Understanding toxicity impacts between pH level and Ammonia.
How does pH affect the toxicity of ammonia?
Table 1 - the Nitrification and Ammonification process.
The Ammonia reading you get from test kits is actually the sum of Total Ammonia - which is made up of Ammonia NH3 + Ammonium NH4.
At low levels of pH (lower than 6.0), ammonification occurs. Remember, pH is an inverse count of Hydrogen (H). At low pH, you have more Hydrogen. At high pH, you have less. At these low levels of pH (high acidity), the ammonia NH3 'absorbs' (for lack of a better word), an extra Hydrogen ion -> becoming NH4 or ammonium.
The reason Ammonium is less toxic to fish and shrimp is because NH4 with that added Hydrogen H ion is now less permeable to the gills of fish & shrimp. NH4 is also excreted across the gills via a carrier mediated process in exchange for sodium Na+.
Ammonia toxicity is also influenced by temperature:
The lower the temperature the less toxic it becomes. Or to put it another way - NH3 toxicity increases with temperature and pH.
Percent NH3 of total ammonia Temp pH 6.5 pH 7.0 pH 7.5 pH 8.0 pH 8.5 20C / 68F 0.13 0.40 1.24 8.82 11.2
25C / 77F 0.18 0.57 1.77 5.38 15.3
28C / 82F 0.22 0.70 2.17 6.56 18.2
30C / 86F 0.26 0.80 2.48 7.46 20.3
Table 2. Un-ionized NH3 as a percent of total ammonia (by temperature and pH).
Assuming a temp of 28C and a pH of 7.0 - if 5ppm of ammonia is present this results in only .03 ppm ammonia.
However, in a Tanganyikan Cichlids tank with a pH of 9.0, that has a Total Ammonia of 5 ppm, your ammonia level is 2.06 ppm! This now become toxic for the fish.
But, at a pH of 6.0, and 10 ppm of Total Ammonia, the ammonia is only .007 ppm. Even though we have MORE ammonia.
So be cautious when performing water changes in a low pH tank, as the low pH has an adverse affect on the nitrifying bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrite. Because of the acidity these bacteria populations can drop so low that any change in alkalinity can cause the Total Ammonia reading to rise quickly. While the pH stays low the Total Ammonia reading is nearly all ammonium, but if you do a water change or add an alkalinity buffer to the system, the ammonium can be quickly converted to ammonia, potentially causing ammonia poisoning.
It is good to note here that, as per the very top picture (table1) ... nitrifying bacteria that convert ammonia NH3 to Nitrate (NO3) does NOT convert Ammonium NH4 to a less toxic form. The bacteria isn't present in sufficient amounts in such low pH environments to process it. Ammonium NH4 is ever present in a low pH tank that has living creatures in it. NH4 is in there ready to be converted into NH3 at the first sign of added alkalinity during water changes. Hence, why we always tell you to match water parameters and add it into the tank slowly (drip it in if you can), don't dump in buckets of new water all at once.
So in summary, the combination of low pH (<6) and cool temperatures that the shrimp live in can mean that high ammonia levels are not toxic to them. But be careful !!! Any change in the pH buffer that increases alkalinity will cause the toxic ammonia to immediately convert from NH4 to NH3.
There you go. Hopefully that is a more precise explanation to aid your understanding.
The ideal spot to be is just above 6.1 to 6.5, where bacteria still function, and ammonia is less toxic. Along with the cool temperatures some shrimp (or fish) live in, is the best environment to be in to minimise ammonia poisoning.
I wonder how many times our shrimp die in hot temps, (say due to hot weather ... maybe even a broken heater) not because of the heat, but because our low pH tanks have not enough functioning bacteria to cope with the sudden change in toxic NH3 ammonia due to the rise in temps??? Food for thought.
Recently decided to invest in an RODI unit to improve the quality of the water in my shrimp tanks and reduce the margin for any catastrophic deaths. However, sadly my LFS doesn't seem to carry anymore SS Bee Shrimp GH+ minerals. The owner does however have the fish version for soft-water environments and he claims that there isnt a difference. The dosage amount seems similar between the two as well. Does anyone have any experience with using it with shrimp?
The packaging looks like this in case anyone was wondering!
Thanks in advance!!
I have had a 20 gallon RCS tank for 3 years now. I have moss balls and some JAVA moss, drift wood, and mineral rocks.
Only RCS in the tank and some soft shell snails I have in there I breed for my fresh water puffer fish in another tank,.
My issue is that the shrimp live 1-2 years and they breed just fine but I never see babies. I see plenty of eggs but never babies. (Well 1 or 2 a month maybe but they disappear)
The adults keep going just fine until they die off of old age or something else.
I keep about 100 shrimp in the tank and have to replenish 50 every 6 months about.
Water Temp I keep about neutral.
PH- 7- 7.2
I use distilled water or sometimes Reverse Osmosis water because our tap water goes through a water softener which puts a LOT of salt in it which makes TDS very high so I try not to use tap water at all.
I feed every 2 days with Azoo or other good food and not much. Its all gone by the time I feed again.
I do add some powder food for the babies and a shrimp bacteria powder (just started that about 6 months ago but has not helped or hurt)
Someone told me due to the distilled water my issue is LOW TDS. So I bought TWO different meters. I tested the distilled water and its about zero which is correct. I then tested my water and its about 700. I do top offs and just did a 20% water change last weekend with distilled water.
So is that the issue? Should I pull out the mineral rocks?
I am thinking tonight to take about 8 gallons of water and drain the tank down about 40% and then fill with the distilled water. I can repeat the process in a week and once I get the TDS under 150 I can add a little shrimp mineral to get it to the 200 range. The reason I am saying that is the TDS could be bad TDS and not the minerals they needs. I ordered some Salty Shrimp Mineral which I heard was good.
Should I just give up?
Greetings shrimp enthusiasts, hobbyists, keepers and those with curiousity and a passing interest,
I was once one with a passing interest that'd grown into a curiousity and now i'm heading for the keeper stage -- hopefully a keeper of Riffle Shrimp.
Below is my 36" x 18" x 18" tank. As you can see it's a planted tank. It completed its Nitrogen Cycle today -- it's a happy day that's been a long time in the making. We purchased the tank in Feb of 2015 and what with moving house soon after and our 3rd baby it's taken this long to get to this exciting day. I've had tanks with shrimps before with what I'd describe as limited success, but it's been many years and with the knowledge, equipment and technology that's around today I feel like I've just begun as a new aquarist all over again.
As yet we have no fish, let alone shrimp, but that is likely to change in the next few days. We intend the tank to be a community one but with a key feature being some shrimp. I saw some Riffles in a display tank in a fish store and was immediately drawn to them well ahead of the various smaller shrimps that they had for sale. They didn't and still don't have any Riffles for sale. I trust that I will one day get some, somehow, so I am aiming to prepare my tank for that time and thought it might be good to ask the SKF Aquatics community for guidance and advice -- not just be a fly on the wall reading other's posts.
36 x 18 x 18 inches (approx 90 x 45 x 45 cm); about 50 gal (190 litres)
Substrate: ADA Malaya (not a super nutrient rich variety as we plan to have a low tech tank in the long run)
DW: Golden Vine
Rocks: Red rock
Plants: Monte Carlo (Low-tech thriving), three varieties of Crypts, Amazon Sword, Lileopolis, Rotala Walichii, tiny bit of Val, tiny bit of Telanthera, Anubis mini nana
Fluval 406 Cannister Filter (pretty hi-flow/circulation is how i understand it for my tank size)
Hydor inline heater
UP Aqua U Series P LED light
Hydor Koralia Wavemaker (not used at present)
Fish/Invertebrates we have in mind (but are by no means fixed choices):
5 x White Fin Ornate Tetra (a docile, hardy tetra that is highly recommended as a fish for a freshly cycled tank) that aren't schooling, but more shoaling)
3 x Otocinclus (for algae should it one day inevitably strike)
1-2 x Chain Loaches (aka dwarf loach) (to deal with some pond snails and is hopefully compatible with Riffles)
20-ish x Cardinal Tetras (hardy and schooling)
5-7 x Celestial Pearl Danio
1-2 x Borneo Catfish
Pair x Blue Rams
Colony of Riffles
Is the above list suitable tank-mates with Riffles? All are pretty docile as I understand it.
As I said before, the tank just completed cycling. I plan to test its stability, but using ADA Aquasoils they are said to be able to handle a high bio-load once cycled due to their nature to leech a lot of ammonia. If the cycle is stable then it's possible it's ready to load the tank up with quite a bit.
January 10 I began the hardscape and the next day planted as much as I could envisage would fit once the plants grow out. We have an 8 hour photoperiod and plants have been growing very well without CO2 or ferts. We have had ZERO algae outbreak (touch wood) aside from a tiny tiny bit of brown algae on the DW along with protein slime, which the pond snail hatch-lings cleaned, feasted, thrived on, and even laid eggs upon already. Water testing 2-3 times a day I have watched and kept a detailed journal of the cycling process.
Today, as planned for the day the cycle completed, I dosed the tank for the first time with Seachem Flourish Excel, some Fluval plant food I had from a few years back, and Seachem Equilibrium. The water we have here in Melbourne is quite soft and a TDS meter reading shows that some added salts and minerals were required (I understand that an ideal aim is for TDS reading of 250, but I'm usually under that). I've added coral bone to the cannister filter as PH (ADA Aquasoils cause PH to drop for a while also) needed buffering up to 7.0 neutral. I'll continue to test the water daily to see that stability is maintained. Water temperature has been high at 29 Degrees C to speed up the Nitrogen Cycle process, as has surface agitation, and these I will adjust these lower once I've confirmed that cycle stability. I need to purchase a KH/GH test kit, but understand it also has a relationship with TDS (hence the aim of TDS 250), but please correct me if I'm mistaken?
So aside from a critique of what I have done above I now ask for your learned advice on what I need to do next in preparation for shrimp? I feel I need to let introduce the fish first and get them comfortable, meanwhile it's reasonable to expect that the plants will have accelerated growth with the added carbon from the Flourish. Am I right to understand that Riffle Shrimp would like a jungle-ish environment? I can envisage them sitting on the left hand side of the drift wood where the out flow is highest (the wavemaker also points at that spot and I'd probably set that on a timer to come on several times a day if it's needed) filter feeding. Once I feel I have the right environment and care knowledge I hope I will be able to obtain some Riffle Shrimps with some help from SKF! Then perhaps I can truly move from being just curious through to being an enthusiast with some experience to share/help others.
Thank you for reading, hope it's interesting and there aren't too many who look and go TL;DR.
Please be gentle: Although I read A LOT of forums, this is the first time I'm posting in any forum in a very long time after finding the experience with keyboard warriors too taxing. I wouldn't normally have taken the time to ask for help in any forum; but, the enthusiasm for the idea of having these captivating shrimp in my planted community tank has surpassed my shyness and found me willing to put myself out there.