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Around 20 days ago I started with 18 red cherry shrimp in my 5 gallon planted aquarium. 1 by 1 the shrimp have been dying and it appears to be after they molt (I find an exoskeleton every time I find a dead shrimp). I've read dozens of threads about why shrimp die after molting and how GH and KH are important. About a week ago I got a GH/KH Test Kit and realized that my water was very soft (GH = 2 and KH = 0), so I bought Seachem Equilibrium to raise GH and baking soda to raise KH. Over the past few days I've been raising GH to 6 and KH to 3-4, but the next day I test again and they always lower 1-2 degrees so I add more Seachem Equilibrium and baking soda to get back up to GH 6 and KH 4 (which I heard was ideal for RCS).

Anyways, I came home today to find another shrimp dead with the same characteristic crack in its exoskeleton and its molt floating around the tank. My question now is why did this happen even after I raised my KH and GH? Below are my current tank parameters:

GH = 5
KH = 2
pH = 6.5
Ammonia = 0 ppm
Nitrite = 0 ppm
Nitrate = <30 ppm
CO2 = 30 ppm (light green drop checker w/ 4kdh solution)
Substrate = Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
Temp = 76 F
Photoperiod = 8 hours
Filter = Fluval 106 (which is definitely overkill)
Inhabitants = 2 otocinclus & only 3 red cherry shrimp left
Water Change = 50% per week

I know lower nitrates would be ideal but I am dosing Green Leaf Aquariums PPS Macros and Micros and I think that is what is keeping my nitrates at around 30 ppm. I'm pretty convinced this is a molting issue but don't know what the solution is at this point? Raise KH and GH even higher? Is my pH too low? I just ordered these Mineral Rocks (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005CTKE46/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) to see if it will help at all.

Anyways, I would be incredibly thankful for any and all feedback! This is extremely frustrating and I have another shipment of shrimp coming later this week so it would be nice to have this problem figured out before then! Thanks!


 

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Welcome to APC!

I am not a shrimp expert, but if the shrimp are suffering a calcium deficiency it may take more time to correct it. If you can find high calcium food, that will correct a deficiency faster than changing the water chemistry. I am not familiar with the Mineral Rocks, so can't comment on that.
 

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agree with machel, calcium def. add eggshells to the water.
 

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Sorry if this response is very late. But generally invertebrates with shell needs a high calcium diet. Aside from the water that needs to be hard, high calcium foods regularly are a must. Feed them green vegetables like broiled spinach, zucchini, cucumber and many more.
 

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Shrimp are sensitive to CO2, so you could reduce the amount of CO2 you are adding to the water. You can do this by mixing your 4 dKH water half and half with distilled water. Then the light green color would mean about 15 ppm of CO2.
 
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