RCS issues lead to discovery of another possible problem

Weidbrewer

So, I have been struggling to keep Red Cherry shrimp alive which is, frankly, annoying because usually they're the easiest shrimp in the world. Had them for years at my old house with no problems. Now, some just die, others look like they have the white ring of death - but nothing conclusive. There's an ancient (by shrimp standards) amano in there who's doing fine and several very happy snails. The tank is established, planted and almost all of the parameters of the water are in good shape. (PH ~7.5, Nitrate and Nitrite are both 0.)

And that's where it got frustrating.

I noticed that no matter what I did, the ammonia has been stuck at 0.25ppm. Water changes, gravel cleanings...wouldn't budge. I know shrimp are sensitive to that, so I've been working on it. I then checked my other tanks...they're also at 0.25ppm. I checked a bucket of RO water. 0.25ppm. Checked my tap water....WHOOOOOOOOA. 1.0ppm!

Since I generally top up with RO for evaporating and do water changes with tap, I realized that my water changes have actually been adding ammonia to my tanks.

So, here's the question: Is this likely what's killing my RCSs and what do I do?
  1. Do I switch to pure RO? I would assume not, because then the rest of the goodies in water that a balanced tank needs won't be there.
  2. Is there an additive that I should start using going forward?
  3. Is this just a coincidence and there's something else that's likely killing my RCS?
If anyone could help, that'd be great, and I'd really appreciate it.
 

BlackOsprey

If there's no evidence of any other issues, then it's most likely an ammonia problem.

You're right that pure RO lacks the minerals that shrimp need to survive. However, you can re-mineralize RO with products such as Seachem Equilibrium. I've used nothing but Equilibrium and RO for my shrimp tanks for years now without mineral-related issues.
 

LowConductivity

Ammonia isnt the problem. ".25ppm" at 76*, pH 7.5 is really more like .004ppm. Even with the tap at 1ppm, the effective ammonia is still only .016
 

The2dCour

Calcium/Mg balance off, varied diet, keeping it too clean? Water temp? Does it fluctuate recently?
 

GlennO

Do you use Prime with water changes? The standard dose of Prime should be detoxifying the 1ppm ammonia in your tap water and the bacteria in your filters should be then processing it at least by overnight. I’m not sure why you get a continual 0.25ppm reading in your tanks. Suggests your filtration is inadequate or your test kit is faulty. Unless I’m missing something, but there should not be a continual low level of ammonia in your tanks if they are cycled and adequately filtered.
 

Weidbrewer

Do you use Prime with water changes? The standard dose of Prime should be detoxifying the 1ppm ammonia in your tap water and the bacteria in your filters should be then processing it at least by overnight. I’m not sure why you get a continual 0.25ppm reading in your tanks. Suggests your filtration is inadequate or your test kit is faulty. Unless I’m missing something, but there should not be a continual low level of ammonia in your tanks if they are cycled and adequately filtered.
Yes, I use Prime with water changes. Filtration on the shrimp tank is a maybe - it's a sponge filter, which is what I've always used in that tank over the years. The two other tanks that are also showing the constant background level of ammonia are definitely fine, since they are 29g tanks with 40g-rated filters (and one of those two is just plants.) They are also fully cycled as well. (The shrimp tank, for example, was set up with just plants for most of a year before the snails and the amano shrimp went in a few months before the RCS.)

I guess the kit could be faulty - and if that's the case, I am even more at a loss for what's going on with the shrimp.
 

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GlennO

Yes, I use Prime with water changes. Filtration on the shrimp tank is a maybe - it's a sponge filter, which is what I've always used in that tank over the years. The two other tanks that are also showing the constant background level of ammonia are definitely fine, since they are 29g tanks with 40g-rated filters (and one of those two is just plants.) They are also fully cycled as well. (The shrimp tank, for example, was set up with just plants for most of a year before the snails and the amano shrimp went in a few months before the RCS.)

I guess the kit could be faulty - and if that's the case, I am even more at a loss for what's going on with the shrimp.
They look close to 0 ppm, is that tank and/or tap? Sponge filters are fine especially for shrimp tanks. If it can be established that ammonia is not an issue other possible issues can be investigated such as hardness which should be tested as well. A pic of the tank might be handy.
 

Weidbrewer

They look close to 0 ppm, is that tank and/or tap? Sponge filters are fine especially for shrimp tanks. If it can be established that ammonia is not an issue other possible issues can be investigated such as hardness which should be tested as well. A pic of the tank might be handy.
Honestly, I don't remember which those two tubes were now, but they were either one of the tanks or the RO water. All were exactly the same shade, and were very definitely the same color as .25. (When they were fully over the color scale, I couldn't see the .25, but zero was still clearly visible.) Tap water was unmistakably the green of 1.

For hardness - and forgive me, this isn't a test I do often, and I'm never sure about the results:

KH: 2 drops
GH: 6 drops (I think that's 107.4 on the scale?)

(And, in the pic, by the drift wood on the left side, you can see that someone successfully molted overnight.)
 

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Cherryshrimp420

Stop feeding and water changes for a few days, does the ammonia in the tank go down to 0? Can't have lingering ammonia in the water...that's a slow path to shrimp deaths :(
 

Weidbrewer

Stop feeding and water changes for a few days, does the ammonia in the tank go down to 0? Can't have lingering ammonia in the water...that's a slow path to shrimp deaths :(
I can try that on the shrimp tank, but I've more or less already done that across the three tanks in question, since one of them is plants only (and technically has never had a water change) and shows the same 0.25 as the community tank and the shrimp tank.
 

Cherryshrimp420

I can try that on the shrimp tank, but I've more or less already done that across the three tanks in question, since one of them is plants only (and technically has never had a water change) and shows the same 0.25 as the community tank and the shrimp tank.
Maybe the substrate is leeching some ammonia, or the test kit is picking up something else. Try stopping feeding completely if you haven't already
 

Weidbrewer

Stop feeding and water changes for a few days
Try stopping feeding completely if you haven't already
Okay. I haven't fed since the weekend, and results are the same. Left to right in the pictures is 1. Bottled water, 2. Tap, 3. Planted tank, no fish, 4. Shrimp tank.

Looking from the side, you can see that most are the same color as the .25 bar...but I remembered that you're supposed to look from the top down, right? In that case, yes, 3 out of 4 read zero and my tap water is, like, 4.0

So, I'm guessing the problem isn't ammonia, then? What can I look into next?
 

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Cherryshrimp420

Okay. I haven't fed since the weekend, and results are the same. Left to right in the pictures is 1. Bottled water, 2. Tap, 3. Planted tank, no fish, 4. Shrimp tank.

Looking from the side, you can see that most are the same color as the .25 bar...but I remembered that you're supposed to look from the top down, right? In that case, yes, 3 out of 4 read zero and my tap water is, like, 4.0

So, I'm guessing the problem isn't ammonia, then? What can I look into next?
Look from the side - Press it against the chart and look for the color that matches the closest. So it looks like 0, 0.5ppm, 0 , 0 to me....

Do you have active substrate?

If the tap water has 0.5ppm or 1ppm of ammonia then that's an issue as well.
 

Weidbrewer

So, another dead shrimp this morning. I think I have one, maybe two RCS left. The amano I saw over the weekend and the snails are still doing fine. Whatever is going on seems to only be effecting the RCS. (Also, the shrimp were from two different sources. Figured I'd mention that in case anyone else wondered if it was something with that batch of shrimp.)
 

The2dCour

So, another dead shrimp this morning. I think I have one, maybe two RCS left. The amano I saw over the weekend and the snails are still doing fine. Whatever is going on seems to only be effecting the RCS. (Also, the shrimp were from two different sources. Figured I'd mention that in case anyone else wondered if it was something with that batch of shrimp.)
I have heard that shrimp from different sources can carry over "things" that each other are not used to. Sorry I can't offer more than anecdotal story.

Snails can take a long time to show that they aren't doing well. Look at their foot if its scrunched up they are probably irritated too.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Do you have pictures of the shrimps?
 

Weidbrewer

Do you have pictures of the shrimps?
Not at this point. They're all gone. The last one to go I think might have had the white ring of death. Noticed it the night before and I think I noticed it on an earlier one. When the lights came on in the morning, he was gone, and snails has already mostly eaten what was left.

So, I don't do drastic water changes and I would think they were getting the right nutrients (pellets a few times a week and all the tank algae they could eat.) But that's now what I'm wondering if was the case.
 

Shadowfox

Were they getting a source of calcium? Like hakari crab cuisine or cuttle bone or veggies?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Not at this point. They're all gone. The last one to go I think might have had the white ring of death. Noticed it the night before and I think I noticed it on an earlier one. When the lights came on in the morning, he was gone, and snails has already mostly eaten what was left.

So, I don't do drastic water changes and I would think they were getting the right nutrients (pellets a few times a week and all the tank algae they could eat.) But that's now what I'm wondering if was the case.

Hmm any ammonia is not good, until that goes to 0 shrimp will not survive. The KH is also a bit low, perhaps the pH crashed?
 

Weidbrewer

Were they getting a source of calcium? Like hakari crab cuisine or cuttle bone or veggies?
Omega One Veggie Pellets and Omega One Crab and Lobster pellets. What I've always used.

Hmm any ammonia is not good, until that goes to 0 shrimp will not survive. The KH is also a bit low, perhaps the pH crashed?
Could you elaborate on this? It's not something I've had to deal with before. How do I know if it crashed? What should the Kh be? How do I adjust it properly?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Omega One Veggie Pellets and Omega One Crab and Lobster pellets. What I've always used.


Could you elaborate on this? It's not something I've had to deal with before. How do I know if it crashed? What should the Kh be? How do I adjust it properly?

If you have pH test kit you can check the pH. KH prevents pH from changing too much but it needs to be replenished (ie, water changes). Having crushed coral will also help because it naturally adds KH to the water.
 

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