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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, I'm going off of memory here...

I have a 65-gallon heavily planted tank. After it cycled, I was happily keeping shrimp for a few months (bamboo, ghost, and cherry reds) and Olive Nerite snails. In addition, after a while, I was starting to add some MTS snails in hopes they would get a good little colony going. (the only other fish I have are otos and SAEs).

Around the same time (coincidence, I'm certain), some of my shrimp started doing the death roll and the Nerites started dying one by one. The MTS never bred and also slowly died off.

I know I won't be able to get answers out of here without a detailed list of my stuff, so I'll do my best here...
4x55 watt CF. injected CO2 controlled by a milwaukee PH monitor/solenoid. I dose all seachem ferts (flourish comprehensive, trace, K, Fe, N, and P) and have flourite substrate. Dosing is done every morning, before the lights go on. Photo period is about 8 hours.

Armageddon happened about 2 or 3 months ago. During the time, I was fiddling with lots of stuff... overdosing certain ferts, underdosing others (trying to fight algae, trying to get good plant growth). Trace was one of the things I KNOW I overdosed (I had a micronutrient shortage, but trace wasn't cutting it... I had to add Flourish which solved my problem). So then I cut back Trace considerably.

Over the next few weeks, I finally got the ferts down pretty good. no ammonia or nitrites, nitrates were also usually 0 (plants sucked everything up, I have a lot of fast-growers). PH was 6.8, Kh was around 4.5 or 5.

After getting everything squared away, I picked up a few CRS and MTS. They all died almost instantly (most within 8 hours). I rechecked all the parameters I could think of and everything looked great. Finally, I decided that maybe I went overboard with the Trace and there was too much copper in the tank (great, right? terrible thing to have). To check, I ordered a copper test kit from seachem and also some cuprisorb. Ok, the test kits aren't that great... but if there's a ton of copper in the tank, SOMETHING would show up, right? I tested and it came back as 0! Mystery still not solved... Threw in a few CRS shimp, death roll, yadda yadda, very fast death.

This was about a month ago. Since then, I've just left the cuprisorb in the XP3 filter. I checked on it today... it's still white! And the copper test still says 0. the GH is a little high at about 13... no change in any other parameters!

The odd thing... no other snails have been affected! I have the garden-variety pest snails running around in the tank fine.

I picked up some ghost shrimp today (33 cents at petsmart... I'm going for the canary/coal mine test here!!). My gut feeling is these guys will be dead pretty quickly too... One is already dead, but he was already rolling before I left petsmart.

So what else could I be missing? What could possibly kill my shrimp and snails (ONLY MTS!) at such break-neck speeds? Could it be potassium?? I dose it at the same ratio as all the other ferts, which is just enough for good growth (I started low, saw deficiencies, and slowly tweaked until algae and signs of deficiencies were eliminated). Is there a possibility that the copper test just sucks SO bad that it's COMPLETELY useless? what about the cuprisorb? I figured, even if there was some copper leaching into the water, a month of constant use would show a LITTLE color change in the cuprisorb.

Anyway, just let me reiterate how quickly things would die... within a few hours, I would see a few dead. Within 8 hours, most were dead. by 24 hours, the few stragglers succumbed as well. So the problem is more than a water parameter that is slightly out of whack... my water is POISON!

since people are going to ask my dosing levels, here is what i have begun to stabilize around...
daily dosing:
nitrogen - about 5ml
phosphorous - about 7ml
potassium - about 12ml
iron - about 8ml
flourish - about 5ml
trace - less than 1ml

the things I can test for are always at 0 (even if they shouldn't be - plants grow too fast!)
nitrates
nitrites
Fe
phosphates
ammonia
copper



So get creative people! Maybe the copper is stuck mostly in the gravel? (Affecting mostly the shrimp and MTS and not the snails on the plants and glass?). Should I get a potassium test kit? I miss my little shrimp friends! they were cute!
 

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Is this a new tank or used? Maybe a used saltwater tank?
Just from my experieance, the things that kill shrimp very fast are:
1. chlorine (also iodine and bromine) Chlorine from tap water, some cities can also add the others i guess, but they are not near as effective as the chlorine. I believe seachem iodide is used in saltwater tanks and ive herd in very small amounts for freshwater shrimps but IODINE is super toxic.

2. Salt, ive herd aquarium salt can get them pretty fast......come to think of it i think chlorine, iodine, and bromine are all salts>?

3. Co2, are you checking with a drop checker? all though i am a fan of my P.H. controller most people are not. I find a drop checker a great back up for telling me my probe is bad or needs to be calibrated.

4. And this one im not sure of but i read somewhere that their is driftwood's out their that can be toxic some of the softer wood types if i remember correctly. Also collected driftwood can have pesticides or poisons in them.

5. Petsmart........ man i not a fan

6. acclimation, how long are you acclimating your new friends? Im impatient but i go for at least 2 hours of dripping water in the bag before i lose my mind and set them free. Though i am assuming you had your first shrimp for awhile before they died?

Im running out of ideas, If you have chlorine, iodine, or bromine in the water thats an easy fix with seachem prime. Salts, well water changes will fix that. Driftwood..... well if your not sure pull it out.

Maybe set up a second "tester" tank a 10 gallon with nothing but new stuff and see how it goes, then add some stuff from the big tank like filter material, then substrate, then some wood, rock, plants, water and see if the ghost shrimp die or thrive, thats probably what i would due in the end as a last resort?

hope my rambling helped?
 

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Are you using Tap water? Might it be treated with Chloramines by your water company It will not dissipate after time like Chlorine does and is deadly to shrimp and other inverts? Seachem Prime will help with this...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ha ha... see? I write a huge essay and I STILL omit details.



1) I use seachem prime

2) the only driftwood I have is Malaysian driftwood. No wait... I have a sprig of some unknown origin in there. I'll have to remember when I added it. That might be something worth pondering...

3) The tank was never a salt tank. I have owned it for about 10 years (although I broke it down a while ago, and I set it up again over 6 months ago).

4) Never used any copper meds on it.

5) I will double-check PH again... however, I know I have done so in the past to verify the calibration. Plus, if my CO2 concentration was so low as to be freakishly deadly to inverts, I'm certain my fish would show signs of CO2 poisoning to some degree... right?

6) acclimation was never a problem. And as you assumed, I did have shrimp in there for a while initially... then they all suddenly died. something, somehow, became poisonous.

7) other types of salts?... hmmmm... another thing to ponder


Plus, I'm still baffled why every MTS dies, but I have plenty of other little guys running around. And yes, petsmart sucks... but you can't beat 33 cent canaries!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
houseofcards - i'm not saying they are killing each other... i'm saying every type of shrimp i add to my tank and every MTS end up dead (except other snails seem to be surviving fine).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ok... 24 hours later, most of the ghost shrimp are dead, and the few that remain look really awful (i'm sure they'll be dead by morning). I bought 15 yesterday, i could only find 4 "living" ones now (and I really have to stretch the definition of "living" to come up with a count of 4).

nitrates are 0 (ok, maybe 1 or 2... but definitely under 5. the liquid is almost perfectly clear). PH monitor is still in line with what the drop test is telling me.



can anyone verify if they've had terribly odd experience with certain types of driftwood killing their inverts?

Or, i'm still thinking about one of my original thoughts: could the copper from the excess trace dosing have bound itself to the flourite somehow and is being slowly released back into the water?? but then again, even if a little bit of copper was there, it should at least show a LITTLE bit on the copper test, right? and after 5 or 6 weeks of using the cuprisorb, it should at least change color a LITTLE bit... right?? :(

i dumped some more prime in there for fun, just to see if it affected their behavior... no change.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
i haven't tested the tap directly... but if the tap contained a decent amount of copper, I'm sure it would have shown up in my tank by now. (also, i only use water from the cold tap to reduce the amount of dissolved junk).

i removed the "unknown" piece of wood just now. IF the wood was collected from a "bad" area (maybe a salty southern swamp?), would it even be possible to soak or boil it clean?

oh, and it's a glass tank. and i've been the only owner.

this is driving me nuts! something is insanely poisonous and i can't seem to find out WHAT :(



if the cuprisorb is in the XP3 filter, does the water move TOO quickly through it to react? I've had it in there for about a month, though, and it has shown no color change (and again, the copper tests come back as 0).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
ok, from my 15 "canaries," 14 died. Within 24 hours, 13 died. the 14th died on the 2nd day. somehow, about a week later, I still have ONE shrimp. he's superman...

I've been doing pretty steady water changes (about 20%) 4 to 5 times per week in hopes of helping. I have left the unidentified piece of wood out of the tank for now. all of the malaysian driftwood should be ok (I hope!).

I decided to try another "canary" test while at the store trading plant clippings. The guy gave me 6 decent-looking MTS snails and I put them on a plant near the surface. I noticed one quickly climb off the plant and drop down to the bottom of the tank. I watched him walk about an inch, slow down, then get into his shell. He hasn't moved yet (24 hours later).

So... interesting! Maybe I have deadly substrate. I plan on getting a few ghost shrimp and/or MTSs this week and putting them into a large jar and keeping them for a few days (i'm certain they'll be just fine). Afterwards, I will drop in some of my substrate and see how they react to it.

Anyone have some other testing suggestions?

Perhaps my other snails are alive because they avoid the substrate, as opposed to MTS who usually head straight for it?

Oh, the other 5 MTS... I'm not sure where they are. It's a big tank. I should have colored their shells!
 

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That test that you mentioned sound like a good one to me. That way you can eliminate the water as being bad. Why would the substrate be bad after all this time?? Have you done something to it? Maybe there is something living in it. Take a good look at it up close and see if there is anything.
 

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Is this a new tank or used? Maybe a used saltwater tank?
Just from my experieance, the things that kill shrimp very fast are:
1. chlorine (also iodine and bromine) Chlorine from tap water, some cities can also add the others i guess, but they are not near as effective as the chlorine. I believe seachem iodide is used in saltwater tanks and ive herd in very small amounts for freshwater shrimps but IODINE is super toxic.

2. Salt, ive herd aquarium salt can get them pretty fast......come to think of it i think chlorine, iodine, and bromine are all salts>?
The marine salt doesn't seem to bother my shrimp much. I use that usually instead of aquarium salt. I have a couple cherry shrimp in my brackish tank which uses instant ocean marine salt. So I would disagree with you here. I feed my shrimp nori because it contains natural idodine.

Chlorine though will do them in fast... Check for chloramine
 

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Discussion Starter #14
i use prime for my water, so chlorine or chloramine shouldn't be an issue (i even use a little extra, just for fun).

the substrate looks good. i use flourite, which is supposed to attract stuff like Iron... i'm assuming it'll also attract and hold copper if it's in the water. This is a possibility, because a while ago i was suffering from a boron deficiency and tried overdosing Trace to get things where they needed to be. It barely helped, but maybe I added too much copper to the tank at this time. After about two weeks of the dosing, I tried using Flourish instead for the boron, which worked well. Flourish has more boron than copper... and Trace has more copper than boron, so it was a dumb move on my part.

still... again... copper tests always come back as 0, and i've used cuprisorb non-stop for about 6 weeks since it is supposed to help fight copper that is leached back from substrates. (I just regenerated it today for fun... it didn't even turn the slightest color of blue after all this time).

it's just odd that MTS and shrimp die... but other snails seem to be fine (and their populations are growing steadily).

there shouldn't be a whole lot of "waste matter." 65 gallon tank with 5 small SAEs and maybe 6 otos. maybe i need to figure out how to syphon the substrate even with all the plants. maybe i need to invent something. i could use a very small piece of PVC... then some tubing... hook it up to a pump if i have to (not sure if the syphoning power would work very well with the small PVC.) then i could shove it in the gravel without disturbing the roots very much. maybe use like 1/2" or 3/4" diameter PVC or something. just to get some mulm out... however little there may be.
 

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Ghost shrimp don't do well at the best of times. At least ones bought from the store. I never had a store bought one live for more than a few days - two weeks.

As for an indicator species, snails are pretty good. they are what I use.

I have had a mysterious die off of cherry shrimp myself, I have moved the colony out of that tank and put it in my main tank, keeping a 3rd colony isolated entirely. I am wondering if my food was affecting them.

Have you medicated with panacur? that kills nerites. I lost two. Shrimp and MTS seem okay for it.

Although you have tested for copper, is there any chance there might be copper wire, bits of lead or anything rusting in the water?

Is the food you are feeding that which contains copper as a preservative?

I know you've done the tests, but lets check all possible aspects. Can you remember what food you used back during armageddon?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
actually... i barely ever feed. i sometimes SOMETIMES put in some hikari algae wafer things... but very rarely. everything in my tank is for clean-up (and yes, they apparently have enough food, everything else is growing and happy, but it's a very sparsely populated tank). i maybe feed them only once or twice a month.

(oh and before i forget, i appreciate the brainstorming help. i'm totally stumped).

anyway, almost no food. the only medication i've ever put in the tank is the stuff to fight BGA (maracyn I) sometime in the past. this was ROUGHLY the same time as my troubles began... it was all related to terrible nutrient balance. i would fight one thing, win, then something else would crop up. i finally got everything cruising very nicely, but something seems to have dome some icky icky damage.

as for the ghost shrimp... when i initially had shrimp in the tank, they were fine for many, many months (including the ghosts!). i've always had excellent luck with the little buggers. and unfortunately, i DID try to do the canary thing with some small batches of red cherries in the past, when i finally had the nutrients down and everything was stable. that was an expensive mistake. that's why i've reverted to 33-cent ghost shrimp and practically-free MTS.

as for my water... i only use the cold water when filling, so that should hopefully reduce the amount of metals in it. i will find out if my water is insanely toxic when i try my little experiment, i suppose.

i was flabbergasted when i saw the snail curl up in front of my eyes and stop. i have krptonite in my tank and i can't figure it out!

so if we assume copper is actually at 0... you are suggesting other metals could be doing them in. i think cuprisorb is supposed to attract many other metals as well. right?
 

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I was thinking the food for your fish. I have some stuff here that contains copper and a shrimp breeder locally advised strongly against the use of food with copper in it because shrimp will eat it.

Thanks for the complement. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19
ha ha, i'm serious! no feeding! no flake food, blood worms, etc. i just have 5 SAEs and a few otos and I make them work for their meal! If I ever give them anything, it's just algae tabs... and that's very rarely. the focus of my tank is actually the plants :)
 
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