Why Do My Ghost Shrimp Keep Dying?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Ghost shrimps aka the glass shrimps are popular for being easy to keep aquarium pets. Yet, it’s fairly common for them to die soon after they’re brought home.

So, why do ghost shrimps keep dying? Well, shrimps, in general, are relatively more sensitive than fish. Even the slightest change in their environment could prove to be fatal. These changes include the changes in temperature, pH levels, and chemical composition of the water.

But, that’s not all,

There are several minor mistakes that people tend to make which cause ghost shrimps to die.

Let’s discuss what those mistakes are

Inappropriate water parameters

Let’s start off with the most basic mistake you can make. And that is placing ghost shrimps in unsuitable water parameters.  Although these shrimps adapt fairly well to various tank conditions, being placed in a highly unsuitable environment will stress them out and eventually cause them to die.

So, make sure you routinely check your tank’s parameters and maintain a healthy environment for your shrimps.

Ghost shrimps do best in the following water conditions;

  • Temperature: 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • GH: 3-10 dGH (50-166.7 ppm)
  • KH: 3-15 dKH (53.6-268 ppm)
  • pH: 7.0-8.0

If you’re a beginner who doesn’t know much about aquarium water chemistry, check out this YouTube video for help.

Presence of copper or lead in your aquarium

Heavy metals such as copper and lead are highly toxic for ghost shrimps and having even the slightest amount of them in your tank may cause a shrimp massacre. If you fill your aquarium with tap water, you need to be extra careful about the levels of copper and lead in it since most households have copper pipelines.

Fish medication

Extending on to the point of copper toxicity, you should know that some fish medications also contain copper and when you add these meds into your aquarium, it instantly kills off ghost shrimps.

Water heaters

Many people feel the need to use water heaters for the purpose of maintaining suitable temperatures in their aquarium.

Now,

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a consistent water temperature, it’s not always necessary to use a heater for that purpose. That is because water heaters tend to malfunction, causing a drastic decrease or increase in temperature. While the fish may be able to survive this change, ghost shrimps certainly will not be able to adjust to it and will end up dying.

Overfeeding

Ghost shrimps should only be fed when they are hungry. If you put food in the tank and don’t see your shrimp go after it within the next 10 minutes, it means that they are NOT hungry. Hence you should remove the food and give the shrimps a day or two to get hungry again. If you don’t remove the food, your ghost shrimps will end up overeating and dying. 

If you’re a beginner then this may come as a surprise,

But ghost shrimps that live with other fish in a heavily planted aquarium may not require any feeding at all. This is because ghost shrimps are omnivores and will fill their tummies with leftover fish food, plants, and algae. So, be mindful and do not forcefully feed your ghost shrimps.

Ammonia and Nitrite Poisoning 

If ghost shrimps are placed in a tank that has not been fully cycled, they will die from ammonia and nitrite poising.

What does it mean to have a fully cycled tank?

A fully cycled tank is such that has enough bacteria present in it to convert the ammonia and nitrites released from fish waste into nitrates.

If you place your ghost shrimps in a tank that has not been fully cycled, you will be exposing them high amounts of ammonia and nitrites which will cause them to die

Overcrowded tank

Ghost shrimps can easily survive in tanks of all sizes. From the smallest 5 to 10-gallon tanks to larger 25 to 30-gallon tanks. However, you must be mindful of how many ghost shrimps you keep.

Remember,

Ghost shrimps are small in size but the amount of the waste they excrete is more than enough to pollute the tank with high amounts of nitrates, which will eventually cause the ghost shrimps to die.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t add more than 3 to 4 shrimps per gallon of water in your tank.

But wait,

There’s more,

Not only is it important to have the appropriate number of ghost shrimps for your tank, but you must also have them in the right gender ratio.

Imbalance of male to female ratio

If you have a greater number of male shrimps in your tank, they will overwhelm the female shrimps with their constant advances towards them, causing the females great stress.

And we all know, stress is lethal!

Placing ghost shrimp with aggressive fish

Lastly,

Placing ghost shrimps with aggressive fish can also be the reason that they keep dying.

That’s because ghost shrimps are tiny creatures that only grow up to 1.5 inches. And their tiny size makes them an easy target for larger fish. These fish may swallow the poor shrimp whole or bully it to death!

If your aquarium has fishes such as Oscars, Goldfishes, Crayfish, Cichlids or other aquarium pets such frogs and turtles, don’t be surprised if your ghost shrimps die within a few seconds.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this list, I’m sure most of you must have figured out the reason behind your ghost shrimps dying.

But here’s the real deal:

Even if you’ve made none of these mistakes, your shrimp may still die. And it’s NOT your fault.

Your shrimp dying is not your fault

Sometimes ghost shrimps die simply because they have not been treated well by the storekeepers. Ghost shrimps are definitely tough little fellows but they go through a lot before ending up at the pet store.

They get taken away from their natural habitat and put into a tank. Then they travel in those tanks for miles before reaching the pet store. Upon reaching they again have to migrate to a new tank. And just when they begin to settle in their new homes, they are sold to people who again shift them into a new place.

 All this moving and changes in the environment stresses out the shrimps a great deal and by the time they get to your home, they are already so weak that they cannot adjust to yet another change and die.

So, if your shrimps keep dying, your pet store may be to blame!

Of course, that’s not always the case. With good care and the right environment, your ghost shrimps can definitely live a happy healthy life.

Wondering how to create the best environment for your ghost shrimps?

Keep on reading.

Creating the best environment for ghost shrimps

Many people think that providing the appropriate water parameters is enough to raise healthy ghost shrimps.

And that’s not entirely true. Yes, providing suitable water parameters is essential. But, there’s so much more that goes into creating the perfect environment for ghost shrimps to thrive in.

I’ve listed all these things below.

Aquarium Plantation

Ghost shrimps absolutely love to be around plants.

You can say plants are to shrimps what a lounging area is to human beings. They provide the shrimp with a comfortable, safe place to rest and hang out. Especially during the molting process, ghost shrimps resort to plants to provide them with a place to hide. Not to mention, plants are also a source of food for the shrimps.

Hence, it is wise to have some plantation in your aquarium. Most people opt for hornwort, Cabomba or java moss, but of course, you can choose to keep any plant you like.

Substrate

Although ghost shrimps spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, they don’t have any special substrate preferences. However, it is advised that you use sand or fine gravel as your aquarium substrate. That is because sand and fine gravel have tiny particles that ensure the ghost shrimps delicate antennae remain unharmed while they dig in and out of the substrate.

Sponge water filter

Installing a water filter in your aquarium is incredibly important if you want to raise healthy ghost shrimps.

But that’s not because shrimps make a lot of mess. Nope, in fact, experts consider ghost shrimps as some of the best tank cleaners.

You need the water filter more so for creating a subtle current in the aquarium.

Ghost shrimps are excellent swimmers and enjoy being in waters with a subtle current. The slight movement of water makes the aquarium feel more homely to the ghost shrimps as it resembles the water current in their natural habitat.

However, they are not fond of strong currents so you need not purchase a strong filter. Just get one according to the size of your tank. It is best to have a sponge filter in order to prevent ghost shrimps from getting sucked inside the pipe.  

The right tankmates

Lastly,

Let’s about the tank mates that ghost shrimps like to live with. After all, they play a big part in forming the aquarium’s environment.

Ghost shrimps get along very well with small-sized, peaceful fish such as tetras, hatchet fish, cherry barbs, zebra and kuhli loaches and small catfish such as the Corydoras catfish.

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