Cherry Shrimp Molting Problems: How To Deal With Those?

Cherry Shrimp Molting Problems

Molting is a very natural phenomenon for cherry shrimps. It is a part of their growing process. However, if the conditions aren’t right, unsuccessful molting can occur. It poses a lot of problems for the shrimps, even death.

The most common and serious molting problem of cherry shrimp is called the ‘White Ring Of Death’. This is a very serious problem and often leads to the death of the shrimp.

In the rest of the article, I’ll discuss the White Ring Of Death further, as well as its causes and solutions. I’ll also discuss some preventive measures against molting problems.

I have collected most of the information for this article from Michael has a fantastic blog over there and if you’re interested about breeding aquarium pets, you should definitely check that out!

White Ring Of Death: What Is It?

White Ring Of Death, as deadly as the name sounds, effects are deadly as well. This is just the sign of an unsuccessful molting.

During the molting process, cherry shrimps fill their shell with water until the exoskeleton bursts open. In case of a successful molting, the exoskeleton starts to open around the neck area. To be more specific, the area between the carapace and the first abdominal segment. After the crack, the shrimp bends itself in a U position and wriggles off the old exoskeleton.

During an unsuccessful molting, the shell doesn’t crack open around the neck area at only one point. Rather, the shell cracks across the whole neck, forming a circle of white. This white ring is the flesh of the shrimp. This white ring of flesh divides the old exoskeleton into two different parts.

At this stage, the U bending of the shrimp doesn’t help it to get rid of the old exoskeleton. In fact, in most cases, the shrimp fails to move freely. This is mainly because of the light attaching of the exoskeleton to the shrimp’s body.

Imagine you’re wearing a pair of gloves. Now, you’ve partially removed the gloves. In such a case, no matter how much you move the fingers, the gloves won’t come off. Such becomes the case for the cherry shrimp.

This is mainly the White Ring Of Death. Shrimps that face this problem try to get rid of the old shell for a couple of days. After that, the shrimp often dies. However, only a very small percentage of shrimp can get rid of the old shell.

So, don’t lose hope completely.

a shrimp tank setup with live plants
Owner: Ricky Sales

Probable Reasons For White Ring of Death

Now that we know what is the White Ring of Death, it’s time to look at the probable reasons behind this tragic condition.

Is Too Much Protein Responsible?

Many people think that too much protein in the diet is responsible for this problem. Too much protein causes too frequent molting, which can lead to such problems.

However, I disagree with this. I don’t think the problem lies with protein. Yes, protein can be responsible for molting problems, but not directly.

Too much protein in the diet causes cherry shrimp to grow fast. Molting is a part of shrimp growth, so when the growth rate is very fast, the shrimp often goes through many molting stages.

Molting itself is a very dangerous stage for any shrimp. So, if the shrimp has to go through a higher number of molting stages because of the higher growth rate, there are more chances for failed moltings or the White Ring Of Death.

This is how protein can play in this scenario.

There are some more reasons why I think protein is not responsible for the White Ring Of Death.

Almost all shrimp keepers around the world feed their shrimp a diet that contains about 40 to 47% protein. The same goes for shrimp researchers around the world. In fact, I follow many shrimp breeders who provide their shrimp with a protein-based diet. No one has ever reported a problem. Protein is not the issue here.

In fact, the exoskeleton of the cherry shrimp contains mainly three elements:

  • Chitin (20-30%)
  • Protein (30-40%)
  • Calcium Carbonate (30-50%)

So, it can be undoubtedly seen that protein is fundamental for the shrimp’s growth. There is no need to point finger to protein alone for this molting problem.

However, the problem can lie in the diet. Shrimps need minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients to grow properly. Any lack of these nutrients can result in unsuccessful molting. That’s why I always offer my shrimp a good commercial shrimp food like Bacter AE or Aquatic Arts Sinking Pellets. These ensure my cherry shrimps are getting all the nutrients they require.

See also  Cherry Shrimp Feeding & Diet [The Ultimate Guide]

Also, in such cases, blanched vegetables like blanched Kale can help a lot.

You can also try a vegetable-based diet to see if it improves the molting problem. But don’t continue it for too long, as shrimps need protein to live. I’ve heard one shrimp keeper continue a vegetable-based diet for too long. In the end, the shrimp turned cannibalistic for the protein.

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Too Large or Too Often Water Change

Some shrimp keepers think the White Ring Of Death can result from too many or too frequent water changes. I agree. The water parameters will become unstable if you perform too many water changes.

Also, water changes that are too frequent will keep the water parameters out of their ideal range for cherry shrimp, which can start to pose a lot of problems. A change in the water parameters can force the cherry shrimp to go through a molting stage, which can turn out to be unsuccessful.

a berried blue cherry shrimp with eggs
Owner: Natalie Skinner

Imbalance Between pH and Calcium

Let me discuss a recent study performed by a group of researchers. A colony of shrimp was kept in a low-pH environment for 21 days. After 21 days, the shrimp’s exoskeletons showed no visible difference.

However, the calcium content of the shell spiked high. That means the Calcium-to-magnesium ratio in the shell shot up. This study proved that in a low pH environment, the calcium content of the shrimps gets high. This high calcification can change many other physiological aspects of the shrimp.

As the shell has a higher quantity of calcium, it starts to get denser. A dense shell is harder to molt than a normal shell.

Affect of GH

GH stands for General Hardness. It measures the amount of magnesium and calcium in the water, along with other minerals.

GH is very important for cherry shrimps because it indicates the level of Calcium Carbonate in the water. Calcium Carbonate is extremely important for shrimps to molt because calcium is necessary for a strong exoskeleton.

Among the total calcium needed for the new exoskeleton, about 25% of the calcium will be absorbed from the old exoskeleton. The rest will be absorbed from the water column.

Also, let us not forget about Magnesium. It helps the shrimps to absorb calcium carbonate and form a new exoskeleton.

If the GH gets too low, the cherry shrimp will find it harder to molt and form a new healthy exoskeleton. As a result, the shrimps will remain exposed to danger for a longer amount of time. On the other hand, too much calcium carbonate in the water can also pose some other problems.

Low Calcium vs High Calcium

Calcium sulfate helps stabilize the pH in aquarium water, which is why many aquarium products use it. However, there is a downside to using calcium sulfate.

By using calcium sulfate, the amount of calcium in the water increases. As a result, The GH reading spikes. In such a case, the shrimp’s exoskeleton becomes too rigid and difficult to molt. So, the shrimp spends more energy molting, which can cause stress and eventually death.

On the contrary, if there is very little calcium in the water, the shell of the shrimp won’t get firm. It will remain very flexible. As a result, the old exoskeleton might not break apart at any point in the shrimp’s body, or the underneath layer of the exoskeleton can get too weak.

This causes the shrimp to stress and die shortly after a molting or any other change.

If your shrimp tank has soft water, meaning the amount of calcium is low, you can use cuttlebones instead of calcium blocks. Calcium blocks can cause too much calcium to be absorbed in the water, so cuttlebones are a more subtle and safer approach.

Solutions for the white ring of Death

In addressing the dreaded White Ring Of Death, it’s crucial to remember Abhisek Mallick’s advice:

‘There is no treatment for shrimps once issues arise, making proactive care essential. Avoid insecticides near the tank and be cautious with substances like active soil and Indian almond leaves that can lower pH levels dangerously.’

With this in mind, let’s explore some effective preventive measures and solutions I’ve found on the Internet:

Blanched Vegetables

A balanced diet is the key to successful molting. Cherry Shrimp love to graze on Algae and biofilms. However, they also need a specific set of nutrients that algae do not provide.

If your shrimps are having problems with molting, a great natural trick is to feed them blanched Kale. Kale is very rich in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, and shrimps love to graze on it.

I also give my shrimp blanched cucumbers and zucchini. They love to graze on these, too! Always keep the diet interesting to ensure your cherry shrimp are attracted to the food.

amano shrimp and blue cherry shrimp feeding on cucumber
Owner: Natalie Skinner

Crushed Egg Shells

Shrimps need calcium in the water for successful molting and proper growth of the new exoskeleton. If there is no calcium supplement nearby, you can follow this great hack.

See also  Cherry Shrimp Selective Breeding Guide For Beginners

Take some eggshells. Wash the shells thoroughly. Now, take a baking tray and place the eggshells on it. After that, bake the eggshells for about a few minutes so that all the bacteria leave the shell.

Now, place the eggshells in a mortar and pestle and crush them until they get a powder-like consistency. Feed this crushed eggshell only about a pinch amount to your shrimps. You can store the crushed eggshells in a pot.

If you are on a tight budget or your local fish store doesn’t have any calcium supplements, this little trick will come in handy a lot.

Don’t Take Things Into Your Own Hands

When cherry shrimp suffer from molting problems, it can be very tough for the owner to bear. So, many beginners want to help out the shrimp manually. Though helping your shrimp may sound wonderful, it actually puts the shrimp’s life at risk.

Shrimps are very delicate creatures. No matter how careful you are, you may crush the shrimp’s legs or carapace, which can make the shrimp even more miserable.

So, no matter how experienced you are, unless you are a doctor specializing in shrimp, I’ll not recommend helping the shrimp when they are having trouble with molting. Without doing that, you can ask for a professional vet’s help. He should be able to do something for your shrimp.

Just keep your hopes up and let nature do its job.

Preventions Against Molting Problem

  • Refrain from too often and too much water changes. Both can bring a serious change in the water parameters, which can stress out the shrimps. Normally, I follow a weekly water changing schedule when every week I change about 25% of water.
  • Each species of shrimp prefers a different range of water parameters. For cherry shrimp, ensure the water parameters are suitable so they don’t get stressed.
  • If the water is too soft, you can use cuttlebones, which will subtly increase the calcium in the water.
  • Make sure the diet contains all the nutrients required for cherry shrimp. Shrimps need algae, biofilm, blanched vegetables, and commercial shrimp food for a healthy life. If your shrimps are having molting problems, ensure the diet provides enough nutrients for them.
red and yellow cherry shrimp on snail
Owner: Maryanne Young

Renowned shrimp expert Abhisek Mallick highlights common beginner mistakes in shrimp keeping, such as not cycling aquariums properly and ignoring species-specific water parameters.

Aligning with his insights, the article underscores the critical role of a balanced diet and stable water conditions in preventing molting issues like the White Ring of Death.

Mallick’s emphasis on the importance of quarantine and avoiding mixing shrimp with fish further complements the article’s focus on ensuring a safe and conducive environment for cherry shrimp molting.

How To Help Shrimp Stuck In Molt?

Molting is a vulnerable process in shrimp’s life, and shrimp can face death. In the worst cases, your shrimp may face the White Ring of Death. Your shrimp will suffer the worst if it sticks in the molt.

Shrimp hobbyists often want to know how to help shrimp stuck in molt. Unfortunately, there are no ways to comfort a stuck shrimp. The stuck shrimp often free themselves from the broken shell.

For this, the shrimp need to be healthy and fit. If shrimp do not set themselves free by themselves, your shrimp may die.

Some shrimp owners try to recover their stuck shrimp with tweezers. There are several records of success in applying manual methods. However, these manual methods are life-risk for shrimp. While pinching the shell with a tweezer, you might hurt your shrimp.

Since shrimp have a soft body, you might kill your shrimp incautiously. That’s why you need to leave these tricky situations for luck. You can keep the water parameters ideal to prevent such a dreadful situation.

Besides, you should focus on your shrimp’s diet and nutrition. Do not make the mistake of doing a big water change. Keeping the tank environment good can save your shrimp from sticking in broken, old shells.

How Often Do Cherry Shrimp Molt?

The molting frequency varies according to the shrimp species, age, environmental conditions, etc. Certain components can trigger the molting frequency. In cherry shrimp, you can notice their molting every 3-6 weeks.

If your cherry shrimp is an adult, it’ll molt every 3-4 weeks. Younger cherry shrimp have a higher molting frequency than adult shrimp. Since their growth rate is faster, they shed their exoskeleton every 1-2 weeks.

To help your cherry shrimp molt, you must keep the water parameters ideal. Otherwise, your cherry shrimp may die while molting.

Is Shrimp Molting A Good Sign?

If you’re a beginner, you may not know much about shrimp molting. So, a serious question may pop up in your mind – is shrimp molting a good sign?

See also  Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Mosquito Larvae?

Before understanding whether molting is a good or bad sign, you should know why molting happens to shrimp.

Molting is a natural process that symbolizes shrimp’s growth. When shrimp grow with age, their size increases gradually. However, their exoskeleton is a rigid and stiff structure.

Although shrimp size increases, the exoskeleton doesn’t increase with the body. As a result, shrimp require a new shell to fit in their increased body. That’s why molting is a must in shrimp’s lives.

Molting is a good sign. Frequent molting is a sign that your shrimp are healthy and have good growth.

However, the shrimp tank must have good water conditions for their molting. If your shrimp experiences regular molting, the water quality must be alright.

Moreover, shrimp tend to mate after molting, which is why you can consider molting a prosperous sign. After all, your shrimp number will increase after molting.

Why Do Shrimp Molt?

You might know that the exoskeleton works like a protective barrier for shrimp. But, this rigid shell does not grow along with the size of shrimp. On the contrary, shrimp can not survive without their exoskeleton.

Hence, shrimp undergo a natural process called molting to get a new shell. Shrimp tend to shed their exoskeleton through this vulnerable process.

Generally, the young shrimp molts frequently since they grow faster. It can take a few hours to weeks.

After shedding the exoskeleton, the shrimp remain soft and sensitive in the post-molting stage. It can take a few days to harden the new skin of shrimp. During this period, shrimp hide themselves to save from predators until they grow new exoskeletons.

red yellow shrimp feeding dish
Owner: Maryanne Young

Frequently Asked Questions

Do shrimps eat their molt?

Shrimps eat their molt, which is a rich source of calcium and other minerals. That’s why it is recommended that they leave the molted exoskeleton in the tank and not remove it.

How often do neocaridina shrimp molt?

Neocaridina shrimp molt every 3 to 4 weeks in healthy conditions, but younger shrimp molt more often due to their fast growth, perhaps every 1 or 2 weeks.

What does a shrimp molt look like?

A shrimp molt looks like a translucent, empty exoskeleton of the shrimp that has shed it. The size of the molt will depend on the size of the shrimp that is molted, and it may be difficult to differentiate between a molt and a dead shrimp.

However, a molt will look whitish & translucent, while a dead shrimp will turn opaque, milky, or pinkish in color.

How long does molting last in cherry shrimp?

Molting in cherry shrimp usually lasts for a few hours to half a day, with the actual shedding process taking around 30 minutes to an hour. After molting, the shrimp’s new shell will be soft and pliable, and it will take a few days for it to harden completely.

How do you know if cherry shrimp is molting?

You can tell if a cherry shrimp is molting if it is exhibiting certain behaviors, such as hiding or being inactive, or if it is lying on its side or upside down. You may also notice a white, cloudy substance around the shrimp, which is a sign that it is preparing to molt.

During the actual molting process, the shrimp will shed its old exoskeleton, which will appear as a translucent, empty shell in the aquarium.

What does it mean when cherry shrimp molt?

When cherry shrimp molt, they shed their old exoskeleton to grow a new, larger one. Molting is a natural process that allows shrimp to grow and develop properly.

During molting, the shrimp sheds its old exoskeleton and remains hidden until its new shell hardens. Molting is a sign of a healthy shrimp and a necessary process for the shrimp to continue growing and thriving in the aquarium.

How long do shrimp hide after molting?

Shrimp will typically hide for a few hours to a day after molting. During this time, their new exoskeleton is still soft and vulnerable, so they will hide to avoid being attacked or eaten by other tank inhabitants.

After a day or so, the shrimp will become more active and visible as their new exoskeleton hardens.

Why is my shrimp molting in a new tank?

It is normal for shrimp to molt in a new tank because molting is a natural process that allows them to grow and develop properly, and the stress of being moved to a new environment can also trigger molting.

Additionally, the water parameters in a new tank may be different from the previous tank, which can also trigger molting.

As long as the shrimp is otherwise healthy and active, molting in a new tank is not a cause for concern.


So, this is my detailed guide on cherry shrimp molting problems. Though the White Ring Of Death is not that common, it can happen. And if it does, there is very little you can do to save your shrimp.

So, look for the reasons that cause this problem in the first place and follow the preventive measures mentioned in the article.

We all know prevention is better than cure.

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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