Shrimp Keeping: Can I Remineralize Tap Water?

Shrimp Keeping Can I Remineralize Tap Water

Shrimp keeping has become significantly easier since the introduction of RO/DI water and special remineralizers for shrimp tanks. Nonetheless, many aquarists continue using tap water. So, not long ago, I received another letter asking me – “Can I remineralize my tap water?”

Well, I strongly believe that remineralization of tap water will not be the best course of action because the results can be unpredictable.

Water quality management in shrimp keeping is vital, as shrimp are highly sensitive to changes in their parameters. A lack or an imbalance of certain minerals and trace elements may lead to severe problems such as loss of color, decreased growth, decreased fecundity, reduced fertilization success, molting problems, loss of eggs, or even shrimp colony death.

Shrimp and Minerals

Although shrimp obtain some minerals and trace elements from food, they also strongly require them in the water. Shrimp can absorb them directly from the water via gill and body surfaces. 

For example, such minerals as Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium are crucial components in the body structure (exoskeleton) of shrimp. Minerals and trace elements are also involved in many physiological processes and chemical reactions in their body (such as molting).

In addition, since shrimp do not have an adaptive immune system, their innate immune system heavily relays on them. Therefore, a lack of minerals will make them vulnerable to diseases and other pathogens.

Why Can’t I Remineralize My Tap Water?

The answer is actually pretty simple, at its core: Shrimp need specific minerals in specific combinations, quantities, and ratios.

I have to clarify it once again – Shrimp do not simply need some minerals and trace elements just for the sake of having it! All minerals should be balanced.

Although, your tap water can be safe (for humans) and within the confines of the government’s regulations, but still not good enough for our pets.

Depending on the state, some chemicals can be filtered and some not. Some of the minerals occur naturally and some are added.

Just to give you an idea, tap water may contain minerals and chemicals, such as:

  • potassium,
  • iron,
  • phosphorous,
  • zinc,
  • manganese,
  • copper,
  • aluminum,
  • chloride,
  • sulfate, etc.

All in all, in most cases, we generally do not know anything about our tap water quality. Even if we want to determine the quality of our water by using test kits, our knowledge will be generally limited to basics (PHGH, KH, TDS, etc.). It will be too expensive and time-consuming to test it for all potential minerals it may contain.

So, if we do not know what our tap water has, how can we get specific minerals in specific combinations, quantities, and ratios? How can we get a proper TDS? 

We can’t! It is simply not possible.

Therefore, if you mix tap water with, for example, re-mineralizers such as GH/KH+, there is a good chance that the ratio of microelements will be unacceptable or at least sub-optimal for the shrimp.

That is why I never recommend mixing tap water with re-mineralizers. It is not possible to predict the outcome.

Some Other Problems with Tap Water

copper in shrimp tankIf you are using tap water, be careful with heavy metals. Your aquatic system should not be galvanized or contain copper as well.

For example, when water reacts with copper pipes, the pipe starts to rust. When corrosion occurs, copper ions are released into the water and this can result in the death of your shrimp.

All studies have shown that shrimp are adversely affected when exposed to high concentrations of copper. At the same time, a relatively safe concentration of copper at higher pH may become a lethal dose at a lower pH.

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How to Make Tap Water Safer for Your Shrimp

 Most municipal water systems have to use chlorine and chloramine as disinfectants to kill disease-causing germs before the water reaches our tap.

In as much as this is beneficial to us (humans), it is very bad for shrimp. Luckily, there are several simple ways to make our tap water safer:

1. Use Water Conditioner / Dechlorinator
2. Let the Water Age
3. Boil the Water

1. Water Conditioner

Do We Need Water Conditioners. Which One to Choose.The water conditioner will play an important role to keep your shrimp safe. Even more, if you are using tap water, a water conditioner is a must-have product.  

Good water conditioners will remove removes chlorine, chloramine and detoxify ammonianitrites, or nitrates making them harmless to the shrimp and still bioavailable to the beneficial bacteria (allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them). They are non-acidic and will not impact pH.

Water conditioners will make your tap water as safe as possible for your shrimp.

Recommended (link to check the price on Amazon):

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2. Let the Water Age

Do not think that aging water is a minor detail and can be neglected. On the contrary, it has several benefits such as:

  • Aging helps to stabilize the pH.
  • Water chlorine dissipates almost fully in 24 hours. Chlorine is quite harmful to shrimp, it can cause burns on their gills. Another negative effect is stress. If the chlorine is not enough to kill the shrimp, it may stress them out very much.

3. Boil the Water or Use Wavemaker

We can also speed up the process (to get rid of Chlorine) by using an air stone or wavemaker.  Surface agitation helps to evaporate chlorine from the water. If you have large amounts of water, it is also advisable to keep it circulating to get the stuff out from the bottom of the tub.

Of course, it can be done even faster. Boiling the water for 5-10 minutes will remove Chlorine. However, if you need a lot of water, it can be a real problem to boil it. In addition, you will have to wait until it gets to the normal temperature.

In Conclusion

Water quality is one of the most important factors affecting shrimp health and behavior. Even though some shrimp species (such as Neocaridina) are relatively hardy and can be kept in tap water, it does not mean that they like it.

Ideally, shrimp need specific minerals in specific combinations, quantities, and ratios. Unfortunately, we can get it only by using RO/DI water and special remineralizers for shrimp.

Adding these remineralizers to tap water may have unexpected results from making them happy to killing the whole colony. Therefore, I would not recommend adding them into tap water.

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