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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello hello! So I decided to start a separate thread on my little shrimp tank, it is the dirted with the same "worm hummus" that I used with my 120 liter, with a cap of sand and some crushed coral substrate thrown in.

It's been 1 month!

The tank on the first day:

Plant Water Pet supply Wood Fish supply


There were only snails in there, and I really thought the tank cycled in about three weeks, since there was the ammonia spike and nitritate spike and a few days of zero. I consistently squeezed the sponge filter from our established tank in there to help get the bacterial colony along... Anyways, I made the mistake of not testing the water the day I went to buy the shrimp since it had been zero for a few days. I did test the day after, and it was up to 1.00 - so naturally, I panicked.

I think maybe it could be a combination of factors...

1. The Bladder snail population pretty much exploded in there, so the bioload coincided with new shrimps (only 4 shrimps!) You can see the ammount of mulm is in the substrate from this image, from the day I put in the shrimps, Set. 19th (three weeks after setting up the tank).

Plant Organism Terrestrial plant Grass Aquatic plant



2. I'm afraid the substrate might have gone anaerobic in parts, because some of the plants that were green before, melted and just died, in particular this one plant (dont know the name sorry!) - two of stems lost the leaves and floated off. The other two remained but they lost a lot of the leaves, but the tips are going strong and they already reached the water surface.

Plant Branch Terrestrial plant Vegetation Twig


I quickly put in more plants, poked the substrate a lot and sure enough, really smelly bubbles came up. There was an earth worm attached to the roots of one of the plants, I really thought his presence would prevent this. There are a lot of detritus worms now as well.

3. Maybe I didn't let the plants establish and it took me a while to notice there was some melting going on, so maybe that also created extra nitrites.

Things I've done to try to deal with this:

1. Poke the substrates to get oxynated water in there.
2. Planted more plants.
3. Declared war on the bladder snails- I have taken out about 100 babies so far and have "rehomed" them in our 10 gallon with the tetras and dwarf gourami (he probably snacks on them, since the population in that aquarium is pretty low key).
4. 15% water changes, at first it was daily, but this past week it's been every other day so that's a good sign.
5. Used bottled bacteria, "stability" and also squeeze the sponge from the other tank every other day to see if things help.

In the mean time, one of our shrimp got mangled in the pump, which quickly got fixed up with sponges everywhere. We went out and got two more shrimps, one of which was berried and a few days later gave birth? Let go? Don't know the term here... and now there's a ton of babies swimming around, yay, but it makes water changes extra delicate. The mama molted the night afterwards but then I found her turned into snail food the next morning :cry:.

The remaining three (two females, one male) have also molted, but they seem fine. Everyone is eating normally so I believe the nitrite isn't getting to them (yet?).

I do test the water hardness with each water change and redose with calcium accordingly. Right now the levels are at: gH 8 and kH 4, pH 7.8 (I believe the wood really helps bring down the pH, our tap water right now runs at high of 8.6 - despite being high pH, it is still soft water.)

This little tank has been surprisingly difficult compared to my other two, yikes!! Especially with two shrimp deaths...but now there are a ton of tiny shrimps swimming around so that's been heartening. I'm just sad that after reading and re-reading how sensitive shrimp are to nitrites, I still managed to mess up the tank cycle.

I'll attach an updated picture later with the new plants, since I'm not at home currently. I added an anubia nana and more duckweed- i dumped so much in there, it's already convering 60% of the surface.

Here's a fun video showing the bladder snails having a ball, floating up and down the water column before I decided that they needed to leave.

New video by Laisa Bellomo-Johnson

Final thoughts- Once the tank stabalizes, I was considering putting in a Betta despite not being a fan of putting it in such a small tank but I'm starting to think it's going to be necessary as Bladder Snail population control. I'm not sure how much the shrimp like eating snail eggs...

Any thoughts and advice welcome!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Yesterday and today I refrained from doing a water change, because the nitrites stayed at 1.00 and I'm really trying to give the tank a chance to start bringing down the levels on it's own. Although it makes me nervous.

I added leaf litter (guava leaves) last night hoping that will give more surface area for the biofilm to grow.

Plant Water Organism Twig Wood




Duckweed surface:

Water Plant Green Pet supply Yellow




EDIT; tonight the nitrite is reading fell 0.50! With no water changes, so this is looking good finally.
 

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I'm a recent convert to the usefulness of bladder snails and I suspect they were the one thing keeping your tank from exploding in algae with all of those ammonia spikes. And thank goodness for your duckweed; it's almost certainly responsible for bringing down your nitrate level (keep removing about half when they get t the point in your snapshot so that the rest have room to multiply.) IMHO, you have room for more plants. Where are your vals?

Also, if I may, I would just like to point out a common misconception among many people starting out with their first dirted tanks. And, that is the idea that you have to "cycle" the tank like an ordinary tank with no live plants. Cycling in the ordinary sense means relying on beneficial bacteria to remove nutrients from the water. But, the most part that only leads to ammonia/ammonium being converted into nitrites and then the somewhat less toxic nitrates.

Unfortunately, once that cycle kicks in, your plants now have a natural competitor for the available ammonia/ammonium and will have to fight for nutrients that much harder by relying on the nitrates for energy which is their second-choice as a food choice. Hence DW always emphasizes getting fast-growing plants in the beginning so that they out compete the bacteria for ammonia/ammonium. In short, don't worry about bacteria; they will always be there. Worry about getting the plants off to a fast start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm a recent convert to the usefulness of bladder snails and I suspect they were the one thing keeping your tank from exploding in algae with all of those ammonia spikes. And thank goodness for your duckweed; it's almost certainly responsible for bringing down your nitrate level (keep removing about half when they get t the point in your snapshot so that the rest have room to multiply.) IMHO, you have room for more plants. Where are your vals?
I have some val spiralis behind the trunk near the pump on the left hand side but that can definitely be filled in more since they also melted a bit. I'm going to the fishstore today.

After some talk with my boyfriend, he told me he wants to upgrade his 11 gallon into a larger 20 gallon, so as soon as the baby shrimps grow enough to be properly seen, I'll be moving them to the already well established 11 gallon (pictured above with all the rocks) where I'll be able to put in a betta.
 

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I see a lot going on here. A rich substrate like the one in your tank requires lots of acclimated rooted plants and good lighting. Plants should go into tank right off the bat, before the soil chaos begins. (See my book's chapter on "Substrates.")

One problem for beginners is that purchased plants are not acclimated to your tank's conditions; they may have grown emergent via tissue culture in a lab. They are not adapted to submergence. And/or they may be non-competitive species- i.e., hairgrass.

Your tank's light source looks inadequate and raised too far above the tank to provide decent lighting. (For a plant, every inch counts!) Move lamp down as close as possible. Then, that thick cover of duckweed is preventing light from reaching the submerged plants below. I feel sorry for them, trying to oxygenate their roots when there is no light for photosynthesis to generate the required oxygen. And make sure that you have a photoperiod of at least 11 hours/day.

Adding driftwood, leaves, bacterial starter cultures are complicating the situation. This tank is already overloaded with nutrients from the soil and I suspect dying plants.

People that post in the El Natural forum should have at least read my article 'Small Planted Tanks for Pet Shrimp'. It is available free from my website www.dianawalstad.com You need to learn how to grow aquarium plants. Build up your own supply of plant species that are adapted to submergence and your tank conditions. These will be the plants that you can count on to use for growing in larger tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
So this is embarrassing! I did read the Shrimp Tank article. I won't go into details, but part of my problem was having my plans hijacked a bit my boyfriend (who almost convinced me to put in a filter) so I'm trying to deal with this without going "I told you so".

I bought a 20W (cold light) LED bulb today but...the boyfriend thinks it's too much, so we put in a 9W (3000k), which is still stronger but not as strong and honestly figuring out the right amount of light is confusing to me. He might be right because the 9w is more or less equivalent to a 13 – 18W CFL bulb (according to google).

The set up:
Water Pet supply Fish supply Plant Wood


As for the hours, it's been on from 12 am to 11pm - which is when I get home. I've yet to get a timer to put it a "siesta" period (timers are quite expensive here surprisingly), wasn't sure if this would be necessary in this beginning stage.

I haven't taken out all the snails, that would be impossible, I just did a little "population control", definitely aware of how they help with algae, which has only shown up minimally on the glass.

In general, the plants are starting to react now, a month in, the only two that had growth from the start were the cabomba and brasilian pennywort, which have been trimmed and replanted twice. They both came from my other tanks. The sag and glosso were also from my tanks but they were definitely slow to show signs of growth, they will be thankful for the new light I'm sure.

Here's proof I have corkscrew vals in here:

Plant Vertebrate Pet supply Organism Terrestrial plant




I didn't realize the leaf little would be a source of nitrites...should I take them out then?

Thanks everyone for the insights.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Also, if I may, I would just like to point out a common misconception among many people starting out with their first dirted tanks. And, that is the idea that you have to "cycle" the tank like an ordinary tank with no live plants. Cycling in the ordinary sense means relying on beneficial bacteria to remove nutrients from the water. But, the most part that only leads to ammonia/ammonium being converted into nitrites and then the somewhat less toxic nitrates.

True, I had read about this but yeah, inexperience got in the way. I ran into the same problem as with my first 30 gallon tank - I thought I had enough plants until I realized I didn't. Then I had to rely on the bacteria to fill in the gap. This has been tricky but thank you for making this point clear about the "cycling".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
In my experience with a 5 gallon fertilized shrimp tank with blue dream shrimp, 10ppm nitrate is not harmful.
Mmm, not sure what this means in relation to nitrites.... I mean, I know nitrite gets converted into nitrates, but does 10ppm of nitrates means high nitrates too?

I wish I could find a nitrate test here that doesn't come with a kit (paper tests). All I can test for is nitrites and ammonia (liquid tests) and since nitrates are less toxic, I figured I didn't need to test that? Maybe I'm wrong though...

Things have continued to remain calm (as in 0!) and I now count 5 growing shrimp babies, two red and three black colored. Not gonna lie, makes me feel like a proud aquarium momma.
 

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Mmm, not sure what this means in relation to nitrites.... I mean, I know nitrite gets converted into nitrates, but does 10ppm of nitrates means high nitrates too?

I wish I could find a nitrate test here that doesn't come with a kit (paper tests). All I can test for is nitrites and ammonia (liquid tests) and since nitrates are less toxic, I figured I didn't need to test that? Maybe I'm wrong though...

Things have continued to remain calm (as in 0!) and I now count 5 growing shrimp babies, two red and three black colored. Not gonna lie, makes me feel like a proud aquarium momma.
API does sell a separate nitrate liquid test.
 
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