Water quality is the most essential factor to ensure the wellbeing of any aquarium pet and shrimp is no exception. Whether you keep freshwater or saltwater shrimp, regular water changes are required in order to reduce the amount of debris and toxic compounds such as ammonia. But improper water changes can also lead to another range of problems and molting issues in shrimp, such as the dangerous white ring of death.
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Why you should use RO/DI water for your shrimp tank
While you can use tap water for your water changes in a freshwater aquarium, it is not always safe to do so. Depending on where you live, the quality and hardiness of your house water may be different than what your shrimp are accustomed to. RO is short for “reverse osmosis“, which is the process of getting rid of salts and toxins from water by applying pressure through a semipermeable membrane. In simple words, seawater is pushed through a membrane through which contaminants cannot pass, in order to obtain “pure” fresh water. Even more so, an additional process of de-ionization – the “DI” of RO/DI – ensures the filtration of extra ions that RO could not get rid of. The outcome is a truly neutral water with 7pH (neither acidic nor alkaline), 0gH, 0kH, no traces of ammonia, nitrites nor nitrates. This is especially suitable for freshwater tanks as it won’t mess up with parameters such as total dissolved solids (TDS) levels. There is one major drawback of using RO water for your tank, though, and that’s that the processes of reverse osmosis and deionization also get rid of important minerals that are needed for the health of your shrimp, fish, and plants.
Remineralizing RO/DI water
There are a variety of different methods and products for remineralizing RO water, and you should choose a regime that fits your needs and availability. Compared to other types of fish, shrimp and crustaceans will benefit largely from minerals like calcium which promote healthy shell formation during molting.
Salty Shrimp: your go-to product for water conditioning
If you choose to pick a commercial product to help you remineralize RO water, look no further – “Salty Shrimp” is a range of products thought specifically for shrimp and other shrimp tank inhabitants (like freshwater plants and snails). For a general freshwater aquarium (i.e. containing caridinae and/or neocaridinae), opt for Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+ which will raise the total hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) of your RO water at a rate of 1.0/0.5 GH/KH. The product will come with a measuring spoon and all you have to do is dissolve the salts in your water before adding to the tank.
The DIY route
If you don’t wanna use any specialized products you can rely on mineral stones such as calcite. Most stones you add to your tank will actually release minerals and have a direct effect on your pH – time to rethink about your feng shui! 😉
You can safely add calcite, limestone, coral, oyster shells and other calcerious materials to increase calcium in your tank. Properly sanitized and crushed egg shells may work as well – if they are fine enough your pet shimp may even snack on them,
Can I remineralize RO/DI water with epsom salts and baking soda?
In short – yes, but you shouldn’t. Household items can add minerals to your water but they will also fill it with unwanted compounds that defeat the purpose of RO/DI water. These items are much better suited for slightly adjusting parameters of your tap water, i.e. empsom salts will increase gH, baking soda pH and kH. If you are using RO/DI water for your water changes, most likely you do not want to mess with parameters.