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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Heya,

I've been trying to troubleshoot as best I can but my shrimp are all dropping off and I'm really not sure what to try next. One of them was berried and I found her dead this morning too. :( I'm really sorry for coming on here being a noob when I've no experience to contribute myself, but I've tried to do all my basic reading and feel like I'm not getting anywhere.

Tank details:
50L/11 gallons
Temp 22-23C / 71-73F (analog thermometers one at each end of tank)
KH: 4
GH: 8-9
Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate seem to always read 0, will expand on this later, tested at least twice a week.
No added CO2
Since tank has been running I've had pH anywhere from 6.8 to 8!
Sponge filter
Fine gravel over a substrate that shouldn't affect parameters (can't remember what sort exactly but it definitely said wouldn't mess with my parameters :/ )
Tank mates include 5 ember tetras and a cappucino snail (bought in a moment of optimism where I didn't find any dead shrimp for a whole 2 weeks and thought I'd solved things....clearly not and feel like an idiot now). There was a nerite but that seems to have literally vanished. Not even a body! In the tank or outside it...

The tank is planted with Tropica's "easy" level 1-2-Grow plants that are meant to be lab grown & shrimp safe. Other stuff in the tank is some dragon rock, a couple of tiny pieces of driftwood and spiderwood, 1 new resin ornament, and 2 resin ornaments from my sisters old betta tank (they've been dry about 5 years so not sure anything unpleasant could be living in/on them).

I cycled the tank from mid November to mid January using the fish food method. Used the API Freshwater master kit, fed the tank a tiny bit every other day, eventually got ammonia then nitrites then nitrates in turn & was very happy. Tank looked like a biological disaster at this point from all the food kicking about (not sure if I overdid it but couldn't find much guidance) so I did a 50% water change to get the nitrates down and hoovered up as best I could. There was still loads of mess in the tank though so I didn't keep feeding it and I planted it while the water level was lower too. I didn't plant before I cycled cos I read if your ammonia spikes it'll melt plants. I didn't fertilise them for the first few weeks per Tropica's instructions and now I dose it with the basic tropica stuff per the bottle instructions.

Early Feb (so a couple weeks later) I changed water and hoovered a bit more, then couple days later 9 RCS went in after being drip acclimated for 4 hours. Didn't know what parameters they came from, the site didn't say. A couple died in the first 2 weeks which I figured was shock but I lost another 3 after that too. I bought another batch of 9 early March from a different seller and their parameters were not far out from mine & drip acclimated them too. I'm starting to lose count but of 18 shrimp I think 11 are dead? I could definitely only find 7 yesterday & the berried female was dead this morning so might be 6 in there.

Stuff looked at:
  • not sure if I crashed the BB as I shouldn't be getting zero nitrate? But I don't seem to get any ammonia either, & I read that in some tanks with a lower bioload, the plants will use up your nitrates, & my plants are growing well, although I'm not sure my bioload is that low. It's also still looking pretty grubby in there honestly so if the plants weren't taking up nitrate then where IS the waste? Confident the tests work/I know how to use them as they worked when I cycled the tank. Some of the dead shrimp I didn't find until they'd gone white & fluffy so if I'd crashed the BB I would have expected to get readings. Perplexed. Thought I just had a very clean tank to start and then realised this was Very Suspicious.
  • had loads of salvinia on the surface that I think was preventing surface water movement as there was loads of biofilm in it so I took that out, and tank was running at like 78 from cycling it, so I turned tank down to 75ish, in case temp & salvinia were affecting oxygenation
  • pH varies quite a lot, and once I tested and it was much lower in the morning just before lights on and then higher at the end of the lighting period, I read last month this can be b/c the plants release CO2/use O2 overnight & CO2 makes water more acidic, which apparently is normal, but if tank O2 isn't high enough already could be bad news, so I nudged the lighting period to 10 hours and turned temp down a little to the 71-73 it runs at now, adjusted the filter outflow up a little to get bubbles. Still swings but not quite as much.
  • can't see any obvious parasites in the tank or on the shrimp
  • no white ring of death
  • checked the parameters given by the water company for my area. they don't test for copper v often (only 4 samples in last 12 months) but one of them was potentially high enough to upset the shrimp, so I dosed the whole tank w/ seachem prime & I've switched to seachem prime for water changes too to hopefully solve heavy metals in the tap water.
  • we don't use any air fresheners or anything like that which might get in the tank & I wash my hands before I put them in
  • I think the KH and GH are fine?

Tank isn't as clean as I'd like honestly (I don't 100% understand how to hoover thoroughly w/o the gravel getting really stirred up/pulled down the siphon, last time I gave in and strirred it up anyway and then dosed the tank w/ Prime in case I disturbed anything nasty in the gravel). Given I'm not sure if the BB are alive, I'm not sure if I should be changing water to keep the tank clean or not changing water because I'm not sure if it is cycled and if you do a fish in cycle with seschem prime you don't change the water until your readings go up. At present it's been 2 weeks since any water was changed and waste is still reading 0/0/0.

I'm not sure if there could be something in the water that I can't see but I'm not sure if it's wise to just start buying Melafix/Pimafix/salt and dosing them when I don't know what's wrong? I feel stupid just buying random bottles in the hope that one of them will be useful.

Any ideas for what strategy I should take would be appreciated cos I feel really bad for killing them all and not being sure why.
 

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Can you remove the heater completely?

Any chance that the tank was ever treated with copper meds or are there any plant weights?

Any chance you could switch to RO or distilled water with minerals to rule out possibilities with tap water?

Could be a diet issue or perhaps even where they came from if they're adults you are getting in or maybe something else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Can you remove the heater completely?

Any chance that the tank was ever treated with copper meds or are there any plant weights?

Any chance you could switch to RO or distilled water with minerals to rule out possibilities with tap water?

Could be a diet issue or perhaps even where they came from if they're adults you are getting in or maybe something else.
Hello Zoidburg,

Thank you for replying! The shop I got the tetras from said that they shouldn't live below 64F so I could turn the heater right down if that would still help? I am guessing I shouldn't take it out as my house is often a fair bit colder than that and at least for now the tetras seem okay.

The tank was second hand, I've never used any medication in it at all and I cleaned it before I used it but just with a lot of clean water as I didn't want to put chemicals in it in case of residue. It could have had copper in it with it's previous owner I guess?

No plant weights.

I've heard a RO water mentioned a lot but didn't know what it was - I've just looked it up and both the systems and buying it pre-made seem more expensive than I'd be comfy with? My partner encouraged me to take up the aquarium 'cause I've always wanted one but he funds most of it and I'm starting to feel bad for digging us into an 'expensive' hobby. I guess the list is long but is there anything I could test for or look up with the water company? I thought the Prime would tackle heavy metals but I guess there's a lot of other stuff that could be bad for them.

The shrimp weren't fully grown when I bought them, maybe 1cm? The second batch arrived warmer and redder and more active so I thought to start the first shrimp were just not from a good place but they're not doing any better.

This is what I feed them, I don't know loads but I was buying a lot of stuff from this place on the basis it would be okay if it was a shrimp-specific store: JBL Novo Prawn CLICK 100ml - Pro Shrimp UK

Thank you again.
 

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Hey, don't worry too much about your experience. We all started somewhere and judging from your thread, you put a lot of research and thought into this before you asked for help.

Let me start by saying, more important than nailing down exact numbers is STABILITY! Neos are very tolerant so they can be kept in a wide range of parameters successfully. However if things are constantly changing in your tank, (ie you change the temp, change the water, dose harmful additives) you will shock the shrimp. I have had shrimp die from being in the stream of the water change. Some have died getting too close to the co2 diffuser. Others have stayed too long on the heater when it was active and then keeled over. Needless to say, they're pretty fragile and sensitive despite being accepting to a lot of water conditions.

I don't see anything out of place with what you listed, so it's odd that you're having trouble with them. Are you 110% sure your ammonia and nitrate tests are accurate? Have you referenced it with another test? It's very weird to be reading 0ppm even in extremely mature tanks.

Oh yeah, I never, never, never dose prime or any heavy metal/dechlorinating agent directly into my tank. You can achieve better control by mixing in a jug or bucket and adding that water into your tank.
 

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@jasriel do you know how cold the water gets without the heater?

Yes, it's possible that the previous owner used copper in the tank.

The food should be okay, since it seems more plant based than meat based.


Not seeing anything that is definitely an issue, it is hard to pin point what's wrong. Some people have had success using tap! I'm not one of them.... Saying that Neos do fine in tap water sets people up for failure where their shrimp wont thrive - for whatever reasons.

I do recall someone using distilled water in their shrimp tanks without issues and it was relatively cheap. Another person recommends the Zero Water jugs and once you have "clean" water, you remineralize it for the shrimp. Necessary for distilled as well.

If you are capable of getting a new, unused tank, that might help! Or it might not... having a shrimp only tank might be beneficial, or maybe something else is going wrong.
 

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RCS are really easy to keep in tap water. Its probably the tetras that are eating the shrimp. Have you tried keeping a shrimp only tank to see how they do? Also shrimps don't like large water changes, I do 10-20% every 2 weeks.
I have 6 embers and they do not bother my shrimp. If they’re already 1cm, I doubt it. Fry, maybe. Did you get the fish concurrently with the shrimp. It’s normally good to establish your shrimp before adding them. You also mentioned your pH has gone from 6.8 to 8. Was that during cycling or is this a regular occurrence? The key is keeping stable water parameters. Whatever your water is, even if not perfect, keep it there so long as it’s not totally unreasonable. Yes, tetras come from slightly acidic waters in the wild, but yours live in your area’s water, and if they were bred, they are more easily adaptable. RCS supposedly like it a tad over neutral. I decided whatever natural habitat parameters were just nice guidelines. And unless they just arrived from the rainforest, what the water was at the LFS, and where they were raised in, if not wild, was more important.
In the beginning when I decided to get shrimp, I was making myself nuts with my TDS, pH, etc. I was losing shrimp left and right, while I was chasing the numbers to keep my shrimp “healthy.” Well, all that chasing was swinging my water parameters and that was worse. The moment I stopped being maniacal about it all, the shrimp started berrying, and everything just fell into place.
My pH hovers around 7-7.4, and TDS is too high at 325, but my 7 ember tetras are healthy and active. The shrimp breed like crazy, The 3 ottos, 2 nerites, and 8 lesser rasboras are all fine. And I’m trimming my stem plants weekly. Go figure!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
RCS are really easy to keep in tap water. Its probably the tetras that are eating the shrimp. Have you tried keeping a shrimp only tank to see how they do? Also shrimps don't like large water changes, I do 10-20% every 2 weeks.
I am not sure, I got the tetras a while after both batches of shrimp. Most of the shrimp left were as big or bigger than the tetras when I got them. I have been trying to mostly do smaller changes but I've end up doing bigger ones to tidy up trying to figure out what's up in there!

Let me start by saying, more important than nailing down exact numbers is STABILITY! Neos are very tolerant so they can be kept in a wide range of parameters successfully. However if things are constantly changing in your tank, (ie you change the temp, change the water, dose harmful additives) you will shock the shrimp. I have had shrimp die from being in the stream of the water change. Some have died getting too close to the co2 diffuser. Others have stayed too long on the heater when it was active and then keeled over. Needless to say, they're pretty fragile and sensitive despite being accepting to a lot of water conditions.
This is what's getting me antsy, I don't like watching them keel over so it's hard not to keep adjusting stuff! I have found quite a few of the ones that died under the heater but I thought they were just hiding there honestly. I try not to change the temp more than a degree at a time and I've taken to mixing my water for any changes/topping off ahead of time to let the pH settle and it warms to nearer house temp. But there's probably still a lot going on in there for them.


I don't see anything out of place with what you listed, so it's odd that you're having trouble with them. Are you 110% sure your ammonia and nitrate tests are accurate? Have you referenced it with another test? It's very weird to be reading 0ppm even in extremely mature tanks.
Next time I make a small-package order I'm thinking about getting a couple of tests & maybe get a different brand. I do find it weird given that I definitely got readings when I cycled the tank.


Oh yeah, I never, never, never dose prime or any heavy metal/dechlorinating agent directly into my tank. You can achieve better control by mixing in a jug or bucket and adding that water into your tank.
I mix ahead for anything routine, couple of times I've dosed into tank was a) checked water company parameters & I wasn't sure if there was metal in my tap water slowly killing them all off and b) the time I rummaged around in the gravel & I knew that could cause spikes of nasty stuff. The bottle said it's safe to do but I know a lot of products say all sorts on if they think it'll make you buy it!

@jasriel do you know how cold the water gets without the heater?
Nope, with the heater turned to it's lowest it's currently sitting at about 68F. I know the water won't change temp as quickly as the room does, but the house can drop to 60F overnight?

I do recall someone using distilled water in their shrimp tanks without issues and it was relatively cheap. Another person recommends the Zero Water jugs and once you have "clean" water, you remineralize it for the shrimp. Necessary for distilled as well.

If you are capable of getting a new, unused tank, that might help! Or it might not... having a shrimp only tank might be beneficial, or maybe something else is going wrong.
I am capable of getting a new tank! :D Current one is also leaky, just to add to the list of things I am worried will be the end of my shrimp lol. Can't work out where from and tried to do sealant from the outside but think I'm just bad at it. So there is a new tank on the way (which is why I'm reluctant to spend the money on the water as well now, at least this month!).

I have 6 embers and they do not bother my shrimp. If they’re already 1cm, I doubt it. Fry, maybe. Did you get the fish concurrently with the shrimp.
No, tetras were after both batches of shrimp. I didn't find any dead shrimp for about 2 weeks and got really excited and bought tetras but it was a false alarm and shrimp problems were not actually solved.

You also mentioned your pH has gone from 6.8 to 8. Was that during cycling or is this a regular occurrence?
I think regular!! I wasn't checking pH obsessively to start 'cause I was concentrating on the waste readings, I'd noticed it fluctating when cycling & blamed that. Then blamed not aging my water before I added it 'cause I read pH can take time to settle after it comes out of the tap. Theeeeeeeen when I was researching fairly recently I read about plants producing CO2 overnight causing your pH to go up and down & found mine does fluctuate a lot just at either end of the day! This morning I checked just before lights on at 8:30 and it was 6.8. Checked again just before lights out 17:30 and it was 8.0! I don't know if it's true, but I read if it's the plants doing it that's natural so long as the tank doesn't run out of O2 overnight, whereas if something else is causing it it's bad news. It seems a big swing even if the plants in my tank are the only thing doing really well!

In the beginning when I decided to get shrimp, I was making myself nuts with my TDS, pH, etc. I was losing shrimp left and right, while I was chasing the numbers to keep my shrimp “healthy.” Well, all that chasing was swinging my water parameters and that was worse. The moment I stopped being maniacal about it all, the shrimp started berrying, and everything just fell into place.
This is it, I'm trying not to mess 'cause it needs to balance but it's driving me mad! Most of my parameters don't look bad so I haven't artificially adjusted much. I only started messing with the temp & lighting etc 'cause if my parameters looked okay (bar the crazy pH which I'm not sure the 'cause of) then I figured it had to be something else.

In weird good news, I saw 4 baby shrimp today. I don't even know who they came from 'cause I only knew the one I lost was berried. Bit scared to hope they will make it but I'm glad they hatched! I haven't seen any more dead adults but haven't rummaged 'cause I think it stresses them and the tetras out. Haven't seen more than 4 adults at a time this week but in all fairness there are many hiding places in a 54L for so few shrimp.
 

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I second the responses saying not to chase parameters, and to focus on getting things very stable. The nice thing with babies in the tank is they will likely be more adapted to your water and may do better for you. FWIW you are definitely not the first person I’ve seen struggle to get cherry shrimp established, but it seems like people tend to become successful once they can get a generation born in their tank.
When you do set up your new tank, get some algae/biofilm built up for them to graze before you transfer them over (in addition to being cycled of course).
 

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I'd remove the heater myself... but I've never kept tetras.

Used to have tanks in a 'home' where temps would range from 50-ish to 90-ish throughout day or night... depending on time of year and whenever someone turned on the heater or A/C. It was never consistent... i.e. this temp during day, this temp at night. It was whatever someone felt necessary at the moment. No one home? Heat / A/C off. Someone comes home and it's too hot or cold? Turn one of them on on full blast!

I used to stick with heaters for that reason. Eventually got rid of them. Tanks did alright! Shrimp, kuhli loaches and guppies.

CO2 can also be made from fish and bacteria.... not sure if it would help to try and increase surface agitation? Or perhaps flow of water towards the bottom of the tank?
 

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I was researching fairly recently I read about plants producing CO2 overnight causing your pH to go up and down & found mine does fluctuate a lot just at either end of the day! This morning I checked just before lights on at 8:30 and it was 6.8. Checked again just before lights out 17:30 and it was 8.0!
From what I know, the pH does swing between the day and night - by a full point or more, from what I've read, so your readings may not be crazy at all. This is a natural occurrence that the fish and shrimp can handle. However, it's when the pH swings are due to KH or some mineral change, that it becomes a problem. For the more advanced folks reading this, please correct me if I'm wrong. Perhaps you should pick a time of day to check your pH, if you're looking for consistency.
Meanwhile, congrats on the fry. If they grow to adulthood, you'll know at least they will be a lot more adapted to your tank and water, since they were born and raised in it, which bodes well for their offspring as well!
 

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Around the first of the year I started up a 75g tank to replace my 25g. I set up the new tank in "parallel" so that I could have it cycled and planted before moving over livestock. As with my old tank I used local rock and some large pieces of drift wood purchased from a good eBay seller. I brought over filter media from the old tank to help cycle the new one. I even had a second CO2 system. My plan was to sell off the old equipment once everything was migrated.

Once cycled, my first move was to drop in a couple of "volunteer" cherry shrimp. They ran laps around the tank for a day and then died. I tried everything to figure it out. My biggest fear was that I had introduced a contaminant with one of the driftwood pieces or the rocks. I did not want to tear down the now planted and scaped tank. I got a copper test kit(negative). I did many water changes. I eventually put carbon in one of the trays of my Oase filter. I also added a Purigen packet. Periodically I would ask for another volunteer. After a few weeks the volunteers started to survive and did not get the "zoomies". Eventually I was able to move all of my shrimp over followed by my fish. Oddly, my early nerite snail volunteers never died nor the countless small hitchhiker snails that my plant vendor gave me at no additional charge. I now have a very large shrimp population.

I would try carbon and Purigen. I would also work at getting stable tank parameters. Later you can ask for volunteers again...

Good luck!
 

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Later you can ask for volunteers again...
I believe that's called being "volun-TOLD" :)

OP, I'm having the same problems as you are. I'm also brand new to shrimpkeeping (but not aquariums in general). According to all my testing kits, my water is great, but shrimp aren't thriving and keep dying one at a time. And the things you do for a poor fish tank aren't the things you should do for a shrimp tank, which I have discovered to my dismay and mass shrimp murder.
I'm setting up brand new tanks this weekend from scratch, with RO water remineralized instead of my well water, and going to wait much longer before adding livestock this time. Let's hope we can both figure this out!
 

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I should add that I use tap water to which I add Prime, even for top-off. During my ~50% weekly water change I just add it in to the refill stream from my Python. I live in a city that periodically floods the system with chloramine to purge the city pipes of nasties so I usually add more than the bottle calls for.

I nearly have the opposite problem from OP. After my rocky start I now basically have a planted shrimp tank with a bunch of fish for color and movement. That was not really my plan. Yesterday was water change day and I relocated at least 20 shrimp of various sizes from my Oase prefilter. They are all well but they will be back. My point being that successful shrimp keeping obviously has a bit of luck about it and the recipe for success is not so clear...certainly to me.

OP. Hang in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wanted to come back and update about this sooner but basically spent 4 weeks arguing with the company who kept saying they'd shipped the new tank and it not turning up!! Then when it did none of the other items were there (gravel, bigger filter etc) so had to get those reshipped.

In mean time....initial batch of baby shrimp are growing and turns out there's loads!! And a second tiny fry batch we have started to see a few of as well. 2 more adults dead though. Still confused by the problem but encouraged by the babies doing well. I know the bodies can be hard to find in a planted tank but I tentatively think that there are so many babies, I couldn't possibly miss it if they were all dying too, they'd be littering the place.

I'd remove the heater myself... but I've never kept tetras.
I may try it in the new tank. Now things are warming up the house shouldn't get so cold...UK just had coldest April since 1922 so I'm kind of glad I haven't tried it in the current tank but most of that weather should be out the way now. I'm sure the tetras wouldn't mind being a bit chilly overnight but as they're actually doing okay I don't want to upset them.

CO2 can also be made from fish and bacteria.... not sure if it would help to try and increase surface agitation? Or perhaps flow of water towards the bottom of the tank?
I've taken out all surface plants as they were stopping a lot of the water movement. The bubble thingy is turned on on the filter too, even though my other half says hearing the trickle noise all the time makes him need to pee. Ha.

From what I know, the pH does swing between the day and night - by a full point or more, from what I've read, so your readings may not be crazy at all. This is a natural occurrence that the fish and shrimp can handle. However, it's when the pH swings are due to KH or some mineral change, that it becomes a problem. For the more advanced folks reading this, please correct me if I'm wrong. Perhaps you should pick a time of day to check your pH, if you're looking for consistency.
This is what I read but didn't want to miss it out in case these are obvious alarm bells for someone more experienced.
If I read it at the same time of the day, it's very consistent I have since found! kH and gH have been consistent too. Just gives me a fright to read the pH is like 8 but I think I'm getting used to it.

I would try carbon and Purigen. I would also work at getting stable tank parameters. Later you can ask for volunteers again...
Carbon I could definitely try, the filter for the new tank has a thingy to add compartments. Purigen I was wary of - if it gets rid of organic stuff in the water would that not make the BB fade away? As they wouldn't have stuff to eat? I guess it would definitely keep everything controlled though but the idea sounds counter-intuitive to me. My 'intuition' at this stage as an aquarist being almost non-existent though. :p

Fingers crossed new tank cycles okay. I've got a bottle of Stability just in case but I'm going to take a couple of rocks from the current tank over there too for their BB, and I'm going to do it properly with dosed ammonia this time 'cause the fishfood cycle made such a huuuge mess last time.

No idea why the adults still dislike current tank but at least there are plenty of babies for 'volunteers' in the new one! & I'm super happy there are babies at all.
 
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