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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all. New here and to shrimp. I'd love a little advice from those more knowledgeable.

I have a small 5.5 gal planted aquarium. After it was up and running for about 3 weeks, I added 6 cherry shrimp from the LFS. They've been in there for about a month now, and today I had my first death.

Yesterday it was acting very erratically, would dart around, sink to the bottom, run into things, etc. Today I found it dead. I pulled it out to inspect and noticed what I think was the "white ring of death".

I only have dip strip tests (except for pH, I do have the liquid test for that). I have both the API ones and the ones from Aquarium Coop... got both to test them out and see how close the readings are, so far they seem pretty similar.

Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates all register 0.
pH is 7.
GH is around 150 and KH is around 40.
I use Prime to treat the water and feed them a small chunk of Dennerle "Shrimp King Complete" about once every 2-3 days. Temp stays between 68-70 degrees.

The other shrimp all seem to be acting fine. They've molted a couple of times since I've gotten them, there are actually two fresh molts in the tank now. Not sure what went wrong with this one.

I did a large-ish water change on Sunday, about 25%. Normally I do smaller ones (I try and do a small one every Sunday). I'm wondering if a larger change than what they are used to caused issues. I feel bad and would hate to lose more since I have so few to begin with.
 

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Just for reference, the most common measurement for hardness is in degrees. You've got a gH of about 8.4 and kH of about 2.2. Those are acceptable parameters for Neos.

That food is a little heavy on protein but I don't think it would cause molting issues on its own. You may want to add some variety to their diet with something like organic spinach. That'll add some calcium. I usually roll up a fresh spinach leaf (or tear it into smaller pieces to roll it up) into a ball and freeze it. That'll cause the cell walls to break down and it'll be easier to feed to shrimp because it'll sink easier. No need to thaw.

Could also consider adding a dried Indian Almond leaf to your tank.

I bet they didn't have a great diet when you got them and there's nothing to worry about. But if this continues to occur, then I'd start to worry.

In the interim, I'd try to pick up a liquid test kit if I were you. Makes life a heck of a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. I'll get a liquid test kit to better monitor and try the spinach. Are the pellet foods not good as a staple? I know fresh anything is usually better, but I assumed the algae/biofilm was their main diet. Honestly I wasn't sure if I even should be supplementing food, but I was so scared of them starving since its still a new tank.

Here's a picture. The one that died is on the lower part of the rock. It was the largest/prettiest one of the bunch. Such a shame.
1031465
 

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Thank you. I'll get a liquid test kit to better monitor and try the spinach. Are the pellet foods not good as a staple? I know fresh anything is usually better, but I assumed the algae/biofilm was their main diet. Honestly I wasn't sure if I even should be supplementing food, but I was so scared of them starving since its still a new tank.

Here's a picture. The one that died is on the lower part of the rock. It was the largest/prettiest one of the bunch. Such a shame.
View attachment 1031465
Shrimp foods like that are fine but I've found, after about 30 years of experience, that rotating foods and offering a varied diet works out best. I rarely feed the same food two times in a row.

In a well-established tank, I feed about every 2-3 days and only what my shrimp and snails can finish in an hour or two, removing leftovers. Maybe every 2 days in a newer tank. One week I feed something from my food line, the next spinach, the next a piece of zucchini, the next a stinging nettle leaf, prepared food, spinach, a pinch of fish food, you catch the drift. Doesn't have to be expensive, either. Just keep things varied.

Those shrimp look like they're fully grown adults. Some even have stripes down their back, I think? That leads me to believe the one that died could have been nearing the end of its natural life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Shrimp foods like that are fine but I've found, after about 30 years of experience, that rotating foods and offering a varied diet works out best. I rarely feed the same food two times in a row.

In a well-established tank, I feed about every 2-3 days and only what my shrimp and snails can finish in an hour or two, removing leftovers. Maybe every 2 days in a newer tank. One week I feed something from my food line, the next spinach, the next a piece of zucchini, the next a stinging nettle leaf, prepared food, spinach, a pinch of fish food, you catch the drift. Doesn't have to be expensive, either. Just keep things varied.

Those shrimp look like they're fully grown adults. Some even have stripes down their back, I think? That leads me to believe the one that died could have been nearing the end of its natural life.
Appreciate you sharing that experience with me.

Very interesting about the stripe. Yes, the one that died had a very prominent pale stripe on its back. I googled this when I first got them because it was so strange looking, but most of the results seemed to indicated it was just a thing that happened sometimes, like a marking. If its related to age, that's reassuring. Hopefully the shrimp lived out most if not all of its life expectancy.

Have you tested your source water parameters?


What substrate?
Yes, the source water is very hard, and around 8.4 pH. GH/KH seem close to the same but I'll need to test with a better kit once I get it.

Substrate is Aquasolum and some crushed oyster shell on the surface.
 

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Okay, so the substrate you have is active substrate. I'm not sure how good the stuff is, however you should not be using tap water with it as that can cause unstable parameters. Each time you do a water change you are causing instability in the tank.

This, in turn, can cause stress to the shrimp.


You can either exhaust the substrate by adding KH into the tank and not allowing it to lower the pH (your pH will rise in time) OR or you can swap out the substrate for inert substrate.
 

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The parameter swings aren't instantaneous with buffering/active substrates. Especially when using oyster shells and rock like that. Generally happens over a few hours. So using tap water is okay with them (Neos.) I've run shrimp tanks like this for literally decades. Not ideal but definitely doable. It helps that the substrate you're using doesn't do much on the buffering front.

Buffering substrates were developed in Asia specifically for situations like this. Water was marginally hard, so they wanted more stable, acidic-ish water (more ideal for shrimp and plants that were popular) parameters. Along with some nutrients for plants. RO/DI systems weren't ubiquitous and weren't (still aren't) always available. So this was the solution.

Plenty of people have kept shrimp tanks like this - it's not just me. Tom Barr, thousands of people here on the forum, German shrimpers, some of the prominent exporters.

As long as you keep things stable and only do water changes of 10-25%, you'll be fine. No need to switch water or change out your substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Interesting. I guess I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to risk the shrimp, but if I can keep the substrate I'd like to. The plants are growing really well in it, the crypts especially seem to be very happy and put off new leaves regularly. Do most people who use soil/active substrates have to use RO?

The liquid test kit is here, the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates are still at 0. I honestly have a hard time reading the liquid pH test, all the blues look very similar to me. I'm pretty sure its still around 7, but tested on the high pH kit too just in case. It was the lightest color it could be, so I'm guess around 7 is right.

GH was 8 which sounds right, but the KH was 5. Higher than the strips seem to indicate. Is that an issue? The strip still shows the same result so I don't think anything changed. A google search seems to indicate that 5 is on the high end of ideal but not impossible for cherry shrimp.
 

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That kH and gH are fine for Neos.

If it were me, I'd leave the substrate intact and just keep doing what you're doing. Stability is key. The substrate you've got doesn't do much anyway, so you don't have a lot to worry about.

Most people (today) use RO/DI water remineralized with mineral salts to raise gH when they're using buffering substrates for shrimp tanks. Most don't use kH because they're typically keeping Caridina shrimp (kH 0, gH 5 or so.) But in a lot of cases, people use buffering substrates because they're nutrient-rich and grow plants really well. You'll note that on a lot of buffering/active substrate packaging, they'll mention that the soils tend to lower pH and water hardness (by absorbing kH.) The Seachem product you're using doesn't have a great buffering capacity, though, so it's not doing much of that in your tank. And in your case, that's not a bad thing.
 

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Yes, many people who use active substrates use RO water and GH minerals. No KH in the tank means that the substrate lasts longer and allows the tank to have a lower pH. The tank I have is running at 5.5 pH last I checked.


Some people who have used tap water and active substrate with Neos have found that it helps switching out the substrate to something inactive. Others have no issues. I do feel like I may see more people with issues using tap and active than those without, though.



As far as test kits go, I've heard that other ones are easier to read... although I'm not sure if Sera or Nutrafin are easiest for those who struggle to see colors or shades.
 

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In this case, I think the substrate is pretty much exhausted in terms of buffering capacity, so there's not much to worry about.

I'm not sure if Sera or Nutrafin are easiest for those who struggle to see colors or shades.
Good thing to bring up!

For me, I've found Sera to be most accurate when dealing with lower pH tanks like we tend to have when keeping shrimp. When viewed over the included chart in a well-lit space, it's really easy to read. Colors are wide ranging and precise. Also not much more expensive than an API pH kit. It's been my hands-down favorite for at least a decade. I also prefer Sera for gH and kH but they're sometimes difficult to source in the US.

Nutrafin is reliable but I've never had it be super-accurate below 6.5. LaMotte is good but crazy expensive. Salifert is also good but not as easy to read as the other three.

I've got some photos posted of the Sera kit elsewhere on the forum and I'll update here once I find them.

Update - found a photo:



As you can see, there's no real ambiguity when it comes to color. And there's quite a wide range from a single kit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the tip, I'll pick up the Sera kit and see if I have and easier time with it.

Its possible there has been another loss. Over the last day or two I've only seen 4 shrimp when there should be 5 remaining. I haven't found a body and most of them look nearly identical... there are also lots of hiding places so maybe they are just tucked away somewhere.

Tried giving them the spinach but after a whole day of being in there only the snails were interested. I also tried a boiled carrot, but they also ignored that (the snails are very well fed now, though). I added a catappa leaf yesterday. Edit to clarify: I removed the spinach and carrot after the shrimp showed no interest so they aren't polluting the tank.
 

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If your shrimp aren't eating, they aren't hungry. Which means they've got plenty of other tasty stuff to eat in the tank. So that could be a good sign.

Shrimp are notorious for disappearing/hiding. In some of my tanks, I think I've got a hundred or so shrimp. Then I tear them down or rescape or something and net out hundreds more than I thought I had. Never fails.

They tend to hide most after a molt and when they're carrying eggs/berried. Sometimes you'll never see a berried shrimp because they remain in hiding. Then one day you notice a bunch of little mini shrimp zooming around.
 
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