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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The set-up. 3.5 gallon tank. Gravel substrate. An artificial plant, an artificial cave type decor, an artificial log w/ a plant, and a couple of small live floating plants provided by the local fish/shrimp shop, specific for the shrimps. Also, some decaying leaves at the bottom and one large almond leaf. Sounds like it takes a bit of space, but there is plenty of room and hiding spots. The tank has been set-up and cycled for 4.5 weeks. I had originally planned a betta tank and some how ended up w/ shrimp. And I know my first mistake was lack of enough research and inexperience, but I can’t go back now. A couple of weeks ago, I started w/ 5 green babaulti shrimp, 5 blue dream shrimp (although one is black w/ red eyes. ‍♀) I slowly acclimated them to my tank. And within days I lost 3 of the blue dream shrimp (although I am not convinced one was never in there because never saw it or its body. I am certain it was in the bag though. And about a week later a couple of the babaulti shrimp. They seemed to die after molts... I got some API test strips. Other than the water appearing quite hard, the PH was neutral and no nitrates or nitrites. So I assumed the water was okay... then I talked to the fish/shrimp guy and he was basically like the test strips are worthless you have to have kits and a tds meter. Also, please note I have been doing 10% water changes weekly, using imaginarium aquarium water from petco, which is what I also started the tank with. Anyway, I get the freshwater test kit on Friday and this is what I found. PH 7.6-8.0, Ammonia somewhere between .5-1.0, and no nitrates or nitrites. So, I talk to another local Shrimp guy, and he asked how much I was feeding them. And I said 3-5 times a week, 1-2 hrs and removed what they didn’t finish. He stated that he only feeds his twice a week and I should do a 20% water change by doing a gravel vac on Saturday, even though I had just done my regular water change on Wednesday. So, I did so and in the meantime got the rest of my testing supplies today. And this is where I need help. The water change did nothing for the ammonia... and the water seems pretty hard. Oh, also, the aquarium came with a built in carbon filter system. Here are my readings as of tonight. PH 7.6-7.8, Ammonia 1.0, Nitrate 2.5ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, KH 15, GH 25, TDS 493 , Temp 74.6. The 3 remaining babaulti shrimp, 1 blue shrimp, and the strange black shrimp all seem to be doing fine... and at least a couple have had successful molts that I am aware of. No more deaths sense the initial ones... and I don’t want to lose these. How the heck do I fix these water problems in a safe and efficient way w/o losing my remaining shrimp. Thanks for your advice. Clearly, I am new and trying hard to learn quickly. And as a random aside, I haven’t fed the Shrimp since Friday... but they have the decaying leaves and plants that I’ve observed them eating on.
 

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What brand of gravel? What color?

I've never heard of anyone using the water from Petco for shrimp... Can you either... cut it with RO water or distilled? Or swap to using one of those and adding minerals back in?

Ammonia should be at 0.... as well as nitrites. Did you test the water straight out of the bottle?

With a tank that small and very few shrimp, you technically shouldn't need to feed at all as long as the tank is well cycled. That said, would recommend a 5 gallon, or better yet, 10 gallon tank minimum as it means more stable parameters. 10% one to four times a month is honestly fine.


Might want to consider dosing Seachem Prime until you can fix the water issues.
 

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Ammonia = 1 = not cycled.
As zoid said, dose Prime to treat ammonia, and get some bacteria in a bottle like Seachem Stability or Tetra Safestart or Dr Tim's One and Only, or some other brand.
Get some kind of filter that has large surface area to house these bacteria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank-you both for your kind and prompt replies. To answer your questions: GloFish aquarium gravel. Honestly, it looks like basic gravel, just black with random, green, blue, and yellow pieces mixed in. Re: the water. I can use distilled for my 10% change tomorrow. What do I need to do to remineralize it? Although, as hard as the water is currently, would I need to do that this time? Unfortunately, I did not test the imagitarium water from petco, it supposedly does not have ammonia, but I am reading where some folks are saying it is super hard. I now know for the future to test water like that. How much of the prime should I dose and how often? It is a 3.5 gallon aquarium.

Re: the bacteria in a bottle. Should I buy a replacement filter for my aquarium and use that to house the bacteria? Where should I keep it while the bacteria is growing? Sorry for my ignorant questions, but I really appreciate the help.

The Shrimp I have are still doing okay and I want to make it better for them as I am attached, and they are clearly survivors.
 

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I'm not sure if the gravel is the issue, but me, personally? I'd ditch it! It might be fine, and you probably want to fix your water parameters first... but if you are still having issues even after fixing the parameters? Ditch the gravel then at least.. and get some type of inert sand to replace it with, or natural gravel. There's something that shrimp don't like about painted rocks... but I only know for sure that it's Petco colored gravel. Other brands haven't been an issue, to my knowledge.

Dose amount of Prime that the bottle calls for. It's a really tiny amount required.

If you use distilled and drip the water back in slowly, it should be fine. You can use Equilibrium and Baking Soda... or get shrimp specific minerals and raise it that way... or any GH + KH minerals.

Ideally, you want the GH to be 6-10, but 15-20 might be acceptable. I wouldn't recommend such high GH if you don't need it.


The bacteria in a bottle, if you choose to use it, would be dosed straight into the tank, with the filter running. Read directions! Usually want to dose x=amount of times in the beginning, then with every water change. Usually found on the shelf but some stores may have some that stays in the fridge. Might have directions to store in fridge once opened?
 

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I have had issues with Glofish gravel (black with random neon pieces) and the paint coming off of the gravel. I'm not saying this is an issue you are facing, but it might possibly be contributing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good to know regarding the gravel! I will work on that once I get the water under control. I decided to test my tap water, the KH is 4, GH is 7, w/ TDS of 137ppm and the PH of 7.4-7.6 is similar to my tanks current PH. I wonder if it would be better to do a 10-15% water change w/ my tap water instead of the distilled. My thoughts are to prepare the amount I need and dose it w/ 4-5 drops of Prime (I believe if I did the math correctly, that is for 1ppm of ammonia, which is where the tank is consistently testing). My understanding is that the Prime should also dechlorinate the tap water, so I shouldn’t have to use Stress Coat as well, correct? Then let the treated water sit for a few hours to get to room temperature before adding it to the tank. I also have a way to drip the water into the tank to make it less stressful for the Shrimp. Would this be a better method to both approach the water hardness problem and the ammonia as well as dechlorinate the tap water?

Secondarily, re: the bacteria in a bottle. Are you suggesting I replace my current carbon filter with a new one and instead of seeding it with the old one, use this method? I just want to make sure I understand so I do it correctly.
 

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Prime should theoretically be all that you need if using tap. Be sure you know your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in tap.

If you slowly drip the water back in, you don't need to let it get to room temp.



You don't need to do anything with your filter if you want to try using bacteria in a bottle. The bacteria can be used even with a fully mature tank with no issues. You don't HAVE to use it. You can use old filter media that is cycled to jumpstart a new tank.

@beanbag mentiond using bacterial in a bottle because it appears your tank is not cycled, so using such a product may help to jumpstart the cycle of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Please know I truly appreciate all of your help. I think I am beginning to figure this out, I feel I at least have a plan... I checked the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in my tap. They are as follows: Ammonia appears between .25-.50ppm, Nitrates is 5.0ppm, and Nitrites 0ppm. Would my aforementioned plan regarding using 4-5 drops of Prime to dose the tap still aid in Ammonia removal in the tank as well as what apparently is already in the tap water? Or should I dose differently based on this information?

At this point the tank has been up and running, since March 12th, but since based on what I am hearing from y'all it appears to still be cycling, I am completely up for trying that as well and just adding it to the tank with my current filter media. From the research, I've done it appears Tetra Safestart+ might be the best option for a tank that has started the cycling process, but hasn't completed it. Thoughts?

Again, thank-you so much.
 

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Prime dosage is 1 mL for every 10 gallons so a few drops may be fine for a small amount.

Ideally though, you want to use water with 0 ammonia and nitrites with low to zero nitrates.


I would recommend using RO water or distilled and adding minerals back into it... a popular one is Salty Shrimp but you could get any other brand. You want both GH an KH. I would recommend a TDS meter as well. Get the water to your preferred GH and KH levels, then get a TDS reading. As long as your reader is calibrated, you can remineralize to that amount each time. Alternatively, you could use a minute gram scale that weighs in the tenths...


Tetra Safestart is one of the leading suggestions.


Your tank MIGHT be cycled, but if the water you are adding into the tank has ammonia, that could be why you are seeing ammonia still in the tank.. especially after each water change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So. I didn’t see your post until after I did my 10% change with Prime dosed tap water last night. Please note that I was originally using the Imagitarium Aquarium Water from petco for the set-up and subsequent changes until last night. Supposedly, that water is supposed to be ammonia free, but I can not confirm that as I never tested it. I retested the ammonia and nitrate levels in my tap this morning, just to verify. There are no Nitrates, but it still contains ammonia. I tested everything again this morning in the aquarium about 10 hours after the water change with the Prime dosed tap water and the tank parameters remain stable or minimal changes. KH 13, GH 26, Ammonia 1.0ppm, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, Ph 7.6-7.8, temp 72.5, and TDS still high, but slightly lower at 476ppm. The 5 shrimp (3 babaultis, 2 neos) in the tank all appear to behaving normally and molting successfully. They’ve been in there for at least 3 weeks if not longer.

I can do the next water change on Tuesday, with distilled water, although I am wondering as hard as the water currently is, would I need to remineralize it at this point if I only do a 10% change and drip it in? I understand I’d need to remineralize it once I reach appropriate hardness levels.

also, based on the consistent 1.0ppm ammonia w/ no nitrates and nitrites, even after dosing it w/ Prime during last night’s water change, I believe that y’all’s thoughts that it may not have finished cycling in 5 weeks is a good theory, and it wouldn’t be bad to add tetra safe start at this point? I am just worried about destabilizing the conditions for the current shrimp too much...
 

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If you are bringing down the parameters, then no, you don't need to remineralizer the distilled initially if you don't want to. You can, however it would mean it would take a bit longer for it to get to more 'acceptable' parameters.

Prime doesn't REMOVE ammonia, it only makes it harmless for 24-48 hours.

Adding Safestart shouldn't harm the tank or shrimp.
 
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