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Author Topic: Brigs and cherry shrimp: calcium and GH/KH  (Read 9048 times)
tetralovingfamily
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« on: April 04, 2008, 02:51:56 PM »

Ok, so I have learned a lot over the past 8 or 9 months that I have been here....but there is SOOOO much more to learn.

First off is the brigs.  
I have 2 brigs, and lately, I have started to notice some slight problems with their shells.  It is certainly not too bad yet, but of course I don't want it to get that way either.  I know that adding calcium is a good way to help them, so I went out and bought some liquid calcium (says for saltwater/corals).  However, I am thinking now that DUH, I need to do some tests first before I start to just randomly add calcium to the tank.  My question is, just what do I need to test for?  I did not notice calcium level tests, but I might have missed them.  Then, once I do the required tests, how do I know how much to start adding to the tank?

Second is the cherry shrimp issue
I had a standard 10g tank with cherry shrimp, and some of you may remember that I had a major crash in that tank a few months ago.  Well, I am going to be restarting that tank and need to figure out what I am doing to keep it stable this time.  Mind you the maint. schedule is the same as my other tank which had no issues with pH crashing.  I believe at the time I was told that I need to check my GH/KH levels (still did not get the tests for this, but will this weekend).  Once I determine the results of those tests, then what? 

Is it possible that the calcium levels being too low caused the rapid die off of the shrimp, which in turn caused balance problems in the tank?  Or do you think it was a whole other issue?  I am lucky enough to get the shrimp all replaced for free this time Smiley  and I want to make sure that I am able to keep them all healthy this time around!

Oh, I also purchased some crushed coral to add to my tanks.  I can't remember if this only helps GH/KH or calcium or both.  I will be actually writing things down this time and keeping track of what in the world I am doing.  Thought sure I would remember all this stuff before, and I guess with the overload on my brain, this stuff was pushed out...

The only params I know at this point are the following:
     20g Hex tank
     pH 7.4 - 7.6
     Ammonia 0
     Nitrites 0
     Nitrates usually below or at 20 at water change time (starting with 10 from the tap)
     Temp 75/76 F
     Penguin BioWheel 350 (needs cleaning)
     Many live plants (maybe moderately planted)

     10g standard tank
     everything crashed and died in this tank.   Nothing in it. 
     Whisper filter for up to 20g tank
     temp at 75/76

THANKS AGAIN!!
Additional fish:  1 Male Betta, 8 neons, 5 Kuhli loaches, trumpet snails (for the sand), and misc pond and ramshorn snails that came with plants.  Pond snail shells are THIN now (as in some are clear yellow and only colored by the snail body), but the other 2 "pest" snails look well.

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mduros
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2008, 03:31:07 PM »

Tetra,
I started dosing calcium in my invert tanks several weeks back.  My kh and ph drop a goodly amount over a week's time.  The dosing hasn't stopped this but the spixi shells are becoming thicker which is my primary concern.  The fluctuations of kh and ph don't seem to have any real adverse affects in my tanks, and I haven't seen any numerical changes in kh and ph readings from the calcium dosing.
Take care,
Mary.
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2008, 06:51:30 PM »

Calcium does not affect either pH or KH, so your would not see any difference unless you added the calcium as a carbonate or bicarbonate - then you would see pH/KH differences from the anions (HCO3-/CO3--) added with the calcium. But depending on the amount added, you might well see a GH difference, that is calcium and magnesium..
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tetralovingfamily
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2008, 11:24:54 PM »

Mary,
How do you know how much calcium to add so the shells will get better?  So far, since I am not sure, I am just adding a few drops every other day.

Thank you RTR... so if I add crushed coral in a bag, as was suggested some time back, exactly what is that raising?  I believe it is supposed to be the buffering ability, so that my pH will not crash again.  Is that correct?  (When I say crash, I mean it went from 7.4 to about 2...and all shrimp and plants died)
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"Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow."
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2008, 01:25:52 AM »

The crushed coral will work, but aragonite works better - it is slightly more soluble.  It raises pH/KH/GH - the first two by the carbonates/bicarbonates, the third by the calcium/magnesium. broad-spectrum relief as it were.

Good grief! You had real acid.  That is dangerous stuff.
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tetralovingfamily
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2008, 04:03:00 PM »

Ok, well maybe it was only 4, but you get the idea.  It was BAD!  and the tank was fine for at least a month, and then within a week, the crash happened.  It seemed to happen when I missed a single water change.  I guess those 10 gallon tanks really are less forgiving!

Since I already have the crushed coral, I guess I will go ahead and use that for now.  I will add a little to the end of a stocking and place it in the filter box I guess.  Or should it go in the tank its self?

I got caught up in studying, and still did not get the GH/KH tests, but will do that definately this week!  I will be testing both tanks to see what I get.

I am only adding the calcium to the 20g community tank where the brigs are.  I want to keep their shells from getting worse.  Right now, it is just the beginnings of ridges and such.  (looks different than when it was just from growing)
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I am the Princess!  Smiley

"Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow."
-Alice M. Swaim
mduros
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Gender: Female
Tanks: 1 55 gallon freshwater tank, down to 2 opalines, 2 bn plecos, 1 betta, 1 bolivian ram, 3 sidthmunkis, 6 adolfoi cories; 1 20 gallon long amphibian tank (taricha granulosa)
Posts: 2,566


So close no matter how far


« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2008, 05:02:47 PM »

Tetra, same as you.  "A few drops."  That's how it was told to me, so that's what I do.
Take care,
Mary.
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Debra
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2008, 08:32:00 PM »

I have skimmed...

A few drops every other day. I can raise and maintain brigs with perfect hard shells by doing that.

Crushed coral keeps my pH steady and up. It doesn't fall between water changes. Too many snails will bring your pH down between water changes. My pH is high enough right out of the tap, so with each change it will bring it up if needed. But with crushed coral I don't really worry about it.

Calcium drop/crushed coral/high calcium food.

When my pH drops my KH goes down also. < At least that has been what I have experienced.  Water changes bring both right back up. But you want to keep them both up and not let them drop.


And again, I skimmed. Hope that makes sense and is helpful.
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2008, 10:55:02 PM »

Queen Debra:  "When my pH drops my KH goes down also."  Exactly!   But the causation is the other way around.  KH is the controller of pH under most circumstances, so when the KH falls, the pH drops.
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Debra
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2008, 11:10:11 PM »

Good to know!  I didn't know which dropped first, but only that if one was down the other would be to. When I first starting dealing with Brigs (and overstocked them) I had also experienced a KH of 0 and the pH would be horribly low.
I learned quickly not to ever have too many brigs in one tank. The rule is 2.5 gallons of water per adult brig. Even at that ratio and with fish, you still have to be very careful.
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2008, 11:17:04 PM »

I'm not an apple snail keeper, so I was unsure of their load on the system.  But 2.5 gallons per adult is non-trivial. Do they pull the GH down about equally or a bit less?  The KH gets a double hit, normal nitrification eats KH, and shell building generally involves either bicarb or carbonate.
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Debra
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2008, 11:43:08 PM »

The GH would drop but it would never drop as extremely low as the pH/KH. I would imagine that if a person didn't perform the 50% water change once a week the GH would continue to fall until it bottomed out.

I do not have a full understanding of water chemistry but from my water parameters dropping from overstocking with brigs, I came to the conclusion that they "suck the life out of water" if overstocked. Thats just the easiest way I know to explain it. Wink
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2008, 12:00:28 AM »

Any overstocking sucks the life out of the water, but it is much worse when the stock has to have GH & KH for its normal life.  The water softens and the alkalinity disappears.  Crash city.  Scary!
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tetralovingfamily
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RIP Zippy


« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2008, 08:59:39 PM »

Everything you guys are telling me is wonderful.  But, you know, the tank that caused me the trouble was the 10g shrimp tank.  The only thing in there was shrimp and plants.  I think it would have made more sense if it was the other tank. 

I am going to put the crushed coral in the shrimp tank for sure, and was wondering, do the cherry shrimp need calcium too?

I thank you all for your help!
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I am the Princess!  Smiley

"Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow."
-Alice M. Swaim
RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2008, 11:02:45 PM »

All crustaceans and mollusks need calcium/magnesium and carbonates. 
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tetralovingfamily
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2008, 12:03:24 AM »

That's what I thought.  Thanks!
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I am the Princess!  Smiley

"Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow."
-Alice M. Swaim
Aqualad
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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2008, 05:10:49 PM »

I also have a shrimp tank, so what would you recommend I put in it? Drops or coral?
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RTR...Grumpy Ole Fogie
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2008, 07:02:48 PM »

It depends on your GH & KH in your water.  One office where I kept a tank had too-soft water (both), so I used coral rubble in mesh in a small separate caister.  I made up two bags and rotated them out periodically (every 2-3 weeks, rinsing and drying and then re-rinsed the out-of-use bag for the next time - all to keep biofilms down a bit.  Sometimes biofilms help you, sometimes they hurt.  As this at work, I did not want hassle and tests too often, so I just did the least time-consuming process that would work for me.

If your GH & KH are 7-9 degrees or above, you are unlikely to need supplements unless you have really heavy stocking.
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