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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

So I recently setup a small aquarium for starting a RCS colony. I fishless cycled the tank and in the interim, started growing out a pearlweed carpet and ambulia forest as I thought these would give lots of hiding spots and surface area for algae films to grow. After ensuring the aquarium was fully cycled, I added in 10 RCS. They were fine for a few days then I noticed a single dead shrimp. Eventually I could only easily find 7 of the 10, then 6 and now 4 (Over ~14 days). I never see any real signs of stress except one showed a white band around the body. I usually see them grazing on algae and food that I add. I have found a total of 3 dead shrimp in the aquarium but assume the others are just MIA as well. I've done everything I think I can parameter-wise to keep them happy. I live with city water so I treat with 1.5X prime dose, then add Seachem equilibrium to raise the gH.

Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 10-20ppm
gH - 8 dgH
kH - 1 dkH
pH - 7.0
Temp - 72-79F

I was feeding with Omega one mini pellets, but have switched over to feeding Hikari Tropical shrimp cuisine. there also appears to be plenty of micro film and algae for them to graze on the hardscape and the Ambulia. The only mistake I can say I made is that two days after drip acclimating them to the aquarium, I saw them swimming around somewhat aggressively and took it to be stress so I performed a 50% water change thinking it must have been some kind of spike. I have since theorized they were simply excited as this was the first day I added food to the scape. I'm not sure if that would lead to a drawn out death toll though...

Otherwise, the only other thing of note is the shrimp came with around 2 dozen shrimplet hitch hikers. They seem to be doing fine! They are very hard to find but was able to count nearly a dozen in the open spaces earlier today.

Usually when I see a dead shrimp, I can also find a shrimp exoskeleton drifting somewhere around which makes me thing they are dying after molting.

Does anyone have any theories as to why my colony is slowly dying? Anything I can do to turn it around?
 

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Might just be a difference in parameters from the water where they came from and your tank. Adult shrimp adjust better to a more older established tank. I would feed them less for a bit, let them eat the algae and biofilm. You stated your temp was 72 to 79, 74 would be a good target (although they can do quite well at lower temps). At the 76-79 range their metabolism seems to speed up and it can shorten their life span. If you can, have your city water tested, could be some heavy metals in there...
 

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yeah the only thing that could be problem is the nitrates, I would think 20 is a bit high for shrimp (I keep mine around 5ppm) but then again I know some people have that and they're shrimp are fine. Mostly likely just acclimation issues. Just keep an eye on them and if they all end up dying then its obviously something wrong with the tank. If the shrimplets are fine so far then that's a good sign because I would've thought they would be the first to go.

edit: a TDS meter is also handy when keeping shrimp, lets you know the total dissolved solids in your tank water. So with your kh and gh it should be around ~150 TDS (which should be fine for rcs, but if its much higher then you know theres something else in the water like possibly heavy metals.
 

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How did you fishlessly cycle? What ammonia source did you use? Did you ensure the tank could clear a fixed amount of ammonia in less than 24 hours and dose that amount daily until you were ready? Did you do a 100% water change before adding the shrimp? (Just trying to cover all bases here)

Nitrates are fine.

Hikari food is mostly protein, so switch to something veggie-based. I usually recommend using organic spinach that you'd keep rolled up in little balls in the freezer. Zucchini also works well. Or a shrimp-specific food that isn't loaded down with protein.

Temperature is too high for my liking. I'd try to make sure it doesn't get much higher than 72. While they'll technically be fine, these critters always do best in cooler water.

What kind of test kit do you have? Can you test for copper or other metals?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Might just be a difference in parameters from the water where they came from and your tank. Adult shrimp adjust better to a more older established tank. I would feed them less for a bit, let them eat the algae and biofilm. You stated your temp was 72 to 79, 74 would be a good target (although they can do quite well at lower temps). At the 76-79 range their metabolism seems to speed up and it can shorten their life span. If you can, have your city water tested, could be some heavy metals in there...
Thanks for the suggestions. What is the rationale for feeding less at this time? Slow growth?

yeah the only thing that could be problem is the nitrates, I would think 20 is a bit high for shrimp (I keep mine around 5ppm) but then again I know some people have that and they're shrimp are fine. Mostly likely just acclimation issues. Just keep an eye on them and if they all end up dying then its obviously something wrong with the tank. If the shrimplets are fine so far then that's a good sign because I would've thought they would be the first to go.

edit: a TDS meter is also handy when keeping shrimp, lets you know the total dissolved solids in your tank water. So with your kh and gh it should be around ~150 TDS (which should be fine for rcs, but if its much higher then you know theres something else in the water like possibly heavy metals.
Good idea, I probably should purchase a TDS monitor at this point.

How did you fishlessly cycle? What ammonia source did you use? Did you ensure the tank could clear a fixed amount of ammonia in less than 24 hours and dose that amount daily until you were ready? Did you do a 100% water change before adding the shrimp? (Just trying to cover all bases here)

Nitrates are fine.

Hikari food is mostly protein, so switch to something veggie-based. I usually recommend using organic spinach that you'd keep rolled up in little balls in the freezer. Zucchini also works well. Or a shrimp-specific food that isn't loaded down with protein.

Temperature is too high for my liking. I'd try to make sure it doesn't get much higher than 72. While they'll technically be fine, these critters always do best in cooler water.

What kind of test kit do you have? Can you test for copper or other metals?
I used Fritz Zyme Fishless Fuel as my ammonia source. I added a used filter pad from my very old 10 gallon to kickstart everything. Was able to clear ~2ppm ammonia in 24hrs when I stopped. I did not stop dosing until the day before the shrimp arrived. I did a 60% water change prior to introducing them but ensured there was not ammonia or nitrite present. Nitrate with 10-20ppm. Interesting about the food suggestion. I see it split where some people suggest reducing protein and others feed it daily. What is the reason behind going one way or the other? I have the typical API test kits. I have not tested for copper but have Amanos and snails in my other aquarium with no issue. I also have lot's of pest snails that are doing fine in this RCS scape as well.
 

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I used Fritz Zyme Fishless Fuel as my ammonia source. I added a used filter pad from my very old 10 gallon to kickstart everything. Was able to clear ~2ppm ammonia in 24hrs when I stopped. I did not stop dosing until the day before the shrimp arrived. I did a 60% water change prior to introducing them but ensured there was not ammonia or nitrite present. Nitrate with 10-20ppm. Interesting about the food suggestion. I see it split where some people suggest reducing protein and others feed it daily. What is the reason behind going one way or the other? I have the typical API test kits. I have not tested for copper but have Amanos and snails in my other aquarium with no issue. I also have lot's of pest snails that are doing fine in this RCS scape as well.
60% water change was probably okay. In the future when you set up a tank, do a full water change to make sure everything wonky is removed. Even tiny pockets of ammonia can be toxic to shrimp. Especially if it's holding out in bits of substrate or in bunches of moss/plants. I'll sometimes do two full, slow water changes on smaller tanks just to be safe - giving plants and hardscape a gentle rinse in the process.

I don't think anyone here on the forum would recommend you feed shrimp every day, let alone a protein-based food every day. Honestly don't know any experienced shrimpkeeper who'd recommend such a thing. A protein-heavy diet isn't necessary with shrimp because they get plenty of protein from microfauna and other goodies in a well-established tank. That's one of the reasons it's best to only move shrimp into tanks that have been allowed to mature for 2-3 months. Note that feeding too much protein also leads to molting problems and unexpected deaths.

I feed my tanks with hundreds/thousands of shrimp every 2-3 days and only what can be finished within an hour or two. I don't feed anything that's protein-heavy - certainly none of the commercial foods that are loaded down with protein. Also tend to alternate what I feed so they're not getting the same thing twice in a row but that's not a necessity. If I were you, I'd only feed the Hikari stuff once every 3-4 feedings or about every 9-10 days or so. I'd start trying to feed things organic spinach, kale, stinging nettle, zucchini, dried seaweed on a regular basis. Also add an Indian Almond Leaf or some kind of safe leaf litter regularly. Good for water parameters but also serves as a food source.
 

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There's a lot of people who can probably feed a protein based diet to their shrimps every day and have no issues....

However, that doesn't mean that other people wont have those issues.

I have noticed for myself, as well as some others, that when everything else seems to be in line (temp, aquarium, parameters, cycling, etc) and the shrimp are still passing away, the best thing to do is to look at food... and if algae or a vegetable isn't the #1 ingredient, then look into using other foods! Feed the algae or vegetable based food twice a week, protein food once a week.

For a new tank with very few shrimp though? You could get away with far fewer feedings!
 
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