Switching from RO to tap water - new shrimp ready to acclimate

  • #1
Hey everybody!

So I've got some super beginner questions.

I'm trying to make the switch from using RO water to using tap water, and I'm a bit stumped.

I have a 1.5 gallon heavily planted shrimp tank. I'm in process of restocking after having lost all my livestock last month. I have a bag of 6 new shrimp ready to go into the tank, but I have some concerns.

Tap water:
Ammonia - 1ppm
Nitrate - 0
Nitrate - 0
pH - 7.8

Tap water with Prime:
Ammonia - 0.5ppm
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
pH - 7.8

First question: did I dose the Prime correctly? I have a 4L jug that I filled with tap water, then added 0.4mL of Prime. Did I under dose? What should I do now to lower the ammonia?

Second question: Is it safe to acclimate the new shrimp to the tank water? I'm concerned about the ammonia killing them all.

I never had problems with ammonia while I was using RO water. I'm honestly considering going back to straight RO and avoiding this whole mess.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
So I ended up going out and getting RO water. I was just too stressed out to figure out how to fix my tap water.

Did a couple back-to-back water changes with the RO water, got the ammonia down to 0. New shrimp are now happily chilling in their new home.

Would still really appreciate advice on Prime dosing, if anyone has time! Thanks!
  • #3
HI there, when you dose with prime it detoxifies the ammonia into ammonium up to 1.0. I'd probably double dose prime with ammonia at 1.0. The API kit only reads total ammonia, so it will still normally show the same readings before and after dosing with prime. Why yours didn't I don't know but any reading under that 1.0 would have been detoxified.

Sorry I missed this or I could've helped you out. You can always tag me if you want.

What are you using to re-mineralized your RO water? Your shrimp will not live long in it if you aren't buffering and adding GH (general hardness) minerals back into it. What is the ph of this water also?

Let me know if you want to continue with RO or switch to tap and I can help you out if you want.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
HI there!

Thanks for the response! I'm prone to panicking.

Thank you for the information about Prime! Helps me feel better about the whole thing.

If I go ahead and switch to tap water, would I have to test the water daily and dose with prime until the ammonia is corrected? And then retest/dose for a couple days after every water change?

I am able to continue using RO, but will switch to tap water if that's what's best for the shrimp in terms of mineral content.

While using RO, my values were as follows:
pH - 8.2
GH - 6 drops
KH - 4 drops
I have a piece of cuttlebone in my filter.

My tap water has the following values:
pH - 7.8
GH - 6 drops
KH - 8 drops

I'm just scared to do anything that might adversely affect the shrimp. I just got the little guys, would suck to lose them so soon.

Thank you so much for all the help!

EDIT : Forgot to mention that the tap water ammonia reading of 0.5ppm came after the water had been in the tank overnight. So I think the plants/bacteria took care of some of it? Which in hindsight makes my panicking really silly.
  • #5
If you switched to tap water, you would want to dose prime daily for the full volume of the water as long as you had ammonia readings. It won't take long for your bio-filter to catch up with that amount.
The fact that it took care of .5 ammonia in 24 hours was a great sign and yeah the plants would help as well as the current bacteria population.

If you decide to switch I would actually just 50/50 the first week with your normal water change to make more of a gradual transition.

RO water doesn't normally have those type of minerals....does the RO straight out of the jug read like that? It's possible they have added minerals to it for taste?

It's up to you if you want to switch (if it's worth it to you or not) but seems like it might be worth a try when you're ready.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I've never actually tested the straight RO water - now I'm curious. I've only ever tested the water after it's already in the tank.

I made up a jug of 50/50 RO/tap water with prime added, and I have been using that to top up my tank water since this weekend. I wasn't having problems with ammonia until this morning, when I woke up to 2 dead shrimp.

Ammonia - 0.25ppm
pH - 8

I'll check the rest of the values tonight, as well as the values for the RO water I'm using. This is becoming really frustrating.

EDIT: I've just found out that part of our city is still under a boil water advisory. I'm wondering if maybe water treatment is using different chemicals/amounts in their tap water right now.
  • #7
Oooh yeah, I've never heard of a boil water advisory, what does that mean exactly? Maybe stick with RO for now!

Sorry about your shrimp. If you decide to switch make sure to dose prime daily. If you had already been doing that then could be something else they added like you thought.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Our water treatment plant and water lines were compromised by a wildfire that came through our town. When we finally were allowed back in, we were all under a boil water advisory. You could only drink/cook/wash dishes with water after it had been brought to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. They lifted the advisory for our neighborhood almost 2 weeks ago, but I'm kind of wondering about what chemicals they may have added to flush the lines.

I've been dosing Prime daily, so I'm thinking it's something else in the water.

Depending on what my values are when I get home, I'm thinking I'll keep going with RO water. Might be less chancy until everything gets settled down here.

I'll add my RO water values when I get home as well. See what I might have to do to re-mineralize the water if necessary.

Thanks so much for all your help!
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
OK, so I think I've got two separate problems going on here.

I tested the straight RO water last night, and it has a GH/KH value of 0-1.

Tested the water in the tank, and my GH is 3 drops, KH is 4 drops.

To add to that, I pulled another dead shrimp from the tank this morning. I found a fresh molt in the tank, and the dead shrimp was "bendy" for lack of a better word, so I'm going to assume it was freshly molted and didn't make it.

So I've got a water softness problem I've got to fix.

But as of this morning the ammonia level in the tank is still sitting at 0.25ppm.

I'm dosing prime at 0.15mls every day, and my bio filter should take care of the ammonia, but the level never seems to change. Should I be worried?

I really don't know what to do at this point. I'm trying to decide what is killing my shrimp, the ammonia or the soft water.

Products I have on hand:
Equilibrium - I've never used this. Not quite sure how it works.

Pic of my ammonia reading, just in case it turns out I'm a tool and didn't interpret the colour correctly.

The only other thing I can think of that may be contributing to the ammonia problem. I found what look to be snails in the tank this morning (to the right of the thermometer). Must have hitchhiked in on the new plants. I've found 4 so far. They are pretty tiny, but I've read that snails are huge waste producers. Could they be altering the ammonia that much?

Thanks for merging the posts, Coradee!
  • #10
If you're dosing prime every day then the ammonia is not harming them, so I'd rule that out. Its not uncommon in newly cycled tanks (and sometimes people see them continuously) to see small amounts of ammonia. I think you'd be fine dosing prime every 48 hours for that small amount of ammonia. When you think about it, fish are always putting out ammonia, its just whether or not there is enough to register up to .25 on the test.

Do you have shells in your tank that is raising the GH/KH from the RO water? or is that left over from when you mixed your tap and tank?

Equilibrium will raise GH, not KH. To raise both you want crushed coral or aragonite or cuttlebone or sea shells etc. To raise just KH you want Seachem Alkaline buffer. Its good to use the buffer with new water and the shells to hold everything.

I use Replenish which is a liquid version of Equilibrium (sort of) but it is also for GH. I only used equilibrium once but it made a mess of my tank. That is not to say it will for you though. I probably used too much. Mix it with tank water before adding it in.

No, snails don't have a large bio-load, where did you hear that? If they do I'm in trouble because I have probably a couple 100 MTS (malaysian trumpet snails) in my main aquarium ha ha
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I have cuttlebone in my filter, so I'm assuming that and the left over tap water is what's adding GH and KH to the RO.

I'll look into finding some crushed coral/seashells to place in my filter as well. And some Replenish, since I think I'm going to stick with RO. Be less stressful on my nerves.

I'll keep dosing prime every 48 hours as needed for the ammonia.

Good to know about the snails! I was looking into getting an MTS for my tank

I know I've been a total worrywart - really appreciate all your help and advice!

My remaining shrimp thank you too!

Thanks again!
  • #12
You're welcome

If you're going to stick with RO I'd also order a container of Alkaline Buffer.

I had some red cherry shrimp but their offspring are just cherry shrimp....I thought maybe they would hold their color genetically? I don't know.
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I'll order the Alkaline Buffer as well! I'll do some more reading up on the whole GH/KH/pH thing. Aquariums are HARD. But fun.

When I picked up the shrimp from the LFS, there was supposed to be six Super Red Cherry Shrimp. When I got them in the tank, I found out there was six RCS and one weirdo. He's basically clear, but with weird bluey-grey lines, and he's like half the size of the others. I lost 3 of the RCS, but that weirdo is still going strong. Shrimp are so weird.
  • #14
I started with a dozen red cherries and a dozen yellow. Most of the adults died off and I'm left with a ton of offspring.....cherries (not red cherries) from the reds and clear (not yellow) from the yellows. Oh well they are fun to watch!
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I enjoy watching them, they are such funny little creatures.
Secret Oasis
  • #16
I started with a dozen red cherries and a dozen yellow. Most of the adults died off and I'm left with a ton of offspring.....cherries (not red cherries) from the reds and clear (not yellow) from the yellows. Oh well they are fun to watch!

Wont cherries and yellow shrimp interbreed? causing the color issues you had?
  • #17
The offspring of the originals were from the reds or the yellows, not both. The company I bought them from said the two colors would give neat variations of color (yellow and red makes orange?) lol. We'll see as they get older, I don't know how long it takes them to develop their true colors.
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
So, I lost another shrimp. I'm down to 3 remaining.

At this point I've had ammonia levels ranging from 0.25-1.0 for the past 3-4 days, and I have to admit that the tank must be cycling again.

So I'll dose Prime as needed, do water changes when the ammonia hits 0.5 or higher.

I honestly don't expect any of the shrimp to survive. Such a kick in the pants.
  • #19
I'm so sorry :console:

Hope it doesn't last long.
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Thanks. Can't do much but ride it out at this point and hope for the best.

At least now I know it wasn't my tap water.

Just wanted to say, I want my tank to look like yours when it's all grown up. You have such nice shrimp and snails!
Secret Oasis
  • #21
So after reading through the whole thread was the tank ever cycled before adding the shrimp? and was the previous livestock shrimp as well? shrimp are sensitive to swings in aquarium parameters
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
The tank had been cycled, and had (a) shrimp livestock prior to this new batch of shrimp.

I had lost the previous shrimp inhabitant in mid-May. The aquarium remained set up for the rest of May, and the filter remained wet. I started to get the tank going again beginning of June. I started a fishless cycle, and within just a couple days it was showing cycled-parameters. So I got the new shrimp on June 23, and then the saga started.

In hindsight, I added too much at once, going from 1 shrimp, to no shrimp, to 7 shrimp (with snail hitchhikers) over a relatively short time period. I know they have a small bioload, but I think I pushed it too much. Good lesson for me to learn, sucky reason to learn it. And I'm kicking myself for not realizing sooner what was going on. I was thinking it was my tap water, not a mini-cycle.

I am learning first-hand how sensitive shrimp are. Learning a lot from this, actually. Hopefully be a better shrimp keeper because of it.

Thank you for reading everything through!
Secret Oasis
  • #23
did you use pure ammonia to do the fishless cycle the second time? and are you also testing for nitrites and nitrates theyre equally important as ammonia levels.
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I used fish food for the second cycle. Not good, I know, but it's what I had on hand and I was impatient. Like I said, learned a lot from all this. Regardless, parameters were good by June 26.

I've been testing ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH.
Secret Oasis
  • #25
ah the bioload might not have been enough for 7 shrimp then hopefully you don't lose anymore of them
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Thanks! I really appreciate all the help and knowledge. Lesson learned, hopefully.

The three remaining shrimp look good, so I'll just stay on top of the testing/prime/water changes and hope for the best!

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