Shrimp Bowl 1 Log

5/16/2016 and 5/17/2016

Bowl 1 (bad dirt):

Stock: 5 Ghost Shrimp and one snail. I thought one was dead on 5/17, turns out it wasn’t. Ghost shrimp turn opaque when they die.

Set up 5/16/2016 | Tested 5/17/2016 after moving stock

pH: 7.4 | Ammonia: 0.25 ppm | Nitrite: 5 ppm | Nitrate: 160 (+?)ppm

Bowl 2 (emergency bowl, no substrate):

Set up 5/16/2016 with just plants. Added stock around 9 am 5/17/2016 and tested

pH: 7.4 (high pH test) | Ammonia: 0.25 ppm | Nitrite 0.25 ppm | Nitrate 0ppm

Control tests: 

Tapwater: 8pH

Sand (soaked in water for 8-12 hours then tested the water): pH: 7.6 | Ammonia 0ppm | Nitrite: 0ppm | Nitrate: 0ppm

Miracle Gro Organic Potting mix (soaked in water for 8-12 hours then tested the water): pH: 6 or less | Ammonia 0ppm | Nitrite: 0ppm | Nitrate: 0ppm


Bowl 3: (New planted bowl, from here on out, Shrimp Bowl 1)


pH 7.4 | Ammonia 0ppm | Nitrite: 0ppm | Nitrate: 0ppm



pH 7.4 | Ammonia 0.5 ppm | Nitrite 0.25 ppm | Nitrate 0 ppm

Lost two Ghost Shrimp this morning, though I’m not sure it was due to anything in bowl as the levels except for the ammonia are still way better than the first run and I didn’t lost any that time (The one I thought was dead, wasn’t, oops! It hadn’t turned opaque). Changed about 25% of the water (3-4 cups), ammonia test still registered around 0.5 ppm. Added one drop of Seachem Prime directly to bowl. Poked the dirt with a chopstick in about 10-12 places. Remaining two shrimp seem happy and active.

Retested after water had more time to mix. 1:15pm. Ammonia at 0.25 ppm. The prime should bind the Ammonia in a non-toxic form, but it will still register. Will change the water again in the morning, and test again.


Tested this morning before changing any water. 11:30 am

pH 7.2 on the regular test | Ammonia 0.5ppm | Nitrite 0ppm | Nitrate 0ppm

I read that Ammonia will still register on a test even though Prim converts it to a non-toxic form. I’m encouraged that it hasn’t gone up. I changed out 2 1/2 cups of water, hopefully that doesn’t shock the shrimp. I added one more drop of Prime to neutralize the ammonia. Not sure if that was the best decision or not as the fact that there are no Nitrites mean the Ammonia was probably still in inactive form…  Shrimp seem happy and at least the male is very active this morning. Female was hiding in the plants, but I’ll keep an eye on her.


Tested at 10:00am

Ammonia 0.5ppm | Nitrites 0 ppm | Nitrates 0 ppm

I didn’t add prime to the tank, but changed out 2 cups of water again. Both shrimp were hanging out at the front today. The male has developed an opaque spot. Discovered the algae wafers have copper sulfate in them, I wonder if that’s the culprit. All the plants look good, no leaves melting. I think they are close to hitting that established part as they and the soil make the transition to life underwater. Am continuing to poke the soil with a chopstick until I see definite growth that tells me they are creating an exchange with the soil on their own.

2pm update: male shrimp is active, so spot doesn’t seem to be a problem. Have read that the copper in food is rarely the problem with shrimp so will continue with the algae wafers tomorrow. Also spotted a single shrimplet! I doubt it will survive in with the adults and I can’t find it now with all the vegetation.

I’ve also realized that at the 2 watts of light per gallon rule, I’m way over-lit with a CFL 60 watt equivalent, but I’m wondering if that’s what is helping the creeping Jenny convert to a submersed environment so well. Some of it has been submerged for a week and I’ve hardly lost a leaf. So much to learn!

4:15pm update: I’ll be less obsessive when I know more, lol. I’ve decided that spot I was seeing in the male shrimp is his stomach. I’ve looked at a ton of pics online and discovered other shrimp that look exactly the same. Not sure why it looks more opaque than it did previously, or more opaque than the females, perhaps he’s more translucent after molting? I didn’t see a shell, but it’s very hard to see the middle of the jar due to plants. He’s very active, hanging out on the moss ball, doing what seem to be all normal shrimpy things.

BTW: Temps on this bowl are pretty stable despite not being heated: 67-68ish at night and 72-73 in the day time.


Ammonia 0 ppm!!! | Nitrite 0 ppm | Nitrate 0 ppm

Plants are healthy and I think must be establishing their roots. I’ll still poke the soil for a couple more days to be sure, but I’ve got a cycle! Male ghostie looks happy, haven’t seen the girlie today but I’m sure she’s fine, and if she’s not, I know it wasn’t the ammonia at any rate.


Ammonia back up to 0.25ppm, not a huge spike, but I’ve realized I’ve been way overfeeding. Not as big a problem in a dirted tank as in other ecosystems, but I’m going to dial it back, lol. I’ve been putting in 2 algae wafers a day, and realized that’s probably about 4x as much food as the shrimpies can eat in one go. I already fed them today before I realized, so I’ll skip feeding them tomorrow and let them scavenge. Plus they are hanging out in the plants way more so I think I’m starting to get a little algae. I changed 2 cups of water out, and I’ve started a timer to give the bowl a 4 hour nap from the lights, so they’ll have 5 on, 4 off, 5 on today. I’ll get a timer here soon to do that for me automatically.

NOTE: (Added 5/27) Pretty sure the ammonia issues are from the snail. It poops a lot! I’ve identified it as a Pomacea bridgesii the smaller varient of Apple snails that don’t eat plants. He (or she, haven’t gotten a good view yet, lol) hangs out on the plants but after a week I’ve seen no damage, just lots of poop.


Was given a ten-gallon tank so I tore down the bowl because I wanted the Creeping Jenny and moss ball. Created a Walstad tank with the 10 gallon, will eventually add fish. To see that log visit this page.