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Advice wanted . All shrimp died.

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Hi everyone. I got back into the hobby after 10 years hiatus with a 5G tank low tech. I don’t remember shrimp tanking to be quite this difficult but I never lived in area where the water is literally liquid rock. So I moved to San Diego and the tap water parameters are actually insane: pH 8, TDS 500, GH 19, KH 9 and I figured there was no way anything could live like that so I cut it 50-50 with DI water.

Attempt #1: after tank cycled 2 months: pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 10, KH 2, (no TDS meter at this point), temp 74. Nerite snail alive. 10 shipped blue dreams – all 10 died within like 2 days though I dripped them in over 2 hours. Turns out the seller’s water was quite a bit softer than mine at GH 6-8. I also had seiryu stone which maybe was making water parameters worse so I took them out.

Attempt #2: I wanted to make things a bit softer or ideal? pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 7, KH 2, TDS 200 for about a week, nerite still happily munching. I decided to buy fire reds from the local store (again naively thinking there’s no way anything would live in this liquid rock water). All 10 again died within 4 days, all had stress failed molts and white rings of death. Turns out the local fish store bought em from Taiwan, threw them into the local tap water. Only the caridinias were in RO water. Probably too much water change parameters for them to live?

So… my question is what do I do now? I feel like I’ve made a ton of stupid mistakes and I can’t trust myself. Should I leave my water the same and buy online again to someone with similar water? Should I try liquid rock water and go with a seller here who claims that they live fine in the tap? I seriously don’t know anymore. Personally, I don’t want to chase water parameters anymore and make it easiest on myself to just do 50-50 DI water/tap water, but that didn’t end well either on attempt #1. Or use DI water with salty shrimp. Feel really lost!
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I can't speak to water parameters too much. Most of that is beyond me yet. I can say I didn't have any luck with cherry shrimp until I had a well established tank. The first tank they were in had been up with a betta fish for over a year before I added shrimp. I kept them there for almost another year before moving them into a new larger tank. Even that one had been running with fish in it for 6 months before I moved the fish, scaped the tank and then added to shrimp.
 

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It's more important to keep the parameters stable than exact. I'd use your tap water and not try to change the pH or anything, cycle then get fish locally, since they will be used to it. My betta fish lives in pH 8 water, even though 7 is recommended. He prefers the higher pH because I got him locally, so it's what he's used to.
 

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Hi everyone. I got back into the hobby after 10 years hiatus with a 5G tank low tech. I don’t remember shrimp tanking to be quite this difficult but I never lived in area where the water is literally liquid rock. So I moved to San Diego and the tap water parameters are actually insane: pH 8, TDS 500, GH 19, KH 9 and I figured there was no way anything could live like that so I cut it 50-50 with DI water.

Attempt #1: after tank cycled 2 months: pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 10, KH 2, (no TDS meter at this point), temp 74. Nerite snail alive. 10 shipped blue dreams – all 10 died within like 2 days though I dripped them in over 2 hours. Turns out the seller’s water was quite a bit softer than mine at GH 6-8. I also had seiryu stone which maybe was making water parameters worse so I took them out.

Attempt #2: I wanted to make things a bit softer or ideal? pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 7, KH 2, TDS 200 for about a week, nerite still happily munching. I decided to buy fire reds from the local store (again naively thinking there’s no way anything would live in this liquid rock water). All 10 again died within 4 days, all had stress failed molts and white rings of death. Turns out the local fish store bought em from Taiwan, threw them into the local tap water. Only the caridinias were in RO water. Probably too much water change parameters for them to live?

So… my question is what do I do now? I feel like I’ve made a ton of stupid mistakes and I can’t trust myself. Should I leave my water the same and buy online again to someone with similar water? Should I try liquid rock water and go with a seller here who claims that they live fine in the tap? I seriously don’t know anymore. Personally, I don’t want to chase water parameters anymore and make it easiest on myself to just do 50-50 DI water/tap water, but that didn’t end well either on attempt #1. Or use DI water with salty shrimp. Feel really lost!
How did you cycle your tank? I mean specifically - methodology on a daily basis, etc.

Did you still treat your water with Prime to make sure it was safe?

Have you tested for metals like copper?

Have you treated the tank with anything? Medication? Has the tank ever been used with a potential contaminate prior to you using it with shrimp? Even if it sat unused for a long time?

How old/what size were the shrimp when you obtained them? Adult shrimp have more difficulty adapting to new parameters than juveniles.

Cutting your tap in half with RO wasn't a bad idea. That should help make more ideal parameters. And dripping them over the course of an hour or so like you did is also fine.

Tank conditions and potential tap water contaminants aside, it's entirely possible all the shrimp you obtained were just not in great health. That's the nature of the beast when you buy from anyone who isn't a fellow hobbyist, unfortunately. Some retailers are so deeply unscrupulous it's disheartening and some just don't know any better.

If you can rule out issues with the tank itself, remineralizing RO/DI water is a really good way to make sure you don't have to worry about much in terms of contaminants. You don't have to use something expensive like SaltyShrimp, either. You could mix your own salts or even cheap out and just go with baking soda for kH and Seachem Equilibrium for gH - even though it's not my favorite for shrimp, it'll work.

I prefer the RO route because it's best for my own peace of mind and allows for a good deal of parameter control. If you already have an RO/DI filter system? That's the route I'd go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so much for your reply.

For cycling the tank I used tap water and fluval biological booster for a week, added plants in right away, saw a huge ammonia spike to 4-8 ppm in 2 weeks. Then I did 25% water changes(using mixed RO and tap) every 2-3 days over the next 2 weeks as my ammonia dropped to 0 and nitrites rose and then dropped. That’s it! No other critters. Put in a nerite snail at the end of cycling.

I have not tested for copper as my snail seems to be fine and I thought it would die too if I had copper in the tank?

I have never added any other “corrector” or anything into the tank except Prime and aqueon shrimp minerals.

The tank I bought new with plastic wrap on all over from the LFS and I rinsed it out before use with tap water and I have a lid on it and I’m not spraying chemicals around it…

So overall the chemical contaminants potential and medication/copper thing is low?

The first batch was juvenile/adult mixed. The second batch was all adults.

I can definitely continue the DI water/salty shrimp route or the 50-50 route. Do you have a recommended seller whom I can trust?
 

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For cycling the tank I used tap water and fluval biological booster for a week, added plants in right away, saw a huge ammonia spike to 4-8 ppm in 2 weeks. Then I did 25% water changes(using mixed RO and tap) every 2-3 days over the next 2 weeks as my ammonia dropped to 0 and nitrites rose and then dropped.
So you didn't dose ammonia of your own? Typically, you'd be dosing an ammonia source for several weeks until you see a nitrite spike, then nitrates and until your tank can process a fixed amount of ammonia in a 24-hour time span. Usually 2-3PPM is sufficient. Anything else could potentially mean your tank isn't cycled. Especially if it sits empty for any length of time without an ammonia source being added to the tank. (Here's a good primer on the fishless cycle)

Even a small amount of ammonia can be toxic to shrimp. While I doubt that's what's going on with your tank, it's still important to keep in mind. In order to be on the safe side, I'd dose with ammonia in order to be sure the tank can process it all before adding any new critters. Just for peace of mind because you've already been through the wringer.

I have not tested for copper as my snail seems to be fine and I thought it would die too if I had copper in the tank?
Snails can handle more than shrimp - even ammonia - for the most part.

So overall the chemical contaminants potential and medication/copper thing is low?
Yeah, seems low.

Do you have a recommended seller whom I can trust?
No specific seller. But checking the For Sale section is the way to go. That allows you to review their feedback history and check their tank journals to see how they care for their shrimp. Provides a metric ton of peace of mind, really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks I’ll dose some and double check! I think it did cycle since on the API master kit I saw it go through the ammonia spike, nitrite spike, and go down to 0… but I will double check for my peace of mind.

edit: found how much ammonia to use in the guide provided
 

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There is a private breeder on Craigslist who claims they only use San Diego City tapwater in there tanks. I'd suggest contacting them for shrimp. I haven't personally purchased any from them, but would if was closer. Not really worth the drive from North County for me at least.
 

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Hard pass on Craigslist. There's no way to see how they've raised their shrimp, no way to gauge their reliability as a seller and no buyer/seller protection.

Start with other hobbyists on this forum or a similar site. Only buy from someone who can show you their tanks - that's where tank journals really come into play. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of shrimp hobbyists here who sell on a regular basis. And many of them in Southern California.
 

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Hi everyone. I got back into the hobby after 10 years hiatus with a 5G tank low tech. I don’t remember shrimp tanking to be quite this difficult but I never lived in area where the water is literally liquid rock. So I moved to San Diego and the tap water parameters are actually insane: pH 8, TDS 500, GH 19, KH 9 and I figured there was no way anything could live like that so I cut it 50-50 with DI water.

Attempt #1: after tank cycled 2 months: pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 10, KH 2, (no TDS meter at this point), temp 74. Nerite snail alive. 10 shipped blue dreams – all 10 died within like 2 days though I dripped them in over 2 hours. Turns out the seller’s water was quite a bit softer than mine at GH 6-8. I also had seiryu stone which maybe was making water parameters worse so I took them out.

Attempt #2: I wanted to make things a bit softer or ideal? pH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 50, GH 7, KH 2, TDS 200 for about a week, nerite still happily munching. I decided to buy fire reds from the local store (again naively thinking there’s no way anything would live in this liquid rock water). All 10 again died within 4 days, all had stress failed molts and white rings of death. Turns out the local fish store bought em from Taiwan, threw them into the local tap water. Only the caridinias were in RO water. Probably too much water change parameters for them to live?

So… my question is what do I do now? I feel like I’ve made a ton of stupid mistakes and I can’t trust myself. Should I leave my water the same and buy online again to someone with similar water? Should I try liquid rock water and go with a seller here who claims that they live fine in the tap? I seriously don’t know anymore. Personally, I don’t want to chase water parameters anymore and make it easiest on myself to just do 50-50 DI water/tap water, but that didn’t end well either on attempt #1. Or use DI water with salty shrimp. Feel really lost!
I wouldn't worry about water parameter differences. My local store kept their shrimps in literal rock, their water had a TDS of 700 and mine was about 180. I bought 6 and didn't have any casualties. That said, it is possible that if they are very stressed and weakend then not be able to handle the molting.
I used to have a lot of casualties which turned out to be because of my tape and after changing to remineralized water they started to thrive.
It is much easier to keep them with remineralized water.
 

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I think you should use remineralized water too.
I live in Minnesota and our water parameters are very similar (8.2ph, 21gH, 15?kH) and while I got my shrimp to survive in a mixture of 3/4 RO water and 1/4 tap, I didn’t have any success breeding them until I started remineralizing distilled water.
I use SaltyShrimp gH/kH + at a ratio of 1/2tsp per 4 gallons. I also got my shrimp off of AquaBid, some times the sellers list the parameters of the water they keep them in and I went for some Cherries that were raised in similar conditions to what my tank was once the water was remineralized.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I think I figured it out. I dosed yesterday to 1ppm ammonia. Today it is still there. So... my tank sat empty with just a tiny snail between attempt 1 and 2 for a bit so it might have crashed without animals or ammonia in it. Will be cycling the tank again using fishless cycle and ammonia. Now I know if it is empty for a bit I have to feed the bacteria.
 

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I think I figured it out. I dosed yesterday to 1ppm ammonia. Today it is still there. So... my tank sat empty with just a tiny snail between attempt 1 and 2 for a bit so it might have crashed without animals or ammonia in it. Will be cycling the tank again using fishless cycle and ammonia. Now I know if it is empty for a bit I have to feed the bacteria.
I’d dose more. That way you’ll have more defined and easily discernible nitrite and nitrate indicators along the way.

FWIW, my grow out tub is getting dosed 5ppm ammonia per day. If I do a 90% water change and test at 0ppm nitrate, then dose ammonia, I’m getting what reads close to 20ppm nitrate the next day.


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I’d dose more.
This. At least 2-3 PPM. That'll be plenty for a shrimp tank and even tanks planned for tiny fish. But still enough for easily discernible amounts of waste for testing. Also provides a buffer zone to guarantee your tank can process waste when fully stocked from day 1.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
So yesterday I dosed to 4PPM (only took 2 drops due to size of tank). After 24 hrs, the ammonia went down to 1PPM and 0 nitrites. I dosed again 2 more drops and it's still sticking at 1PPM ammonia 1 hr later. WTF? Is it because I dosed bacteria as well?
 

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Even if you're sure it only contains ammonia and nothing else, I'd still recommend you get a known ammonia-for-cycling chemical like Ammonium chloride from Dr Tim's. Plus it won't mess with your pH like Ammonium hydroxide.
Also, this guy says that if the KH difference is large, you have to do a super slow acclimation, e.g. may as well raise the tank KH to match the shrimp's native water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So I dosed with the ACE store ammonia until Dr Tim's arrived, then dosed with Dr Tim's at about 4ppm. I saw my nitrites rise and spike at almost 5ppm and I did a partial water change. After that, nitrites started to drop and I saw nitrates increase. Nitrates are now at 30, nitrites down to 0, ammonia at 1ppm holding steady (yesterday was 0.5ppm so I redosed to see if it would go down). Should I let it be and work itself out? Do a water change for the nitrates?
 
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