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question for the group...

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so, being new, i am looking for input on water quality?

ammonia - 0

nitrite       - 0

nitrate      - 20 ppm


alkalinity   - 1.08meq/l


carbonate hardness -3dKH

they said the alkalinity was low and recommended Seachem alkaline buffer.


i am just a "pet" keeper, opinions welcome...

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Well, I'm new too, so welcome!  :D

But I am not new to shrimp breeding/keeping and definitely no stranger to water chemistry, so let's get started with a little background:

Alkalinity is often used interchangeably with "carbonate hardness," or KH. They simply reflect the amount of carbonate and bicarbonate in equilibrium in the water and is (more scientifically) a measure of how much acid a solution can neutralize without changing the pH. In other words, its a way to measure how resistant the water is to a pH drop in the presence of an added acid.


So first you have to know what your keeping: Most shrimp like an acidic pH (5.5-6.9), but crystal/bee/tiger shrimp need nearly 0 KH while cherry shrimp can handle higher levels, about 2-12 dKH (though I've heard a lot who go by 4-20 dKH).

Next, what is the pH? If the pH is low (6.0-6.6ish) you'll likely want it to stay that way and the alkaline buffer would work well to raise the alkalinity a couple of dKH, or degrees of carbonate hardness. This is only really in the case that you keep neocaridina shrimp (cherry shrimp and their myriad variations), and even in that case, they can handle and prefer alkalinity closer to the lower end, so you're right on the money. I'm not sure why whoever you spoke with at the store told you to raise it. It is likely that they assumed you were setting up a normal fish aquarium, where alkalinity should be much higher, and not a dwarf shrimp tank!

However, if you do decide to raise the alkalinity, you don't need to worry about the pH rise given that it starts low. I've kept neocaridina in neutral and slightly basic water with okay results-- now I keep my pH around 6.2-6.4 for all of my shrimp and would recommend the same to anyone just getting started, especially if you're planting the tank and keeping mosses for your shrimp (highly recommended).


Finally, my experience with SeaChem's buffers:

(1) They are in salt form (as concentrated as it gets), so be careful with your measurements.

(2) Since you're (probably) only gonna raise your dKH by about 2-4 degrees, you should only need a tiny bit of the Alkaline Buffer by SeaChem so it may be more economical to use baking soda (calcium carbonate) as it will accomplish the same thing. Infact, I'm fairly convinced that a large portion of Alkaline Buffer is actually baking soda-- grossly overpriced baking soda.  :angry:

and (3) try to titrate, or add tiny amounts at a time and retest each time. Start by mixing your measured Alkaline Buffer salt into a small volume of aquarium water in a separate container and let it dissolve completely. Then add it to the tank, little by little, retesting the KH after letting the solution mix into the water each time. This may be slightly tedious, but it will save you a headache in the long run.


Lastly, wait until your tank is a little more cycled and the nitrate level has come down below 5 ppm to add any crystal/bee/tiger shrimp. However, Neocaridina should be fine in 20 ppm (though it should always be <5 ppm and ideally 0 ppm for most aquatic animals).


Hope this helps and best of luck!

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Im looking at my SeaChem Discus Buffer 5.8-6.8 and it has phosphates.



Ah I see.


Acid and Alkaline Buffer is non phosphate based but less stable in controlling ph.


Acid and Alkaline Buffers are phosphate-free. The website says they're designed specifically to limit algal growth in the planted aquarium, although I'm not sure I'm totally believing that phosphates alone can cause massive algae problems (as much as poor lighting, excess CO2, high nitrate, other factors, or a combination). However, lower phosphates are still more advantageous for aquatic animals, especially shrimp. So by making them phosphate-free, they inadvertently made them more shrimp-breeding-friendly. Furthermore, it is shown to work well to lower the pH of very hard water, like in a new neo/tap water set up; since phosphates will easily bind to the free minerals in the water they are very ineffective. Phosphate buffers do have their advantages-- like you said, they're more stable at low pH than, for instance, a hydrochloric (Muriatic)  acid buffer. However, this is irrelevant as phosphate buffers really have no place in shrimp keeping.

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Alright mjb, you're a little above neutral, which means you'll want to go down in acidity if anything. The alkaline buffer as well as baking soda are basic substances and will increase your pH. What you might consider doing is attempting to lower the pH using an an acid designed for use in the aquarium. I've used pH down by API with good results, however it's not very stable so your pH will likely rebound very quickly, and after a few water changes, you'll end up above neutral again. If your tank is planted you could try a CO2 set up which will lower the pH, then you can use baking soda to buffer. Or you can start with baking soda and raise the pH and alkalinity, then lower the pH with CO2 or pH down. The higher alkalinity will make it harder for the pH to drop back down, but it will eventually go. However, I wouldn't recommend having animals in the tank while doing this. It would be very stressful and would have to be done slowly.

The method I recommend would be to do a 50% water change and buffer the new water to something more acidic than your target. You can do this using Seachems Acid and Alkaline Buffers following the directions on the back. Also you can do this if animals are already in the tank, but you will not want to make a 50% water change all at once! Instead, you'll have to do a series of several smaller water changes spread out over a couple of weeks. You'll want to use the same buffered water as before. If you have a clean 5 gallon bucket or two, I would recommend mixing the new buffered water all at once, or as much as possible, since it is much easier to measure the chemicals correctly for larger volumes. If you do this, make sure you keep the bucket(s) sealed or at least covered tightly with plastic.

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