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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background
I am having this 5 gallon tank for around 2 years, heavily planted, no CO2, inert substrate.
RCS have been thriving in there, population grew from 10 to over 70. A few fish in there too. Normally I do 20-40% weekly water change and have never missed any.

What happened
However since last week's water change, they kept dying and I can't find a way to stop that.
1st day after water change: 1-2 deaths > at this point I thought it's just individual isolated cases
2nd day: 7 deaths > noticed there is something's wrong, most shrimp are inactive, like paralyzed
I immediately did a water change of around 40-50%
3rd day
: another 1-2 deaths > from this point I started doing 10% water change everyday, rinsed the filter/ceramic rings with tank water to remove diatom/decaying matters
it has been 0-2 deaths for the next few days until today the 7th day, 7 of them has died overnight, which left me with around 40 RCS. Have done a 40% water change again.

Cannot identify any visible symptoms from most of them (apart from a few that failed to molt), no planaria, plenty of successful molts seen. Shrimps looks fine, scavenging and moving around, both adults and juvenile shrimps
Fish are all there with no noticeable problem

Water Parameters
Tank water has pretty low pH and KH, normally between 6.0-6.4 and 0-1dKH, tap water seems to be quite soft with 1-2 dKH, normally with PH 7.6 or above.
GH is around 7-9 for both tank and tap water
Unfortunately I don't have a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. But the large water changes should have removed them?

I have tried adding baking soda to raise a bit the PH and KH but it is just very temporary. So I have been slowly adding crushed corals try to buffer and stabilize the PH, however there is no noticeable change to the water, will continue to add them slowly.

Something very strange to me is that, even after 40% water change with tap water of PH 7.6 or above, the tank water is still very close to PH 6.0 and KH is 0-1dKH.

Would like to seek for advice, really want to save the remaining ones. Thank you in advance.
 

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Unfortunately I don't have a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. But the large water changes should have removed them?
Then how do you know if you're not killing your shrimp with ammonia, nitrite or nitrate? Get a good liquid test kit ASAP.

No, water changes wouldn't necessarily remove those things. Especially not if they're in your tap water.

Do you know the makeup of your tap water? Do you treat it with Prime or a similar product? Are you sure there's no copper or other metal present in the water? If you live in the city of your IP address, then I'm leaning toward it being a water supply issue.

I have tried adding baking soda to raise a bit the PH and KH but it is just very temporary. So I have been slowly adding crushed corals try to buffer and stabilize the PH, however there is no noticeable change to the water, will continue to add them slowly.
Stop trying to alter your water parameters - that could be making things worse. While your kH is low, that's something you can deal with later and slowly - not over hours or days but over weeks.

Get a test kit.

Add Prime to the tank.

Could you post a photo of the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Then how do you know if you're not killing your shrimp with ammonia, nitrite or nitrate? Get a good liquid test kit ASAP.

No, water changes wouldn't necessarily remove those things. Especially not if they're in your tap water.

Do you know the makeup of your tap water? Do you treat it with Prime or a similar product? Are you sure there's no copper or other metal present in the water? If you live in the city of your IP address, then I'm leaning toward it being a water supply issue.



Stop trying to alter your water parameters - that could be making things worse. While your kH is low, that's something you can deal with later and slowly - not over hours or days but over weeks.

Get a test kit.

Add Prime to the tank.

Could you post a photo of the tank?
Thanks. Will get a test kit for Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and stop trying to alter the water parameters

I always treat tap water with Prime before I add it to the tank. Yes I am living in Hong Kong, there is only one single water supply here managed by the government. From them, tap water should contain ≤ 2000 µg/L of Copper.

If there is a problem with the tap water, what will be the mitigation?

This was taken in Nov.
Plant Plant community Window Terrestrial plant Vegetation
 

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If there is a problem with the tap water, what will be the mitigation?
It's really tough to say, as that will depend upon parameters.

Worst case scenario would be using a filter system - RO/DI - which are usually about $100US for something decent. But you'll likely have access to cheaper systems because you're in Asia and specifically in a city with tons of great shops.

Do you know if your water supply uses chloramines? If they're in high enough concentration, you could need to use more Prime than usual. Really tough to say until you test a bit more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's really tough to say, as that will depend upon parameters.

Worst case scenario would be using a filter system - RO/DI - which are usually about $100US for something decent. But you'll likely have access to cheaper systems because you're in Asia and specifically in a city with tons of great shops.

Do you know if your water supply uses chloramines? If they're in high enough concentration, you could need to use more Prime than usual. Really tough to say until you test a bit more.
Thank you, I will check the tap water out. Good news is there is no deaths in the past 20 hours (at least I didn't see any dead bodies). Better not change anything before I check out the tap water?
 

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Thank you, I will check the tap water out. Good news is there is no deaths in the past 20 hours (at least I didn't see any dead bodies). Better not change anything before I check out the tap water?
I wouldn't change anything until I tested so there's a better level of understanding. May never find out but it's 100% worth trying. Sometimes the challenge is part of the fun.

This particular setback aside - have you ever considered getting some kind of RO/DI filter system? Or just buying water from a local shop? They're useful for a lot more than just planted tanking or reefkeeping. I use mine for house plants, making super-clear ice cubes, top-offs, mixing household cleaning solutions, essential oil diffusers (for the air freshening aroma aspect, not pseudoscience) - all kinds of stuff. It's a lifesaver when there's a problem with the local water supply or when there's uncertainty.

Since you have a small tank, I bet you wouldn't have to buy replacement filters for several years. I make a ton of RO/DI water and still only have to replace filters once every 18 months or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I wouldn't change anything until I tested so there's a better level of understanding. May never find out but it's 100% worth trying. Sometimes the challenge is part of the fun.

This particular setback aside - have you ever considered getting some kind of RO/DI filter system? Or just buying water from a local shop? They're useful for a lot more than just planted tanking or reefkeeping. I use mine for house plants, making super-clear ice cubes, top-offs, mixing household cleaning solutions, essential oil diffusers (for the air freshening aroma aspect, not pseudoscience) - all kinds of stuff. It's a lifesaver when there's a problem with the local water supply or when there's uncertainty.

Since you have a small tank, I bet you wouldn't have to buy replacement filters for several years. I make a ton of RO/DI water and still only have to replace filters once every 18 months or so.
Thank you I will consider about RO water.

I ended up buying a new filter to replace my old HOB filter, it was over 2 years old and the water flow is slow even after I cleaned the motor. Before replacing it I tested the water with Ammonia test trip (as multiple shops told me ammonia liquid test kit is no longer allowed for import), Ammonia was zero both tap water and tank water.

Good news is it has been 9 days now I haven't noticed any deaths after replacing my HOB filter (of course using the old ceramic rings). No deaths after regular weekly water change too. PH of the water rose quite a lot to around 7.0 and KH is 2, luckily the change is slow enough for most of them to adapt. So maybe the filtration was not strong enough and there was decaying matter in the tank/filter, which makes the PH low and consumed all the buffering capacity.
 

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Good news is it has been 9 days now I haven't noticed any deaths after replacing my HOB filter
That's great news.

It's entirely possible your old filter was to blame - sometimes connections break down and metals seep out into your system. We don't usually think about it much in the hobby but it's a possibility.
 
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