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Copper problems?

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Hoping to get some advice from those knowledgeable here. Haven’t had much success yet at the shrimp-keeping game. I’ve had a cycled 10 gallon, planted tank for about six months. Cherries and carbon rilis only, along with a somewhat largish population of ramshorn snails and two small apple snails. The snails are doing fine, but the shrimp have died off at a rate of a couple per week. I’ve restocked twice from two different breeders with the same result.

Death seem to occur a few days after a water change, which I do weekly (10%). All of my parameters are fine in terms of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite. Ph of 7.6, Kh of 5 & Gh of about 7 (maybe 8). I use Prime treated tap water for the changes. I did look up our water report & copper is at 1.3ppm. Could that be causing it? Dead shrimp appear fine. I’ve noticed some darkening of the cherries shells while alive but nothing else.

Any help would be appreciated!
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First and foremost.... test your water for copper. That may or may not be the issue.

If it is, you can could look into using RO/distilled water and remineralizing it.

Diet could be another factor, but if you think it's copper, lets start there.
 

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1.03 mg/liter copper is lethal (4 day LD50 or 50% died off in 4 days) to shrimp according to this study.

https://research.nhm.org/pdfs/27732/27732.pdf

Since your provider reported 1.3 copper and you do only 10% WC, copper in your source water is below the lethal level for shrimp. However, if you have copper plumbing, it may add more copper to your tap water to lethal level. In addition to copper, your plumbing may use zinc alloy solder that leak zinc to your tap that can harm shrimp. You don’t know until you test the water out of your faucet.

Are you sure you read your provider test reports right. 1.3 sounds high as it is EPA maximum contamination goal for human consumption that you may have mistaken as the actual measured level.

https://www.wqa.org/Portals/0/Technical/Technical Fact Sheets/2015_Copper.pdf

and
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh, good questions!

Well, I might not be reading the report right - this is the first time I've looked at one of them, honestly. Here's a screenshot of it: Text Photograph White Style Line
.

It does mention led as well, but didn't think that was an issue. My house is relatively newer - I don't think I have copper in the pipes, but I could be wrong. Which tests would you recommend for testing that? The API one or a human based one that includes more in terms of the different elements that may be in there?

Regarding diet, since it's an established tank, I only feed about three times a week. I vary between Aquatic Arts sinking pellets, Tetra Algae Wafers and zucchini. I never feed more than they can eat in two hours, and now it's even less since I have so few left.

I appreciate all of your help. :)
 

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You should look under the 3rd column Results. You have 13 ppb lead and 0.38 ppm copper, both below mcl of 15 and 1.3 for human consumption. What come out from your faucet can be higher. I think new houses can have copper plumbing too as there is no ban. Your hot water heater likely has copper tank and/or plumbing. Metals in new houses are actually higher due to new piping that has not been thoroughly flushed. I don’t know how sensitive is API test kit, but make sure it is capable of detecting below the thrshold limit of 1.03 ppm. The most reliable test results are sample you send to lab that measure a long list of organic and inorganic contaminants at a small cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh my. Yes, I was definitely reading that incorrectly then, and interesting to know that newer houses still contribute to things like that too. I'll look into getting one of those professional samples done - googled it now and they don't look prohibitively expensive.

In the meantime, thanks so much again. I think, while I wait, I might start with mixing in some RO water to see if it helps. I'm assuming it can't hurt, and at least try something while waiting.
 

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Can you look and see if you have copper plumbing, maybe where the water line or meter enters your home?

Another thing to try is to let your tap (faucet) run for 3-5 minutes and then use the water for water changes. Sometimes water setting in the pipes, especially newer copper ones, haven't built up the coating inside that normally reduces the amount of copper leaching.
 

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if it was poisoning i would expect them all to go to the great scampi basket in the sky within a week or two rather than a steady attrition rate your seeing but to reach copper my water would have to seep through the coral lining of 40 years of hard water scaling so i've zero practical experience (though i go through kettles and immersion heaters like you go through shrimp so its not all great... )

Are they managing successful molts at all ?

What diet are they getting ? I've had an excessive attrition when mine have had high protein food as more than a rare treat (they do love a bit smoked back bacon to break up the steamed salad routine :) )
 

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Can you look and see if you have copper plumbing, maybe where the water line or meter enters your home?

Another thing to try is to let your tap (faucet) run for 3-5 minutes and then use the water for water changes. Sometimes water setting in the pipes, especially newer copper ones, haven't built up the coating inside that normally reduces the amount of copper leaching.
There is copper plumbing more or less extensive in every household. Your water heater, faucet connectors, all or part of your piping can be copper or copper alloy. My old house has all copper piping and zinc or lead solder joints, but the plumbing is so aged that probably very little metals are leaching out.

That said, I never use hot water for drinking or cooking as hot water dissolve more metals. I don’t take first flush water for drinking when I return home from few days absence. Let it flushed for 3-5 min before using, longer if you have newer plumbing.

I don’t know if my tap has enough copper or zinc to kill shrimp as I never replace shrimp tank water directly from tap. Rather, I use the water from my big fish tank to replace the shrimp tank water after doing WC in both tanks so in a way using tap water indirectly. I use Prime to condition tap water in the big tank which binds heavy metals. The bound metals will precipitate out or uptake by plants in the big tank, so the left over water is safe for the shrimp. I am not sure whether Priming tap water directly in the shrimp tank is permanent or reversible when the pH drops.
 

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RO water is not good for your tank.... *UNLESS* you add minerals to it... and with normal substrate, you want something that ads GH and KH - preferably a remineralizer geared towards shrimp.


With how "low" your GH and KH are, you definitely do not want to add RO to that tank unless it's already been remineralized! And if you remineralize to about 3-4 KH and 7-8 GH, then you ought to be "fine" there.
 

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And if you have only GH additive, Neos won't care, I might add. I keep a few tanks of them at 0 KH and they do among the best of any of my shrimp tanks. I wouldn't do that if not using buffering soils, but that's another discussion. Bottom line is that carbonate hardness/pH doesn't seem to be all too crucial as long as they can make up for any missing minerals in their diet. The biggest ways I've messed up (and seen others online) is putting them into too recently set up tanks (which you haven't) and putting them through too much change in water chemistry. Even "good" changes have to be very gradual with these. Drip-acclimating them to your tank helps a ton, as does getting shrimp raised in parameters not too far off of your own water. I even drip my water changes to avoid any swings, and my change water is pretty darn close. Whenever I buy shrimp I pester the seller for their water breakdown if not provided. These are resilient little creatures to conditions FAR from what the care sheets suggest, but they do not suffer changes well. The fact that you are only losing a few at a time is encouraging, though I get that it may not seem that way. When you fluctuate a shrimp tank too much you often have no shrimp left. Only other advice I have is to barely feed them. If they aren't swarming your food, you should have skipped that day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Having checking my plumbing, I think you may be correct. I'm waiting on the API copper test, which should be coming in today, so at least that will give me some indication of that. I had used water directly out of the tap with Prime added to it, but will absolutely try letting it run for 3-5 minutes before my next water change tomorrow.

I didn't mention it in the first posts, but I am using the Aqueon Plant and Shrimp aquarium substrate, so not sure what that would do if I added a remineralizer in...

And thanks Blue Ridge Reef for the encouragement. I'm definitely not going to give up; I'd just like not to kill the poor little guys if I can help it. :) I will cut back on the feeding as well and see if that helps.
 
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