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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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