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Sudden Molt Deaths


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This past week has been a nightmare. I've lost half of my small chocolate neo colony one by one to what looks like failed molts. For the ones I've seen it happen to, it starts with them developing a band on their carapace just like a normal molt. Only instead of popping out of their shell, they get progressively more lethargic and unresponsive until they pass a few hours later. Yesterday, I thought things were looking up when I found a fresh molt. Then I found its owner dead nearby. I took a closer look at the molt and it had what looked like small specks of flesh. 


The unaffected shrimp are behaving completely normally. These shrimp were in the same bowl for two months without a single death. I'm pretty sure they were shipped from Soothing as juvies, and they grew to full size nicely with regular molts. I haven't seen a normal molt in a couple weeks.


I've been checking parameters nightly since this started, and they've been stable. Test kits were purchased earlier this year with expiration dates for 2020. My neighbor lent me their hardness kit to double-check, and the readings were the same.


pH 6.8

KH 40

GH 140

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0-5

Temperature 75F


"Tank" is a 2.5 gallon, extremely densely planted bowl. Substrate is potting soil capped with Tahitian moon sand. There is a small chunk of cuttlebone for calcium. It was set up and allowed to grow out for three months before the shrimp were added. Water is tap treated with Prime. I do weekly 0.25 gallon water changes with that but top off with DI during the week. Only tank mates are a handful of ramshorns that I periodically move to a separate bowl once they reach BB size.


I'm still pretty new to the hobby, and I'm at a loss trying to figure out what's happening to my beautiful shrimp. Is there something obvious I'm missing? Has this happened to anyone else? What was the cause?


The two avenues I'm exploring are:


1) Possible copper in the tap. I'm buying a test kit to check.

2) Overfeeding/too much protein. I had been giving them a Hikari algae wafer every other day, and I'm only now realizing that was probably too much animal protein. If I start over, I'll go with a vegetable-based food/cut back on feedings. Is there any way of saving my remaining shrimp if this is the problem?


I feel so awful. They were really beautiful, wonderful shrimp :(

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gh kh seem a little high, I've never had water params that high besides breeding lake tanganyika cichlids. What is the gh kh coming out of the tap?

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jled- to find degrees, divide by 17.8 if I remember correctly


KH 40 = ~2

GH 140 = ~7-8


I like to keep my neos in 7+ph, but if your neos grew up in 6.8 I don't think that's the challenge.  Other params are good.


Sounds like a challenge I had when I was first starting years ago.  All readings were good, but I'd lose shrimp due to tap things that couldn't be measured.  What's worse, it can change at any time.  I'm almost willing to bet if you were to switch to remin RO, deaths would stop...


Does your tap have chloromine or chlorine?

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Thanks for the advice! I was considering switching to RO after reading some horror stories, and now I'm kicking myself for not going through with it earlier. Ordered some Salty Shrimp from Han.


Our tap has chloramines.

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A quick update:


Sadly the colony is down to just two. Last death was Wednesday, but since neither shrimp has molted, yet, I have no idea if whatever was going on has resolved.


I tested for copper with an API kit and found nothing.


The remineralizer should get here soon. What kind of water change schedule do you guys recommend to transition?

Thanks to everyone for the help!

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Honestly I was worried until I found them both doing fine. (Their tank is so stuffed with plants it usually takes a few minutes unless they're being fed.)


But yeah I'm so excited!

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Well, now I believe I spoke too soon. I went to check my tanks before bed and saw one of the survivors on her side with most of a molt stuck on her. She's fighting, but I'm pretty sure she'll be gone when I wake up. :(

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The good news was she actually seemed to be doing better this morning despite two of her back legs being still attached to a piece of molt and looking broken. Movement wasn't too hindered. She's still hanging in there now.


The bad news was she seems to have been stressed out badly by the ordeal. I haven't seen her graze at all. When I fed them today she was the only one not in the shrimp swarm. (I added some RCSes a while ago, which have been doing great.) Now she's barely moving. :(


I couldn't sleep last night and ended up seeing the most bizarre behavior: When most of the molt was still attached, her sister zoomed in and ate most of the molt. That's why there was only a little piece left.  :startle:

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry to keep you guys hanging, but a lot of life stuff got in the way of posting!


Unfortunately, she only survived a little more than a day since my last post. However, I've had no deaths in either of my neo tanks since, and they've started breeding pretty successfully. Tons shrimplets seem to be happy and growing fine. All adult females are berried, saddled, or (occasionally) both! No dropped eggs in weeks. Hopefully whatever was wrong is really resolved this time!

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