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Constant red cherry shrimp deaths


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Hi, I've kept Red cherry shrimp for at least 3 years. I've never had a problem with them. I used to keep my shrimp in 500l tank but i got careless while buying plants and introduced planaria into my aquarium. I only noticed after the numbers got out of hand and i noticed the shrimp deaths adding up. I moved 200-300 shrimp into a standard 4ft tank planted aquarium and dosed with noplanaria along with melafix to ward off any bacterial infections. There were multiple dozens of shrimp shells all over after being moved. Initially i believed it may have been the planaria/bacterial/constant water changes/stress of new environment(i drip acclimated them for a 5 hours) that was killing them but i haven't changed the water in a 2 months but i still get the occasional death, 1 or 2 every few days. There are decent amounts of cuttlebone in the filter and also in the aquarium itself, and i also feed them the occasional powdered egg shells but i still get molting problems. Adults and also the month olds are dying, no discrimination. They're fed every other day shrimp snow, high protein discus granules and zucchini/pumpkin/spinach/dry seaweed every 3-4 days. I can see many berried females and small shrimp and also babies but i'm still losing shrimp constantly, easily 80+ in total. I don't want to buy a gh/kh test, they have never had any problems with molting in their last aquarium so can't quite understand why they're having problems now in the 150l. I've read so much online but i can't seem to find an answer, i'd sincerely appreciate any advice i can get. Thank you so much if you've managed to read all of this. Please feel free to ask any questions. The photo is from the current setup they're in.

Previous tank parameters:

Ammonia: 0 

nitrite: 0 

nitrates: 20ppm

Ph: 8

substrate: sand 

Lighting: generic LED lights i got off ebay

I don't know any other parameters.  cuttlebone in the tank and filter, no ferts, heavily infested with guppy grass. Large colony of bristlenose. 

New tank parameters:

ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0


co2: 3-4 bps 

Ph: 6.5

Lighting: generic LED lights i got off ebay

substrate: ada aquasoil

The new tank is heavily planted and dosed with root tabs and liquid ferts. Cuttlebone in the tank and filter. 6 large pieces of seiryu stone 17kg (i doubt they're authentic so they're some kind of limestone) Shrimp only tank


shrimp tank.png

Edited by bristlenose
forgot few details
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What a stunning tank, looks a dream.

The change from sand to soil obviously has lowered the PH but I would have thought Cherry shrimps are adaptable enough to survive in PH of 6.5 without a problem once they have adapted to the new water environment. Shrimps only live 1.5 to 2 years so you will get some deaths with the hundreds you have and as long as you are getting lots of babies (sounds like you are) I wouldn't worry too much, the babies anyway will be born in the different new water so should do better anyway has been my experience? You have changed a lot from one set up to the new one so it will be difficult for the shrimps to adapt to it all!

From what I have read, and a previous members thread/experience here I think it is better to do away with CO2 if you can as it is great for plants but less so for shrimps, though you have obviously gone to a lot of trouble with the planting of the new tank so that may be a step too far for you to take? Also some plant fertilisers aren't shrimp safe?

Changing water does usually trigger a moult so moving the shrimps does tend to bring a moult on! 

You should probably get a GH and KH test kit and a TDS meter/pen. They aren't all that expensive but how else do you know where you are with the parameters. The soil will be altering/lowering the PH, GH and KH as it usually alters the water to the softer Bee shrimp ideal parameters? Even the strip testers will at least give you a rough idea, which is better than no idea?

I have cherry shrimps in my betta tank with soil and use tap water with a PH7.5 and now the soil has stopped lowering/buffering the PH. I use KH+ elixir and GH+ to get the GH and KH in line with the shrimps (and betta) recommended parameters and all has gone REALLY well so far! The plants are also very lush and green, and grow well without any ferts or CO2.

I hope something of this may be of some help and you start seeing less dead shrimps. I am sure someone here with a lot more experience may be able to help as well.


ps I used SL Aqua Z1 on my hydra (also supposed to kill planaria) and that had no negative affect on plants/snails/shrimp/fish but did wipe out the hydra with just one dose!

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Thank you so much for your reply Simon, I definitely wouldn't be so worried since i'm still getting baby shrimp but the issue is that even the month old ones are occasionally dying so that means even though they were born in this tank they're still not adapting. This tank wasn't initially setup for them, but for my breeding tetras so i'm definitely a little torn about removing the co2 but i might have to consider it. Maybe i should progressively crank the co2 up every morning instead of 3-4 bps right from the beginning to minimize the water parameter shifts. I'd love to hear someones thoughts about the effectiveness of that. 

I've always been against buying test kits ever since i bought the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/ph test kits years back and they are still sitting around collecting dust, but in this case i really might have to, it definitely stings when its painted red cherry shrimp/ fire reds that are dying. ? But you're right, a gh/kh test kit would give me some much needed information. 

I'm certain i can attribute a part of the shrimp deaths with the constant water changes from removing the noplanaria and melafix from the water since it'll probably cause some forced molts before they were ready but water parameters are relatively stable currently with no large water changes and i'm still getting deaths. 

Could it be possible low ph and co2 changes the availability of calcium in the water column? 

My other concern was that the ferts are affecting them, but you'd think that seachem flourish would be shrimp safe and i'm only adding extra K, iron and calcium(via egg shells and cuttlebone) into the water and while i'm not a chemistry expert i can't seem to believe that it would cause them serious discomfort at moderate amounts.

I've definitely stopped seeing as many shrimp deaths considering at the beginning it was 4-10 a day (R.I.P) to only 1 every other day but the problem still persists.  


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I have looked at the Seachem Flourish and that is supposed to be shrimp safe!

We had a member who was using CO2 and getting some deaths and as soon as she stopped using CO2 all was fine from then on. Can you try not using CO2 for a few days maybe or do you think that some of your beautiful plants MUST have it - I would try that if it were mine?

Anything else would be too much of a guess at this stage so I would get the testers as you are setting up a new tank in a new format/layout? The soil does reduce GH which is Magnesium and Calcium (I believe) so as you say, maybe there isn't sufficient because you are using the soil? I understand the reasoning for not wanting to get lots of test kits as I don't bother to test my oldest tank (tetras and cherry shrimp been running ok for years) at all now, I just use the tests for newer tanks and the more sensitive bee shrimps. The PH pens and drop Gh and Kh are cheap enough though and probably a must for new tanks.

You may need to get some GH/KH+ as you are using soil substrate (as I do with betta/cherry shrimp tank) but you should wait until you have test kits first?

I don't think the PH of 6.5 would be a problem (if it is stable and the CO2 isn't causing PH swings??) as the betta tank started at 6 and mine were fine even though I dumped them straight in there literally (they were supposed to be culls) from PH 7.5 old tank and have flourished.

I am pleased to hear the number of deaths has dropped, so it is at least going in the right direction. May be someone else may have some ideas?


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I found this on the web and found it interesting about CO2 and shrimps, although I didn't personally understand a lot of it (way over my head) but it may be worth reading!


The only previous time I have heard of a problem with CO2 and ferts was admittedly someone (on here) with a MUCH smaller tank than yours. I had heard that plants grow quicker with the CO2, but isn't that what you don't want (?), slower growth reduces maintenance/trimming etc so it will look the same longer? I don't use CO2 but my plants grow ridiculously fast still, and I don't use ferts either - Fish and shrimp waste is the only ferts? It does state that you need to balance everything with the water parameters and as you haven't got any tester kits that could be a problem I imagine?

Anyway, hope this link helps or is at least of some interest. I would still try not using the CO2 and just see how it goes (one day at a time), you can always start again if you leave it in place but just don't switch it on? 


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Thanks alot for your help Simon, however I've moved most of the shrimp out of the planted co2 tank into a 50l for now. I did lose a few from the transition but lets see how they do back in ph 8 water. 

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I hope it goes well and you may loose a few more shrimps in the first week or two as they adjust back to the old tank water parameters. In the long term though, it was working in that tank before so it should settle quite quickly and it isn't newly set up so I wouldn't expect there to be too much of a problem. Once all is settled they will soon reproduce to the numbers you had before!

Being so densely planted there will still be some shrimps in the new tank as well ?

Have you put the breeding zebra tetras into the new tank now as originally planned? 


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