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The "Other Substrates"


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Hey ShrimpSpot!

 

I am planning to setup two more 17.1g Mr. Aqua aquariums in the next week to two weeks. I have a couple substrates I plan to test out, but I don't want to name them as of yet. 

 

What new active substrates have you tried (Besides ADA)? Results? Good or Bad? Tips and Tricks?

 

I know alot of newer substrates like Controsoil, Glas-Garten, and Brightwell have become popular, but I want to know what each of you have tried and your experiences.

 

Thank you!

 

DETAquarium

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Hi. I have tried Control soil a few years ago.

Uniform balls larger than ada. Nice black color. Seems lighter than ada.

Not really good for plants like ada. Cycles very quick.

Good for shrimp tanks. lasted over 2 years for me. Holds shape well..

 

But you already know which is the best soil for shrimp.

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Bright well xtra fine cafe color

 

extra fine is like ADA powdered

 

cycled very quick

 

 

 

LOVE it! for shrimp tank, not as good for plants as ADA Amazonia

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many dont know that brightwell is made by marfield who makes controsoil. so its the same stuff to start with. what brightwell does with it once they get it???

 

Did you ever test the Glas-Garten Environment?

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I'm going to play devil's advocate for just a minute.  It's in my nature, I'm always questioning everything as I have an open mind and a big mouth.

 

What's the "purpose" of "Shrimp substrate"?  What specifically would make a perfect "shrimp substrate"?  

 

Other than buffering the water to an acidic level between about 5.8 and 6.6 --- is there any difference in function between shrimp substrates and other substrates?   If so - what would those differences / functions be?  

 

O ask this because" 1. buffering substrates have a relatively short (expensive) lifespan.  2. There are other well established methods for buffering water in an acid range that don't rely on the substrate.  Phosphate based buffers.  The "knock" on phosphate based buffers is they tend to promote algae growth - but I don't see this as a detriment to keeping shrimp.

 

For decades discus (and other very soft water sensitive fish) keepers have been using acidic buffers with inert substrates or bare bottom tanks keeping their prizes at about 1-3GH with little or no KH.  

 

Why don't shrimp keepers do this?  

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I'm going to play devil's advocate for just a minute.  It's in my nature, I'm always questioning everything as I have an open mind and a big mouth.

 

What's the "purpose" of "Shrimp substrate"?  What specifically would make a perfect "shrimp substrate"?  

 

Other than buffering the water to an acidic level between about 5.8 and 6.6 --- is there any difference in function between shrimp substrates and other substrates?   If so - what would those differences / functions be?  

 

O ask this because" 1. buffering substrates have a relatively short (expensive) lifespan.  2. There are other well established methods for buffering water in an acid range that don't rely on the substrate.  Phosphate based buffers.  The "knock" on phosphate based buffers is they tend to promote algae growth - but I don't see this as a detriment to keeping shrimp.

 

For decades discus (and other very soft water sensitive fish) keepers have been using acidic buffers with inert substrates or bare bottom tanks keeping their prizes at about 1-3GH with little or no KH.  

 

Why don't shrimp keepers do this?  

 

for more indepth info you should check out shirakura redbee sand analysis.

http://www.shirakura-shop.de/en/analysis.htm

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Why don't shrimp keepers do this?  

 

90% of my tanks are lava sand. I buffer the pH with a little with peat filter media (usually Sera SuperPeat). Since I always go for 8 to 12cm thick substrate and concentrating on building healthy substrate eco-system (with no UGF), my substrate will produce enough humus substances with 2 to 3 months. In this case, I virtually does not need to change the peat filter media. I just need to add carbonates to increase the buffering when I am injecting CO2. :)

 

I do know quite a few breeders in EU are using inert substrate too. ;)

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SD, there used to be a page on your previous website with your substrate "recipe".......I can't locate it on your new-look blog/website. Does it still exist online and could you direct us to where it is located?

 

Hi,

 

After I found a better way, I took away that page. The better way is to have totally inert substrate and buffer the water with peat filter media (acidic water) or aragonite (alkaline water). With this new method, you could adjust the pH at ease, especially according to the tank's fluctuation over month.

 

I have been wanted to provide a write up on this, but don't have time. Once I publish it, I will post in SS to let everyone know. :)

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In my experience in keeping shrimp, the most important thing is stable water parameters.

 

That is why we use active soils such as ADA, Control, Stratum and all these new soils available, to keep the ph stable.

 

Especially the more sensitive types like Taiwan Bees.

 

Also to do the least amount to the water to make the shrimp happy.

 

Anybody can keep shrimp alive , but not everybody can produce the optimal parameters

 

to keep them happy and have them produce babies generation after generation. That is the goal.

 

I notice people try to do too much especially when they first start keep shrimp.

 

I was like that when i first started out. Buying all those fancy water additives, specialty foods, bacteria etc....

 

We learn by experience. Folks that have been doing this for years know what I am talking about.

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(continuing the discussion for discussion sake - keep in mind that I use shrimp stratum in all of my tanks)      

 

Responses were exactly as I had expected.  Nothing new that I might have been missing.  

 

The link Eric posted http://www.shirakura-shop.de/en/analysis.htm shows that with every water change there is a profound pH and hardness spike in the water parameters for a day or so until the shrimp stratum can buffer and correct the added water to conform to the status quo.  That's not stable.  When preparing water in a sump using low pH buffers and remineralizers before adding to the shrimp tank you'll not see these temporary pH and hardness spikes.  As shrimp stratum buffering capacity is slowly exhausted it becomes less and less desirable for sensitive species - requiring a complete replacement of the substrate.  It seems to me this demonstrates low short term stability (water changes) as well as long term stability (media exhaustion).  

 

While keeping shrimp is new to me, I've been breeding very sensitive soft acidic water fish for decades and was a champion breeder for several years before the dedication to maintain so many aquaria exhausted me.  I'm having a difficult time understanding why the methodology that's proven successful for very rare labyrinths, Kilies, and Amazonia fish requiring virtual rainwater - would be ineffective for shrimp.

 

 As suggested, I am adhering to the methodologies employed by the Asian and now American shrimp keepers, but it's noteworthy that this is not the same methodology used by many of the European keepers who rely on peat and mattenfilters which is the same methods they used since the 60's for breeding otherwise impossible fish to keep or breed.  Chris Lukhaup's "Keepers and Breeders" are illuminating on this point to a point - but translating the European forums and especially blogs provides even more information on their methodology and how it is distinctly different from the Asian methods.

 

It seems that the primary advantage of the shrimp substrate is the tremendous surface area they afford for microbial colonization.  The buffering seems to be a secondary advantage  -  I am proposing that by using chemical buffers (such as seachem Discus buffer)  at the time the water is remineralized and prior to addition to the aquaria the buffering capacity of the substrate should be extended appreciably resulting in increased pH and hardness stability for both short and long term.

 

I would certainly not argue that current substrate methodology is ineffective (I've got baby shrimp everywhere) - I'm simply questioning if it can be improved - and if the more experienced keepers and breeder are open minded to refining their methodology.  

 

In my experience in keeping shrimp, the most important thing is stable water parameters.

 

That is why we use active soils such as ADA, Control, Stratum and all these new soils available, to keep the ph stable.

 

We learn by experience. Folks that have been doing this for years know what I am talking about.

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I keep crs wihtout peat, and co2 with akadama soil, its cheap.,and hold 1-2 years, more than ada.

 

The only thin i add is the salty shrimp mineral . 

 

If it loss the effect of ph you can add  it in aquarium , it dont produce nh4 like ada.

 

In the past i try to keep crs in gravel with co2 to drop the ph, but i cant produce them .

 

In other shrimps neocaridina - sullawesi i use cheap gravel , or sechem flourite with gravel.

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I've always thought that relying on an active substrate to buffer the water was dangerous. You don't know exactly when it will stop releasing buffer - too many variables. So if you don't know for sure, either you risk a whole tank crash (this happened to a friend of mine), or you swap out the substrate ahead of time before it's fully exhausted (which is arguably money down the drain).

Clearly, it's the go-to method for many proven breeders of crystal shrimp. I don't even keep this species (because it sounds like maintaining a tank of them is an act of balancing on the edge of a precipice, and I can't personally handle that much stress), so I would never tell anyone to disregard their advice. I just don't happen to understand the reasoning from a chemical standpoint. Why not ensure that water going into the tank is already properly buffered? How is that a bad thing?

Are shrimp keepers wary of the chemical buffers because of something in them that is fish safe but not shrimp safe? That would make sense. Most don't list their ingredients, so it would be hard to determine that without trial and error. And who wants to conduct trials on their beloved selectively-bred prized colony?

So I'm trying to say is, I get it, but only kind of, and I'd love to understand more. And if you could raise CRS in tap water + discus buffer, I want some!

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I have Ada and brightwell. The ada leech so much ammonia I gave up after 5 months of waiting and went brightwell. Low ph, super clean, and no shrimp death after I added into my bare bottom tank. Water cleared after a day or two.

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I've always thought that relying on an active substrate to buffer the water was dangerous. You don't know exactly when it will stop releasing buffer - too many variables. So if you don't know for sure, either you risk a whole tank crash (this happened to a friend of mine), or you swap out the substrate ahead of time before it's fully exhausted (which is arguably money down the drain).

Clearly, it's the go-to method for many proven breeders of crystal shrimp. I don't even keep this species (because it sounds like maintaining a tank of them is an act of balancing on the edge of a precipice, and I can't personally handle that much stress), so I would never tell anyone to disregard their advice. I just don't happen to understand the reasoning from a chemical standpoint. Why not ensure that water going into the tank is already properly buffered? How is that a bad thing?

Are shrimp keepers wary of the chemical buffers because of something in them that is fish safe but not shrimp safe? That would make sense. Most don't list their ingredients, so it would be hard to determine that without trial and error. And who wants to conduct trials on their beloved selectively-bred prized colony?

So I'm trying to say is, I get it, but only kind of, and I'd love to understand more. And if you could raise CRS in tap water + discus buffer, I want some!

 

 

I must have gotten lucky because with very first venture into CRS many, many years ago I was able breed some CRS in a small 5gal tank using seachem Onyx sand and tapwater filtered thru a Brita filter.  I was able to raise them to adults but they stopped breeding and ultimately met their demise when I transferred them to a tank with Fluval Shrimp Statum (long story) which I thought at the time would be better for them. After that I imported some ADA aqua soil from the states (they weren't available in Canada at that time) and never looked back.

 

Keeping a bee shrimp tank more than just using an active buffering substrate; it is only part of a series of components that work together to create the ideal environment.  

i.e if you are just using tapwater (and it is fairly hard) and relying on the ADA to buffer your water it won't be stable if you do regular water changes with tap water because it will take a while to buffer the new water down (unless you are using an UGF with a power filter / canister). and if that is the case you should be dripping any new water in slowly overnight. What works for some people is that they use tapwater for the initial setup and only top up with ro water and don't do water changes - not ideal but it works they say.

 

So no, ideally you shouldn't be relying on the ADA as the main component to buffer your water. Ideally you should have the following components as part of your "system"

 

1) Water source

Ideally, your source water would be very soft naturally (i.e. ppl in washington state / BC here in Canada) or if you have hard water use a RODI filter - this is primary method of lowering your PH.  My tap water PH is at around 7.8-8.4, GH 8-12 (fluctuate seasonally) as our water comes from the mountains (about 1hr away) and they run thru lots of limestone etc;  After running it thru my RODI filter the PH is ~ 6.4 and GH & KH is 0

 

2) Remineralizers

From there you want to remineralize your RODI water to the ideal parameters for your shrimps.  For most bee shrimp that means a GH 3-6, KH 0-1 so it is important that the product you use does not raise the KH valus (and thus PH).  For other shrimps like Tigers you can use different products to increase PH/GH/KH to the proper values

 

3) Substrate

Now this is where your active buffering substrate comes in to play.  If you put some water with the above parameters (~Ph 6.4, GH 3-6, KH 0-1) in a bare bottom tank with nothing in it and add an airstone and run some air  in it for 24 hours, you will find that the PH will jump around a bit. Why? because water with low KH valuce have zero or very little buffering capacity and it is basically very unstable.  If you put anything that is not 100% inert, the pH will adjust to what is in the tank.  So for me an active buffering substrate is there is keep parameters stable.  Depending on which substrate it might also buffer the PH down even more.

 

I have done 100% inert tanks using the exact same water as the Aqua soil tanks and while their parameters are similar (ph might be higher as it stays at 6.4 -6.6 instead of getting buffered down), they are very hard tanks to keep stable.  The aquasoil tanks are pretty much set it up and forget it, at least for the first couple years.

 

4) Other

Mainly temperature; some shrimps  have certain ranges; main thing is not to have them fluctuate (i.e lights on vs off).  Most people I talk to here in Canada get into shrimps with the Fluval Ebi kits; With the glass cover, power compact light, and its proximity to the water level, this usually means daily temperature swings.  Other examples include summer heat waves.  Other issues are things like the usually overfeeding, diseases, parasites (planaria / hydra), and so on...

 

My original ADA tanks kept buffering fine for 2 1/2 years and even when they stopped there wasn't no sudden die off - they just stopped breeding (well some of them anyways) and those were in tanks with UGF ran thru power / canister filters.  Ph increased slightly; at the end they were around 6.2-6.4 - they are usually around 5.4-5.8.

 

Over time, you pick up if something is not right with your tanks by observing your shrimps' behaviour.   If they are acting abnormally or not very active or stop breeding than I test my parameters.  

 

There is certainly more options out there now for active buffering substrates and there is other ways of achieving stable parameter (like using filter media, CO2, etc;) but for me an active buffering substrate (in combination with the above components) is the easiest, lowest maintenance and most "worry-free" option. And of course it is my tried and tested method.  

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