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Struggling to stick to parameters suggested by breeder

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I think this might be a bit long-winded so apologies up front!

I have recently started to care for cherry shrimp having had no problems with amano shrimp in my other 2 tanks. I understood they were easy to care for and could tolerate a wide range of water parameters.(Hmm!)

I have a 19L shrimp tank with 10 white pearl and 1 blue phantom shrimp at the moment. 

Previously I bought 3 blue phantoms (not sure if they are blue jellies, but very similar). Had to keep them in a 30L tank with only assassins snails for company whilst the shrimp tank finished cycling. Lost 1 blue straight away, saw the 2nd one disappearing down the throat of an assassin snail about 3 days later so I assume it died beforehand (I hope it did!)

The 3rd one survived. I then purchased 3 more blues and transferred them all to the shrimp tank which at that time was a 12L tank.

Couldn't keep the temperature stable so upgraded to a 19L - that's all I have room for now.


Transferred the equipment and could only find the one blue again - the same one that survived before I'm sure.

It seemed to be much more settled in the larger tank so I got 10 white pearl shrimp and was advised by the breeder/retailer to keep the TDS at 250 as it helps them to moult. (I top up my tap water from 110 - 250 using Salty Shrimp GH+)

He also advised keeping the pH 7.5, temperature around 21⁰C and the nitrates under 10 ppm.

Here's where I'm struggling - we've had a heatwave in the UK and I'm using 2 fans to try to keep it under control. Without the fans it runs up to 28⁰ on the hottest days.


Also I've been having to do water changes every 3 days to keep the nitrates under 10.

Got 2 moss-balls in there at the moment which are nice and green - have moved every other plant out as they start to melt due to lack of nutrients I think and probably contributed to the nitrate situation in the first instance. However it hasn't gone away completely and I'm still having to do W/C every few days which is really frustrating. 


Other water parameters:

Ammonia 0ppm

Nitrites 0 ppm

Nitrates up to 25 ppm if I leave the water changes for more than 3-4 days - had 1 shrimp jump out of the water at that level!

pH 7.8 stable

temperature 19.5-23.5 depending on weather.

I don't have GH or KH tests as I feel I'm juggling too many balls as it is at the moment.

TDS increases by 10-15 daily - return it to 250 with W/C


Yesterday I added 2 banana leaves and 4 alder cones as I heard they gradually reduce the pH and since my water is at the top of the range for cherries I thought it might help. I also thought it would give them something to graze on, on the days I don't feed them. Added a guava leaf a couple of days ago and there's been a cholla log in there for quite a while now and that was very popular to begin with, but they seem to have lost interest in it and other food at the moment. The water is so dark today it's like black water so have removed the banana leaves. It's almost like they are spaced out or stoned!


What am I doing wrong to need to do so many water changes due to nitrates? What temperature fluctuation is acceptable? 

I'm sorry for the long post, but have tried to include as much information as possible.

Thank you for sticking with it this far!



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Yes, how long has it been up? Did you do an acclimation when you added the first shrimp?


Plants love to suck up nitrates, so having some in there would likely help some. (even more moss, but maybe other things like floating plants or water sprite, wisteria, etc.)


Also, if you're using fans, you may eventually want to buy some distilled water (or get a filtering unit to make your own) to replace the water that evaporates without adding more minerals/etc from your tap water. This can also sometimes help decrease your pH.

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hi and thanks for your interest!

The tank is quite immature I suppose and the equipment was transferred in from the smaller shrimp tank 3 weeks ago along with the single blue shrimp which was acclimated to the new TDS level from 110 to 250 and took about 4 hours.

The white shrimp were added a few days later and were acclimated too tho not quite as slowly as they arrived in water which was already TDS 170 and the ammonia level was 0.5 ppm.

The substrate is black aquarium gravel from a pet store here in the UK called Pets At Home and this is the link to the item if that helps:  http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/fish/fish/fish-tank-ornaments--plants-and-gravel/black-aquarium-gravel


Water from the tap -

ammonia 0 ppm

nitrites 0 ppm

nitrates 5 ppm (this seems to vary tho I do check it every water change)

pH 7.8 immediately - and seems to stay that level in all the tanks - haven't tested after 24 hrs tbh.


Have tried Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) which eventually turned yellow and lost a lot of root length. Have tried Riccia fluitans which also started to turn yellow underneath and Vallisneria tortifolia which did throw out a shoot but then started to melt after about a week. Removed them all as they seemed to be adding to the nitrate problem rather than solving it. The only living plants that seem to be thriving in there are the 2 moss balls, but I believe they are slow nitrate users.


When I change the water am adjusting it so that the end result is 250 TDS from whatever level it's got to - highest it's been is 290 and that was after 4 days.

I do top up with TDS 230 when it gets to about 270. 


Hope that's answered your questions and helps clarify the situation.

One thought just occurred to me and I don't know if it's significant or not. I'd read that leaving the moulted carapace was good for the shrimp. Have noticed there's been quite a bit of moulting over last couple of days and the moults are just sitting there - could they be breaking down and adding to the nitrates or are they more likely to add to the calcium/magnesium levels? There will be some protein included tho how much I don't know.


What do you guys think to the parameters I'm trying to achieve? Are they realistic or am I going to be chasing my tail trying for perfection?

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Thought a couple of photos might help:


This was taken whilst the Frogbit was still in there.


The single blue phantom shrimp a couple of weeks ago.



This is feeding time only last week!


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I would said just keep water stable. much important than aid particular parameters.

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Thanks, James, but therein lies the problem! Keeping the parameters stable seems to be quite tricky at the moment. Will keep checking them and changing water accordingly, just wondered if anyone can tell me why it's not as stable as it could be - if there's something I'm doing that I shouldn't or not doing that I should.  :unsure:

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Thanks, James, but therein lies the problem! Keeping the parameters stable seems to be quite tricky at the moment. Will keep checking them and changing water accordingly, just wondered if anyone can tell me why it's not as stable as it could be - if there's something I'm doing that I shouldn't or not doing that I should.  :unsure:


What's the GH value? I don't worry too much about TDS.

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I don't have a GH test, James and I'll be sticking with the equipment I've got for now. Throwing GH into the mix will only add another variable I think and I really don't need that at the moment.

I tried a shallower dish, Shrimpo and the water flow made the food drift out of the dish into the substrate which I thought could be adding to the nitrate load. The sides of the dish are actually 1" deep from the inside surface - is that really going to cause problems for the 3 hours it's going to be in there? 

I don't know if it's the recent additions of cones and leaves but the nitrates seems to have stabilised at 5 - 10 ppm for the last few days. Maybe it was the substrate that was leaching ammonia or something and it's fully spent now. I don't know. :unsure:

Many thanks for all your inputs so far. 

Will keep my fingers crossed and post updates as things happen.

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But if your GH is too low, no matter what you do, your shrimp will not be healthy, so you still need to know. Just get it and test it. You don't need to track it daily.

Hard to tell why the plants were doing so poorly, but the number one reason is insufficient light. If you do not have a dedicated light that's appropriate for plant growth, then stick with the marimo balls only. Dying plants will definitely be a source of nitrogenous wastes, and cascade into the issues you described.

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Thanks chibikaie! I have an LED light over the tank which I split into 2 x 4 hrs sessions with a 6 hr gap in between to try and keep the tank temperature reasonable during this heatwave we've been having in the UK.

Last night was the first night I've got up to a tank temp of 21.1 so I'm really pleased with that. Will have to adjust the fans usage as Autumn progresses, but for now I'm happy.

OK I'll get a GH/KH test kit, now some of the variables (nitrates and temp) seem to be settling, but I was wary of trying to juggle too many balls at the same time. How often should I test for GH? Each water change? Less or more frequently? Should I test the tap water each time I use it? Does it usually stay the same? TDS tap water is usually around the 106-110 ppm mark so would that loosely translate to GH? Sorry for all the questions but I've only just got my head around working with TDS

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Have seen a plant LED lamp on eBay UK and there's 2 options available - white alone which is 6500K and white+blue which together are 7000-8000K. Which do you recommend? Don't really want to go into CO2 injection etc so would the white only be sufficient to stop plants from melting?

I also have Easy Life Profito for the other tanks, but didn't really want to start throwing chemicals into the shrimp tank with it being already unstable up to now. Would either of those light options be useful without resorting to CO2 and ferts if possible?

Lamp link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aquarium-Fish-Tank-Plant-Growth-Lighting-Over-Head-Lamp-LED-Light-White-Blue-/121260605275?pt=UK_Pet_Supplies_Fish&var=&hash=item1c3bb1ff5b

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Shrimp are more sensitive than fish, so we have some more tests we keep in out arsenal to make sure our shrimp are doing well. heh


How often should I test for GH? Each water change? Less or more frequently?


Should I test the tap water each time I use it?

At least each season.  See, tap water seems to change throughout the year.  Sometimes the water dept add things in without letting us know until the water report for instance.  TDS can sometimes flux wildly as another example. 


Does it usually stay the same?

yes and no.  Depends on if using well water, and other variables.  Most of the time though, it can flux from time to time.


TDS tap water is usually around the 106-110 ppm mark so would that loosely translate to GH?

TDS related to ALL total dissolved solids in your water, so it measures lots more than just gh.


Sorry for all the questions but I've only just got my head around working with TDS!

It's a lot to understand. heh  Took many of us years to get this far.  Take your time and new knowledge will come. :)

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Thanks Soothing Shrimp! That info helps!

I've already lost 2 lots of shrimp and so I guess I'm a bit antsy with these white pearls (+1 blue). I'm a compulsive head counter every time I walk past the tank - I just can't help it. Hopefully it will get easier and I can start to relax soon. I always thought cherries were supposed to be easy to look after! lol

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LOL  I hear ya.  When I first started I lost several tanks of shrimp.  Things got better as I learned what to do and started to understand what to look for.


Neos, with few exceptions, are the easiest shrimp.  But the learning curve is still there. heh  Just be glad you are learning the basics with hardy shrimp like neos, and not more expensive shrimp that cost 20+ dollars each like Taiwan Bees. :)


Oh, to add to knowledge being gained, white pearls are Neos, but not cherries.  White pearls are Neocaridina palmata.  Cherries are Neocaridina davidi.  Kinda like a nickel is a coin, but a coin is not necessarily a nickel. ;)


I had problems with the tap where I live.  So I got a cheap RO unit (some people buy ro from the store in jugs), and use remineralizer now.  Took sooo much guesswork out of what was making the water problems!

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With all the nitrate problems it had crossed my mind to consider RO water tho I haven't looked into sourcing any yet. Will see if it truly has settled down and if not I'll look into getting some. We use R.O. water at work tho I'm not sure I'd be able to take some away with me at least not in the quantity required. 

When I bought these I believed they were Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis var. white and read they are very similar to and have similar needs to cherries so I guess I started to think of them as such so thanks for stopping my bad habit.

Did a 50% water change today, not because of the nitrates this time (5-10), but the banana leaves had leached so much tannins I could hardly see the shrimp! I've also returned a small metal mesh with US fissidens growing on it and the shrimp have been eating from it. Hopefully their lethargy was caused by being super-chilled out.

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Shrimp love grazing. :)


The white pearl used to be Neocaridina cf. zhangjiajiensis var. white, but was reclassified as Neo palmata.  It's hard to keep up with all these reclassifications sometimes.  Heck, cherries were Neo denticula, then Neo Heteropoda, and now Neo davidi. LOL

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Oh dear! I have problems keeping up with basic stuff let alone classification names! For some reason I did know that cherries are now N. davidi not heteropoda - a lot of retailers use the old names still. I thought the whole point of classification was to avoid confusion not cause it! lol

Anyway, the main point was that white pearls aren't cherries I guess.

I'm learning all sorts - just knew it was a good idea to join this forum!!  :D

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I don't feel bad as such, but I do feel responsible for the fact that my previous ignorance led to the demise of 7 shrimp, not a huge amount but even so ...

I do feel a little less ignorant now, but I've still got heaps to learn! Looking forward to brushing up my shrimp-keeping skills with the help of generous members on here.

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Another of my concerns is how much they are eating. Have heard about the Dennerle Bacter AE - is it too late to start using this to develop a good biofilm as I've only seen it used when setting up new shrimp tanks. They seem to prefer what they can scavenge over what I actually offer them so anything that helps in that direction would be good!

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