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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
Hi,

Not new to the aquarium hobby per se (new to this forum!), but it's been a few years since I last dealt with it. This time around I've set up an Aquael 20l nano aquascape for shrimp and some nano fish/snails. The tank has Tropica's simple CO2 system set up in it with a nice green drop-checker. Plants seem to be doing fine (medium/heavily planted tank), minor algae issues. It's been running for abt 10 weeks, but was moved to a new location (drained 3/4 water, misted plants for the 1 hr drive, shrimp in tank during transit) 3 weeks ago. I had some algae issues and plant melt the first few weeks but it seems fine now. Filter spunge was in a bag of tank water during transit. I'm not sure what the water parameters were at my old place.

My worry is that the tank's current water parameters are unhealthy for its inhabitants. Please beare with me and all the information in this post.

I measured my tank's water parameters yesterday (just got the test kit) and it seems that my tank water is very soft/acidic with the following readings:

Tank:
PH 5 - 5,5
GH 1dh
KH 1dh
NO2 0
According to the CO2 calculation table provided in the set (table based on PH & KH), this gives a CO2 level of approx. 200 mg/l(!) in CO2 concentration.

Tap water:
PH 7
GH 3dh
KH 1dh

MY QUESTION(S)/CONCERNS are:

As far as I understand the PH and hardness of the water is too low for the shrimp and snail to thrive in the long run. What baffles me is that all of the shrimp seem happy, are active eaters etc., the same goes for the Nerite Snail. The shrimp also molt regularly. I also understand that in such acidic water the snail's shell will deteriorate (slowly) and eventually kill it. Additionally, I find it odd that my tap water has a PH of 7 and the tank is at 5(!). It might have something to do with GH/KH, but I'm not really equipped to tell. I did 2 PH tests yesterday and one this morning which showed minimal difference in PH.

ALSO: I went to the LFS to get my tank water tested (1 shrimp died, probably failed molt during it's first night in the tank). When they measured with a liquid test kit they got a reading of PH 5, but when they checked with an electronic PH meter it came out at 6,4.

I'm pretty concerned that my tank conditions are not the best for its inhabitants and might shorten their lifespan to some extent.

I'm not very skilled in the field of water chemistry for aquariums (learning!) and would appreciate any feedback and wisdom from someone more experienced with this.

Some facts:

Test kit: Tetra WaterTest Set (liquid)

Current inhabitants:
1x Amano Shrimp (added 4 weeks ago)
3x RCS (1 added 4 weeks ago, 2x two days ago)
2x Neocaridina davidi 'yellow' (1 added 4 weeks ago, 2x two days ago. One has passed)
1x unknown see-through shrimp (I guess Neocaridina) (added 4 weeks ago)
5x Boraras Brigittae (added 2 days ago)
1x Tiger nerite snail (added 4 weeks ago)

Tank info:
Aquael Nano 20l
Tropica CO2 system
Tropica Aquarium Soil
1 large piece of driftwood
Ferts: Tropica Specialised Nutrition semi-daily dosage
Large WC every 2-3 days
Medium/heavily planted:
  • Microsorum P. Trident
  • Hygrophila Polysperma 'Rosanervig'
  • Bucephalandra Kedagang (this one is struggling)
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii 'Tropica'
  • Staurogyne Repens
  • Micranthemum 'Monte Carlo'
  • Anubias Nana 'Petite'
  • Limnobium laevigatum / Frogbite
The plants are growing a bit slow (esp. the H. Polysperma) in my opinion, but I'll get to that another day. If relevant the crypts and the H. Polysperma have tiny (1mm or smaller) perfectly roundt holes in them which tells me that their health is not optimal.

Cheers,

Mats
 

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The Tropica Aquarium soil is probably the cause of the difference in pH between tap and tank - it's an active soil that lowers pH by absorbing carbonates (KH)....from Tropica's website

"Aquarium Soil is further an active bottom layer that lowers the pH value and slightly affects the water chemistry"

That your measured KH is the same between tap and tank is a mystery but I attribute that to the accuracy of your test kit. I recommend K2CO3 or KHCO3 as a source of carbonates if you'd like to raise KH

The drop in GH betwen tap and and tank is a bigger mystery and the only way I to know to lower it is to use RO or de-ionized water - you may want to test again or test against a calibrated solution to ensure the test kit's accuracy

As to what GH and KH should be for a shrimp tank hopefully others who keep shrimp can weigh in here...
 

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pH recommendations by specie:
(this isn't the end-all, be-all. Individual fish and shrimp can and frequently do live outside their recommendations).

1x Amano Shrimp (added 4 weeks ago) 6.5 - 7.9
3x RCS (1 added 4 weeks ago, 2x two days ago) Assuming Red Crystal, 6.2 - 6.8
2x Neocaridina davidi 'yellow' (1 added 4 weeks ago, 2x two days ago. One has passed) 6.8 - 7.5
1x unknown see-through shrimp (I guess Neocaridina) (added 4 weeks ago) ?
5x Boraras Brigittae (added 2 days ago) 4-7 best if wild caught.
1x Tiger nerite snail (added 4 weeks ago) 6.5 - 8.5
If KH and GH are basically 1, I'm not surprised in the difference between color test and probe. pH 5 is more likely the real pH of your CO2 saturated water. Take a glass of water out of your tank and let it sit for 36hrs. Then check pH; compare this with tap and tank water without resting. How does your CO2 setup work? Is it on a timer? Have you checked nitrates and ammonia as well?

I would kill for your tap water but, you are right that it may be some of your livestock is unnecessarily stressed. I wouldn't worry about the amano or the rasbora and, I wouldnt make any drastic changes until you get those pH measurements. Your neocaridinas and the snail I would be worried about in the long term.
 

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Tropica substrate + driftwood = why your pH is lower than tap. Substrate essentially absorbs hardness from water. Driftwood likely releases tannins that are acidic and soften water. Neither product is bad. While the substrate isn't ideal for Neocaridina shrimp, it's fine for your tank. Just try to keep things stabilized.

CO2 doesn't impact water hardness/osmotic pressure. So no need to worry about it impacting parameters as long as your critters can breathe.

You ideally want to use a product like Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ or Salty Shrimp GH+ in order to increase your water hardness to gH 7 or 8. You'll add it to your treated tap water before adding fresh water to your tank during water changes. Keep in mind your substrate is going to continue to buffer your parameters for quite a long time, so don't try to chase pH.

Why the large, frequent water changes unless you know it's necessary? Seems unnecessary and excessive.

Ignore the parameters recommended above - they're unfortunately off-base. Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) are fine in larger parameter swaths (same for Yellows, as they're both Neocaridina color variants.) Though, Crystal Red Shrimp (CRS) are fine in 5-6.5 (I keep mine at 6 or below.) Boraras brigittae aren't better or healthier if they're wild-caught and keeping wild-caught specimens in such a large parameter swath is not great advice - they'll do best in parameters as close to the natural waters they came from. But they'll be fine in your tank if you can get that gH up a bit.

pH isn't that important but water hardness is. They're related, obviously, but just focus on hardness. Get gH up to 7-8 - do it slowly with small water changes - and everything will balance out.
 

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Boraras brigittae aren't better or healthier if they're wild-caught and keeping wild-caught specimens in such a large parameter swatch is not great advice
I did not indicate that they are better if wild caught. I indicated that wild caught specimens are better kept in a range found naturally, like say 4-7 pH.

Ignore the parameters recommended above
Really? I literally disclaimer-ed my own recommendations and you're still going to claim they're wrong. I'll give you that I fumbled the crystal vs cherry but, everything else is on target. These are the ranges they are found in naturally. No one is saying to keep fish anywhere from a ph of 4-7...

These are called...recommendations. You find a target within that range and you set your tolerance. I too have neos in a lower pH of 5.5. As I indicated in my response, many fish and shrimp can and will live outside these ranges. Doesn't mean they're healthy or comfortable.
 

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Really? I literally disclaimer-ed my own recommendations and you're still going to claim they're wrong. I'll give you that I fumbled the crystal vs cherry but, everything else is on target. These are the ranges they are found in naturally. No one is saying to keep fish anywhere from a ph of 4-7...

These are called...recommendations. You find a target within that range and you set your tolerance. I too have neos in a lower pH of 5.5. As I indicated in my response, many fish and shrimp can and will live outside these ranges. Doesn't mean they're healthy or comfortable.
Perhaps you are focusing too much on pH?

In this particular case, the OP really needs to focus in on Gh. And bringing those values up. That's where the problems are coming from.

After Gh has been addressed, then you can start fiddling with pH. Not that I would advise that on an active substrate tank.





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I'm pretty concerned that my tank conditions are not the best for its inhabitants and might shorten their lifespan to some extent.
My worry is that the tank's current water parameters are unhealthy for its inhabitants.
Which is just to say, my take away from this post was, "can my livestock live in these waters?" I addressed one parameter but that doesn't mean the others don't matter...

I agree, pH is not the only problem. It won't solve all OP's issues either. Which is why I did not indicate that it would...

I only provided context for the specific livestock in this scenario.
 

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I personally wouldn't recommend adding any KH or anything to alter the pH... as this will only lead to a greater swing in parameters.

You likely have soft tap to begin with as it rains a lot where you live. (my presumption) It's not recommended to use tap and active substrate together... but you're water is pretty soft. My only recommendation would be to raise the GH of the tank if you are noticing failed molts / your shrimp are breeding but babies are not growing. (they're dying) That said, if your substrate or something else in the tank is lowering GH, it may take a bit for your GH to even out at a higher level.


I have a tank that, last I checked, was running at 5.5 pH with Yellow King Kongs (showing TT traits), Amanos/False Amanos, Kuhli Loaches and a few Pygmy Corys. I have not been successful at keeping Neos... of any type. Regardless of parameters! Or where they came from....
 

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I did not indicate that they are better if wild caught. I indicated that wild caught specimens are better kept in a range found naturally, like say 4-7 pH.


Really? I literally disclaimer-ed my own recommendations and you're still going to claim they're wrong. I'll give you that I fumbled the crystal vs cherry but, everything else is on target. These are the ranges they are found in naturally. No one is saying to keep fish anywhere from a ph of 4-7...

These are called...recommendations. You find a target within that range and you set your tolerance. I too have neos in a lower pH of 5.5. As I indicated in my response, many fish and shrimp can and will live outside these ranges. Doesn't mean they're healthy or comfortable.
This is a planted tank forum, it's not life or death. Copping attitude at others violates our Acceptable Use Policy and common sense. Don't do it.

And yes, really. It's important not to try to read tone-of-voice into words on your screen. But I'll explain. I merely - politely - told the OP to ignore suggestions because they're unfortunately off-base. And they are. RCS = Red Cherry Shrimp, not Crystals. Red flag not knowing the difference or lingo of the hobby if your recommendations are to be taken to heart. Focusing so much on pH instead of osmotic pressure and hardness is another red flag. I can tell you mean well but these things do matter a great deal. Hence the bit about tossing those suggestions to the side without being a jerk about it.

Recommending someone keep Crystals in near pH 7 water (which would mean kH would be quite high for them) is not anything I'd recommend. The less acidic and harder the water for Crystals, the more prone they are to have developmental issues and illnesses from bacteria and pathogens that thrive in parameters that are not their ideal.

-----

Questionable advice aside, OP, @pauld738 & @Zoidburg hit the nail on the head - focus on gH. Get there slowly and everything will get into balance for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Questionable advice aside, OP, @pauld738 & @Zoidburg hit the nail on the head - focus on gH. Get there slowly and everything will get into balance for you.
Thanks everyone for pitching in, I truly appreciate all of your answers. Below is what I take from it and some follow-up questions to go:

To answer tuphatDimes question about my Co2-system: it doesn't have a timer and is on (very low, valve barely open) 24/7. I'm aware of the plants not taking benefit of the Co2 at night - I just don't have the time during a busy week to set it on/off manually and haven't found a solution for setting a timer on it yet. At least the Ph swings a little less given the constant Co2 flow into the tank.

Thanks "somewhatshocked" for your inputs. The wc-schedule has been done to keep algae in check - but perhaps it would be more helpful to tone down to once a week? Considering algae and plant growth I intend to do 1 WC/week and adding Tropica´s fertiliser as recommended by the bottle (with the water change) and see if things even out in the long run. I currently struggle with something that looks like BBA, only it's green.

As to what Zoidburg mentioned with regards to molting, breeding etc., all of the shrimp seem to be molting on a regular basis, however one of the Yellow Neo´s often carry eggs, but no baby shrimps are to be seen. During its last molt the eggs were left in the shell and are just deteriorating, not hatching. I'm positive that I have a Neo male in the tank so that shouldn't be the issue - I guess it comes down to the water parameters.

To clarify things for myself, I understand that PH is not really the issue at hand here, given the active substrate and driftwood that will push it down anyways. It's still stable at previously mentioned values.

I am wondering though; when the GH finally reaches, say 8, I assume that I´ll need to continue to dose GH+ for as long as i have the mentioned critters. Correct? Also, will raising the GH affect the KH in any way? I don't quite grasp whether it's OK or not to have that low KH-reading considering buffering of the PH, but I sense that you recommend only focusing on GH as the substrate will take out the KH fast in such a small volume of water. I also understand that getting my GH up will benefit my Nerite (?).

I´m able to get both Saltyshrimp GH+ and GH/KH+ online where I live, my understanding is that what you guys recommend is the first one. Correct?

Lastly, somewhatshocked, you write that focusing on GH will eventually get everything into balance - could you specify what I should expect in the long term, given an acceptable GH?

Cheers (& Happy New Years!!),

Mats
 

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Lastly, somewhatshocked, you write that focusing on GH will eventually get everything into balance - could you specify what I should expect in the long term, given an acceptable GH?
You can expect parameter and tank stability long-term.

Once you have gH where you want it, just match your water change water to the same gH and it'll stay there.
 

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I don't quite grasp whether it's OK or not to have that low KH-reading considering buffering of the PH, but I sense that you recommend only focusing on GH as the substrate will take out the KH fast in such a small volume of water. I also understand that getting my GH up will benefit my Nerite (?).
It might be better to think in terms of fluctuating Kh/Gh/TDS, rather than fluctuating pH. Keep the first set stable. Don't worry about pH. That's not too say don't watch pH. I think everyone should have a pH monitor on their tank monitoring pH 24/7. Just don't use it as the main way to measure tank health.

As for your nerite, my experience is with ramshorn snails but consider feeding a calcium rich food to it in a regular basis. With a pH well below 7.0 on a 24hr basis there is a possibility of some shell erosion. The higher Gh will definitely help but may not be enough.

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No baby shrimp being able to survive in your water confirms that your GH is too low.

Adults can live in low GH for a while, but may start to suffer from failed molts sooner or later.


Adding only GH will not alter KH. You would need a GH/KH remineralizer. And yes, recommended to get the GH only - unless you're willing to swap out the substrate for something inert.
 

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Adding only GH will not alter KH. You would need a GH/KH remineralizer. And yes, recommended to get the GH only - unless you're willing to swap out the substrate for something inert.
The reason I suggested either KH/GH+ or GH+ is because if their substrate's buffering capacity will get quickly depleted if they're regularly adding kH. The small amount of kH (compared to gH) in the Salty Shrimp product would nix the buffering capacity in probably a year or less. It'd be pulled from the water slowly enough that it won't impact the shrimp. Once the buffering weakens, the tank becomes more ideal for the Neos.

A lot of Asian and German shrimpers do this with their tap water in Neo tanks that are focused on plants instead of just shrimp. Unlike us who tend to focus on our ideal parameters from the start and never use buffering substrates unless they're necessary for our shrimp.

I wouldn't do it with Caridina shrimp, though. And going the gH only route is just easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks guys.

I'll get some SaltyShrimp GH+ and slowly increase the overall hardness - and keep an eye on how the critters are doing.

Update: Woke up to two dead Neos today - probably failed molting. On the bright side there's two baby neos crawling around in there - but I guess more suitable water parameters would have given a significantly higher hatch rate during these last months that I've had them. Hopefully a higher GH will prevent more casualties.

Best,

Mats
 
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