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Hi there, just joined this forum as I'm relatively new to shrimp keeping and I'm having an issue that has me stumped. For context I have a dedicated tank (5 gallon) just for some bloody mary neo caridinas. But over the last few weeks since I got them, they have been dying one by one and I find them literally in pieces (I've attached photos as reference).

I have no other fish in the tank except some tiny snails and I cannot see any form of parasites (not even a single scud) in the tank. I've estimated I lost around 10 of them so far.

Here are my water parameters: FYI I use RO water with Shrimp King mineral salts , I only top off water when needed and have avoided water changes for now as the TDS is stable at 180PPM

  • TDS 180
  • PH 6.5-6.6
  • GH 6
  • KH 1-2

  • Zero ammonia, zero nitrites and zero nitrates
  • Temperature is steady at 21 degree C (room temp with no heater)
  • I have a sponge filter and a eheim compact filter that has a net so that shrimp don't get sucked in.
  • For a small tank its very heavily planted with driftwood and lots of moss and plants

I think the PH maybe a little soft for a neo caridina but I cant imagine its lethal? I can only assume its molting gone wrong (which is why they're in pieces). If the water is so bad I thought that they'd die en masse? But it's always been just one at a time, max 2. I even have one female that is berried and I'm extremely anxious that something is going to happen to her.

Any help or insight would be helpful as I cannot diagnose what the problem is.

Thank you!

Water Underwater Organism Fish Aquatic plant
Plant Flower Terrestrial plant Pink Finger
Plant Leaf Botany Vegetation Terrestrial plant
 

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Your shrimp appear to be dying due to molting issues.

What do you feed? How much? How often?

A good rule of thumb: Feed only what your shrimp can finish in about an hour. Remove leftovers. Feed them every 2-3 days, not daily. Organic spinach, kale, zucchini, leaf litter (dried oak leaves, catappa, et al), shrimp-specific foods. If you feed a protein-heavy diet, they can have molting issues. So try not to overfeed on the animal protein.

They can also have molting issues when water parameters aren't great for them. In this case...

  • GH 6
  • KH 1-2
Neocaridina shrimp do best with higher gH than that. kH of 1-2 is fine, though I'd probably try bumping it up to 3-4 over time with your water changes. But gH should be higher. I'd aim for about 10. Just start doing your water changes with those new parameters and your tank's parameters will shift over the course of a few weeks.

I think the PH maybe a little soft for a neo caridina but I cant imagine its lethal?
In this case, hardness is more important - both kH and gH. You can essentially ignore pH for this tank unless you're having other issues (like an ammonia spike.)

How did you cycle your tank? How long did it take?

How do you have zero nitrates? Are you dosing any for your plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited by Moderator)
Your shrimp appear to be dying due to molting issues.

What do you feed? How much? How often?

A good rule of thumb: Feed only what your shrimp can finish in about an hour. Remove leftovers. Feed them every 2-3 days, not daily. Organic spinach, kale, zucchini, leaf litter (dried oak leaves, catappa, et al), shrimp-specific foods. If you feed a protein-heavy diet, they can have molting issues. So try not to overfeed on the animal protein.

I admit I probably have been overfeeding them. I feed a combination of high quality shrimp pellets (Dennerle brand) and powder like Bacter E and mineral balls, and I have an indian almond leaf in the tank at all times. But I feed daily so you're right they could be overfed.

They can also have molting issues when water parameters aren't great for them. In this case...

Neocaridina shrimp do best with higher gH than that. kH of 1-2 is fine, though I'd probably try bumping it up to 3-4 over time with your water changes. But gH should be higher. I'd aim for about 10. Just start doing your water changes with those new parameters and your tank's parameters will shift over the course of a few weeks.

I use the shrimp salts to remineralise the RO water , I assume the more I add the higher the GH will be, bit then the PH would rise too? Just don't want it getting too high i guess. I could use things like cuttlebone etc I suppose.



In this case, hardness is more important - both kH and gH. You can essentially ignore pH for this tank unless you're having other issues (like an ammonia spike.)

How did you cycle your tank? How long did it take?

This is very well established tank (has been cycled for well over a year now) I moved its previous inhabitants (a few nano fish) to another tank so I could house the shrimp.

How do you have zero nitrates? Are you dosing any for your plants?
Very little to be honest, the plants seem to do fine without much dosing. I dose a tiny bit of shrimp safe All in one liquid fert maybe once every few weeks. The TDS is always stable at around 180TDS so i just top up the water with matching RO water when needed.
 

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Note that you need to reply beneath a post for it to be legible for others. I edited your response above to make it easier to read. You can use the quote function after highlighting specific pieces of a post that you want to respond to, as well.

For these questions, I'm not asking to be difficult. But not getting specific answers is going to leave you where you started: confused about what's occurring.

So let's go over things again... What specifically do you feed? Anything other than you listed? How much specifically? How often specifically? Daily? Almost every day? Need specifics other than the names. Feeding daily is not a good idea and using bacterial supplements are a waste of your time. If your tank is established and properly cycled, you have all the bacteria you need. But if you can tell me specifically how much of each food you feed and specifically how often for each, that will be helpful.

Cuttlebone doesn't really impact water parameters and would not help you in this instance. Have you read much about the product you're using to remineralize your water? kH is what impacts pH.

Like I explained earlier, you can essentially ignore pH for this tank. pH is the least of your worries here. Hardness is a bigger issue. Have you done much reading about how hardness and osmotic pressure impact shrimp? If not, definitely start digging and searching through the Shrimp section here.

Again... How did you cycle your tank? How long did it take? Specifics. If there was no livestock in the tank for any period of time, how did you keep the bacterial colonies alive?

Have you ever dosed any sort of medication or treatment in the tank with or without shrimp? If so, what? When? How much?

Having zero nitrates in a planted tank - even a shrimp tank - is usually not a good sign. Could you post a full tank shot or two so we can get a visual of the tank itself?
 

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If GH is the problem here and it needs to be higher, do you have a recommendation on how to do that? I have some amanos that have been doing well in my tank for a few weeks. My GH is pretty low overall, but I don't want it to become a long-term problem. Mine are molting well and I've found several molts (I guess that's what you call them?) around the tank. They are constantly feeding and zipping around the tank. They seem happy to me!
 

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If GH is the problem here and it needs to be higher, do you have a recommendation on how to do that?
Yep. Mentioned that above. You'd slowly increase it with water changes using a remineralization product or your own mineral salts.

My GH is pretty low overall
What are your parameters - kH and gH? gH may not be too low for them.

Stability is key. So if what's working for you is working now? May not be worth changing anything.
 

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Don't remember the kH and gH off the top of my head, but they were the lowest or second lowest results on the test. I am not planning on changing anything right now, but moreso trying to anticipate problems that might pop up in the future.
 

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Don't remember the kH and gH off the top of my head, but they were the lowest or second lowest results on the test. I am not planning on changing anything right now, but moreso trying to anticipate problems that might pop up in the future.
If you suspect either are on the low end, you may want to invest in a liquid kit for both. API works. Sera is a step up from there. Then there are other, fancier brands if you want to go high-end.

Avoid test strips like the plague when attempting to determine hardness. Those are usually the first things to expire/fail.
 

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Cuttlebone doesn't really impact water parameters
Oh, it definitely does, and hugely so! I once made a mistake of adding a piece of it into a small tank - KH and GH went through the roof (from just one degree to something like 12 - don't remember exactly).

I have some amanos that have been doing well in my tank for a few weeks.
I don't think that amanos are good indicators of good water hardness for neocaridinas. My amanos lived very well in GH = 1 degree. Bamboo shrimp also. But I've never ever attempted to keep neos in this water (I currently keep mine at 5 dGH and at this hardness they seem to be fine even though this is somewhat on the lower side).
 

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Oh, it definitely does
Was it already disintegrating when you added it? Or really soft? For the most part, for nearly 30 years (20 of them on this forum), I've never seen it cause much of a difference. It's typically only helpful if it's consumed. Or ground up/smashed.

I've had pieces of cuttlebone last 5-6 years in heavily populated shrimp tanks with no noticeable breakdown.
 

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No, a "fresh" one I bought in Petco or PetSmart in birds department. I was actually very surprised at the results as I was expecting a much milder effect. AFAIR I put about 1/3 of it into 2.5 gallon tank (I didn't put the whole thing because for this size of a tank even 1/3 looked huge). May be it reacts faster when it is broken? Or because the original water was very soft? Anyway, since when I always use a mix of KHCO3 + MgSO4 + CaSO4 to get exact KH and GH I want, all these "natural" additives with CaCO3 seem to be too unpredictable.
 

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No, a "fresh" one I bought in Petco or PetSmart in birds department. I was actually very surprised at the results as I was expecting a much milder effect. AFAIR I put about 1/3 of it into 2.5 gallon tank (I didn't put the whole thing because for this size of a tank even 1/3 looked huge). May be it reacts faster when it is broken? Or because the original water was very soft? Anyway, since when I always use a mix of KHCO3 + MgSO4 + CaSO4 to get exact KH and GH I want, all these "natural" additives with CaCO3 seem to be too unpredictable.
Interesting that it broke down so quickly. Any idea on the brand? Because that's definitely something I'd love to get my hands on. As if I need another reason to be in a pet store... gonna end up going to blow money on tank stuff I don't need.

On the flip side, I've had a big piece of cuttlebone in one of my Caridina tanks since just before the pandemic in late 2019. kH 0, gH 5, pH about 4.9-5, mid/high 60s F for temps. Looks roughly the same as it did when I added it, despite an inch or so being consumed by the shrimp.

When I use it in tanks with Neos, Tigers or lots of Amanos, it ends up getting consumed much faster. There's no way a large piece would last long enough to impact parameters even if it were falling apart into powder.
 

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Is your tank open, or did you bring any new plants into it?

If yes, just for being on the safe side, you might want to shine with a flashlight into your tank in the middle of the night...
Check if you can maybe find a dragonfly larvae. (Open tank would only be relevant, if there are any dragonflies alive in your area at the moment)

They can hide extremely well and the bigger ones will easily eat a fully grown shrimp. They also leave bits of the shrimp laying around.
They are mostly active at night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Note that you need to reply beneath a post for it to be legible for others. I edited your response above to make it easier to read. You can use the quote function after highlighting specific pieces of a post that you want to respond to, as well.
Apologies for the crappy formatting still getting to grips with the formatting. :oops:

For these questions, I'm not asking to be difficult. But not getting specific answers is going to leave you where you started: confused about what's occurring.
Yep completely understandable, will try to be more specific

So let's go over things again... What specifically do you feed? Anything other than you listed? How much specifically? How often specifically? Daily? Almost every day? Need specifics other than the names.
At the moment I was feeding the the following:
Daily I would either throw half a shrimp pellet/stick OR 1/3 of a mineral stick (after half a day I remove the uneaten bits) OR I feed some bacter powder (size of a small rice grain). So its alternating between those 3 types of foods essentially


Cuttlebone doesn't really impact water parameters and would not help you in this instance. Have you read much about the product you're using to remineralize your water? kH is what impacts pH.
The shrimp salts I use are specifically designed for neo caridinas apparently and I put enough into my RO water to get the TDS to around 170 which gives it a GH of around 6-7 and KH of 1-2 (I realise this doesnt create much buffer for any PH swings)

Like I explained earlier, you can essentially ignore pH for this tank. pH is the least of your worries here. Hardness is a bigger issue. Have you done much reading about how hardness and osmotic pressure impact shrimp? If not, definitely start digging and searching through the Shrimp section here.
I know only some basic around this, but will def research more on this area because I feel this could be a factor for sure.

Again... How did you cycle your tank? How long did it take? Specifics. If there was no livestock in the tank for any period of time, how did you keep the bacterial colonies alive?
It was cycled around 12 months ago, just cycled it the way my other fish tanks , no fish, heavily planted until ammonia and nitrite was zero and nitrate was also zero (took me around 6-7 weeks from memory. Since then its always been stocked with some nano fish. But before I placed the shrimp in I changed the water from tap to RO water. I let that sit for around 1 week and tested all parameters again (ammonia zero, nitrite and nitrate zero) before I placed the shrimp in. The shrimp were drop acclimatised for 2 hours before going into the tank. Its a shrimp only tank by the way, maybe a few small snails.

Have you ever dosed any sort of medication or treatment in the tank with or without shrimp? If so, what? When? How much?
No medication. But I do dose it with a small amount of shrimp safe liquid ferts once every fortnight or so

Having zero nitrates in a planted tank - even a shrimp tank - is usually not a good sign. Could you post a full tank shot or two so we can get a visual of the tank itself?
I'm curious why thats not a good sign? Seeing as my tank is quite heavily planted for a very small tank, I assumed the plants were the ones taking all the excess nitrates? I've attached some photos of my tank for reference.

Thanks for taking time to try and help, much appreciated 🙂
 

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Is your tank open, or did you bring any new plants into it?

If yes, just for being on the safe side, you might want to shine with a flashlight into your tank in the middle of the night...
Check if you can maybe find a dragonfly larvae. (Open tank would only be relevant, if there are any dragonflies alive in your area at the moment)

They can hide extremely well and the bigger ones will easily eat a fully grown shrimp. They also leave bits of the shrimp laying around.
They are mostly active at night.
Yeah one of the guys at my LFS suggested a predator on the loose as well (and yes its an open tank).....I did look at night with a light but it doesnt help my tank is quite dense with plants, theres so many hiding places I might have missed it. But I live inside an apartment in the middle of a city, be unusual for a dragonfly to have gotten inside.
 

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At the moment I was feeding the the following:
Daily I would either throw half a shrimp pellet/stick OR 1/3 of a mineral stick (after half a day I remove the uneaten bits) OR I feed some bacter powder (size of a small rice grain). So its alternating between those 3 types of foods essentially
I wouldn't use the bacter powder (it doesn't help your tank at all) at all and just stick to regular foods and veggies. But feed every 2-3 days instead of daily.

The shrimp salts I use are specifically designed for neo caridinas apparently and I put enough into my RO water to get the TDS to around 170 which gives it a GH of around 6-7 and KH of 1-2 (I realise this doesnt create much buffer for any PH swings)
If I were you, I'd try to bump the gH up to 10-12 (at the very least, bump it up to 8-9.) Just mix the water change water to have the parameters you desire for your tank and slowly, over the course of a month or so, your gH and kH will increase in the tank. To make it easy, you could probably just mix up some water change water to 200 TDS and then test to see what the kH and gH are. I'm guessing 200-220 may be the sweet spot and it won't use up too much more of the salts you have.

I'm curious why thats not a good sign?
When there are no nitrates, that can sometimes mean a tank isn't yet cycled because there's no conversion of ammonia/ammonium into nitrite and then nitrate. But that's clearly not the case in your tank - based on photos alone.

Seeing as my tank is quite heavily planted for a very small tank, I assumed the plants were the ones taking all the excess nitrates? I've attached some photos of my tank for reference.
Now that you've shared photos, it's clear that's likely what is occurring. The floating plants alone would make quick work of even a moderate amount of any sort of waste or fertilizer.

But I live inside an apartment in the middle of a city, be unusual for a dragonfly to have gotten inside.
Weirdly, I've only ever had dragonfly nymph problems in my tanks and balcony container pond in the middle of a city (a million or so people) - never when living in more suburban or rural areas. Unusual, yes. But unfortunately possible.

It's also possible that there's a scud or scuds (Gammarus) in the tank. They're sometimes smaller than adult Neocaridina shrimp and will hunt them down. So check for those as well.
 

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Yeah one of the guys at my LFS suggested a predator on the loose as well (and yes its an open tank).....I did look at night with a light but it doesnt help my tank is quite dense with plants, theres so many hiding places I might have missed it. But I live inside an apartment in the middle of a city, be unusual for a dragonfly to have gotten inside.
Heyo,

hard to spot and can be brought in with plants you bought. I've seen one in my tank and it took me 3 weeks to spot it again and successfully remove it.
And I've only spotted it because it happened to move while I was looking at exactly that spot. Doesn't help that they can have any shade of brown and/or green.
 

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If I were you, I'd try to bump the gH up to 10-12 (at the very least, bump it up to 8-9.) Just mix the water change water to have the parameters you desire for your tank and slowly, over the course of a month or so, your gH and kH will increase in the tank. To make it easy, you could probably just mix up some water change water to 200 TDS and then test to see what the kH and gH are. I'm guessing 200-220 may be the sweet spot and it won't use up too much more of the salts you have.
Ok I'll try this, I have around 10GH for my mystery snails, I didnt realise neos could take GH that high? But I guess it makes sense regarding molting issues (which is still my prime suspect for the deaths)

It's also possible that there's a scud or scuds (Gammarus) in the tank. They're sometimes smaller than adult Neocaridina shrimp and will hunt them down. So check for those as well.
Yep will go scud hunting, see if I can find any of them.

@somewhatshocked One more thought I had regarding RO water, I realise the shrimp all came from LFS that kept them in tap water...and possibly bred in tap water too. The fact that I'm forcing them to acclimatise to my RO water (with the shrimp salts), would that cause shock and force them into bad molts and therefore death??
 

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Ok I'll try this, I have around 10GH for my mystery snails, I didnt realise neos could take GH that high? But I guess it makes sense regarding molting issues (which is still my prime suspect for the deaths)
10 would be great for Neos. They'll do exceptionally well in the same kind of parameters you aim for with Mystery Snails and other Pomacea snails.

The fact that I'm forcing them to acclimatise to my RO water (with the shrimp salts), would that cause shock and force them into bad molts and therefore death??
Since your water (in their tank) is likely softer than the water they were in at the LFS, that will definitely have an impact on them when it comes to molting. Younger shrimp do better than older adults when it comes to adapting. I usually aim for really young juveniles when I'm trying to adjust them to greatly different parameters.

Once you get your parameters where you want them and things stabilize, you'll quickly have gobs of new shrimp. Doesn't take long for them to adapt and new generations will be stronger and stronger.
 
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