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Dead shrimp after Bacter AE

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Hi Everyone.


I just got an order of 60 Painted Fire Reds two days ago.  They survived shipping very well and have been in good shape, with great color.  This evening, I sprinkled a small amount of Bacter AE and within an hour I had 2 dead shrimp and about 10 more who were drastically losing their color.  Some had 1/2 of their shell turning white, others had their whole body turning "white-ish".


My water parameters are fine.  I've been keeping these shrimp for over 3 years, with no problems.


The change to the shrimp was so sudden and simultaneous that I can only connect it to the Bacter AE.  So, I have a few questions:

1.)  Has anyone heard of Bacter AE causing similar problems?

2.)  I just got the Bacter AE about 3 weeks ago.  When not being used, it's sealed and stored in a box in the basement.  Does it need to be refrigerated?  Can it go bad?

3.)  IF this is just a result of some kind of "food shock" after shipping, can a product like API Stress Zyme be added to relax the shrimp?


* Finally, this is the first time I've added so many shrimp to a 10 gallon tank.  ... did I just commit a fatal error with the bio-load?



As usual, thanks for looking at this post.  Any input would be appreciated.




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Bacter AE

Water additive for furthering biofilms and the microflora/-fauna in shrimp tanks

Bacter AE adds important microorganisms, amino acids and enzymes to your aquarium, enhancing water quality and improving the development of biofilms, which are essential for shrimp and especially shrimp offspring. The biofilms thus created provide them with a valuable staple food rich in beneficial proteins, especially improving the survival rate of young shrimplets and giving them everything they need for healthy development. In addition, live probiotic bacteria improve the nutrient uptake of the shrimp and influence their digestive processes in a positive way, amongst others.

The bacteria cultures contained in Bacter AE are in "sleep mode", so-to-say, and are activated as soon as they come into contact with water. They remove toxic substances and, together with all the other carefully fine-tuned components of Bacter AE, they provide your aquarium with a good microclimate.

Usage (for120 litres)

Lowly stocked: daily 1/2 measuring spoon Normally stocked: daily 1 measuring spoon Heavily stocked: twice a day 1 measuring spoon

OBS: We recommend: When first using, add only half the dosage during the first week or so. Old or already weakened shrimps might die when you start using this product. Make sure the aquarium is well ventilated.

1 measuring spoon = about 0,5g

Composition: Amino acids, polysaccarides, xylanase, glucanase, amylase, protease, hemicellulase, Bacillus subtilis, Pediococcus aci - dilactici (Lactobacillus)

Content: 38g / 76g including measuring spoon

Made in Germany

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Thanks for the input.


Dragon, you might have a point about the stress.  I'm wondering if anything should have been added for a few more days.  God knows I have enough biofilm.  Still, it was 60 shrimp and the portion I gave them was extremely small.   The dosage instructions seem a bit excessive.  That's why I'd rather feed less than risk overdosing.


Poopians, I'm in agreement with you regarding Bacter AE, in general.  All of my shrimp react to it positively.   Yesterday, I gave them a tiny bit of regular food (just for a "taste of home").   As for today, I gave them nothing else and did absolutely nothing to the tank.  That's why the suddenness of the reaction to Bacter AE was so surprising.    They were all looking healthy and great up until the point I introduced  the product into the tank.  Then, it looked like they had been poisoned.    Nothing touched the water, ...except for the B AE.


Is it possible they might have had molting issues?  I'm not familiar with molting periods/frequency or what initiates it.  Can stress, changes in water parameters/temperature, food, etc... trigger it?      How do you identify molting deaths?

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I highly doubt it was the Bacter, the dosing instruction do seem excessive I never dose what it reccommends.  I have a feeling it was adding 60 shrimp to a tank at one time.  Was the tank properly cycled before adding the shrimp? How long was it set up before you added them and how long after you put them in the tank did you add the bacter? I dont usually feed my new shrimp for a couple days, shipping stresses them out and they dont usually seem too excited to eat until they settle in a bit.

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Truth be told, sometimes I feed shrimp the same day they come in.  No disasters.


I feed AE too, but had no results like this.


1) How did you acclimate your shrimp?


2) GH/TDS?


3) Was your filter seeded or tank cycled prior to putting in such a large shrimp load?  How?  If not, this is your culprit.

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Were the affected shrimp larger/older ones?


In my experience, older shrimp don't travel and acclimate as well as juveniles. 


I'm also interested in how you cycled the tank, I cycle for 4 - 8 weeks now and not just for BB but also to allow for sufficient biofilm to develop.

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Wow!   A lot of great questions and information, guys.

I'll try to address everything, so you'll see why this is such a mystery and maybe it will help others receiving shrimp orders.


9thDragon, I got the shrimp from ShrimpUSA.  Bob always has gorgeous Painted Fire Reds that arrive alive and remain healthy.


Soothing and Poopians, I always try to adjust the shrimp to my tanks, since it will be too late to make any drastic changes once the shrimp arrive.  For that reason, I always try to keep my parameters in a "neutral" area for the wide range of conditions PFR's can live in.

pH 6.8 - 7.2

GH 8 - 10

TDS 250 +

temps 73



- This is my dedicated PFR tank that I've been running for about 2 years.  I keep it heavily planted, do regular water changes, monitor the parameters, use only a well-established sponge filter, etc...     So it's not new tank shock or a tank collapse.



- To avoid acclimation shock, I put them into their "holding container" and let the water warm up to room temperature. 

- Then I used a drip for about 4-5 hours under a diffused light. 

- Every hour, I'd pull the netting back a little bit more, to allow for slow adjustment to light.   * This was the same process I used with my other three species tanks (it was a large order).

- I just checked the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels and everything is fine in that department.


Age Issues

- As Ron correctly pointed out, older shrimp have a harder time adjusting.  I'm well aware of that and that's why I take such care in acclimatizing.  Most of the shrimp are young adults.  There were lots of heavily berried females and it appears most are still pregnant.  Some already had babies. 


Chronology of events

-  They were great shape after transferring to the aquarium and remained this way for two days.   I only lost 1 shrimp.  The rest were active and had fantastic color.

-  About 2 hours after tank introduction, I scraped and crumbled a tiny amount off of one Ken's Veggie stick with Calcium and one CSF Edge Omni Pro.  We're talking about less than a pin-head.   They ate it eagerly and quickly and went back to grazing.

-  Yesterday, they were all in great shape, showed beautiful color, and were active.

-  THEN, .... I sprinkled some Bacter AE.  I don't use their measuring spoon, as I think it's too much.  The amount was about the size of a pin-head.


....about 2 hours later, my panic set in.


- As I said before, I found 2 dead shrimp and about 10 more whose shells were turning "white-ish" to varying degrees.  Something was definitely wrong and had affected them adversely.




- All of the PFR's are fine, active, and have their color back.  I only found one more casualty, yet its shell didn't have the discoloration.  It would seem that whatever affected them was temporary.




- Why would they get stressed immediately after introducing Bacter AE.   Is it a coincidence?  Could it be the nature of the product affecting them so quickly after arriving?    ** None of the other tanks (Yellow Neos and CRS's) showed similar problems.

- Is it possible for Bacter AE to go bad?

- Should I have not fed them anything for a few days?

- After traveling for 2 days and having temps drop to about 62-65, would introducing them to warmer temps induce molting?  Is it possible they had molting problems?


Finally, if they've returned to a healthy state and I'm no longer worried about a massive die-off, should I just write it off to "bad luck" and carry on?   



I have to admit that this mystery will be nagging me for a while.  I guess I'm just trying to see if anyone had similar issues and to learn some more about the nature of shrimp.


Thanks again!

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Some shrimp don't adjust well from shipping/acclamation . If the remainder of the shrimp are doing fine, they will reproduce what you lost. Losing shrimp is a part of the hobby I don't think it was any thing you did or didn't do.

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Hi guys.


Out of 150 shrimp, I've only had 5 deaths total.   I guess I shouldn't complain.   Nevertheless, it would be good to understand why it was the Painted Fire Reds that suffered the losses, especially since they're supposed to be the hardy breed.


Dragon, I don't see why you'd anticipate more deaths?  My water is fine, ...both before and after introducing the shrimp.  After the obvious stress from shipping, I'm trying to determine if food may have played a part in contributing to their deaths.  ...either by the specific food, or simply feeding them while they were stressed.


What's interesting is that two days later, they were perfectly happy with blanched spinach and some Ken's Veggie sticks the following day.  Yesterday, I added a touch of Bacter AE (lots of babies in the tank) and I noticed some of the adults' color fading again (no deaths, thankfully). 


I'll keep carefully observing the feeding regiment and let you know there is anything conclusive.


Cindy, thanks for the input.  Personally, I've never had any parasite issues with any livestock from ShrimpUSA, and as a matter of fact, the shrimp have always been very healthy.  There haven't been any DOA's or post-shipping casualties.  I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience.    Again, I'll keep observing and share if I find anything useful.



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Ah-ha!   I discovered some cause and effect,  ....yet the mystery deepens.


This batch of Painted Fire Red Cherries gets stressed a lot.  The stress affects their color, right?   I've had these shrimp for a week, they were previously held over for another week at the supplier's location (due to weather), and prior to that, they flew in from Asia.  So, they have reason to be a little bit sensitive.


Any time I top off the aquarium or do a water change (all using drip system), they get stressed. 

Any time I feed them "processed" food (anything other than Ken's Veggie sticks or blanched spinach) they get stressed and/or die.


OK, so here is what I observed today....  the shrimp got immediately stressed after the introduction of food.  We're talking about 5 minutes or less.  Again, I fed them tiny amounts of food, just to see what they'd respond to, as well as doing a test on their behavior.   Today, I lost two more.  Crazy, no?


I have a great variety of different types of food..  Yet the only thing they responded to, without any color change, was blanched spinach or Ken's Veggie Sticks with Calcium.


QUESTION:   Has anybody else had a similar experience after receiving a shipment (from Asia, perhaps)?


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I've never heard of this and can't really think of any reasons that'd cause this. However, you did mention that the shrimps were turning white, which makes me think this is more than just being stressed. Stressed fire reds should be clear, right?

If we're talking about fish, I'd say the white is ammonia burn. I have no idea if this is the same with shrimps and you said all parameters are good (make sure your test kits are accurate by doing tests on known water samples).

It also does sound like they are being poisoned. Are you feeding the same foods to other shrimps and not observing the same thing as this tank? Could it be your hands or the surfaces of the food containers that need to be cleaned?

You also mentioned that this tank has been set up for two years. Do you have any of your previous shrimps or other inhabitants in there? How have they reacted?

Another test that may help you understand the situation better is to add some of your healthy shrimps from another tank to this one (to a breeder box if necessary). Feed again, and observe. Since we're talking about seeing the effect within hours or minutes, it should be a relatively easy test.

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Hah!      Miwu, now you know why I'm posting.   :-)       This is very strange.


           *Yes, it does sound like poisoning.*    

            ...but there are a few whose shell becomes lighter and then recovers within a few hours.  So, it appears to be stress.


You have some excellent questions and suggestions.  Let me try to address where we are:

-  Other than species-specific water parameters, I try to treat all of my shrimp tanks identically (water change schedule, food rotations, etc..)

-  I've always kept Painted Fire Reds in this tank.  I still have young adults and they appear fine.

-  Ammonia's virtually non-existent.  ...using both strip and API liquid kit.   Nevertheless, I'm going to run all water tests every day.

-  The food schedule is the same for all 4 tanks.  As all of the shrimp tanks have a lot of bio-film, additional food is usually meant to give them a treat or balance some nutrients.   I've been extremely careful to give the PFR's small portions of food since this problem surfaced.    

-  Hands, tools, dishes, etc...  Excellent point and one that I stay on top of.   The PFR's are usually the 2nd or 3rd tank to be cared for.  So anything contaminating them should hit the other tanks first.   Still, something could be getting in.


** I'll put some of my Bloody Mary's in a breeder box as "Canaries in the Coal Mine".   ...not sure if anything will happen, as 90% of the other shrimp are fine.


I just got some natural products from Han, .. Guava leaves, Mulberry leaves, Moringa leaves, Alder cones, etc.. and will add a few for overall health.



Possible issue:  Molting.  

I haven't seen any discarded shells since they arrived a week ago.   

I've watched the post-feeding stressed shrimp and haven't seen them attempt to molt.  So, I'm not sure if this a contributing factor.  Nevertheless, it seemed an additional thing to point out.

Thank you SO much for trying to help unravel this mystery.  It's like being CDC doctors trying to discover a germ.

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Shipping Stress and Diet?


Well, water tests showed nothing unusual with the parameters.  It was a little on the lower pH side - 6.8, but nothing drastic.


Here's what was interesting:   I got my package of natural products from Han, boiled the Guava leaves and soaked the Mulberry leaves.  After introducing the leaves into all of the tanks the shrimp went nuts, ...except the Painted Fire Reds.  It took a few hours for the Painted Fire Reds to finally start nibbling on the leaves and after that, ...no problems.  Not only did they retain their color after eating, but I tested their appetites and reactions by adding a tiny sprinkle of Bacter AE and Wild Borneo Bebi, later in the day.  As of this morning, there are no discolored or dead shrimp.


Obviously, this is not scientific, but it suggests the possibility that "artificially prepared" foods may be harder for a stressed shrimp to digest, than natural products.   When I say "natural", I mean in their natural form.  If we review what happened, during the first week after arrival, they accepted blanched spinach with no problems, but suffered immediately after being introduced to anything powdered, pelleted, etc..


Again, this is just speculation, but maybe someone could share their experience with having shrimp travel a long way, possibly arrive stressed, and what kind of diet they make available.


I'll update if there are any changes, but I just want to thank everyone for trying to help me figure out this problem.

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  • 1 year later...

I have a 20 gallon tank with CBS and RCS shrimp that I have had pretty good success with a growing colony for about 1 year.  I just did not see that many babies - I would see about 5 or 6 after I knew there was a berried shrimp and was thinking with the number of eggs on her I should see more.  I have a lot of alder cones, plants, moss and IAL in my tank so I was thinking I had plenty of micro-organisms for babies but I am not an expert by any means.  I saw the reviews on Bacter AE saying how it would help with survival rate so I thought I would give it a shot after all of the great reviews.  I did also read that the dosing rates on the bottle were high so I knew not to go all out when I first started to use it.  I have about 75 shrimp in my 20 gal tank and all are healthy and minimal deaths - therefore a pretty healthy colony to me.

I received the Bacter AE and proceed to add about 1/2 a scoop which i divided into each corner of the tank.  The next morning I checked my tank and found several dead CBS.  Removed them from the tank and went to work.  Came home and found 2 more dead.  Didn't think it could have been the Bacter AE so I checked all my water parameters and everything was was normal.  So I put a very small amount of Bacter AE in the tank again (enough to cover bottom of scoop) and again the next morning I found more dead CBS.  So I did a water change in hopes of correcting whatever was going on and also stopped dosing the Bacter AE.  Only lost a couple more over the next week.  Waited about 2 weeks and thought I would try the Bacter AE one more time and this time only put in a tiny amount (one corner of the bottom of the scoop).  Next morning 2 dead.  So either my parameters are just on the ragged edge for CBS and this tiny amount of Bacter AE is taken some parameter over and effecting my shrimp or something else that I don't understand.  Not sure what is going on but the product does not seem to work for me in this tank.  I am planning to start a Sulawesi Cardinal tank soon and will use it to start that tank and get the micro organisms started.


Also, I do not remember if it affected any of the cherries but I do have a tank at my office with cherry shrimp and I may try a very small amount in it and see if they are affected.  I do not have a very good survival rate of babies in that tank so hoping it may help this tank.

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