.

So it sounds like I need to aim for a target GH and then base my TDS off of that for each remineralization/water change. What would you guys say is the absolute optimal GH for Neocaridina? Since I'm putting in the effort to go RO/DI and remineralize, I want to be at the absolute optimal parameters with the hope that it will get my Neocaridina breeding more effectively. Can anyone suggest a good local breeder? I'm on the east coast of the US.

Last edited by Shrimpandwhitewine; 09-06-2020 at 05:20 PM. Reason: typos
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 06:00 PM
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I'm on the west coast and have purchased TGOE shrimp, located in Florida. Packaged great and he has a sale that ends on Monday, although I don't have the list.

I have also purchased from some west coast people but those were more "local pickups"....
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
I'm on the west coast and have purchased TGOE shrimp, located in Florida. Packaged great and he has a sale that ends on Monday, although I don't have the list.

I have also purchased from some west coast people but those were more "local pickups"....
Okay, thanks. I'll look around and see if I can find anyone more local.


Why does pH matter so little in a shrimp tank? Every shrimp breeder website I've looked at says Neocaridina do best at between 6.5 and 7.5 pH and yet when I remineralize to the appropriate GH, KH and TDS, my pH is way higher than that recommended. I checked again today after having it bubbling and mixing with the powerhead for 24 hours and it's still at 8.3 I think I may go for a slightly lower GH (maybe 7 or 8) and see if that reduces my pH with the reduced KH.

Last edited by Shrimpandwhitewine; 09-06-2020 at 06:11 PM. Reason: Typo
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 07:03 PM
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Neocaridina can be fine in 8 pH or higher. Once you have that water in a tank, it's possible for the pH to change with everything else that's in the tank so it's not something that's really a big concern. In other words, the pH of the water in the bucket may change once it's been sitting in a tank for a while.

When people mention "pH shock", what it actually is is TDS shock, or rather, osmotic shock. This is basically a change in pressure and can cause changes in the cells. This, in turn, can cause harm.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
Neocaridina can be fine in 8 pH or higher. Once you have that water in a tank, it's possible for the pH to change with everything else that's in the tank so it's not something that's really a big concern. In other words, the pH of the water in the bucket may change once it's been sitting in a tank for a while.

When people mention "pH shock", what it actually is is TDS shock, or rather, osmotic shock. This is basically a change in pressure and can cause changes in the cells. This, in turn, can cause harm.
Okay, cool. I was aware of osmotic shock. When I first started keeping the blue dreams, I had read that you were supposed to top up evaporation with distilled or RO/DI water, so I would slowly drip in ~0.75 gallons of distilled water at 1 drip/second once a week to account for evaporation. Unfortunately, every single time, I would have a shrimp death within 24-48 hours and so I determined it must be osmotic shock, but I wasn’t testing TDS back then so I don’t know how much of a change it was making in my 20 gallon. Has anyone here successfully topped up evaporation with RO/DI? Was I supposed to use much smaller amounts like 0.25 gallons in one top up and then wait a few days?
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 10:28 PM
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That I wouldn't think would cause death unless it wasn't a very strong colony... genetically speaking. Then again, I'm not sure how I haven't killed one shrimp? Living in a specimen container. Had a lot of evaporation so I dumped the water out (minus shrimp), refilled it with water from the tank (was doing a water change anyway...) and put shrimp back. Still alive. Maybe because it's a cherry shrimp instead of a blue shrimp? Saying that, I haven't been able to keep bloody mary alive since an incident some years ago... haven't tried recently either.


I wonder if there is any possibility the distilled water was contaminated?
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-06-2020, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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That I wouldn't think would cause death unless it wasn't a very strong colony... genetically speaking. Then again, I'm not sure how I haven't killed one shrimp? Living in a specimen container. Had a lot of evaporation so I dumped the water out (minus shrimp), refilled it with water from the tank (was doing a water change anyway...) and put shrimp back. Still alive. Maybe because it's a cherry shrimp instead of a blue shrimp? Saying that, I haven't been able to keep bloody mary alive since an incident some years ago... haven't tried recently either.


I wonder if there is any possibility the distilled water was contaminated?
I never will be sure whether my distilled water was contaminated, but I’ve never topped up with it since. When I start up this new 10 gallon tank (which is almost done cycling), I’m going to attempt it again with my RO/DI but I’m going to use very very little and drip it in extremely slowly and monitor TDS as I go.

I never was successful with the blue dreams. They would berry, but I never got any shrimplets. A few months back, a buddy of mine gave me like 14 random wild type Neocaridina which he had bred from a bunch of mixed stock and I added them to my tank and I’m getting shrimplets like crazy. He had those guys in water that was 470 TDS!!! That makes me think that the blue dreams may be much more sensitive than your average cherry. That’s why I’m going RO/DI and remineralization in my second attempt to build a colony of them. I sure hope this works. They’re really beautiful shrimp and I’ve done all the research and feel like I’m doing everything right, so I hope this next go is successful.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-07-2020, 07:36 AM
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Re: distilled water, some distilleries use copper or other metal pipings for condensing the water after distilling it. Not a good practice for copper-sensitive inverts really....

And I defer to Zoidburg in this matter, fairly certain they're far more knowledgeable than I at this point haha.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-07-2020, 12:44 PM
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I have a TDS meter from HM Digital which I have calibrated with their solution. I checked in the solution about a week ago and was only off by one TDS, so I can say that my TDS readings are extremely accurate.
Cool - that's at least one source of possible confusion ruled out then! ;-)

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I checked my GH and KH last night and with the 200 TDS, my GH was 9 and KH was 3, which isn't exactly the 0.5 KH to 1.0 GH I was expecting from salty shrimp KH/GH+. I may have only 8 GH though and I'll recheck tonight to see if I accidentally added an extra drop I didn't need.
If 1dH = 18ppm, then 9GH + 3KH = 12dH total, 12 x 18 = 216ppm. So a useful sanity check between GH/KH and TDS readings!

For the GH/KH ratio, some have suggested that the minerals can settle out, so maybe try giving the pot a good shake and mix to make sure the GH and KH components haven't settled out differently. I don't really believe this can happen though with the SS, but who knows....

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What would you guys say is the absolute optimal GH for Neocaridina? Since I'm putting in the effort to go RO/DI and remineralize, I want to be at the absolute optimal parameters with the hope that it will get my Neocaridina breeding more effectively.
Optimal is probably whatever the breeder you buy them from uses as that's what they are accustomed too! You'll have quite different shrimp there to I get here, so I would try and match your water to whatever parameters your chosen dealer breeds them in. That said, here is a screenshot I grabbed from some Youtube video a while back and I try to aim for the middle of each range:



I aim for 7GH for my RCS (using SS GH+ only as I have Amazonia soil), but...

From the label on the SS GH/KH+ minerals or from here:
"Use Shrimp Mineral to re-mineralise RO water, rainwater, fully desalinated water etc. to reach a total hardness of about 6 dGH and/or a conductance of about 300 +/- 50 S (Microsiemens). For this purpose, an evenly full measuring spoon (about 2 g) to 10 litres of water is sufficient."

So they recommend 6GH, and it seems logical to go with the manufacturers recommendations perhaps? An electrical conductivity (EC) of 300S equates to a TDS of 146 ppm (assuming you calibrated with NaCl where 700 S = 342 ppm, so 700/342 = 2.05 ratio between EC and TDS). But I would still recommend working out your dosing first with liquid GH testing, then find your target TDS to use going forward.

Hope this helps in some way.... James =)
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-07-2020, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
Re: distilled water, some distilleries use copper or other metal pipings for condensing the water after distilling it. Not a good practice for copper-sensitive inverts really....

And I defer to Zoidburg in this matter, fairly certain they're far more knowledgeable than I at this point haha.
Fair enough. Good point. I'm glad I invested in RO/DI and am happy I can start from zero TDS and work from there with remineralizer. It seems a lot safer than Distilled and tap water at least for me and my experience.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-07-2020, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Cool - that's at least one source of possible confusion ruled out then! ;-)



If 1dH = 18ppm, then 9GH + 3KH = 12dH total, 12 x 18 = 216ppm. So a useful sanity check between GH/KH and TDS readings!

For the GH/KH ratio, some have suggested that the minerals can settle out, so maybe try giving the pot a good shake and mix to make sure the GH and KH components haven't settled out differently. I don't really believe this can happen though with the SS, but who knows....



Optimal is probably whatever the breeder you buy them from uses as that's what they are accustomed too! You'll have quite different shrimp there to I get here, so I would try and match your water to whatever parameters your chosen dealer breeds them in. That said, here is a screenshot I grabbed from some Youtube video a while back and I try to aim for the middle of each range:



I aim for 7GH for my RCS (using SS GH+ only as I have Amazonia soil), but...

From the label on the SS GH/KH+ minerals or from here:
"Use Shrimp Mineral to re-mineralise RO water, rainwater, fully desalinated water etc. to reach a total hardness of about 6 dGH and/or a conductance of about 300 +/- 50 S (Microsiemens). For this purpose, an evenly full measuring spoon (about 2 g) to 10 litres of water is sufficient."

So they recommend 6GH, and it seems logical to go with the manufacturers recommendations perhaps? An electrical conductivity (EC) of 300S equates to a TDS of 146 ppm (assuming you calibrated with NaCl where 700 S = 342 ppm, so 700/342 = 2.05 ratio between EC and TDS). But I would still recommend working out your dosing first with liquid GH testing, then find your target TDS to use going forward.

Hope this helps in some way.... James =)
Thanks man, this is all extremely helpful! I've now tested the 200 TDS water remineralized with Salty shrimp GH/KH+ and then I diluted that water with RO/DO until I achieved a TDS of 150 PPM and I tested again and the results are interesting.


For the 200 TDS water, the GH was 9 and the KH was 3.
For the 150 TDS water, the GH was 7 and the KH was 2.


This is strange to me as the salty shrimp GH/KH+ should give a ratio of 0.5 KH to every 1.0 GH. I'm starting to suspect that the API liquid tests for GH and KH are not super accurate. I then googled the tests and found many people determining that these tests can be off by as much as 2 degrees of hardness.


At this point, I've thought about it and I know for certain that my TDS meter is on point. I just rechecked in the 342 calibration solution and I'm still within 1 PPM. I've watched videos from a bunch of extremely successful shrimp breeders on youtube and it seems like they are aiming for a TDS of ~190 ppm when they are remineralizing RO/DI water with Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ for their Neocaradina shrimp.


They are using calibrated TDS meters with RO/DI water which has 0 PPM of TDS. I am doing the same. It would stand to reason that the GH and KH I'm getting at that TDS should be pretty on point with what they're putting in their tanks despite what my liquid GH and KH tests may be telling me. At this point, I think I'll aim for 190 TDS when I remineralize and go from there. I will definitely determine what parameters the shrimp I end up purchasing are kept in and try to match them as best possible, but this seems like a good starting point at least. Does that make sense?
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