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My mind is spinning with all the information. 
I’m stuck in a rabbit hole. I’m using a active substrate Fluval stratum that buffers to 6.8 atm. I’m told by some they need inert which doesn’t alter PH. And I’ve heard some say there shrimp are doing good in FS. My shrimp seam to be doing good. There’s 5 3 girls and 2 boys.  2 of my girls are saddled and one is about to have babies. I’m not seeing any molting problems. They have been in this tank for 2 months. The soil is at least 4 months old. I put them in after cycling was complete a little over a month. I’m using cuttlebone bone, shrimp and snail mineral blocks from marks shrimp tank and montmorillonite clay. 
 
Tank:
15 gallon fluval flex
 
Water parameters:
My PH is 6.8-7 nitrite 0 nitrate 0.5 ammonia 0 GH usually 4 but now with the stuff from MST it’s a 5, KH 4. That’s with tap water. My tap ph is a little high 8s GH/KH i cant remember I’ll have to check when I come home. I plan on using RO water remineralize SS. 
 
Inhabitants:
Rili shrimp 
3 oto catfish 
Zebra Nerite
 
Plants:
anubias nana petite
Java fern 
Moss balls 
Jungle Val 
Hornwart
Amazon fern
 
Fertilizer:
Thrive-S 
 
Should I stick with the substrate I’m using? And SS GH+ or should I go to something inert like black Diamond sand which is  coal slag? I’ve heard the good and the bad with this. Some of the bad.Oily substance or turning the water rusty color! Yuck! If I go inert I will use SS GH/KH with RO water. I want to get off the tap water definitely!!  Any thoughts about Instagram black sand? Or flourite black sand it’s a little pricey for me. 

92F38AA5-0CEB-4F0D-BA02-AF55FD28294E.jpeg

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Typically it is suggested that you start with an inert substrate for neocaridina, but there is really no reason to switch your active substrate out since you are having success.  Fluval stratum is regarded as one of the poorest active substrates and based on your pH, it isn't causing you any problems.

 

It looks like you are doing well.  I wouldn't change anything!

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1 hour ago, rhoagland said:

Typically it is suggested that you start with an inert substrate for neocaridina, but there is really no reason to switch your active substrate out since you are having success.  Fluval stratum is regarded as one of the poorest active substrates and based on your pH, it isn't causing you any problems.

 

It looks like you are doing well.  I wouldn't change anything!

 

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I'd also agree with roagland. If your shrimps are doing well and have been for that long, and especially if they're able to successfully breed and have babies that're able to survive, then I would keep things the same. From personal experience, I know it's tempting to want to change everything in your tank to match what more experienced hobbyists do and tell you to do, but lots of change in a short amount of time can be more harmful. Neos have become very hardy especially if they're homebred in the US. I got ROASTED for sharing my caridina water parameters on another group because they weren't "ideal" even though I have around 12 successful caridina tanks going. There's some people in the hobby who think that you need to follow a certain code specifically and if you deviate from it at all you're incompetent and don't deserve to have shrimp, but the point of my comment was to show people that shrimp are adaptable, and that consistency and patience can be just as important as "perfect" water parameters. 

 

I'll always recommend using remineralized RO water since you can control exactly what's going into your tank and how much of it, and you can keep parameters consistent with each water change. If you're planning to do that I'd recommend going with SS gh/kh+ just because your tank seems to already have kh in it. If you just us SS gh+ your water used for water changes might differ significantly from your tank water (remineralized water might have 0 kh while the tank water the shrimp are used to has a kh of 4). I'd recommend using SS gh/kh+ and trying to find out how much to add to get the gh and kh parameters of the tank, or at least close to it, so that water changes won't be too much of a change for the shrimps. Hope this helps!

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15 hours ago, JSak said:

I'd also agree with roagland. If your shrimps are doing well and have been for that long, and especially if they're able to successfully breed and have babies that're able to survive, then I would keep things the same. From personal experience, I know it's tempting to want to change everything in your tank to match what more experienced hobbyists do and tell you to do, but lots of change in a short amount of time can be more harmful. Neos have become very hardy especially if they're homebred in the US. I got ROASTED for sharing my caridina water parameters on another group because they weren't "ideal" even though I have around 12 successful caridina tanks going. There's some people in the hobby who think that you need to follow a certain code specifically and if you deviate from it at all you're incompetent and don't deserve to have shrimp, but the point of my comment was to show people that shrimp are adaptable, and that consistency and patience can be just as important as "perfect" water parameters. 

 

I'll always recommend using remineralized RO water since you can control exactly what's going into your tank and how much of it, and you can keep parameters consistent with each water change. If you're planning to do that I'd recommend going with SS gh/kh+ just because your tank seems to already have kh in it. If you just us SS gh+ your water used for water changes might differ significantly from your tank water (remineralized water might have 0 kh while the tank water the shrimp are used to has a kh of 4). I'd recommend using SS gh/kh+ and trying to find out how much to add to get the gh and kh parameters of the tank, or at least close to it, so that water changes won't be too much of a change for the shrimps. Hope this helps!

I really appreciate the advice. My shrimp just had the babies the other day haven’t seen them yet. But excited. And found another one will eggs.  I agree with the SS GH/KH. I was nervous about this rout because I was worried it would cause PH swings because of the buffering substrate. That’s why I wanted you get an opinion on which I should use the SS GH+ or SS GH/KH. Yes I know it was making me feel bad about getting the wrong substrate advised by others. And was confused because they seam to be doing well on the substrate. 

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@Shrimpygirl Congrats! When I notice eggs hatching and the babies surviving then I start to worry less about if my shrimp are doing okay in the tank or not. Problem with shrimp I've noticed is that sometimes they won't give you many signs that somethings going on unless you're really paying attention to them and know what to look for. But like roagland said fluval stratum is a pretty weak buffering substrate so I'd assume over time the kh in the water change water will deplete the buffering activity of the soil. Neos tend to like at least a little kh so I'd personally recommend gh/kh+. Yea for some reason some people will tell you that your shrimp aren't doing well if you're not doing things according to the "ideal standards" even if they've never seen your shrimp and/or they're breeding and doing fine. Consistency is key imo and the #1 rule I follow for my hobby.

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That's awesome! If babies are born and raised in your water parameters, I believe they become stronger than the parents so once I see babies growing up to at least smaller juvenile size (1/4 inch or so) then I feel pretty confident about the colony. Hope they do well for you and that you have many more babies in the future!

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35 minutes ago, JSak said:

That's awesome! If babies are born and raised in your water parameters, I believe they become stronger than the parents so once I see babies growing up to at least smaller juvenile size (1/4 inch or so) then I feel pretty confident about the colony. Hope they do well for you and that you have many more babies in the future!

that definitely makes me feel better. I’m so happy!! I seen at least 3 I know there has to be more hiding 

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Yea when I get new shrimp I'm checking them frequently and counting them everyday. Once I see a berried female I relax a little, but once I see babies then that's when I stop worrying as much. It's definitely an awesome feeling and an accomplishment to finally have babies. There's definitely more hiding I'm sure. Now you can just sit back and watch the babies grow!

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