What's new

Soft water and cycling questions

shabash

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
20
Reaction score
16
Location
Gainesville, Georgia
Hello all,
I would appreciate any help and constructive criticism is welcome as it’s been years since I left the hobby. We successfully kept marine and freshwater tanks many years ago(last tank kept was about 10 years ago) but since then so much has changed, and there’s so much information now, that I thought it best to ask as I’m still early into my start up. My was intention is to keep blue velvet neocaridina shrimp in my old 7 gallon bow front nano tank with possibly 3 neon tetra. This was previously used for dwarf seahorses which I kept for about four years until an outbreak of hydroids killed most of my stock and the heartbreak of that was too much for me so I decided to leave the hobby. My husband however did have a 29g marine coral tank and 55g with lion fish until 2012. So while we are not exactly novices, theres so much more information now than then that I wanted to start this using a fishless cycle as opposed to the old method With fish which always felt cruel to me. So we dug out the 7g and cleaned it thoroughly. It had been stored clean but just to be safe I used hot water and white vinegar on the tank and a Rena hob filter(Removed the cartridge filter and replaced this with sponges and added a bag of biomedia instead of the biostars to add even more surface area) as well as the light which is a halogen 12k. I will not be using a heater but I do have several handy. My house is kept at 69f in winter and 72 during warm climate and we are in Georgia, USA. I’ve purchased a new sponge filter in addition. I’ve used contrasoil as my substrate and it’s planted with hornwort, swords, cardinalis, wisteria and Anubius. I’ve also added an Indian almond leaf and Malaysian driftwood. I purchased sand added a nerite snail and the pet store gave me a handful (6) tiny mystery snails, they called pests. I added a pinch of flake food and have been monitoring my water. So here’s my issue/question. My tap water is very soft and I’ve not seen any ammonia levels at all. Do I need to add food everyday until I can see ammonia? And since my water is already soft from the source, should I eventually start with the more sensitive caridina shrimp instead of the heartier neoCaridina?
Tank parameters : ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=0, ph=6,gh=30, kh=0 temp 68f
Tap parameters: same for all except ph=6.5

Thank you in advance and sorry for the long post

416BE89D-6F97-436A-B357-C96F5B3C88A1.jpeg
 

Retired Viking

Fish Herder
Joined
Nov 22, 2019
Messages
1,210
Reaction score
479
Location
north woods
Hello and welcome to the forum, neon tetra should be in groups of 6 or more because they are a shoaling fish. Your tank would be too small for them. I have a shoal of 15 neon tetras in my 55 gallon tank. Shrimp would be alright in a tank that size. I have ghost shrimp in a 30 gallon tank with guppies.
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
11,011
Reaction score
1,643
Location
CA
You are really in a very good position. While "cycling" in very soft water is difficult if not impossible, you don't need to do it to begin with because you have live plants and soft (acidic in pH) water. Plants need nitrogen, and most all aquatic species prefer ammonium (ammonia) and will readily take this up. The faster growing the plant species are, the more they assimilate. The benefit of this is that they do not produce nitrite, which means no nitrate. The latter will chiefly occur from organics as they accumulate, but that is a different issue and easily handled.

So, do not add any artificial ammonia, and forget all about "cycling." Once your plants appear to be growing, you can add the fish/shrimp without worry. I have next to no experience with shrimp so I will leave that question to those who do. :fish:

EDIT. Retired Viking's post reminded me I missed the neon tetra issue...and I agree, you need a group of at least six but a few more would be better. A 7g is not going to provide this. But all is not hopeless, as there are some "nano" species that will do very well in soft water and not grow larger than maybe half an inch or so. The Ember Tetra, Hyphessobrycon amandae is one that is often available, or the dwarf rasbora species like Boraras brigittae (sometimes called Chili Rasbora). A group of I would say 8-9 of one of these would be nice. Floating plants will benefit whichever. The Ember is a lovely reddish-orange, and the Boraras species are brilliant cardinal red.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,369
Reaction score
566
Location
Berks
Hi and welcome. The previous posters have you covered in terms of cycling and the neons. You may find some nano fish that are suitable but most of these should be in a good sized group.
As far as the inverts...
  1. I would get rid of the mystery snails, they are known for eating plants
  2. Nerite snails are lovely but in the long term their shells will weaken in water that is too soft or acidic - and I suspect yours is.
  3. I keep neocaradina. These are regarded as soft water shrimp but I struggled to find any info on just how soft that can be. Since my water is 0GH, 0KH I have raised this to the generally recommended level of 6dGH (107mg/l or ppm) and 3dKH. I also have a nerite in there and he is fine after almost 2 years. I use a product called Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ for ease of use as it is one measureful per 10 liters and my water is always the same. That still leaves your water soft enough for most soft water species of fish.
I have no experience of caradina so would only be in a position to regurgitate something I have googled, without the ability to verify if it is correct or not.

Good luck with the new venture.
 
OP
shabash

shabash

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
20
Reaction score
16
Location
Gainesville, Georgia
This is great news! Thank you for the replies. No worries on the neons as I did not have my heart set on them. I will look into the Boraras and see if they are at any of our lfs. However, the fish will wait until I can confirm which shrimp species I should go with as this is my main goal.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,369
Reaction score
566
Location
Berks
Just for interest these are my Celestial Pearl Danio (aka galaxy rasbora) with some red rilis. I have 30 (+the fry that have survived) in a 15G. A group of 10-12 may work well in the 7G
 
OP
shabash

shabash

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
20
Reaction score
16
Location
Gainesville, Georgia
Hi and welcome. The previous posters have you covered in terms of cycling and the neons. You may find some nano fish that are suitable but most of these should be in a good sized group.
As far as the inverts...
  1. I would get rid of the mystery snails, they are known for eating plants
  2. Nerite snails are lovely but in the long term their shells will weaken in water that is too soft or acidic - and I suspect yours is.
  3. I keep neocaradina. These are regarded as soft water shrimp but I struggled to find any info on just how soft that can be. Since my water is 0GH, 0KH I have raised this to the generally recommended level of 6dGH (107mg/l or ppm) and 3dKH. I also have a nerite in there and he is fine after almost 2 years. I use a product called Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ for ease of use as it is one measureful per 10 liters and my water is always the same. That still leaves your water soft enough for most soft water species of fish.
I have no experience of caradina so would only be in a position to regurgitate something I have googled, without the ability to verify if it is correct or not.

Good luck with the new venture.
Thank you for your reply. I have read about the product you mention but what I found was that this should be added to ro/di water. Is this correct? While we do have a unit, it hasn’t been used since our last marine tank set up so I’d have to look into seeing if the media need to updated and finding our tds measuring tool. I was hoping to only work with tap water, but if the case needs to be the former, it is within my reach.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,369
Reaction score
566
Location
Berks
Thank you for your reply. I have read about the product you mention but what I found was that this should be added to ro/di water. Is this correct? While we do have a unit, it hasn’t been used since our last marine tank set up so I’d have to look into seeing if the media need to updated and finding our tds measuring tool. I was hoping to only work with tap water, but if the case needs to be the former, it is within my reach.
I happen to use RO (tap water has 50ppm nitrates) but you can add it to any water and it will increase the GH and KH by the amounts I mentioned. So in your case the standard dose would end up as approx 7.5/3 (sorry I prefer the ease of smaller numbers using degrees). Your pH would probably stay similar or increase slighty, not a problem either way.
 
OP
shabash

shabash

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
20
Reaction score
16
Location
Gainesville, Georgia
I happen to use RO (tap water has 50ppm nitrates) but you can add it to any water and it will increase the GH and KH by the amounts I mentioned. So in your case the standard dose would end up as approx 7.5/3 (sorry I prefer the ease of smaller numbers using degrees). Your pH would probably stay similar or increase slighty, not a problem either way.
Thank you for your advice. I will definitely consider this and look into the product. Your tank is beautiful and your fish certainly compliment your set up.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,369
Reaction score
566
Location
Berks
Thank you. That tank has evolved a good deal since that pic, but its not often I can lure such a large group into the open all at once - not even with the assistance of an algae wafer.
 

Scarlett123

New Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
12
Location
New York
I’m not an expert by any means but I started up a 6.8 gallon about half a year ago. I had a lot of trouble cycling with my very soft water and plants. Driftwood tends to lower the ph too. I’ve heard that they need an established tank unless you are an expert and have lots of plants. Moss balls are reportedly essential too.
Shrimp can have trouble in very soft water unless they are getting enough calcium in their diet. My understanding is that the shell can be too soft to molt. I added some aragonite and got my kh up to 3 before adding my cherry shrimp about 3 weeks ago. Two have molted already successfully. It’s a shrimp only tank now because I initially added them to my community tank and turned out my well fed fish couldn’t resist them... these are round two because the platys in my community tank were thought by my LFS to be compatible. I have heard that adding some ghost shrimp initially is a good idea to make sure it’s a good shrimp setup prior to adding the expensive guys.
That being said I love my shrimp tank- they are bright and curious little guys! Good luck and welcome back!
 
OP
shabash

shabash

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
20
Reaction score
16
Location
Gainesville, Georgia
I’m not an expert by any means but I started up a 6.8 gallon about half a year ago. I had a lot of trouble cycling with my very soft water and plants. Driftwood tends to lower the ph too. I’ve heard that they need an established tank unless you are an expert and have lots of plants. Moss balls are reportedly essential too.
Shrimp can have trouble in very soft water unless they are getting enough calcium in their diet. My understanding is that the shell can be too soft to molt. I added some aragonite and got my kh up to 3 before adding my cherry shrimp about 3 weeks ago. Two have molted already successfully. It’s a shrimp only tank now because I initially added them to my community tank and turned out my well fed fish couldn’t resist them... these are round two because the platys in my community tank were thought by my LFS to be compatible. I have heard that adding some ghost shrimp initially is a good idea to make sure it’s a good shrimp setup prior to adding the expensive guys.
That being said I love my shrimp tank- they are bright and curious little guys! Good luck and welcome back!
Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m glad your shrimp are doing well and that you’re loving your shrimp tank. My tank is rather heavily planted relative to its size. I do have 3 moss balls as well and this is why I’m considering going with caridina shrimp instead of neocaridina since the latter require “harder” water. As Byron mentioned once I notice plant growth I’m good to go, then I’m good to go. My hornwort has exploded Since I started it 8 days ago and I have new growth on the sword. I intend to look into the salty shrimp product as mentioned by seangee for any supplements for the shrimp as well as for my plants. I’m very happy to be back in the fold so to speak as in my humble opinion this is a very rewarding and relaxing hobby.
 
Top