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Disaster has struck


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When I fed my shrimps on saturday I counted 80 and yesterday all appeared well also.

This morning all I can see is dead bodies with a reddish colour shell to the head area.............. I assume it is rust but am not certain, only going by what I have read here.


From what I have read here it could be because the substrate was exhausted and the PH had risen to 7.5 last time I checked (though that was slowly over time)?

I doubt there is much I can do at this stage, but I will set up the old 15L to put any ALIVE healthy looking shrimp in IF THERE ARE ANY! and close down the big tank and start again. I guess I know next time that when the PH indicates that the substrate isn't working properly to act quicker???? When does the learning finish!

My main queries at this stage are:

1) Is it safe to put stuff from this tank with the dead shrimps into the small tank where I will put any healthy shrimps (If there are any alive that is) or will that be a bad idea, I am thinking, water, heater, maybe a plant or 2 etc.

2) How do I make the bad tank good now so that it won't be contaminated for the restart? Tank, filter, heater, plants, decorations etc. I will use new substrate.



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Whatever it was to have killed all the shrimp in a couple of days is pretty nasty. I wouldn't risk reusing water or plants.

Heater should be okay after a good clean and disinfection.

I would also rip the old tank down and start again. New filter media, new substrate. Everything else scrubbed in white vinegar and rinsed off, then let dry for a few days.

I doubt the pH could have killed everything so quickly, especially if the pH crept up slowly over many months.

It might have been something poisonous to wipe out a colony so fast. Any aerosols used around the house lately, insect repellents?


Edited by jayc
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Diagnosis - cooked shrimp due to heater stuck on, doh! Water 33 degrees! Note to self, get some permanent thermometers to stick on the tank................. was checking with the TDS meter thermometer..........

Sorry didn't get back instantly but been fishing out the few young that don't have any rusty bits and seem to be active and dismantling tank, need to leave the water for a while as too cloudy at the moment. I will put those in the 15L temporarily and hope I can keep them alive until I can redo that tank.

I appreciate the time you spent on your reply JayC. I don't actually know whether there is any disease? I assume then that it should be safe to re-use everything (apart from the heater of coarse, luckily I have a spare of those) like plants etc given this development, or did the ones in the pictures look like they still had rust, I appreciate it must be hard to tell as they aren't good pictures.


ps I won't be near the computer much today so there may be a delay.

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13 hours ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

Diagnosis - cooked shrimp due to heater stuck on, doh! Water 33 degrees!


At least we know what the problem is. So you should be able to reuse what you need from the old tank except for the heater of course. No need to disinfect the tank or filter media.



13 hours ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

Note to self, get some permanent thermometers to stick on the tank

I have a better solution. Give me a minute ... I need to find the material, so i can post it here properly.

This is a must have item to avoid future issues like this with heaters. It doesn't matter what brand or how expensive the heater is, they all have a risk of failing and not heating or being stuck on and overheating the tank.

Edited by jayc
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If you want to avoid heaters being stuck on and overheating the tank or failing and not heating, then you need a Temperature Controller Thermostat.

 ITC-308 Digital Temperature Controller thermostat


I have one of these, clearly the plug type is for AU since I'm in Australia.

I use one of these for single tanks or in sumps.

The thermostat is placed in the tank to keep track of your tank's temps. The controller controls power to the "Heating" or "Cooling" power plugs. You are no longer reliant on buggy heater thermostats. With this unit, you can use the cheapest heater and feel safe in the knowledge that it will never cook your fish or shrimps.

Your heater is plugged into the socket labelled "heater". Preset the controller to turn on heating when temps are below, say 20deg C and turn off at, say 24 degC. 

You can plug a chiller or a fan into the socket labelled "Cooling" as well. 

I bought this off ebay from Inkbird https://www.ebay.com.au/usr/inkbirdau?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

They even have a wifi version now for control over your smartphone.

A quick search on ebay for the keywords " ITC-308 WIFI Temp Controller Thermostat" brings up the same controller in various different plug types that will fit what you use in your own country.

It costs roughly as much as a medium quality heater here in Aus. BUT it's cheap insurance knowing that I will never cook my fish or shrimps. To offset the cost of this controller, I can now buy the cheapest heaters off ebay and still be confident that I won't overcook the tank's inhabitants. 


Other uses:

More over you can use it to control fish room temps as well, it's not limited to measuring water in tanks. 

Turn on/off AC or fans or room heaters.

People use it for home brewing. There are so many practical uses.

Note: there is a very similar temp controller called the STC-1000, but this unit requires you to add your own cabling. Whereas the Inkbird is a lot more convenient.

Hopefully this helps someone and their pets.

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Thanks guys for the advice and support, it is much appreciated.

Yesterday, luckily a friend was round so we got to empty the tank, very sad to see so many dead shrimps, so all the plants etc are in a bucket with the old water. I fished out 10-20 shrimps that seemed ok (not got the courage to look yet today) and in the process of getting those into the old 15L temporary home for probably a week. I ordered the substrate 'shrimp king' and that was sent yesterday and should arrive today, and a thermostat to stick on the outside.

I will look at what you recommend JayC at some later stage when it is all back UP and RUNNING again, and I can relax a bit!

You are right JayC, although it is a disaster, it is good to KNOW what caused it and as you say heaters break, though before when they have broken to where they didn't work, which just meant the occupants just got a bit cold and caused no problems, but it is a valuable lesson learnt. I will get thermometers for the other tanks as well, but only ordered one at this stage to see if I like it and it works etc.

I have ordered 2 x 4L shrimp king soil as they say that needs no preparation and very quickly the shrimp can then go back. I was planning to put double the amount I used previously (so thats 6L, though that was a different substrate) so it will be about 1.5 inches. Any advice on that would be appreciated? And as you say JayC I will pretty much use the plants etc from before.

I appreciate the advice and thoughts a lot, thank you both!

edit - Total wipeout as the ones I fished out still died! It does mean I don't need to hurry to set everything up at least and I will need to go shrimp shopping sometime in the summer.


Edited by sdlTBfanUK
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  • 2 months later...

I'm gutted to hear this. So sorry, Simon.

Unless your home gets awfully cool, you might find that your shrimp tanks do just fine without a heater. I have 11 shrimp tanks and only one is heated (to 74F/23c because of one fish). They slow down breeding in winter, but I don't mind that. My tanks at my shop drop down to 66F (19C) in winter months and I've never had losses related to cool temps. On the other hand, I have lost hundreds upon hundreds to tanks getting too warm. Just food for thought and if your place's temperatures fluctuate a ton this might not be ideal especially in a smaller aquarium. But I once lost power at my shop in the dead of winter and my tanks got down to around 11c and and Crystal and Neo shrimp didn't die. They were motionless and not happy so I made sure it took days to warm back up by setting the room thermostat quite cool and inching up slowly, but that was last winter and I still have those colonies (as well as some fish in other tanks that went through it). I would not recommend such extremes obviously and realize I got very lucky. 

On 5/24/2019 at 3:36 AM, sdlTBfanUK said:

I ordered the substrate 'shrimp king' and that was sent yesterday and should arrive today, and a thermostat to stick on the outside.


Just a head's up you might already know about, but that Dennerle substrate will spike ammonia the first few weeks. It's probably my favorite out there, but there's quite the waiting period before it's safe to add shrimp.

Edited by Blue Ridge
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Thanks for the heads up! I left the tank a month without shrimps even though they 'say' you can safely use  with shrimps immediately.

I'm not all that happy with it in all honesty, I would use the JBL pro scape again in future as it just isn't going as well this time and although the plants are showing a bit of growth it all looks a bit drab and brown compared to Bertie (the betta) tank which is so lush and green and gets WOW from most visitors. The JBL required 50% water changes twice a week for the first 2 weeks but that extra work was well worth it for the better end result!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a quick update!

Of the 17 shrimps that were put in the tank 6-8 weeks ago there are at least 9 doing well and that have survived. This may sound not good but considering the state of the tank that is acceptable to me 50%! The tank is still heavy with yucky algae but all the parameters are stable and the nitrates are low even though I am no longer using the 'nitrate minus' any more? Plants have some new leaves and the floating plants roots reach the substrate after each weeks maintenance. It has been 3 months from start and I think it is settling down now, though that could just be me convincing myself to retain what little sanity I have left!!!!!!!!!

I am drip acclimating 10 blue bolts/steel at the moment and they should go into the tank later today! I will hopefully stock up on red variants if these blues do well and should then be sorted and on my way back to where I was............................ This batch are from a UK breeder directly (through the post) this time.


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I think the tank just wasn't ready enough when I put the first batch in it.I still had nitrate readings, not particularly high though and all the gross algae, even though it had been 'cycling' for 5 weeks? I feel like it s settling down now as it is 3 months old (still a lot of algae though) and steady so bought the blue bolts as they were a good price here and if it all goes well will get the reds I want and then it will be done and just let the shrimp do the rest and produce (hopefully anyway) a variety of colour and pattern as I had before. I have seen 5 of the new blue bolt/steel I put in yesterday so far today which is pretty good considering there are so many hiding places and they are small and usually hide in a new tank for a while! The first lot were from a retail seller through the post anyway so I would have expected a few more to die due to their extra stress as there are more steps involved (other post on that), but I don't know for sure but both could have contributed? Anyway see how it goes from here?

I tried putting bloodworm in shrimp tank as per JayC but I must have Ferrari brand assassin snails, never seen them move that fast, so EVEN if the shrimps were interested they are probably too slow and small, not that they have shown any interest thus far! 

Hope all is still going well with yours? How are you getting on with the zerowater?


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My zerowater is going fine, I do get 001-002 on the reading, but that shouldn't make much differences, so no filter change yet.

Whiles JayC was talking about the temperature controller, I have this one which is used as my secondary one, its cheaper from www.aliexpress.com, just long waiting time for shipping.

But it does get the job done, there are various version available so search around if you are getting one.



From the photo, top figure is actual temp, bottom is set temp to cut off power, red LED is power on for the socket, off if the socket power off, you will have to change to EU plug for a UK plug, that is easy by cutting it off or using a adapter.


Edited by kms
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I am still thinking about one of these devices but we have left summer here and I have a thermometer stuck on the tank now and a heater that shows the water temperature so will leave that is for now until I know whether all is working this time round! We have weird electric supply compared with the rest of the world so would have to get one that takes our unique plugs and 220V! I will consider this and getting the fan sets at the end of the year ready for next year, assuming all is working of coarse?

Keep an eye on the zerowater as it will suddenly go up as the filter reaches saturation. I aim to change it at 003(ish) as it goes up quickly after that? You have done really well if it is on its original filter!


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The purpose of the temperature controller is protection, that why I also have it in my turtle tank, it will cut off power if a heater malfunction, it's a small price to pay for a expensive investment, my turtles cost over GBP 1000 each, and all these new equipment is carried to my shrimp setup.

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9 hours ago, kms said:

it will cut off power if a heater malfunction, it's a small price to pay for a expensive investment,

That's the same reason I use mine too. It's protection that will turn off a malfunctioning heater. It will do so when you are not there.

The problem with thermometers is that it relies on you seeing the problem, and you manually turning off the heater. 

This temp controller monitors and turns off the heater if it gets too hot, without any intervention from me. I could be asleep and this would still protect my tanks from overheating due to a stuck heater. I've had too many malfunctioning heaters to risk it again. Even so called reputable brands can have issues with the heaters getting stuck on.

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I agree, even these branded ones are less reliable these days, compared to those made 10-20 years ago.

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It is definitely on the list with the cooling fans but I will wait until I am certain this tank is going to work first, no point buying it if I am giving up on the taiwan bee shrimp, and that all depends on how this goes longer term. I have had a few heaters break in the past but they just stopped working and to be honest (and I am not proud to say I was this stupid) it never occurred to me that it could stick on? Until the point I get one of these you can rest assured I am keeping a very close eye on the temperature daily and the new heater has a flashing light showing the water temperature and the heater is set at 22 so there is a long way to where it would happen again and as summer here is over and it is now under 20 degrees outside in theory the temperature shouldn't go over the 22!

I did see 1 dead new blue bolt/steel yesterday but have seen 7 today alive, woohoo!


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