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Hi Tom, Help Me With My Planted Shrimp Tank...Please!!!

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by Herbie, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Herbie

    Herbie Junior Poster

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    Hi, I’ve been using the EI for about 3 years in a 20 gallon with a AHS 55 watt PC and their reflector. With CO2 I have been happily growing algae free since the get-go. Thanks for the good method and info on this! I like your scientific approach, which does not rely on the (mis)information which has been circulating for years as common knowledge. Therefore, I have come here to ask some questions with the hope I get as accurate answers as possible.

    Recently, I have had a heck of a time in another tank raising some Crystal Red Shrimp. I believe that fluoride in the local water *may* have been a problem as some research suggests that levels like I had could be bad for invertebrates (Camargo, 2002). Whether these levels are bad for CRS, I do not know. I also believe that decaying plants were not helping the water quality situation. Whether or not other factors were at play (disease, etc.), I don’t know.

    Basically, I nuked the tank (20 gallon) and would like to start over again. It originally had 2x15 Hagen lights on it. They did not have a reflector, and this was just too little light to get good growth. I could not really even grow stuff like Limnophilia sessiflora or Egeria densa very well. There was some plant decay which may have not been too good for water conditions. I think that healthy plant growth is good for the water and shrimp, so I decided to up the wattage. I am now using an AHS 55 watt PC in this tank as well. I know that this is high light for a tank which does not have CO2, but would like to make it work.

    Here are my questions:
    1) I am not sure that it is necessary, but it is always suggested that about 20% of the water is changed over the week in a CRS tank. I guess it is to err on the safe side and avoid buildups of anything. I would like to do a small change a few times a week rather than one 20% change on one day. To my understanding, changes of 20% per week may introduce CO2 into the aquarium and thus are not really compatible with the Walstad method?

    2) I don’t want to dose much/any KNO3 or Flourish Excel as these are supposed to be bad for the shrimp. Is this a scientific certainty? I am not sure, any comments on this? Anecdotally, I have noticed shrimp act a little strange when dosing Excel at the recommended rate. I can’t say that they all died after this, but they seemed to be flying around the tank and going to the top a lot more than normal.

    3) Copper is also apparently a big no-no. I would use Flourish as it seems to have a low concentration of copper compared to most commercial ferts. Could even the low amount in this fert be too much for the shrimp?

    4) I really don’t want to go high tech, EI and CO2 in this tank. Obviously I don’t want algae either. It seems that the Walstad idea is out due to water changes. Would a reduced EI work without reaching the higher levels of KNO3? I know some nitrate is necessary….5ppm of nitrate is what I understand to be what is required….I don’t really trust my cheapo test kits and am not sure if even 5ppm is too much for the shrimp. I can’t see it, but….. In a 10 gallon with 15 watts and cherry shrimp, I dose about 1ppm of PO4, 1/8tsp Potassium Sulfate and .80 mils trace about once every week at water change. No nitrates as it has a high shrimp load. It works perfectly, but 55 watts over 20 is quite a bit different. Is there a fertilization routine which would work for this tank that meets my requirements? I am now using ADA Amazonia as a substrate.

    I guess what I am trying to do is balance plant health with the health of shrimp which are notoriously sensitive to less than pristine water conditions. I think part of the equation is having healthy plants. I am not sure what can lead to less than pristine water as there is a lot of misinformation out there. I have lost two batches of CRS already and some big $$ (for me, anyway) and don’t want to lose another as the next one will be my last! Any guidance you can offer, Tom, would be much appreciated!
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Why not just do a simple moss tank without CO2?
    A big issue with moss and shrimp are temps.

    Keep it cooler.

    Like discus folks, CRS folks are whacked when it comes to Cu, NO3, Excel etc.
    Shrimp fly around later in the day due to O2 levels without any of the other stuff.

    I have 3 species of shrimp and have never had issues. They grow, they do find, they eat.

    If breeding is the goal, then moss and some wood, lower light.
    I have no idea why folks want to change water all the time if you only have a few tiny shrimp.

    Learn how to feed and do weekly or once every 2 week water changes or none at all if you can feed correctly.

    I think poor over feeding is the main issue(NH4).
    CRS folks lard the food on and then wanna whine and fret over Cu, NO3, Excel or water changes.

    What goes in = what comes out.

    This applies to food and waste as well.
    If you have a lot of fast easy to grow plants, there should not be any need for water changes...............:cool:

    As often said: balance, this applies to shrimp and feeding as well.

    Regards,
    Tom barr
     
  3. Herbie

    Herbie Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the advice, Tom.

    It seems to make sense that with careful feeding and healthy plant growth that water changes should not be all that necessary. There is nothing magical about adding new water. Is it correct to think that a water change just gets rid of excess nutrients (if there are any) detritus (if there is some and you vacuum the gravel) and adds back what was used (if the new water contains minerals, etc. which were used since the last water change)? The bioload of a few shrimp in a twenty should be low enough that water changes are not so necessary ...maybe ~20% once every couple of weeks to be safe. I agree with this and just wanted to confirm that I am not missing anything.

    Back to my proposed tank (AHS 1x55)....if I am going to feed sparingly and change water less often, what kind of fert routine would you suggest? There is probably not an easily determined magical number. I was thinking of adding 1.5 mil Flourish twice a week, ~2ppm nitrate twice a week, 1 ppm po4 about once a week and 1/4 tsp k2so4 once a week. A conservative routine to get things started and I can adjust from there. I have no trouble with my cherries or Amano shrimp (with 25ppm nitrate, etc.), but have had nothing but trouble with the CRS, so I want to err on the side of caution.

    I tried the moss only approach with the 2x15 (poorly reflected) and growth was long, straggly and my triangle moss browned up. The light just wasn't getting down deeply enough so I upped it. Is the 1x55 AHS incompatible with my goals for this tank or can I make it work? Maybe with a reduced period of lights on? I can't remember if photoperiod makes much of a difference or not. I just run all of my other tanks lights for 10 hours a day.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'd use lots of wood, moss and the 2x 15W with a decent reflector.
    Food, a little Tropica master grow, some Iodine, etc........

    Xmas moss ought to be easy to grow.

    Regards,
    tom barr
     

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