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Understanding Important Water Parameters for Shrimp


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With so many dedicated new members, and the mountain of information, I thought I'd summarised my 6 most critical water parameters I frequently test, to ensure my shrimps have the best possible water quality.

GH (General Hardness)

GH is the measure of Magnesium (Mg+) and Calcium (Ca+) ions in water. Water described as “soft†or “hard†is in reference to GH. GH is measured in dH, and 1 dH is approx.. 17.5mg/L (ppm)

0-4 dH (Very Soft)

4-8 dH (Soft)

8-12dH (Medium hard)

12-18 dH (Fairly Hard)

18-30 dH (Hard)

KH (Carbonate Hardness)

KH is the measure of carbonates and bicarbonates in water. KH measure the alkalinity (buffering capacity resulting in the resistance of a PH fluctuation). KH is measured in dH, and 1 dH is approx.. 17.5mg/L (ppm). The higher the KH the more stability and resistance PH will fluctuate.

pH (Per Hydrogen)

pH is the measure of the balance of Hydrogen (H+) and Hydroxide (OH) ions in water. The pH scale goes from 0-14. pH reading of 7.0 is neutral, 0-6.9 is Acidic, and 7.1-14 is alkaline. pH is also a function of KH and CO2 concentration.


Nitrates are critical to our beloved shrimps, and often utilized to indicate the level of water quality once a tank is cycled. Nitrates between 0-20ppm should be our goal. Nitrate should be tested/checked frequently, as high nitrates can/will lead to shrimp deaths even weeks after the event.


TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)/ Ec (Electrical Conductivity) is essential to ensure overall purity of water. A TDS reading measures contaminants , but also minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements and metals. The TDS reading of most natural clean spring water is approx. 100-200 ppm. RO (Reverse Osmosis) water will have approx. 0 TDS, and by adding essential salts/minerals to the required TDS/Ec,, this will ensure our shrimps have the purist of water with the right/essential minerals.



Water temperature is a critical factor, and depending on the type of shrimp, a higher/lower range can be tolerated, but does add stress to the shrimps. Ensuring no sudden fluctuation, and maintaining the recommended level will ensure the best survival/breeding zone for our shrimps.

There are many breeders using varying WP (i.e. soft water vs hard water, low PH vs high PH...etc)...please do your research and/or ask the forum members of their experience/knowledge, depending on the shrimp species you intend keeping.

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Wow BB, another stunning write up, so informative & easy to understand. I think I smell another sticky, well done mate :encouragement:

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  • 4 years later...

hi there im new here and the shrimp world. i just need to be sure about a few thing if you guys dont mind helping me im from montreal canada and my tap water here super  hard 30 gh and over 

from my understanding most shrimps keepers will use r o water  and use buffers  cause there are no easy way to reduce de gh from the tap water right ? 

except rain water ,boiled water  and little thing like most, plants, and drift wood  

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2 hours ago, drdonut said:

montreal canada and my tap water here super  hard 30 gh and over 

:surprise: Woah.

What's TDS like?

Never mind the shrimps, what's that doing to your health?


There is not much you can do to reduce GH that high, except for RO. Plus there will be other parameters that will be out of whack as well, like KH, pH and TDS.

Boiling is all but impractical except for the smallest of tanks. And I doubt boiling water will reduce GH, unless you collect the steam vapour. Boiling reduces KH a little, but not GH.

Rain water is a viable alternative. Similar initial amount of investment just like RO systems, but free afterwards. No ongoing costs like RO.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, thank for your information about the important water parameters. I would like to ask about Mg+ and Ca+, how much the maximum and minimum of Mg+ and Ca+ which are suitable with scrimp culture? thank you

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8 hours ago, grobest said:

I would like to ask about Mg+ and Ca+, how much the maximum and minimum of Mg+ and Ca+ which are suitable with scrimp culture?

 Mg+ and Ca+ together will be reflected in the TDS measurement, and to some degree the GH measurement. 

(TDS and GH measurements will pick up other minerals as well and those will effect the reading)

While you can measure them individually it doesn't give you the whole picture.

So you need to get a TDS meter and a GH test kit.

The TDS and GH readings will give you an indication of what you should aim for with your specific type of shrimp.

For example...

Freshwater shrimps like,

CBS, CRS (Caridina) - TDS around 130-150 and GH3-4.

Cherry shrimps (NeoCaridina) - TDS 140-180 and GH 4-6.


Marine prawns and shrimp are a different matter since seawater contains a LOT more Mg and Ca.


Edited by jayc
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