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High Nitrates -- Am I Missing Something


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Posted (edited)

Hi Nerms! 

I had my first shrimp death, my first death at all, this morning and I'm totally bummed. I know they're just shrimp, but still. I quickly checked the water and the nitrates were at 40. I just did a 20 percent WC four days ago and am surprised the nitrates are so high but I did a 25 percent WC immediately. I'm assuming I'm not getting rid of enough dead leaves in the tank or I'm overfeeding or both but just wanted to consult the group to see if my thinking is right. 

Stats:

5 gallon very heavily planted running for about a year. Shrimp added two months ago. 

Ph: 7.6

Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrates: 40 before the WC

Kh: 3

Gh: 12

Temp: 78 

I feed the nine adult shrimp (now eight) I have a tiny pinch of shrimp food -- no more than 10 tiny pieces -- or a couple algae wafers every two to three days. Important to mention it's also a snail breeding tank for my pea puffers so it has bladder and ramshorn snails in it. I actually used to feed the tank quite a bit more for the snail population to grow and the nitrates never got above 10.

I still see a bunch of shrimplets swimming around so I know the tank isn't in too bad of shape. 

Questions:

What do I do? Give the plants a good pruning? Stop feeding as much? Both? 

For WCs, how frequently should I do them and what percentage should I do to get the nitrates back down? 

Another option: am I overthinking it and ignoring the fact that deaths happen? 

Thank you all! 🦐

 

 

 

Edited by Jennifer V
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Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2022 at 7:36 AM, Jennifer V said:

Hi Nerms! 

I had my first shrimp death, my first death at all, this morning and I'm totally bummed. I know they're just shrimp, but still. I quickly checked the water and the nitrates were at 40. I just did a 20 percent WC four days ago and am surprised the nitrates are so high but I did a 25 percent WC immediately. I'm assuming I'm not getting rid of enough dead leaves in the tank or I'm overfeeding or both but just wanted to consult the group to see if my thinking is right. 

Stats:

5 gallon very heavily planted

Ph: 7.6

Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrates: 40 before the WC

Kh: 3

Gh: 12

Temp: 78 

I feed the nine adult shrimp (now eight) I have a tiny pinch of shrimp food -- no more than 10 tiny pieces -- or a couple algae wafers every two to three days. Important to mention it's also a snail breeding tank for my pea puffers so it has bladder and ramshorn snails in it. I actually used to feed the tank quite a bit more for the snail population to grow and the nitrates never got above 10.

I still see a bunch of shrimplets swimming around so I know the tank isn't in too bad of shape. 

Questions:

What do I do? Give the plants a good pruning? Stop feeding as much? Both? 

For WCs, how frequently should I do them and what percentage should I do to get the nitrates back down? 

Another option: am I overthinking it and ignoring the fact that deaths happen? 

Thank you all! 🦐

 

 

 

I have read that shrimp are much like Blackwater fish, they need super clean water. I have also read that the GH should be between 3 and 10.

Yes, keep the plants trimmed, dead leaves add to bad bacteria just like extra food and anything else rotting in there. You needs lots of biofiltration also to keep the bad bacteria at bay.

To keep GH low I like to use RO water for top off because of evaporation. 

Also, what about minerals for them? They need calcium and magnesium for their shells. 

I am no shrimp expert I just like to read about them. It seems they are a bit finicky but interesting creatures for sure. I wouldn't mind trying them but I'm afraid they would get eaten by my fish.

Oh, WC's  It's very simple, just do enough to keep the nitrates as low as you want them. Say you have 40 ppm now, a 50% change will give you 20 ppm. Water changes don't do much for bad bacteria in the water though. Just keep the feeding to a minimum, trim plants, and use a large foam filled filter for that. 

Edited by Wrencher_Scott
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On 5/21/2022 at 8:46 AM, Wrencher_Scott said:

I have read that shrimp are much like Blackwater fish, they need super clean water. I have also read that the GH should be between 3 and 10.

Yes, keep the plants trimmed, dead leaves add to bad bacteria just like extra food and anything else rotting in there. You needs lots of biofiltration also to keep the bad bacteria at bay.

To keep GH low I like to use RO water for top off because of evaporation. 

Also, what about minerals for them? They need calcium and magnesium for their shells. 

I am no shrimp expert I just like to read about them. It seems they a a bit finicky but interesting creatures for sure. I wouldn't mind trying them but I'm afraid they would get eaten by my fish.

I've read the same -- they need really clean water. I suppose I don't completely know what parameters are part of the "really clean water" category. I know my gh is a little high but I added crushed coral to the tank a few months ago anyway because the kh was at zero and the ph was unstable and measuring at around 6 each time I checked it. Now the ph and kh are stable. I feed them Hikari Shrimp Cuisine and Dennerle shrimp food so I thought with that and the crushed coral, the minerals would be taken care of? I've seen plenty of successful molts, so I thought all was well. 

I thought I had a healthy biofiltration system before the shrimp because the tank has been running for over a year and the parameters have been stable for months before adding the shrimp. 

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Are these cherry shrimp? If so, you might want to lower the temp. 78 is on the higher end, and since you don't have any fish in there, might as well decrease the temp and save on electricity. That said, if it was a water quality issue, the shrimplets would've died first. If the shrimp are breeding, they are probably doing quite well. Shrimp don't have terribly long life spans, about a year, so don't make to much out of a single death.

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:15 AM, Scapexghost said:

Are these cherry shrimp? If so, you might want to lower the temp. 78 is on the higher end, and since you don't have any fish in there, might as well decrease the temp and save on electricity. That said, if it was a water quality issue, the shrimplets would've died first. If the shrimp are breeding, they are probably doing quite well. Shrimp don't have terribly long life spans, about a year, so don't make to much out of a single death.

I was actually thinking about getting rid of the heater all together. It's not a great heater and I agree that the temp is a little too high. What's the lowest temp cherry shrimp can tolerate? What's the safest way to lower the temp? The heater I have isn't one with any programming so I can't lower the temp slowly with the current setup. 

You're totally right. I'm getting concerned about one death, so I'm trying to see the bigger picture here, which is all seems to be doing relatively well. I just don't like the nitrates being so high. And I tend to obsess about little things with my tanks when really I would just chill out. I think that's another reason I asked the questions, I need someone to tell me to just sit back and relax, so thank you! 

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On 5/21/2022 at 9:21 AM, Jennifer V said:

I was actually thinking about getting rid of the heater all together. It's not a great heater and I agree that the temp is a little too high. What's the lowest temp cherry shrimp can tolerate? What's the safest way to lower the temp? The heater I have isn't one with any programming so I can't lower the temp slowly with the current setup. 

You're totally right. I'm getting concerned about one death, so I'm trying to see the bigger picture here, which is all seems to be doing relatively well. I just don't like the nitrates being so high. And I tend to obsess about little things with my tanks when really I would just chill out. I think that's another reason I asked the questions, I need someone to tell me to just sit back and relax, so thank you! 

Cherry shrimp can go down to the 50s no problem but ideal is around room temp. I think removing the heater and just letting the water cool naturally would be fine. After all, when shrimp are bagged in stores and people take them home, theyll experience much faster temperature fluctuations. When people float bags to temperature aculamate fish, the temperature swing will also be much faster. I see no issue in letting a five gallon tank cool from 78 to 72 degrees.

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On 5/21/2022 at 7:54 AM, Jennifer V said:

I've read the same -- they need really clean water. I suppose I don't completely know what parameters are part of the "really clean water" category. I know my gh is a little high but I added crushed coral to the tank a few months ago anyway because the kh was at zero and the ph was unstable and measuring at around 6 each time I checked it. Now the ph and kh are stable. I feed them Hikari Shrimp Cuisine and Dennerle shrimp food so I thought with that and the crushed coral, the minerals would be taken care of? I've seen plenty of successful molts, so I thought all was well. 

I thought I had a healthy biofiltration system before the shrimp because the tank has been running for over a year and the parameters have been stable for months before adding the shrimp. 

Really clean water is low on bad bacteria. Lots of biofiltration and just keeping the rotting stuff out like food and leaves. 

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Cherry shrimp do best in the water conditions they were born. It's very common for the adults that were bought from the LFS or wherever to only last a few months because they were born in very different conditions. But if they breed in your tank, their offspring will be very hardy in your water and live a long time. 

I keep my cherry shrimp at room temperature. If you take out the heater  you can definitely let the temperature drop naturally. They don't actually need super clean water either. What they need is a balanced ecosystem to thrive.

 

 

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This is a math problem. Basically you have old tank syndrome. Lets say your nitrates were 100 and you make 30 nitrates a week. You change 25% of the water and you still have 75 nitrates. Next week your water is 105 nitrates. you change 25% of the water, and you'll have 77 nitrates. See how it continues to rise? This is why testing is important and adjusting as necessary. You could cut back on fertilizer, or have more live plants, or adjust feeding or change more water. Whichever plan you want to do to accomplish your desired nitrate level.

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