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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my grandmother wanted her own shrimp aquarium for Christmas. I set one up, cycled it, and stocked it just in time for Christmas for her. I've had nothing but trouble with it since, however.

The cycle had a hiccup but is improving, the addition of new livestock caused it to produce ammonia/nitrites faster than the bacteria could process it but we were still getting good nitrate readings. I've been keeping an eye on it, doing dripped water changes as needed and dosing with Prime and Stability daily.

My bigger problem now is that the PH and KH are tanking hard and I'm baffled as to the cause. My PH test seems to be fine, if I test my tap water (high end of 7) it shows the color perfectly so I don't think it's a false reading on my aquarium. My GH, meanwhile, is pretty high. Everything in the aquarium is inert. I use distilled or RODI water and remineralize with SaltyShrimp GH/KH+.

TDS: 465
PH: 6
KH: 2
GH: 11

The substrate is primarily Seachem Flourite Dark, as well as some Flourite Black Sand. The height is built up with lava rock under the substrate. The hardscape is Dragonstone. There's a small piece of driftwood that's been in use for several months and is no longer releasing tannins and didn't seem to impact the prior, smaller aquarium's PH, as well as a small piece of cholla. I also have some crushed coral in the filter to try to keep the PH up. The water I'm dripping in is higher in PH but seems to make no impact, as soon as I test the tank itself again it's just as low as before the water change.

I'm at a complete loss, and so frustrated. Is there something I'm not thinking of that could be bringing my PH down? Should I try removing the driftwood pieces? Is it possible the SaltyShrimp GH/KH+ is bad? I noticed it was clumpy, but when I remineralize and test the new water everything is as it should be. Any help would be appreciated.
 

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Your PH likely isn't the problem.
What species of shrimp are you trying to keep?

Shrimp have a hard time in new tanks. They are very sensitive to ammonia, so lack of cycling definitely will cause issues. Shrimp also have a hard time in new tanks that don't have a healthy built up supply of algae and biofilm.

Also, that TDS is pretty high. Depending on species of shrimp your TDS should probably be kept under 240 for neocaridina and under 180 for caridina.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your PH likely isn't the problem.
What species of shrimp are you trying to keep?

Shrimp have a hard time in new tanks. They are very sensitive to ammonia, so lack of cycling definitely will cause issues. Shrimp also have a hard time in new tanks that don't have a healthy built up supply of algae and biofilm.

Also, that TDS is pretty high. Depending on species of shrimp your TDS should probably be kept under 240 for neocaridina and under 180 for caridina.
This aquarium is for neos, this is the parameter range provided by the breeder I bought from, so ideally I do need to lower the TDS but the PH is pretty low and the GH is a bit high by their standards at least (I'm going to contact them to see what their tanks are actually at):
pH 7.0-7.8
GH 6-10
KH 1~2
TDS 250-450

I'm honestly just not sure how to get this sorted out or what the culprit is. The filter is from the prior neo aquarium that a few of them were from, as well as being loaded up with additional media from my established caridina aquarium. The shrimp seem to be doing okay, I lost a couple in the first few days, mostly to what appeared to be failed molts (based on the white crack in their shells), but they are active and don't seem to be in any sort of distress. I just worry that I'll see a lot of casualties when they molt from the parameters being off and would like to gradually try to get them into a more appropriate range.
 

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Seems like you're not too far off from the breeder so hopefully the rest will do okay.

I like to add Seiryu stones to tanks that I want a touch of KH/slightly higher PH in.

Your TDS are probably high due to the daily prime and stability. I'm assuming you're still seeing ammonia which is why you're doing that routine.
I'd be changing 10-20% of the water each day as well until the cycle catches up to the current bioload.

I can't confidently say to do only prime or stability, but I personally would probably only be using stability as that will neutralize the ammonia. I don't know that adding prime gains you much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Seems like you're not too far off from the breeder so hopefully the rest will do okay.

I like to add Seiryu stones to tanks that I want a touch of KH/slightly higher PH in.

Your TDS are probably high due to the daily prime and stability. I'm assuming you're still seeing ammonia which is why you're doing that routine.
I'd be changing 10-20% of the water each day as well until the cycle catches up to the current bioload.

I can't confidently say to do only prime or stability, but I personally would probably only be using stability as that will neutralize the ammonia. I don't know that adding prime gains you much.
Thank you! I've been doing a water change every other day and dripping the new water in to avoid shocking them. The ammonia is looking good now with no visible reading, but the nitrites are still struggling a bit. Nitrates are good as well, but I'm watching them for any spike as the nitrites get converted. From my understanding the Prime neutralizes the pollutants so they're not actively harmful and the Stability adds beneficial bacteria to get to work breaking them down, but I'll look into it further and potentially stop or reduce the use to see if that brings my TDS down.
 

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based on experience, pH is difficult to maintain if there is inadequate buffering.

I have no experience with the SaltyShrimp GH/KH+ product you mention. Since someone else on this thread mentioned they do not like your TDS levels, I suggest the following:

1. reduce the amount of that SaltyShrimp GH/KH+ product to slightly reduce your TDS levels.

2. next focus on increasing your KH level a bit without significantly increasing your GH levels. I use Seachem Aquavitro KH Carbonate product to accomplish this. There very likely are other good products that do this as well. I try to keep my tank closer to 3-4 KH level daily which is not high but at least better than your levels.

3. You may find you will be able to control you pH levels easier with better buffering. However, note that if and when using the KH Carbonate you may see the KH levels go up but the pH lower so to be prepared, make sure to keep on hand Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer bottles. Seachem has these products which I always keep on hand so I can adjust the pH easily in either direction if needed. Never make drastic pH changes since shrimp are quite fragile to drastic changes.
 

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saw a note mentioning Prime neutralizes pollutants. I would like to add some more technical details to what conditioners such as Prime does. I myself prefer Prime as an excellent water conditioner and the one I use.

Prime contains hydrosulfite salts which remove chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. Prime also converts ammonia into a safe, non-toxic form (ammonium) that can still be used by beneficial bacteria.
Prime may be used during tank cycling to alleviate ammonia/nitrite toxicity.

How Prime Converts toxic ammonia (NH3) to non toxic ammonium (NH4):
The process that takes place between Prime and toxic ammonia is not a straight conversion from NH3 to NH4.
Prime contains a binding agent that works to temporarily convert toxic ammonia (NH3) into ammonium (NH4).
It is noteworthy that this is a temporary conversion and Prime will only bind the ammonia in this form for up to 48 hours before the ions are free to re-associate into toxic NH3.


So basically, while Prime temporarily keeps more of the ammonia in the ammonium form, during this time, hopefully in parallel your bio filtration system you have should be assisting as well.
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