Shrimp Tank Troubles - Please Help


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.


Looks to me as if the tank isn't cycled. Also the carbon may not help at all but I'll leave others on here to confirm this. I have no carbon in my shrimp tank. Also, the Babaulti are Caridinas right? The blue ones Neocaridinas? You should check what exactly you have, they have different needs in water parameters. GH looks VERY high.

Anyways, you should fill this template out as much as possible and post it here so the experts on here can help you out asap:

Aquatic Emergency Template
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As Tryne indicated, you have two different species of shrimp, with different requirements for water parameters. There is a range where they can both do okay, but it's pretty narrow. However, I don't think that's your main issue. I have a couple things that might help.
  1. You said your ammonia is at 1.0, and not going down after a water change. With ammonia that high I'm mildly surprised any of the shrimp are still alive. Have you tested your source water for ammonia? As far as I know there's only two possibilities when readings don't go down after a water change: faulty test or ammonia in the source water.
  2. You said there are decaying leaves in the tank. Were these leaves completely dead and dry when they were added to the tank? If not, that could be your ammonia source, and they should be removed immediately.
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Re: the two species of shrimp in the tank. Yes, the babaulti are a type of caridina, but are not exactly same as the more common types. And yes, the dreams are neos. Both were kept in a tank together from the Shrimp keeper from, which I received them as the water parameters and needs similar. The decaying leaves were fully dead and dry when placed in the tank, they came from the same shop. I did not test the source water as it was the imagination aquarium water sold at petco and supposedly has no ammonia, etc. Template below.

What is the water volume of the tank? 3.5 gallons
How long has the tank been running? 4.5 weeks
Does it have a filter? Yes, carbon that came with aquarium.
Does it have a heater? No.
What is the water temperature? 74.6
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 3 green babaulti shrimp, 2 blue dream shrimp (although one is black with red green eyes).

How often do you change the water? Once a week.
How much of the water do you change? 10-15%
What do you use to treat your water? I recently bought Prime but have not used it. I use stress coat after changing the water.
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? I typically only change the water as this is what I was told to do; however I cleaned the substrate and did a 20% water change at the advice of a local shop keeper after reporting the ammonia level, which did not change. See OP.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? It is possible it was not completely cycled. I did have ghost shrimp in there to start the cycle.
What do you use to test the water? Originally API test strips, but now I have the API kit and a TDS reader.
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 1.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 2.5
pH: 7.6-7.8 (low end ph test and high end ph test)

How often do you feed your fish? 3–4 times a week. I take out what has not been eaten after 2-3 hrs.
How much do you feed your fish? What they can eat in 2-3 hours.
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Sera Shrimps nature shrimp food, hikari shrimp cuisine, fish flakes, 1/4 hikari algae wafer
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? No

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 2.5 weeks
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? First few days.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? There were originally 10 shrimp. 5 babaulti, 5 blue dream (well one is black with red eyes ‍♀️). 3 of the neos died within 3 days and 2 of the babaulti within 5 days. It appeared right after molts.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? I’ve tried water change with gravel vac.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No. Well maintained shop that quarantines stock 10 days before selling.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? None.

Please see OP for detailed explanation of problem.

Please note all 5 of the remaining shrimp appear to be doing well. No obvious issues and behaving as expected. I hope to keep them that way before it’s too late.

Thank-you all for your help.
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Babulti and cherry can live in a tank together with no problems, Babulti although being caradina have quite a range in perameters and mine coexist with no problems,
You say you have a GH25, I take it that's PPM as the DKH dosnt go that high on the conversion chart, if it is PPM then thats a way to low for both species and moult issues and health problems will follow
4 to 5 weeks for a small tank like yours is to soon to put shrimp in, it should be closer to 3 months, but as you say its to late and you have to deal with it, its possible the others will live but you should have been advised of this in the beginning and let the tank run longer
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I'm not an expert as others here are but would you mind sending a pic of your tank and shrimp if you can? Maybe theres something else we could spot.
Also another thing that may be silly but you never know.. you said there were ghost shrimp in there before. Where did they go? Are you sure they are all gone and there ain't one or two hiding somewhere and killing your other shrimp?
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I rehomed the ghost shrimp; there were only two. And yes, that was an initial concern prior to this current situation. Good question. And I do not mind sharing photos... I appreciate the help.

It’s probably hard to tell, but in one of the photos a green shrimp is in the foreground on a leaf and the blue shrimp is in the back ground on a leaf and the tail of another green shrimp is camouflaged in the plant.

Also, I know that looks like a giant piece of food, but I swear it was smaller than 1/4 of a wafer and removed after 3 hours of eating.
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