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Is my ghost shrimp in trouble?

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My tank is still cycling. I had 4 ghost shrimp and 2 blood fin tetras. My 2 larger shrimp molted about 2 weeks ago. One died and the other now has a couple partial legs. I was not here when it happened. The only new thing in the tank was that I buried to Flourish tabs into the sand for our plants. The package says they are OK for the shrimp.  Being a newbie, I thought the shrimp had a fight. But the live one is getting weird colors and spots, and I now suspect that the 2 shrimp did an emergency molting? My other 2 shrimp are very young, small ghost shrimp. Their legs still look complete, but they have been hiding a lot 'since the fight'. I thought they were trying to not get eaten. Now I worry they are too ill to explore like they used to. They do eat. but they do not come out when I feed the tank. They look for scraps near their hiding areas. The large shrimp is getting around fine, and is feeding well. He acts OK, but the partial legs imply that I need to fix something for him. Can you tell from the pictures if this is a water issue or an illness?

I set the tank up with tap water, but it is VERY hard. I've been using distilled water for water changes. Since the tank is still cycling, I do a 20% change 2 times a week. I don't understand how the water is still so hard. Also, is using the distilled water bad for the shrimp? And, I see orange, green and brown areas on my sand substrate - is this normal?

A couple days ago the Nitrite started spiking,
Nitrate is 0 to 5
Nitrite is close to 1 before I change the water. Then goes closer to .5
total hardness is between 150 and 300 (even though I have not used tap water since I set up the tank)
chlorine is 0
Alkalinity is 120
PH is about 7

ammonia is zero, maybe .5 before I change water 




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  • 7 months later...

Green and brown areas are normal. Different types of algae growing down there. I don't think it's harmful, I've certainly never had a problem and I take it as a sign of good tank health.


I would work on getting your water hardness down. You say you're using distilled water - do you mean water from an RO filter? Because distilled water, like the kind you'd buy from Walmart, can contain a variety of contaminants at safe levels for humans but not shrimps. Generally all metals and inorganic contaminants are absent in distilled water, but some pesticides and herbicides etc can remain especially if you are distilling the water yourself. Have you tried using RO water with salty shrimp remineralizer? This might be an improvement if you can afford the RO filter.


If you can get your water hardness to safer levels, you might find that these issues disappear. I'm not sure why these two shrimp are behaving strangely, but the partial legs on your male would really indicate that something is wrong to me.

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