Shrimp die off

Aquawomania

Hello, I'm brand new here and, as the title implies, under unfortunate circumstances. Please go easy on me as I am here to learn.
I've had a well established 5 gallon tank for about 9 months now. Since April, and up until a week ago, it contained:
2 male cobra guppies
1 male elephant guppy
2 snails
7 shrimp (5 ghost and 2 orange bee)
1 live plant
3 live moss balls

About a week ago one of the snails died.

Today, I found three dead shrimp (2 ghost and 1 orange bee) and one that was struggling to swim and later was found lying on its side unable to mobilize itself beyond moving its appendages. I put the latter out of its misery because of its obvious fate.

I was gone overnight from Sat to Sun, fed them Sat morning and then not again until Sun evening.

I found the dead shrimp this morning.

My water test results from today - before doing a ~25% change:
High pH 7.8
Temp 78F
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 0

I will say I have wondered if the shrimp were getting enough to eat. I am careful not to overfeed my fish and they gobble up food fast. In the past I have noticed that the shrimp were very eager to swim up to grab food from the upper reaches of the tank. Perhaps this is naive but I figured they would eat detritus and I didn't need to worry much about feeding them specifically.

And now I wonder if the snail that died the week prior was a "canary in the coal mine?"

Thoughts on the cause of this shrimp die off given the normal chemistry and how I can avoid it in the future?

Thank you.
 

awilkinson871

You really dont have a lot of plants in the tank. Most shrimp live off of the biofilm that grows on plants. Some will snack on excess food and added food, but biofilm is generally their main source of food. I would start offering shrimp food and cooked veggies to supplement.
 
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mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :) I am sorry it took this to bring you to us but hopefully we will be able to help.

At this point we can't know if it was lack of food that caused the deaths but it is a possibility. Sadly you're not the first nor will you be the last that didn't realize all of our water pets no matter the species need food specifically for them. One person was told by someone at the fish store that her mystery snail didn't need to be fed. That it would just live on bio-film. Fortunately we were able to let this person know that isn't the case so it should live a long well fed healthy life.

What kind of snail died? Were you feeding it food specifically for it?

How often have you been doing water changes? How much do you change each time?

I am curious as to why you are seeing 0 nitrates in a cycled tank. what kind of tests are you using?
 
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JLAquatics

Welcome to Fishlore, hopefully we can find out what may be happening to your shrimp

First off, I agree with the above posters regarding the possible lack of food and biofilm for the snail to eat. Even if your tank is well established, snails, specifically ones like Mystery Snails require plenty of supplemental food to live healthy. Mystery Snails are not algae eaters really contrary to popular belief.

Second, Shrimp are very delicate creatures, so finding out your water change schedule as mattgirl pointed out will help the situation greatly. When you change the water, how exactly do you do it? Do you temp match the new water to the tank water? Do the parameters mostly match between the old and new water? These are some questions that may help us assess your situation.

Third, did you dose anything like meds or fertilizers to your tank recently? If they contain copper, this is a highly dangerous element that can be Lethal in small amounts to shrimp and snails. Listing any recent additives to your tank will also cross this possible problem off the table.

Fourth, did you recently purchase the Ghost Shrimp? These are often used as feeders and many often not make it that long due to their weakened immune systems and the bad conditions they were kept in even if acclimated correctly. When did you purchase all of the shrimp in your tank?

Finally, do you have a GH/KH test kit on hand by any chance? These values are just as important to the aquarium hobby as the other parameters in my opinion. Bee Shrimp are a species of Caridinia shrimp, a notoriously more temperamental shrimp than Neos. They almost always require softer water with a low KH to live healthy. However, with a lower KH comes the possibility of larger parameter swings from water changes and skipping your water change schedule.

I hope we can find out what is happening to your shrimp and fix the problem.
-JLAquatics
 
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Aquawomania

You really dont have a lot of plants in the tank. Most shrimp live off of the biofilm that grows on plants. Some will snack on excess food and added food, but biofilm is generally their main source of food. I would start offering shrimp food and cooked veggies to supplement.
I didn't realize that shrimp eat biofilm. I have occasionally tried adding dried leaves and cooked kale and lettuce but pieces were often left behind so I didn't think it was making much of a difference.
I am mortified to think I might have starved those poor creatures.
Welcome to Fishlore :) I am sorry it took this to bring you to us but hopefully we will be able to help.

At this point we can't know if it was lack of food that caused the deaths but it is a possibility. Sadly you're not the first nor will you be the last that didn't realize all of our water pets no matter the species need food specifically for them. One person was told by someone at the fish store that her mystery snail didn't need to be fed. That it would just live on bio-film. Fortunately we were able to let this person know that isn't the case so it should live a long well fed healthy life.

What kind of snail died? Were you feeding it food specifically for it?

How often have you been doing water changes? How much do you change each time?

I am curious as to why you are seeing 0 nitrates in a cycled tank. what kind of tests are you using?
The snail was a nerite. I also sadly assumed they lived on algal biofilm alone and did not supplement feed.

My water changes have been about every two-three weeks or so. I usually do about 20-25%. I need to figure out a better system because the manual tubing kicks up a lot of detritus and I end up sucking up too much water before ever really cleaning out the tank.

I use the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.
Welcome to Fishlore, hopefully we can find out what may be happening to your shrimp

First off, I agree with the above posters regarding the possible lack of food and biofilm for the snail to eat. Even if your tank is well established, snails, specifically ones like Mystery Snails require plenty of supplemental food to live healthy. Mystery Snails are not algae eaters really contrary to popular belief.

Second, Shrimp are very delicate creatures, so finding out your water change schedule as mattgirl pointed out will help the situation greatly. When you change the water, how exactly do you do it? Do you temp match the new water to the tank water? Do the parameters mostly match between the old and new water? These are some questions that may help us assess your situation.

Third, did you dose anything like meds or fertilizers to your tank recently? If they contain copper, this is a highly dangerous element that can be Lethal in small amounts to shrimp and snails. Listing any recent additives to your tank will also cross this possible problem off the table.

Fourth, did you recently purchase the Ghost Shrimp? These are often used as feeders and many often not make it that long due to their weakened immune systems and the bad conditions they were kept in even if acclimated correctly. When did you purchase all of the shrimp in your tank?

Finally, do you have a GH/KH test kit on hand by any chance? These values are just as important to the aquarium hobby as the other parameters in my opinion. Bee Shrimp are a species of Caridinia shrimp, a notoriously more temperamental shrimp than Neos. They almost always require softer water with a low KH to live healthy. However, with a lower KH comes the possibility of larger parameter swings from water changes and skipping your water change schedule.

I hope we can find out what is happening to your shrimp and fix the problem.
-JLAquatics
Yes, I temp match around 78F using filtered tap water.

I have not added any meds or fertilizers. I did add an aquarium decoration and the new plant is in a terra cotta looking pot.

The shrimp came from two separate tanks/shipments - in March/April about one to two weeks apart.

The pet store has checked the hardness of the water in the past but have never had to adjust it so haven't been testing that.
You really dont have a lot of plants in the tank. Most shrimp live off of the biofilm that grows on plants. Some will snack on excess food and added food, but biofilm is generally their main source of food. I would start offering shrimp food and cooked veggies to supplement.
I just offered zucchini to the lone survivor shrimp and it nibbled some.
 
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mattgirl

I didn't realize that shrimp eat biofilm. I have occasionally tried adding dried leaves and cooked kale and lettuce but pieces were often left behind so I didn't think it was making much of a difference.
I am mortified to think I might have starved those poor creatures.

The snail was a nerite. I also sadly assumed they lived on algal biofilm alone and did not supplement feed.

My water changes have been about every two-three weeks or so. I usually do about 20-25%. I need to figure out a better system because the manual tubing kicks up a lot of detritus and I end up sucking up too much water before ever really cleaning out the tank.

I use the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.
From what I've read about nerites is they do live mainly on bio-film and algae in the tank. Some may eat processed food but most don't so I'm not sure why your snail died.

The main problem with a tank this size is things can go badly fairly quick. Since your 5 gallon has been running for 9 months and was only getting 20-25% of the water change every two or 3 weeks things we don't test for may have been building up in the tank and finally reached dangerous levels.

I always recommend much bigger water changes and recommend doing them each week. It is even more important in smaller tanks with a fairly high bio-load such as yours. I have a couple of smaller tanks. One 5.5 gallon and a 2.5 gallon shrimp bowl. I change out at least half the water in each of them once a week. Start doing this and feeding your shrimp food specifically for them and we may be able to save the rest of them.

I am still a bit concerned about no nitrates in this tank. I do have to ask if you are sure you are running the nitrates test correctly. Are you shaking bottle #2 really really well? The sediment in the bottom of the bottle needs to be broken loose and mixed in well. Once you add drops from both bottles are you shaking the test tube for a full minute and then waiting an additional 5 minutes for the correct reading?
 
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Aquawomania

From what I've read about nerites is they do live mainly on bio-film and algae in the tank. Some may eat processed food but most don't so I'm not sure why your snail died.

The main problem with a tank this size is things can go badly fairly quick. Since your 5 gallon has been running for 9 months and was only getting 20-25% of the water change every two or 3 weeks things we don't test for may have been building up in the tank and finally reached dangerous levels.

I always recommend much bigger water changes and recommend doing them each week. It is even more important in smaller tanks with a fairly high bio-load such as yours. I have a couple of smaller tanks. One 5.5 gallon and a 2.5 gallon shrimp bowl. I change out at least half the water in each of them once a week. Start doing this and feeding your shrimp food specifically for them and we may be able to save the rest of them.

I am still a bit concerned about no nitrates in this tank. I do have to ask if you are sure you are running the nitrates test correctly. Are you shaking bottle #2 really really well? The sediment in the bottom of the bottle needs to be broken loose and mixed in well. Once you add drops from both bottles are you shaking the test tube for a full minute and then waiting an additional 5 minutes for the correct reading?
I actually did a bigger water change the time before today (closer to 40-50% because I didn't notice the water level went down that fast) but was a little worried I did too much. Good to know that I can do a bit more than I have been.
I believe I did the test correctly but maybe not. I did shake the test tube and waited the 5 mins but maybe I didn't shake bottle #2 well enough... I'll do one again right now...
 
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mattgirl

Bang bottle #2 firmly against your hand as you are shaking it. The sediment needs to be broken loose.
 
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Aquawomania

You were right, mattgirl!! I just re-tested nitrates and they are definitely above 0. (I did shake the #2 bottle earlier today but I didn't time it for a full 30 seconds on the clock. Lesson learned.)

It's hard to tell whether the color indicates <40 ppm or higher. Please see pics. The one on the counter was taken immediately at 5 minutes. The other two were taken a few minutes after the 5-minute timer because I was trying to get a good photo. Not sure if the color keeps intensifying after 5 minutes elapses or not... What would you say the reading is?

I also tested my filtered tap water and it reads 0.
You were right, mattgirl!! I just re-tested nitrates and they are definitely above 0. (I did shake the #2 bottle earlier today but I didn't time it for a full 30 seconds on the clock. Lesson learned.)

It's hard to tell whether the color indicates <40 ppm or higher. Please see pics. The one on the counter was taken immediately at 5 minutes. The other two were taken a few minutes after the 5-minute timer because I was trying to get a good photo. Not sure if the color keeps intensifying after 5 minutes elapses or not... What would you say the reading is?

I also tested my filtered tap water and it reads 0.
Should I buy some API Nitra-Zorb/Aqua-Detox tomorrow?
 

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richiep

Finding three dead shrimp in one go is not lack of food in my book, they would not all die in one go
Looks like your nitraits are high and I suspect they were a lot higher before your last water change, if any more die
It would help greatly if you posted pictures of the dead shrimp to rule out disease but take the picture of them in the water,
For now I would go with mattgirl advise on water changes to get the nitraits down and replenish Lost minerals,
If you have any closeup photos of the remaining shrimp will also rule out any disease being carried but I suspect its water related
Sorry for the intrusion I'll follow and wait for pictures and stay on the side line
 
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mattgirl

You were right, mattgirl!! I just re-tested nitrates and they are definitely above 0. (I did shake the #2 bottle earlier today but I didn't time it for a full 30 seconds on the clock. Lesson learned.)

It's hard to tell whether the color indicates <40 ppm or higher. Please see pics. The one on the counter was taken immediately at 5 minutes. The other two were taken a few minutes after the 5-minute timer because I was trying to get a good photo. Not sure if the color keeps intensifying after 5 minutes elapses or not... What would you say the reading is?

I also tested my filtered tap water and it reads 0.

Should I buy some API Nitra-Zorb/Aqua-Detox tomorrow?
No need to buy chemicals. Simply doing water changes will get these nitrates down. As I suspected they are much higher than they should be to help keep your shrimp healthy. Things like this build up quickly in a small tank and must be kept down by doing weekly water changes. I have to think not only nitrates but also things we normally don't test for have built up in this tank.

I would like to help protect your remaining shrimp and also the other life in this tank so I am going to recommend you change out 25% of the water daily until the nitrates are down to 5. 5 is just a tiny bit of orange in the test tube. By doing them daily instead of a huge water change to drop them quickly should prevent water change shock to all the life in this tank.

Water change shock simply put means your water pets have gradually gotten acclimated to less that perfect water parameters. We want to gradually get them used to much better conditions. if we change the parameters too quickly it can harm or even kill them.

Once you have the nitrates down start changing out no less than 50% of the water in this tank each week. I understand you were thinking you were changing out too much water. Sadly some folks do warn about doing big water changing not being good but I totally disagree with them. I too have read lots of sites recommend doing small water changes. Some even recommend only doing a small one each month. I cringe each time I see something like that. :(

Fresh clean water is the very best thing we can give out water pets. Once you get the water in this tank fresh even a 75% water change one week each month instead of your normal 50% weekly water changes isn't going to change out too much water.

Once you have gotten the water in this tank close to the same parameters as your tap water as long as you add your water conditioner if needed to remove chlorine/chloramine and temp match the fresh water, big water changes aren't going to affect your water pets.

Yes, the nitrate test will continue to darken with time. What you see at 5 minutes is the correct reading.
 
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Aquawomania

Thank you! I'll try that! Do you have a recommendation for an easier system for water changes?
 
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mattgirl

Thank you! I'll try that! Do you have a recommendation for an easier system for water changes?
How are you doing them now? I still use a gravel vac and buckets to do my water changes. The gravel vac is a simple long piece of flexible tubing attached to a rigid plastic tube long enough to reach the bottom of my tank. Mine is basically like this one but a different brand I picked up at wal-mart many many years ago.
 
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Aquawomania

I just did a 25% water change. Here is a pic of pre- and post-water change samples of nitrates. Still have a way to go... Will do it again and post tomorrow. In the meantime here is a vid of the sole surviving ghost shrimp.
Shucks, it's not letting me post a video.
How are you doing them now? I still use a gravel vac and buckets to do my water changes. The gravel vac is a simple long piece of flexible tubing attached to a rigid plastic tube long enough to reach the bottom of my tank. Mine is basically like this one but a different brand I picked up at wal-mart many many years ago.
I use the same. Actually today it was no big deal. I think the more I do it, the easier it will become.
I really appreciate all your help, mattgirl and everyone.
 

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mattgirl

I just did a 25% water change. Here is a pic of pre- and post-water change samples of nitrates. Still have a way to go... Will do it again and post tomorrow. In the meantime here is a vid of the sole surviving ghost shrimp.
Shucks, it's not letting me post a video.

I use the same. Actually today it was no big deal. I think the more I do it, the easier it will become.
I really appreciate all your help, mattgirl and everyone.
To post a video you first have to upload it to youtube and then post a link to it here. Hopefully richiep will be able to trouble shoot your shrimp for you.

Right, practice make perfect or at least as perfect as a human can be. :D
 
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Aquawomania

I've got some good news and some bad news. I just did another 25% water change today and am starting to feel hopeful that the nitrates situation is improving. (left pre-change; right post-change). However, I found the last shrimp deceased today --- even though yesterday it was not exhibiting any of the symptoms I saw in the ones that prompted the original post.
IMG_1526.jpeg
 
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JasperWard

Hello, I'm brand new here and, as the title implies, under unfortunate circumstances. Please go easy on me as I am here to learn.
I've had a well established 5 gallon tank for about 9 months now. Since April, and up until a week ago, it contained:
2 male cobra guppies
1 male elephant guppy
2 snails
7 shrimp (5 ghost and 2 orange bee)
1 live plant
3 live moss balls

About a week ago one of the snails died.

Today, I found three dead shrimp (2 ghost and 1 orange bee) and one that was struggling to swim and later was found lying on its side unable to mobilize itself beyond moving its appendages. I put the latter out of its misery because of its obvious fate.

I was gone overnight from Sat to Sun, fed them Sat morning and then not again until Sun evening.

I found the dead shrimp this morning.

My water test results from today - before doing a ~25% change:
High pH 7.8
Temp 78F
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 0

I will say I have wondered if the shrimp were getting enough to eat. I am careful not to overfeed my fish and they gobble up food fast. In the past I have noticed that the shrimp were very eager to swim up to grab food from the upper reaches of the tank. Perhaps this is naive but I figured they would eat detritus and I didn't need to worry much about feeding them specifically.

And now I wonder if the snail that died the week prior was a "canary in the coal mine?"

Thoughts on the cause of this shrimp die off given the normal chemistry and how I can avoid it in the future?

Thank you.
Can you get a gh/kh test kit
 
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awilkinson871

I've got some good news and some bad news. I just did another 25% water change today and am starting to feel hopeful that the nitrates situation is improving. (left pre-change; right post-change). However, I found the last shrimp deceased today --- even though yesterday it was not exhibiting any of the symptoms I saw in the ones that prompted the original post.
IMG_1526.jpeg
So sorry to hear. Shrimp are very sensitive to nitrates and even more sensitive to changes in parameters in general. Once you get the tank figured out and balanced hopefully you can start over and have better success. I would also recommend the kh/gh test to see where you are. Shrimp need calcium to molt correctly and snails need calcium for hard shells so the results could help determine if you will need to do any additional steps to ensure the invertebrates are happy and healthy.
 
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mattgirl

I've got some good news and some bad news. I just did another 25% water change today and am starting to feel hopeful that the nitrates situation is improving. (left pre-change; right post-change). However, I found the last shrimp deceased today --- even though yesterday it was not exhibiting any of the symptoms I saw in the ones that prompted the original post.
IMG_1526.jpeg
I am sorry to hear you lost your last shrimp. As already mentioned the high nitrates and then the lowering of them could have led to the death. Now that you have them down and are now running the test correctly you can keep them from spiking that high again by keeping up with your weekly water changes.

Hopefully if you replace your shrimp you will be successful with the next ones.
 
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