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Old 04-25-2011, 11:17 AM   #1
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Can't seem to keep RCS alive

So here's the story: I've had a freshwater tank going for about 3.5 years. It started as a 10G tank, but has upgraded over time into a 20G long planted tank. I've successfully kept fish and shrimp in there before; I've had ghost shrimp and even RCS in there, which all lived for a while until the fish ended up eating them (I didn't know any better at the time). Recently I've decided to move all the fish in this tank to a different tank and make this one into a shrimp-only tank. The fish have already been removed and are doing swimmingly in the other tank (get it? Swimmingly? Nothing?). I've decided I want to start off with Red Cherry Shrimp, I'd like to try and get a colony going.

I ordered about 30 RCS from eBay. When they got here they didn't look so good. Over half of them were dead on arrival and the other half didn't last very long in the tank. None of the shrimp in this batch were adults, they were all 1/2" or less. I recently tried again, getting RCS from a local guy. There were 25-30 this time, and they were roughly the same size (no adults). They all seemed very happy once they got into the tank, but 24 hours later I could only find one living shrimp, and later that same night I couldn't find any that were still alive.

Before, when I had just the eBay shrimp to go off of, I had just blamed it on the shrimp I got that one time, but this second batch all looked great before I got them and they didn't last very long. Now I'm suspicious of my own tank, but I have no idea what the problem could be. I don't know all that much about keeping shrimp so there could easily be something I'm missing.

Here are all the details on my setup:

Measurements:
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 20 ppm (I've been shooting for this level since it's a planted tank)
pH: 7.2

This is everything I could think to test for.

Tank specs:
Two AquaClear 20 filters – no carbon inserts, I use an extra foam insert instead
50W submersible heater, I keep the temperature between 78F and 80F
Four small pieces of driftwood used for decoration. The java fern is attached to one of the pieces of driftwood, and there also Anubias plants in the tank.

Substrate: there’s an inch of some kind of fertilizer at the bottom, with an inch of Flourite red gravel above that

Lighting: Nova Extreme T5 10000K 30" system, which is on about 8 hours each day.

Fertilizers: After water changes the tank gets micro nutrients (Flourish Comprehensive). Twice a week the tank gets Flourish Excel (5 mL), Potassium Phosphate (1 tsp), and Potassium Sulfate and Potassium Nitrate (1/2 tsp each).

Every other week I do a 50% water change using tap water and SeaChem Prime water conditioner.

I put some pantyhose over the filter intake so that shrimp don't get caught in it.

Even after I removed the fish from the tank, I've continued to feed the tank to keep the filter bacteria fed. I'm using the same flake food that the fish usually got.

Acclimation: I used drip acclimation both times. Over 30 minutes I added tank water until the volume was tripled, then I took all of it and put it in the tank, including the water it was shipped with.

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong here?
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:19 AM   #2
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Hi there. I have 5 shrimp in my sw tank and I know i acclimate them for a way long time, about 2 hours cause I know they are sensitive to nitrates and other stuff.

Did you say you put the lfs water in your tank? Thats a big no no LOL. You just net them out of the acclimation bucket and drop them in.

Not sure this is the greatest advice since I have experince with sw shrimps. But I hope it helped a bit!
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:34 AM   #3
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Acclimation could be an issue...

I would never put LFS water in my tank. In both cases the water came from another person's own tank, and I was under the impression that the reason you don't put other water in your own tank was to protect the fish that are already in your tank. I didn't think it applied in this case but if I'm wrong about this I'd certainly like to know before I do it again.
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:36 AM   #4
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I've never put the water from a fish purchase in my tank, you never know whats in their water. Granted the creature is alive in it but to mix it with your tank water is not a good idea. It's just as easy to net them out. well sometimes, I had a serpent starfish that refused to get in my net.LOL
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Are you finding them dead or have they just disappeared? I'd be a bit curious about the layer under your Flourite. If it contains copper, it could be the culprit. Excel and comprhensive could be as well. If the plant uptake isn't rapid enough then they can be affected. I've dosed both in shrimp tanks before, but usually at 1/4 to 1/2 dosage. Have you medicated the tank in the past?
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:13 PM   #6
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That "other layer" is CaribSea Eco-Complete, which I just looked up and it doesn't appear to contain copper. I've had inverts survive in this tank (after I added that substrate) for a few months so I didn't think it was that.

I'm finding the shrimp dead in the tank -- I can't locate every single one of them but I'm seeing quite a few of them.

I remember having a discussion a few months ago about Excel and its effects on inverts. The feedback I got was mixed -- some said I shouldn't do it, others said they dosed Excel and their inverts were just fine. If I wanted to try not using Excel, I assume I could just do a 100% water change and not use it anymore before I try adding shrimp again?

I've never heard of Comprehensive giving any problems with inverts. Is there any micro nutrient out there that would work with inverts?

I've never medicated this tank before.

What puzzles me is that I haven't really changed anything all that significant since the last time I had inverts in this tank (it was almost a year ago). Of course, there must be something I'm missing that I don't think is significant...

Out of all of the things mentioned so far, the only thing that is different now than it was before is the micro nutrient. Back then it was a different brand, and I can't remember what that brand was for the life of me. Maybe that's the problem?

The other thing is that I've moved since then, so my tap water source has changed, but out of everything I know to measure for, I haven't seen a change in anything, including pH.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:16 PM   #7
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How old are the flourish bottles? fort had some CRS die off on him and the only thing he could come up with was that the bottle was quite old/low.

Are you sure you're seeing dead shrimp and not molting? I used to think I had a bunch of dead shrimp, turns out they were molting. I rarely see more than 10 or 12 at a time, but after re-doing my tank last night, I have well over 30.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:25 PM   #8
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Both of the bottles are new, it couldn't have been more than 2 months since I got them.

From what I've seen of molting and dead shrimp, I think I'm seeing dead shrimp. Also, I'm not seeing any living shrimp in the tank.

I guess I'm really looking for a list of things I want to do differently before I get shrimp again, to give the next batch the best chance of survival. Thanks for all the help so far, there are already a couple of things I plan to change.

Still an open question: what micro nutrient should I use that's known to be safe with inverts?
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