Could My Substrate Be The Root Of Problems?

Craig Goddard

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I have a well planted 27lt tank. It has a compartment at the back with 4 divisions, 1 has a fine sponge to catch fry at the inlet. The second has my heater, third Matrix and noodles with 2 sponges. 4th my pump and outlet to tank.

In the tank are plants (frogbit, Anubia, Moss, Java fern, and bacopa) wood and stones. My substrate is small 2mm to 4mm beads so quite large particles which do not hold rooted plants well due to size but a bit of dwarf sag resides.

Parameters, 0,0, 40. Nitrates just seem to creep up regardless of loads of plants. I thought maybe due to detritus in the substrate. Although it has been lots lower.

My problem is that I loose a shrimp or two for a day or so after a water change. Have done for ages, god knows how much spent. No shrimplets ever. Just sometimes ok then have to do a change due to nitrates and some die. Tried water as same gh/kh. Vacuum, no vacuum, 1lt change to minimise possible parameter change, 10lt. Do get quite a build up in the substrate so feel a vac is necessary and get loads of gunk if go deep. Try to do small areas each time rather than whole lot. Could anyone help with what I’m doing wrong (?) or would a substrate change be a good plan? It’s the only real thing I have left....

Thanks in advance

I do changes with kh 4, gh 8 water. Tank is kh 6, gh 10 currently.
 

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richie.p

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Hi Craig and welcome 40ppm nitrates will kill shrimp, the chances are you've had young and siphoned them out by doing deep vac, can you clarify how often and how much water change you change at a time
 

kallililly1973

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Could you do a water change with a turkey baster and a bucket so u can focus on the waste and avoid a quick suction with a water changer. It's more time consuming but you may be able to save some shrimplets and have a nice colony eventually. just a suggestion
 

smee82

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Im mot sure how true it is but i read somewhere a theory that water changes could induce shrimp to molt which could cause problems if theyre not ready.

I would just change a cup a day in my shrimp only tank.
 

kallililly1973

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I'll step back and let the shrimp pros give you the correct advice and suggestions and i'll watch from the balcony
 

Dolfan

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I would work on the nitrates, 40ppm is pretty high. What does your water test at prior to adding to tank? It sounds like you may have nitrates in your tap water.

As for substrate, how many inches deep is it? 2 inches is plenty, much more can contribute to pockets of nitrate building up and then being released into the water. I would start with a really good, thorough gravel vac, getting all of that gunk out you can. Some Malaysian Trumpet Snails may help as well, as they dig around in the substrate, cleaning things up a bit and not allowing any pockets of bad stuff to form.

As for water changes, you may need to do a larger water change to reset things. Cherry shrimp aren't that picky, I have changed out 75-90% of tank size many times, with no ill effects. As long as the new water is treated and roughly the same temp, it shouldn't cause any issues.

My suggestion would be to do a really thorough gravel vac of the entire substrate. Change out at least 50% of the water to get the Nitrates down in the 20ish range. Perhaps move as many shrimp you can find to another small holding tank, bowl, Tupperware, etc while you clean the tank out. You may want to try using some Flourish Comprehensive fertilizer and some Flourish Excel. This will help the plants use up more of the nitrates.

Finally, here is a link to an article on freshwater shrimp keeping that should help with more general info..

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/resources/freshwater-shrimp-keeping.23/
 
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Craig Goddard

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Great thanks,

I use remineralised RO to kh 4, gh 8 in my changes. Each time I recently have done 1lt. To be fair though as I found one dead this morning after the weekend change and another yesterday it was the same as when I did 25% thinking about it. The dead has a break behind the carrapice so possibly the water change comment matches. However how would changes be done safely. The water I use for changes is pre-heated to similar temp to tank.

I dose with flourish every few days, plant growth is great. Frogbit I have to remove about 20% of every so often as it covers the whole surface.

I don’t have shrimplets as the females saddle but don’t berry. I monitor this. It’s prob due to the nitrates or whatever killing them though.

Many thanks for putting some heads onto this prob, been racking my little brain for about a year on this one. It’s great.

Based on comments i’ll Pre heat some water and gravel vac tonight.

Substrate about an inch deep. So the type could not contribute to pockets, i’ll Try to take a pic of the inert beads.

Seems like water changes a big one at the mo then go for progress.
 
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richie.p

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Like you I use RO water and theres nothing wrong with those readings, one of my tanks is 30ltr and I do a 4ltr change every week and is one of my best breeding tanks, you certainly have moult issues and ide focus on the high nitrates, check for nitrates in your RO water before you reminerilise as this shouldn't be the case, something in the tank is making your Nitraits rise if theres no problem with your RO system, temp matching is what I do as well so no problem there, one thing I've never done in any of my shrimp tanks is a deep gravel vac, I only take my siphon close to the top of the substrait to remove any solids, I can only think you may be causing a small ammonia spike when disturbing the gravel leading to high nitrate, there again I could be wrong, your source water shouldn't be the problem but worth a check Edit I know flourish is shrimp safe but any chemical can be deadly to shrimp if overdosed and this could be happening here, try and significantly reduce flourish to see if things improve, also do a gh reading before and after adding flourish to see if this causes a sudden Nitrait rise leading to moult issues, I'm just trying to do a process of elimination
 
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Craig Goddard

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Ok, thanks for the great advice given.

My RO checks out at next to zero nitrate. An off yellow colour. And so proceeded to do a 50% change with gravel vac, quite a bit of **** came out, and I think the previous vac did something as the level of nitrate had come down since the last clean.

Post WC readings
Gh 10
Kh 4
pH same before and after
No trace of ammonia after (in case disturbed a pocket I checked)
Temp of water same in tank as new water in.
Did not touch filter due to the vac
Touch of Prime in new water to help alleviate stress, plus 1ml of Flourish.

Now i’ll wait and see. Monitor nitrates and continue a small vac each week. Before then i’ll keep You updated, unless....... there is further comment advice to be shared ppl.

Thanks in anticipation,
 
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Craig Goddard

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Nitrate about 10 btw now. It had lost a lot of the red from a 40ppm which it had at the start of this thread and was Orange 20 to 30 prior to water change.
 

richie.p

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Those readings are perfect for your shrimp, with the 50% water change you may loose a few if theres any in there but don't do anything drastic what your looking for now is stability so over the next few days just monitor and see how things settle down, if things settle you only need to do 4ltr change a week
 

richie.p

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Have you read @Dolfan article on shrimp all the way through its excellent and you'll learn a lot obviously not everything can be covered and thats why you'll always get a response from someone but knowledge gained there will give you a better understanding of the shrimp world
 
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Craig Goddard

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Ok thanks,

I leave it to settle for about 10 days until weekend after next and do a 4lt change. Just tickling the surface of the substrate.

I’ll monitor nitrate and ammonia in the meantime.

I read the article in full thanks.
 
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Craig Goddard

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Update,

The plan seems to have worked. I lost 2 shrimp following the initial 50% WC, however nitrates continued to drop as the plants balanced out their demand to that in the water. A follow up light vac with 2lt has kept it on par and so remainers are happy.

Only issue now is my Rabbit Snails have had to take residence temporarliy as my larger tank has had issues. They may churn things up a little bit i’ll Keep on top of it.
 
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Craig Goddard

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I use about 1ml in the tank every change. It’s a 27lt so difficult to get it right as 5ml does about 250lt I think?!! Off top of my head.
 

richie.p

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I could pop some prime in my jerrycans full of RO to be sure as a thought.
Get yourself a syringe to measure prime like all chemicals you can overdose with it especially on shrimp, I think you've got on if your dosing in mil, tell us exactly how much water you change and the volume of the tank then it can be worked out
 
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Craig Goddard

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27lt tank, replacing 4lt ish with remineralised RO. The prime I use 1 thread on the cap which they say is 1ml. It’s mainly in case I disturb Ammonia from substrate though as never thought chlorine could be in my RO, it is a good point. Syringe is a good idea thought thank you!
 

richie.p

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You shouldn't have chlorine in RO water even though I still dose my RO and its then kept in containers for a few days before using, if you can get a 1ml syringe there are increments on there and you need 0.1ml for 4ltr, on my syringe that's coming out at two drops
 
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