Improving The Survival Rate of Baby Shrimp

At the start of my shrimp ‘career’ baby survival rate was probably my biggest issue, if I was lucky I would get maybe 10 babies survive from each berried female.

I tried everything! Expensive products, smaller water changes, exactly matching TDS and/or EC when doing water changes. I tried baby foods, more leaf litter, more plants for hiding places. I focussed on literally everything inside and outside the tank but no matter what I did my baby survival rate was only ever 50% at best.

Then, with the help of a mouldy old sock, everything changed…….

As I only keep and breed caridina shrimp, all my tanks contain an active substrate. Because of this, I always took the ph for granted. I always knew the ph in my tanks was ok because of the substrate so I never bothered testing ph levels, I was always focussed on Nitrates and TDS.

One day, during one of my methodical water changes, my daughter asked if she could help. To keep her busy and out of the way I gave her a couple water samples to test, one from the shrimp tank and one from the new water about to go into the tank. Trying to make is sound like an important job for her I told her to write down the results. Off she skipped with a couple water samples and a ph meter.

She returned a short while after saying she now understood why I changed the water, she said “one is really dirty”. With my mind half focussed on doing water changes I didn’t really acknowledge what she was talking about.

So I finished doing my water changes and started packing everything away. I asked my daughter for the ph meter back and she handed it to me with a bit of paper. “5” and “6.7” was all that was written on it.

All this time i had been doing water changes, years I might add, and my dumb ass had never even considered the ph might be different!

Because of the active substrate in the tanks my ph was always around the 6.7 range. It turns out the water coming out of my RO filter is much lower at 5.

I had been doing water changes wrong this whole time, I was treating them the same as my fish keeping years. I was taking 20% of the water out of the tanks and refilling it with 20% fresh water as quickly as I could, and that was my problem! Quickly. I believe ph shock is definitely a thing, especially with baby shrimp.

My water changes completely changed after that, and this is where the mouldy old sock comes in. My water changes are much slower now and start 24 hours in advance. I now prep my water the day before, I match the TDS of the tank, slightly lower actually, I put a heater in the water and I put a sock filled with substrate in the water. Then I leave it until the next day.

By the time the next day comes the fresh water going into the aquarium is as close to tank parameters as possible. TDS, Temp and ph are all the same. I started drip feeding water back in after water changes, maybe 2-3 drips a second. Depending on the size of the aquarium it can take a few hours but I can honestly say, I think my baby survival rate is close to 99% now.

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