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ThePurple12

Help! Ghost shrimp keep dying after addition to tank. Copper poisoning?

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ThePurple12

Hello. I'm an experienced aquarist, but fairly new to shrimp keeping. 

I bought 20 healthy ghost shrimp from Petsmart and put them in a 2 gallon tank (temporary, as I wanted to feed them to my seahorses). I used tap water, which comes from a well and doesn't have chlorine.

Tap water has worked before with my 3 other freshwater tanks, 2 of which contain cherry shrimp and amano shrimp. However, my cherry shrimp haven't bred at all since I added them about a year ago, and I think there's only 3 or so left of the original 10 (tank is heavily planted, so I'm not certain).

I noticed that the ghost shrimp were jumping and jerking around frantically, even jumping out of the water. I didn't think much of it, I just assumed they were scared. I came back later to find 2 of them dead. That's when I realized there was something in the water. Since the water from my other freshwater tanks kept shrimp alive, I immediately replaced the water in the 2 gallon with water from my other tanks. 

The next morning, maybe half of the shrimp were dead, the other half sick and dying. I even found some dead shrimp babies (not sure if they were born dead or if the water killed them). Soon all of them were dead. 

 

I got 20 more from Petsmart. Again, they were healthy. This time, I put them in a different 2 gallon tank with water from the bag and water from my other tanks. 2 hours later, a few were dead and a few were dying. I realized that the water from my other tanks must have contained copper (although I don't understand why the shrimp from those tanks were alive- maybe ghost shrimp are more sensitive to copper than cherry shrimp?) and did a 75% water change with RO (reverse osmosis) water. The next day, most of the shrimp were dead or dying. 

Is it copper in the water that's killing these shrimp? Our tap water has 7 parts per billion copper (at least, it did in 2016). I will say that I was being stupid and forgot to acclimate them, but I highly doubt that could have killed all my shrimp. If it is copper, is there any way to treat sick shrimp? 

Edited by ThePurple12
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sdlTBfanUK

That sounds like a lot of copper to me but I have no experience with copper. The behaviour though sounds like toxic shock from something? 

I have read this in the past and found it interesting, though it will probably mean more to you as some of it sounds similar to what you are experiencing, including inhibiting breeding in cherry shrimp :,

https://aquariumbreeder.com/how-copper-affects-dwarf-shrimp/

Probably your best bet would be to get an RO filter, or I use a www.zerowater.com which is american and pretty much available anywhere (walmart etc), and it produces RO equivalent water from tap water? You will then need to add the appropriate minerals to the water for the shrimp to flourish, cherry shrimp will be GH/KH+!

Simon

Edited by sdlTBfanUK
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ThePurple12

Thanks, I read the article. The symptoms it listed didn't really match what was happening with my ghost shrimp, but I don't know what could be happening other than copper poisoning. 

I do have an RO filter, and I did a huge water change with RO water as soon as the shrimp started dying. I didn't add minerals, but I doubt that's the reason. 

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sdlTBfanUK

The water change may just have been too late for the remaining shrimp as they may have already been weakened/sick and would probably have died whatever you did at that point - they are very fragile creatures! You will need to add minerals to RO water as everything has been stripped out in that process!

I would empty a 2 gallon tank of all the water, then fill with RO water and mix in minerals to requirements, so you are starting with a clean slate and you shouldn't then have a  problem? If that works out well then you can do any other tanks that need it with some confidence you are on the right route!

Simon

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ThePurple12

Yeah, you're probably right that it was too late to save them. The sudden water change probably didn't help. 

Instead of adding minerals to RO, do you think a 2:1 or 3:1 RO to tap water ratio would work? 

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sdlTBfanUK

I think it may be a bit unlikely to work to use tap water, even partial, with such a high rate of copper. My cherries are in all tap water and do fine and breed etc but I don't have any copper in our water! Even using 3:1 RO water would be nearly 2mg/l copper and have very little other stuff in the water that the shrimp need?

You can keep trying different 'short cuts' but it is likely to cost you a lot of money and disappointment, better to just do it the right and proven way from the start. It will be much cheaper as well to just buy the right GH+ or GH/KH+ rather than wasting that on shrimps that die soon after you get them and then trying something else? If you have the RO water unit already you are off to a good start. You will probably want a TDS pen as well! The specialist mineral products will have the right balance of everything the shrimp need! 

Simon

Edited by sdlTBfanUK
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ThePurple12

OK. Is there anything else I'll need to add to the RO?

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sdlTBfanUK

The salty shrimp or many other products have everything you need for the shrimp in perfect balance and usually you can just use a TDS meter to mix it to the right parameters so you don't need to check GH, KH, PH, every time, just do those occasionally for peace of mind! It really is a lot easier to just do it the right/proven way. Otherwise the only other thing is food but that is a different subject not really related here! With RO water you shouldn't need to dechlorinate, but as you say, you don't have that anyway!

Simon

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jayc
14 hours ago, ThePurple12 said:

I used tap water, which comes from a well and doesn't have chlorine.

Hi ThePurple12. Welcome to SKFA.

In my experience, well water might not have chlorine, but it usually has a high amount of dissolved solids. Which has been leached into the water from the surrounding soil.

Can you get your water parameters tested? At a minimum check GH, KH, PH, TDS and temperature.

Simon is on the right track suggesting RO water.

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ThePurple12

Sorry for the late reply.

TDS is 8 ppm, pH is 8.3. Temperature is 68-70.  I don't have the other test kits, as I'm mainly a saltwater and planted tank guy. 

I don't think it's copper anymore. 7 ug/l = .007 mg/l, which should be perfectly safe. Could it be the low TDS?

By the way, the Salty Shrimp came in today, and 20 more ghost shrimp should be coming too.

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jayc
7 hours ago, ThePurple12 said:

TDS is 8 ppm, pH is 8.3.

Yes, TDS is way too low. This is probably why your cherry shrimps haven't been able to breed. With TDS this low, it means that GH is also very low, lacking in Calcium and Magnesium. TDS & GH this low will cause the shrimp's eggs to be brittle (conversely, TDS & GH too high will make egg's shells to be too hard). Your Salty Shrimp will help rectify this issue.

 

pH is also too high, which means KH is also high. A typical characteristic of well water unfortunately.

Collecting rainwater or an RO system is probably the only solution here.

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ThePurple12

Ah, everything makes sense now! I've been trying to get my shrimp to breed for a year!

Until I get a test kit, how much mineralizer should I add for the ghost shrimp? The recommended scoop/10 liters?

Edited by ThePurple12
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sdlTBfanUK

If you are using RO water and mineralising that, you can just use the TDS pen to measure and all the 'others' will be in balance.

In basic math, 1 scoop/10L will mean 80% of a scoop in a US 2 gallon (1US gallon is 4L), if it has 2 gallons of water, and it would probably have less than that unless there is nothing else in it and it is filled to the rim. I would try a little over half a scoop to start with as it s easier to add a bit more than reduce it! Make sure it is well mixed/dissolved before taking any readings! There is a range with all figures so don't fixate too much on exact numbers, just aim for those?

When changing water with the shrimp in situ you should add the new water slowly, usually some sort of dripper is best! I assume though at this stage you are more focused on getting the tank ready for the new batch en route rather than the few that are left and probably weakened anyway?

Simon

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ThePurple12

That's about how much I've been adding.

There's only one shrimp left from the previous batch. The new one came in yesterday and all shrimp are healthy. Thanks for all the help!

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sdlTBfanUK

That last one from the old batch will probably die as well soon with all that has happened!

As long as you keep everything steady the new batch should do much better though!

Simon

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