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I have the same problem too. But what has been helping is getting something to raise the gh if you have well water or reverse osmosis like I do. I’ve done this and mine boy has had a lot less problems. A good gh range is 7-14 degrees. (I have know idea why they measure in degrees.) and API sells gh and oh tests kits that can be found at your pet store or on Amazon [link]
And I see you’ve been putting in crushed coral so you might not need to add anything.
My guess it is pH related then. Above a pH of 7.5, phosphate ions will react with calcium and magnesium. These compounds can be taken up as easily.
This is not easily fixed without addressing alkalinity first. You need a carbonate hardness test. (Not a general hardness) I like ones that change color and are easier to read. Here is one for $10:
Adding pH down or phosphoric acid will be a losing battle until your carbonate hardness comes down. You really should use RO water and add the hard water to add alkalinity, calcium and carbonates as needed.
Realize pH and alkalinity are not the same thing. If you drop your pH, the hydrogen (pH stands for power of hydrogen), will combine with the carbonates (CO3) to form CO2 and H2O. As the CO2 slowly equalizes with the air, the pH will then rise. This will be a constant battle until the alkalinity is in line.
It depends on your tap water, but yes, CRS/CBS are a little harder than other shrimp but not by much unless you go for those "pure" lines. That's just because they have a smaller range of acceptable water parameters. For example, my tap water is perfect for Neos and CRS/CBS, so I don't have to do anything special for my shrimp compared to my fish. Go get a GH/KH test kit and you'll know exactly how easy/hard it will be for you:
API TEST KIT, Different styles available, Monitors water quality and helps prevent invisible problems that can be harmful to fish, Fast, easy and accurate, Use weekly and when problems appear [link]
My tank is now incorporating more plants that are more temperamental so I invested in this
pH stands for power of hydrogen. Acids are H+ while bases are OH-.
Alkalinity is CO3.
I would suggest this test for alkalinity:
It is easy to use because the color changes making it obvious where your alkalinity is.
When you add acid aka hydrogen, the hydrogen combines with the CO3 to form H20 (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). The alkalinity (CO3) neutralizes the acid (H+) and acts as a buffer. The CO2 in the water then equalizes with the CO2 in the air. (CO2 leaves the water) What is left is water. This process is sped up with aeration. So in highly alkaline water, when you add acid, the pH drops at first and the goes back up as the CO2 equalizes out.
To get your pH down before adding fish, add hydrochloric acid and aerate. The H+ molecules will start neutralizing the alkalinity. At first the pH will drop and then it will come back up as the alkalinity reacts with the hydrogen and the CO2 equalizes with the air. The chlorine will just evaporate out.
Once the alkalinity is used up, the H+ will stay and the pH will stay down permanently.
The problem with doing this with fish is the fish don’t like to be in the water while this process is happening.
The ideal alkalinity is around 70-90 ppm. At this point if you have the right amount of nitrates and phosphorus (pH down is a good source) your pH will be stable around 6.9 to 7.
Hard water has a lot of alkalinity. You will constantly need to treat your water with hydrochloric acid (or substitute) and let the water sit before adding to the system or buy an RO filter (much easier).
The good news is if your alkalinity drops, you can just add some hard water to bring it up along with calcium levels.
You need to get the kH/gH test kit so you can make sure your water is good to keep Platys
Let me know what you get. Do you have the API gH/kH test kit?
Do you start with RO water? Starting with RO water is starting with a blank slate. Nothing goes in that you didn’t put there. I would recommend only adding RO water after you send your water off to be tested.
You should be able to check your own alkalinity. A drop test is found here for less than 10 pounds.
You should also be able to check your pH and water temperature.
pH drives your plants ability to take up nutrients. Alkalinity drives your pH. Alkalinity is usually the carbonate CO3. Acid is H. When H is added to water with carbonates the CO3 combines and turns into CO2 and H2O. The carbon dioxide (CO2) then over time equalizes with the CO2 in the air. This process takes time so being able to measure both gives you a full picture of where your pH is headed.
I've had good results with this one. It works much better than test strips. The number of drops you use correspond to degrees. A Google search will give you converters to convert dGH and dKH to ppm.
gH is of very little concern to most aquarium fish, do not worry. Many sites list hardness requirements for various fish, but a lot of that is nonsense. Your fish will likely do well at your gH as long as it's stable. A consistent pH and gH value is more important to your fish than chasing a specific value.
The main exception for beginner fish are livebearers (guppies, mollies, platies) who require hard water for their osmotic regulation, and prefer an alkaline pH (above 7).
If possible, you might be able to look up your local water utilities water test results. They should list gH. If not, pick up this API gH kit.
Water conditioner is really easy to use. You can add it into the tank before adding new water, or you can add it in each bucket before you put it in the tank. Either way it will work instantly. No need to have a bucket laying around.
Would you be able to buy this gH and kH test kit?
Have you tested your city water for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates? If you have 0-0-0 on this test, you almost definitely do not need to be using RO water. The more info you can give, the better I can help out.
Your water report lists hardness as 88-220ppm, which is quite a large range. If you are going to try to treat your tap water, I would suggest you get a test kit so you can tell if you have a problem or not.
I use a BWT Bestsave M and I find it works well for me. However, test strips didn't work with it; they gave the same color for both tap and treated water. I got the API GH & KH test kit which worked much better. The BWT pouch reduced my tap water hardness from 8 drops (about 133ppm) to 4 drops (about 67ppm).
In general, if people are just topping off evaporation with tap water, that would lead to slowly increasing GH/KH/TDS. Another thing to consider is the nitrogen cycle produces an acid byproduct that will lower KH and pH over time.
I would recommend a better test kit than those unreliable strips:
Do you mean nitrAte or nitrIte is always 0? NitrAte is the important one to check in a cycled tank to determine if a water change is necessary.
If your alkalinity (KH), hardness (GH), and pH are remaining constant and your nitrates are consistently low or zero, then you would not need to do a water change.
You can get a test kit for $8 on Amazon. [link]
It's essentially performing a titration to test carbonate hardness (KH). That is the single biggest measure of the buffer you have that is keeping your pH stable. If KH is low, your PH is pretty much guaranteed to be unstable.
GH = general hardness, which is the measure of all the "hard" ions like Ca and Mg.
KH = carbonate hardness, which buffers and raises the pH.
GH and KH test kit
Yeah i think the shells will grow back. No problem, glad I could help!
You should also get a hardness & carbonate hardness test kit.
okay, i set out the cup to test it again tomorrow.
is this a good test? i can't get it right away but i'll do it asap. if it turns out my kh is too low, what can i do to fix that?
The gh/kh test drop kits are available on amazon for 6 bucks with prime/free shipping, this was about 10 dollars less than my local petsmart. Also the master test kit is about 6 bucks cheaper on amazon as well. Good luck with your shrimps :)
... I don't work for amazon or anything, I just really like a good deal, and was kinda miffed at petsmart for trying to overcharge so much.
would this work to test?
The API kit I bought had PH, high range PH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate testing, I thought that'd be enough.
But all the like, seriously fish and liveaqauria stuff keep listing preferred PHs so I was kind of worried when I saw that. They listed kribs as being OK to 8.0 at least so I thought they might be an option. Damn damn damn
You can just take a water sample to a lfs. Go to one that uses a liquid test kit.
The test kit for gh/kh is fairly cheap, though. I like this one
More algae as in cloudy water or algae on the surfaces?
Also I meant to say bacterial bloom, not algae.
To be honest I am not entirely sure what effects water hardness would have on skin or hair but apparently yes, Japan's water is really soft. So soft in fact that there are articles about how soft it is lol. NYC doesn't disclose the hardness of their water but some users say it's soft. But yeah, Japanese water seems superior!!
Also if you want you can test your tap water's hardness with this kit. It's meant for aquariums but I would test tap water for customers a lot. The general hardness test is the one that matters the most. Carbonate hardness is only an issue if you're a fish.
What is best for you depends on your tap water quality. If it is extremely hard, a jug or pouch may not be sufficient. You may be able to find a water quality report for your municipality online, but it's best to get a test kit to measure it yourself.
If you go with a pitcher, make sure it is spec'ed to soften water. Brita pitchers are very popular, but they don't soften.
You might also consider buying distilled or R/O water and adding minerals in yourself, either with Third Wave Water or equivalent, or else make it yourself.
Softer water is lower GH water. API GH & KH test kit allows to know what your current GH and KH is, and if it needs decreasing or increasing to species requirements.
To reduce GH, either dilute with RO water (KH will be decreased as well), or there are water softener pillows, no experience with them.
To reduce KH, there is Seachem Acid Buffer, to increase it Alkaline Buffer. Read on their website how they work. Better do that in water for water changes and do water change with it. Then transition will be slow and less stressful.
>My baseline water is pH 7.6.
You are thinking in terms of the wrong metrics. The pH does not matter, the buffering capacity does. For brewing water chemistry, this is typically described as the RA, residual alkalinity. This roughly measures how hard it is to drop the pH due to buffering calcium and magnesium in solution. You need to know this to do any water chemistry alterations, and it's the reason people source water reports or do some GH/KH titrations or the more fancy LaMotte BrewLab at home.
The same applies to wines to a certain extent. The pH matters, but the acidic buffering capacity (the TA - titratible acidity) is the measure of how hard it is to move the pH from one level to another.
Some reading: https://byo.com/article/understanding-residual-alkalinity-ph
Welcome to the fam!
I also started out with red cherries about two years ago now. Here is what I have learned:
They are super sensitive to water changes. I used them as canaries for my Bettas because a friend of mine had hundreds and was giving me them for free. In my eyes, this was easier than the test kits.
However if you want to have a shrimp tank (and be a good aquarium parent), you are going to want to have several things:
Kh and Gh test kit (if you don't already have it)
Extra test tubes *Optional but handy
High protein + Calcium food (this is what I use)
Some calcium rocks (I think of these like the shrimp equivalent of Indian almond leaves for Bettas) they help keep the tank stable between water changes. You only need 2 or 3 for a 10g tank. I replaced them once every 6 months.
First, you want to make sure your tank is cycled properly. Which by your post seems great currently. I didn't get a TDS meter until I got into cardenia shrimp (blue bolts) but this is the one I use (which works rather well)
If the breeder gives you conditions to match, do what you can to match them. Within your budget of course. Cherries are actually surprisingly hearty. I was able to use my tap water with a water conditioner and they did absolutely fine. Though my tap is likely different than yours.
What you want to watch out for are heavy metals in your water. Copper, iron and the like will cause issues. Chemicals (like chlorine) are used in tap, so make sure to use a dechlorinator if you are just using tap water. I generally let my water sit for 2 or 3 days before actually using it in the tank. If you are using RO water you may want to invest in some of this to remineralize the water. This is where a TDS meter will be handy. Though you want to rely on Gh and Kh mainly first, until you know what TDS is ideal. (My gh+kh goal is 3:1 TDS in the RO water is around 45. Though when added to the tank it jumps to 100~110 due to the buffers in the tank. Be aware of this.) Cherries are hearty (compared to blue bolts), so this may not need to be as exact.
For water changes, make sure to have the temperature the same. Add the new water slowly so as to not shock your shrimp. If there are ph or gh buffers in the tank, this will let them do their job. If the temp is more than 5 degrees different, go even slower so you don't shock the tank by chilling it quickly.
The first batch you get will be the hardest to keep alive to breed. They aren't used to your water conditions and this can cause all kinds of issues, so don't feel down if a few don't make it. As the generations continue, they'll be used to your water and will generally do much better with water changes.
At first you won't need to use much of the food, as they'll eat the biofilm in the tank just fine. I fed mine a small pinch (maybe 3 or 4 pieces) once a week until their numbers got in the hundreds, then it was every other day, and then every day. Make sure to remove any excess food after a few hours so your nitrates/nitrites don't spike.
It's also very handy to use a shrimp feeder. Keeps your gravel clean as well. I use this one
If you are having bad molts (the white ring of death) you need to give them more calcium or your gh+kh is too low. Be sure to leave the empty molts in the tank! They'll regain some minerals from them. Clear out any casualties as soon as you see them though to prevent an ammonia spike.
If you see them eating each other (yes it happens) they need more protein. Feed them more!
Driftwood is a great source of biofilm - food for these guys.
The first few berries may drop some eggs, this is normal. If they molt while berried, check your water. Ideally you want Ammonia:0 nitrate:0 nitrite:0 pH:6~8 (7 ideally)
I would list TDS if I cared to check my cherry tank before I sold them all ;)
When you first get them, you want to drip acclimate to your tank before just throwing them in. This is again to avoid shocking them. I drip acclimate for about 24hrs before putting them in the tank. I use this to do so.
And above all, don't give up! I'm far from an expert, but hopefully this advice helps some. I've been struggling to start my blue bolt tank, but I refuse to give up. If you have any other questions, ask away.
Quick edit ~
How many should you start with? I recommend 10, but 5 will also work. What ever works with your budget.
Will your Bettas illness pass to the shrimp? No. Two entirely different types of animals. You're fine :)
Checkout r/aquaswap, you may find some cheeper than the stores!
You’d have to get something like salty shrimp. There’s an api test kit for gh and kh. Get that and follow the instructions. You will have to figure out some mineralizer to increase gh. I recommend salty shrimp. There are a few different kinds though. Some that only increase gh or some that increase both. You should see what the recommendations are for your fish first. Like I said, you could add a little at a time and just gradually increase it if you’re worried about that but I’m not really sure if a sudden change in gh would be bad for them but I haven’t had a problem with that.
gh/kh test kit
I only linked the gh/kh but that’s the brand that will help.
Edit: to increase the gh/kh just dissolve it will some water and then pour it in. Also salty shrimp isn’t just for shrimp, it increases the gh anyway. It’s just called salty shrimp (because most people do use it for shrimp). It can be used for fish as well.
1)Aquarium lights using a quantitative measure known as PAR to help assess the intensity of light at varying levels. In essence, the further you are away from a point source, the more light diffuses and the less intense it becomes, use this chart to verify your PAR levels before considering a medium or high lights plants.
PAR levels of Finnex Fugeray Planted Plus light
2) Do you have algae problems? If not yet, giving any excess light, co2 or ferts will cause algae to thrive in your tank. They will take the excess nutrients and breed like wildfire. You have to strike a balance in your tank as excess of light, co2 or nutrients will be taken up by unwanted algae. Low level lights should be on for 12 hours, medium for about 8 and high for about 6. This is all relative and you need to play with the time to dial it in. The co2 needs to be turned on 2 hours before lights go on so that the plants can begin photosynthesizing right away, and off one hour before the lights go off to give them a "break".
Balancing light, ferts and co2
3) Dry fertilizers are a much better, more economical way to go in the long run but you have to do research on this if you plan to use them, as too much can cause algae blooms or worse. Here is a great source for them. There are also other sellers, which are a quick google search away. Remember the upfront cost of $25.00 may wrinkle your nose, but you will literally use these for years if you buy dry ferts in bulk like this.
PPS-PRO fertilizers GLA
Information on Fertilizers and dosing methods
4) Get a GH/KH kit from amazon, it will tell you how hard your water is, and depending on the plants that you want to keep it will indicate how much work that you will need to do to keep them happy.
GH/KH test kit
Basic info on GH/KH
I'd soak up as much as you can from YouTube and from the helpful people here on r/shrimptank. I don't recall the reddit username, but they posted This Video, which I think is the start of a series they plan to continue. There's also This Video (and its Playlist) and This Playlist by my personal favorite aquarist YouTuber specifically geared around creating nano ecosystems in small (up to about 6GAL I think?) aquariums.
Get yourself a GH & KH Test Kit (Here's one from API for ~$10 on Amazon) and a test kit for your standard water parameters like pH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite (API, again... ~$25US). You could also do the test strips but I find the liquid ones to be more reliable.
When you pick out plants, I'd recommend Java Moss, Hornwort, Subwassertang and Naja Grass because they're easy to maintain (Hornwort and Naja Grass will survive without roots and grow in the water collumn as a floating plant) and shrimp love them. Floating plants like Frogbit, Red Root Floater, Water Lettuce, and even Duckweed are also awesome and grow like crazy with any amount of light and fish waste in the water collumn. Cholla wood makes for a great functional decoration as well. TheShrimpTank has a lot of that stuff and it's the cheapest place I've found for Cholla wood.
Also, check your tap water and see if you might want to invest in an RO filter. If you've got lots of dissolved solids (ppm/tds) in your water for example, it could be cost effective to get yourself a filter system so that you're not constantly going out to buy gallons of distilled water (like me) to keep your levels right. Just keep in mind that your critters want minerals in their water to keep them healthy so you'll have to get supplements that replenish those minerals when you do water changes.
I find that keeping shrimp is easier when I have fish in there for them to clean up after as well, but get your filter media nice and loaded up with bacteria before adding them, and don't add everyone at once. You'll have some fun finding fish small enough for a 5GAL, however... maybe some Least Killifish or Endlers? They're smol. Sparkling Gouramis are AWESOME but they can be mean to shrimp so I really can't recommend them for Neos. (Amanos seem to do fine with them though in my experience).
I'm sure there're a million more things I could keep typing but I'm hoping this'll help get you started. Good luck and please don't hesitate to ask more questions! :D
Hiya, can you please edit the Amazon link and remove the affiliate tag? Don't want other people to profit from our users. A link like this is always safe: [link]
Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, White, Single [link]
As I said in the previous comment, I used an API GH & KH test kit. I tried test strips, but I think the liquid-based test kits are more accurate.
If you have money to blow, get the Seachem Alkalinity buffer. If you are on a budget, go for the baking soda. It will work but takes more work as gremlin explained.
I doubt you need to use distilled water. I just did a quick look at the NYC tap water parameters, you can see here that your water is soft - moderately hard. It is probably not much higher than 180ppm, which is totally fine for your Betta. Before diving head first into distilled water (which comes with its own complications), I would try to get the API liquid gh test kit to see how hard your water really is.
Specialita is a great grinder. I use this test kit and it works great. Just get some fresh beans and a scale, and you will be ready to go!
I am in Canada, not in PetSmart or Walmart, these chain stores are not designed for a fine fish keeping. But Amazon and most specialized aquarium stores have them.
here’s the link to the one I saw! :)
API makes a good kit - https://smile.amazon.com/API-TEST-Freshwater-Aquarium-Water/dp/B003SNCHMA/
Get a test kit. Or just stick with the ion exchange filters.
Hardness is different from pH, but it does have an affect on pH. Hardness refers to the minerals in the water, and is usually abbreviated GH. (There's also KH but it's less important)
Snails' shells are made almost entirely of calcium carbonate, so they need hard water in order to grow and maintain healthy shells. For that reason, don't use distilled water, use tap water and a water conditioner. (Seachem Prime is the standard). Fish also need the trace minerals found in tap water.
You can test the hardness of you water if you're not sure with a test kit. If you have a water softener then it's probably on the soft side, if you have well water then it's probably on the hard side. If you're faucets, sink, bathtub, etc have calcium scale or rust stains, then it's definitely hard.
For blanching veggies, make sure to rinse them then boil them for about 2-3 minutes at a roiling boil, then place them in a bowl of cold or ice water for 10-15 minutes until they're completely cool. If you don't cool them off completely they won't sink. For zucchini you'll need to peel it first (they don't really like the peel), then cut it lengthwise into quarters and cut out the center from each piece (the centers get too mushy and they won't eat the seeds). Chop them into inch or so long pieces and throw them in the pot. You'll also need to boil them a minute or two longer than spinach or kale to get them soft. Zucchini pieces last them a bit longer, but spinach and kale are richer in calcium, magnesium, and iron. There's a few other veggies you can give them too that won't affect water clarity... I think broccoli, carrot, green beans, cabbage, and cucumber.
I also feed mine algae pellets that are fortified with calcium, got them from AquaticArts.com. Regular algae tabs will do if their water has sufficient calcium and you feed them spinach and stuff, but they're the highest quality invert food I could find. They also sell them on amazon.
For blanching veggies, make sure to rinse them then boil them for about 2-3 minutes at a roiling boil, then place them in a bowl of cold or ice water for 10-15 minutes until they're completely cool. If you don't cool them off completely they won't sink. For zucchini you'll need to peel it first (they don't really like the peel), then cut it lengthwise into quarters and cut out the center from each piece (the centers get too mushy and they won't eat the seeds). You'll also need to boil them a minute or two longer than spinach or kale. Zucchini pieces last them a bit longer, but spinach and kale are richer in calcium, magnesium, and iron. There's a few other veggies you can give them too that won't affect water clarity... I think broccoli, carrot, green beans, cabbage, and cucumber.
I also feed mine algae pellets that are fortified with calcium, got them from AquaticArts.com. Regular algae tabs will do if their water has sufficient calcium and you feed them spinach and stuff, but they're probably the highest quality invert food you're gonna find. They also sell them on amazon.
You'll want a GH test. API's GH & KH test kit is about $10 on Amazon.
I use Nilocg's GH Booster but there are many other ways like adding crushed coral/shells, Epsom salts, Seachem Equilibrium, Seachem Replenish, wonder shells, etc. Some products affect KH and pH so choose carefully based on what you want adjusted.
If your GH is low and you don't want to deal with adjusting it you can rehome the livebearers, or maybe just the mollies depending on what the level is. I'm not sure what's in your tank. But mollies especially need really hard water or they can die. It would be like us not having enough oxygen in the air; they need certain minerals and suffer if the water doesn't have it. But first you'll need to test the water to see what you're working with.
Btw, talk about good timing. GH/KH test kit on sale at Amazon right now. Get it! At least you’ll be able to rule out gh/kh as the issue.
If spring water, read label first. In my area bottled spring water is 300 ppm TDS, while tap is way less.
If you can afford, use GH/KH test kit, it costs no more than any other kit. TDS meter would be nice too, here is why, and compare tank water parameters to
your tap water parameters
and to your aquatic animals requirements, available online in search for species name and GH.
Then you will know if limescale is because of evaporation and using not distilled or RO water to compensate evaporation, concentration of minerals increases, if water changes are not too big.
Or if your water is too hard for your animals, and you have dilute it, and do this by calculating dilution without guessing.
Or your water could be just right for your animals, if they are hard water animals.
If you have tap water pressure enough to run RO filter (for big tank) or you can buy bottled distilled water (for small tank), you could create artificial water with optimal for them GH, by adding GH/KH+ remineralizer. I'm using Salty Shrimp, but there are different brands. A small amount needed, dissolves fast, producing every time the same optimal water.
You need to get a GH/KH test kit too:
Mine wasn't Add-On
Are you in the UK or CA or something?
API makes a GH/KH test kit that has both:
I wouldn't worry too much about altering your water chemistry (at least for the guppies) because it makes it more difficult to take care of the fish. You have to make sure any new water being added is close to matching the water in the tank, so you'd have to spend a lot of time mixing water. If you don't, the water changes can often end up stressing or even killing some of the fish. Most tank-raised fish could be fine in your water though. My tap water is pH 8, 3dKH, and 11dGH. Pretty hard water, but all of my fish are doing well in it. Guppies do well up to 8.5 pH and very hard water (I think that upper limit is 32dGH):
Here are more links, if you don't mind:
pH, you don't need to change it, even for discus, softest water fish.
Why so, with too much avoidable chemistry. Ignore salt part, replace it by specific for this fish kind of remineralizer. Interesting part is that there is certain ratio between GH and KH for each kind of fish and shrimp (soft, medium and hard water, plus lake-specific), inside of description of each remineralizer.
GH/KH test kit is readily available if specialized fish stores, online and on Amazon, and is much more important tan pH test, because KH and pH are connected, and GH is essential for diluting water with distilled or RO water, to reach optima values. You can replace measuring pH by using this kit, more useful.
Lowering pH reduces KH, if uncontrollable, you can have too little KH to keep pH stable, and can create deadly pH swings (you can catch them if test pH every few hours). Change in 1 unit pH is 10x actual change (logarithmic scale). In short, better don't do it.
With dissolved substances, the whole picture is a bit more complicated:
Ca and Mg (calcuim and magnesium, maybe you remember this from a school) contribute to GH, unrelated to PH testing.
Total dissolved solids (TDS, measurable by TDS pen), is for everything in the water that is no H2O, including Ca, Mg and organics.
Total suspended solids (TSS) are irrelevant to this conversation, we deal with them by using filtration.
In short, using pH test for estimating GH, TDS is not a way to do this.
Againg, if you don't mind and are willing to know these nitty-gritty details, read more about this before restocking. Really hard water fish is usually African cichlids, large fish, unless I'm mistaken. Some are successfully keeping fish and shrimp in kind of "liquid rock water", do reddit search for this and fish or shrimp to see what they are keeping. And, to be on the safe side, find online official data for water parameters for your city, to be sure that your wate is hard and how much hard, then you can narrow search for, say, 400 ppm TDS.
I had to do all of this too, while started just as you.
You can try to reduce portions. From what I have read, their stomach has size of their eyeball. 3 medium pellets (as Omega One betta pellets) or 1-2 big (if mouth is big enough, as New Life spectrum betta pellets). The same amount of food, but giving it time to be digested and moving south before the next feeding.
Emaciation theoretically could be due to internal parasites, but you can find shorter articles in search for fish diseases internal parasites. Some of them manifest in stringy poo, some in emaciation, the treatment is different, Prazi for worms and metronidazole for protozoans, both are available in fish stores and online, can't say about coccidia treatment, it could be sold under brand name, not generic name.
I have no experience with this, my fish had different problems.
What you can try too: keeping tank clean, including vacuuming detritus from the gravel, squishing moss ball like a sponge in the old tank water, keeping filter media clean, removing dying plant leaves, regulating light intensity and photo period for optimal for these plants growth. Planted Tank or Aquariums subreddits could help. Planted Tank can tell what to do when brown spots appear on java fern. Java fern roots have to be tied or lightly superglued to something (rock, wood, decorations) or kept down by some gravel pieces.
More water changes, slowly adding new water to allow fish to accommodate to it.
When feeding fish, watch that food was actually eaten, not lost in the gravel and sits rotting there.
For ammonia, from what I have seen online, it was recommended to keep a lot of fast growing plants as cabomba, moneyworth, elodea, hornworth, water lettuce, duckweed. But check their temperature range, elodea, hornworth and salvinia were dying in my tanks.
But with this amount of everything in your tank you shouldn't have ammonia at all, if lost food, decaying plants and waste was removed.
Nitrates are removed by water changes. You can make denitrator (cut water bottle with Seachem De*Nitrate or Matrix in it, set above sponge filter, you can see this in search for DIY biofilter), I tried, it helps, but water changes in small volume are better and easier.
Check by finger all internal surfaces in decorations, if there are sharp edges. My betta log had them, had to remove it.
Now testing stuff that can really help, if you can afford it:
API GH and KH test kit, most useful after ammonia and nitrates test kit. Results will be 1 drop = 1 dGH or dKH (degree of hardness). GH is most important, related to osmoregulation and health, see this, scroll down to kidneys. KH should be some to prevent pH swings, but not too high, harsh for the fish. You have to know them in your tank and tap water and make adjustments, if necessary. Aquarium subreddit can help with it.
TDS, measured by handheld pen, around $15 on Amazon, it has to have "Calibrate with NaCl" on the back, and 342 ppm calibrating liquid for it. I'm using HM TDS meter.
What does it do: bettas are low TDS fish, you can keep it this way by diluting tap water (if yours is hard) by distilled water and doing top off by distilled water too. You will have to keep an eye on GH and KH at the same time too, TDS could increase because of organics accumulation in the tank, if GH decreases, then more water changes are due.
Eventually you will see the dynamics of all of this and it will be not necessary to measure GH and KH frequently. With TDS it takes second to take readings, no problems with doing this even every day.
you can get the api gh kh test and that will give you exact numbers on how hard it is (gh) and the calcium in the water (kh)
Here ya go brother. Cheapest I've seen it. Comes with everything you need including glass vials.
It's general hardness and carbonate hardness. These two parameters are important in a shrimp tank. RCS need a GH of 6–8 and KH of 2-5. From the picture you posted, the white band below the head can be from lack of GH, too much protein, their growth is faster than their body can molt.
You can get a test like this one [link]
Check this out [link] when you can. It should give you a good overview of what your shrimp need.
Oh shit. I am so sorry!!! I was sending that link to a friend and somehow misses copying the amazon link...
My water would max out the strips too but I finally found drop test kits. GH turned out to be ~250ppm and KH was ~80ppm.
Here's a link to the drop tests for both on amazon.
edit Fuck it. I'm leaving the mis-link. Here's the actual amazon link-> [link]
That's what I want to do, Use RO water and add tap water or the chemicals you mentioned (Calcium Chloride and Gypsum) to get the correct water for hefeweizen. I've been doings some reading and found this and I might give it a try
If you get an ammonia spike do a large water change (60%) till the level reads 0ppm again. Test the water in a few hours to see if you've got more ammonia. If you do it points to overstocking, the tank not being properly cycled, or a fish has died. Seachem Prime is a dechlorinator that will detoxify ammonia and nitrite for 24hrs after dosing which helps a lot if you're getting more ammonia than you can handle with water changes. I also recommend Seachem Stability. It's a bottle of the bacteria you need for a cycled tank and can speed up the process and save fish from harm if they're already in the tank!
With pH you're safer just keeping the level stable. Most fish are pretty hardy to different pH levels. My tank sits has a pH of 8 which is technically high for all my fish (guppies, platies, loaches) but they handle it just fine. If you change the pH of your tank than you will have to constantly monitor the pH to keep it the same. Even small pH changes can be enough to kill your fish. I would get a drop checker for your water hardness. This includes tests for your general hardness(GH) and your carbonate hardness(KH). Your carbonate hardness can be even more important than your pH. You want a KH value of at least 4dKH (explained in the instructions for the test). This means your pH should be stable throughout the day. Any lower and you risk wide pH swings. I use Wonder Shells in my tank to keep my KH and GH up since my tap water levels fluctuate pretty often.