And so the journey begins…. Again

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Aquarium Advice Apprentice
Jul 21, 2022
So long story short, wife and I were at a garage sale and saw this 5.5 gal with 4 guppy’s. It was still put together and they said if they didn’t go they would just be getting rid as they were moving the next day. So figured I’d save them that fate….

This is where I’m sure a lot will say I messed up and am deserving any problem to come my way. I decided since I was having trouble with my cherry shrimp tank(10g running for 2 months) I’d switch them to the 5.5 gal and plant heavy to give them more places to hide and just feel more comfortable. Now based on how the family was just going to throw away the fish I didn’t really trust not knowing everything they did with the tank. So I cleaned the tank over and over before starting the build. I used UNS Controsoil Black decided to go with Seiryu stone instead of the Malaysian drift wood I originally had as when switching I found 3 dead cherry shrimp in a tiny nook which I figured they got trapped for whatever reason. And wanted to avoid that happening again. I created a cave like structure out of the rocks to give them a little place to hide out of the hard scape. Next I planted with some plants my LFS suggested and some I saw when researching just nano tanks. This consisted of corkscrew Val, Java moss, Monte Carlo, Staurogyne Repens, a mini sword plant forgot exact name(LFS recommond) and hair grass. I also got red root floaters but haven’t added yet have them on the windowsill along with a Anubis nana petite. I am using a HOB, Fluval AquaClear 30 Aquarium Power Filter. And a nano fluval plant led light. So that’s the background story…

Here is why I’m writing this..

1. I can not seem to cycle any of my tanks. I am still just stuck in the ammonia spike daily

But I really have more issues within the shrimp tank than the others. Now all tanks have been in this stuck cycle for 2+ months. So I didn’t have any cycled tank to grab and jumpstart this new tank. Using filter media or anything. So I’ve started this 5.5G with fritz 700 and have now been dosing fritz complete everything other day whenever I have ammonia 1ppm or more.

Problem 2. Now the plants after being planted now 4 full days are deff dying it seems. The light is on for 9hours a day at 65%. I was told to not fertilizer yet since the tank isn’t cycled. I have seachem flourish so if this is wrong would I kill the shrimp if I choose to start?

Problem 3. Today (8-3) I now have 9 cherry shrimp first one to pass in this 5.5G. In these past months I have gone from 25 to 9.. what am I doing wrong!!?

Here is the past 5 days water perimeters

6.6ph 0 Amm 0 nitrite

6.6ph 0 Amm 0 nitrite

6.6ph 1Amm 0nitrite

6ph 2amm 0 nitrite 20% change

6.6ph 1Amm 0 nitrite 20% change

Let me know if you need more info I think that covers most basics. I read so much stuff online YouTube podcasts and just feel defeated that I haven’t even cycled a tank yet. Thanks if you have actually read this far!
Here are photos of the plants first set up verse 5 days later if that helps visually.
Here is the start verse 5 days later condition of the plants.


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Will check the details you have posted in the next couple days,
You maybe saw the advice article posted in my signature, that is a great place to start. Also in fresh water articles there are 2 main articles which could help you, especially just for learning about care and the nitrification cycle basics. Sounds like you may already have researched this pretty thoroughly.

One of the main things which helps shrimp tanks is establishing a matured tank with biofilm and having a place for the shrimp to graze during the days. Also proper foods to allow them enough minerals for proper molting. Not over cleaning the tank inside and media. But keeping the water excellent. Small water changes more often if needed. 10% they don't like big changes. And don't want ammonia, etc.

Shrimp are a difficult choice in an uncycled tank. I'll check back. Have lots of work the next couple days.
I am using the API master test kit. I do have the strips but I have found that those aren’t as accurate.

Slight update:

I found my KH at 0 so I have added about a 1/2 cup crushed coral it’s been in for a day today(8-8) is day 2 so will see later if it raised a bit. Nothing has changed yesterday. But I think this is a big reason I was loosing the plants and shrimp due to the fluctuations in PH. I didn’t wanna add buffers chemically since it would just swing quickly and it would eventually go back to being a problem. If someone has other ideas I’m listening. I just wanna keep the 5 little shrimp that remain going.

Water perimeters

6.8ph 3-4amm 0 nitrite 20% change
6.0ph 2amm 0nitrite 0 nitrate 20% change added 1/2 cup crushed coral for KH boost
6.6ph 2Amm 0nitrite 0 nitrate 20% change. Added 1/4 cup of crushed coral and 1/4 cap of fritz 700
6.4ph 2amm .25nitrite 0nitrate 20% change
Yeah, the ammonia looks like a a concern.
As for Kh, check your tap water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.
If it's high out of the tap, you might need to try using RO water and remineralizing Salty Shrimp Gh Kh for Neocaridina, like Cherry shrimp. (there's on for Cardina shrimp too). Also other brands are available. Just make sure it's got GH and KH for Neos. Then you would know your water wasn't the cause.

In my tap, I have usually 0 Kh.
For my non existing Kh, I use Kent's Marine Superbuffer dKh. I was nervous at first since it says "marine", but it has been fine for the appx. 7 years with FW and SW. Tub lasts a long time, last time I bought the biggest size, as it can be used for a very long time if kept with the lid on, and was not very much more cost.

Just use each water change, for the amount of water you are changing into the tank. Plants use it, and if there is a long time between water changes, the plants may need more added to the tank. You can get a feel after doing tests for it, about how much the plants use up each week, and therefore if you need to add it to the tank in-between water changes.

Other option would be to check with the water department about where the water comes from, if it is the same location all year round. Mine comes from a lake half the year, 0 Kh but when they switch to the reservoir water sits in a rock bowl type lake, and I get some hardness from that. Also they flush the lines with strong chemicals which kill shrimp.

I have perfect water for Caridina shrimp, like Crystal Red Shrimp. So if yours out of the tap remains at 0 Kh and they maintain the same water source year round. Maybe a change to Caridina species.
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Awesome I will check into that! If I go with doing RO water will I need to do like a 75% water change or can I slowly 10-20% and eventually it will cycle to being that RO? Thankfully it’s a 5.5G so shouldn’t be too costly to maintain RO
I would gradually change over, with more frequent pwc's and the remineralized RO. EDIT: with the smaller pwc's

It seems you will be doing many more frequent pwc's to get the ammonia down to .25 or 0. Then it shouldn't take too long. Ammonia is a shrimp killer.

Usually it is recommended to get the tank cycled, and then in around 4-6 months after the tank stays stable, to put shrimp in, since it takes a while to get the microfilm growing which the shrimp really use everyday for sustenance. I recommend adding a fish to get to the mature point, like a Betta, which you would move to a different tank before adding shrimp. The biofilm is especially useful for raising the shrimp fry. It helps them grow.
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