Do Shrimps Float When They Die?

Shrimps are excellent in hiding themselves, so whenever you are unable to find your shrimp in the tank, don’t assume it to be dead. Here are the questions you should ask: How do we know when a shrimp is dead? Do they float in the water? Or do they sink at the bottom?

Shrimp do float when they are dead. However, at first, the body sits at the bottom of the tank. The shrimp starts to float when the body starts decomposing.

Some shrimp owner has never seen a shrimp floating in the water, while some believe that a dead shrimp floats in the water like a blowing leaf.

group of yellow red cherry shrimp feeding
Owner: Maryanne Young

What Happens When A Shrimp Is Dead?

Research shows that when a shrimp dies, it initially settles at the bottom of the tank and when the dead remains of the shrimp start decomposing, it is only then the shrimp’s body starts floating in the water.

However, a floating dead shrimp is a rare sight because the dead remains of the shrimps would be scavenged by other shrimps and fishes of the tank.

In natural environments, dead shrimp might not always be observed floating because they can quickly become food for other animals or might get buried in sediment.

In aquarium settings, if you see a shrimp floating, it’s a good idea to remove it promptly to prevent any potential water quality issues that could arise from decomposition.

Now let’s take a look at some other important facts about shrimps before we can ace shrimp keeping.

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There are over 3,000 species of shrimp, but only a few are commonly kept in aquariums.

Why Do Shrimps Die?

Shrimps are more sensitive as compared to other fishes. There can be a lot of reasons which can cause the death of your shrimp. When a shrimp is imported, it may take time to adjust itself to its new habitat. Sometimes the journey can be very stressful for the shrimp leading to its death.

Another very common cause is the frequent changing of the water of the tank. If the amount of nitrate and ammonia present in the water is too high, it can cause stress to the shrimp and may kill it.

group of shrimps
Owner: Kaz Brown

How to Identify a Dead Shrimp?

Brine shrimps are very active and they always move in the water. When they die, they fall at the bottom of the tank. But this may not be true in all cases.

Molting is very common in shrimps. If you see a shrimp motionless, your shrimp isn’t dead, it may have just molted. However, identifying a dead shrimp is not very difficult. A dead shrimp changes its color to pink which is easily noticeable.

How Soon Should I Remove a Dead Shrimp?

Some of you may think about whether having a dead shrimp in the tank is good or bad?

Well, the answer to your question is easy. Having a dead shrimp in the tank is not good. Leaving a dead shrimp for too long can lead to an ammonia spike while it also pollutes the water.

So, you should remove the dead shrimp from your tank as soon as you are certain that it is dead.

Some species of shrimp are known for their unique behaviors, such as the “dancing” of the Pacific cleaner shrimp to attract fish.

Freshwater Shrimp Diseases, Prevention & Cure

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should i remove dead shrimp from my tank?

Yes, you should remove dead shrimp from your tank as soon as you notice them. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Decomposition and Water Quality: As the shrimp decomposes, it can release ammonia and other harmful substances into the water. Ammonia is toxic to most aquatic life, and even small amounts can be harmful. Elevated ammonia levels can stress other inhabitants of the tank and lead to further deaths.
  2. Disease Prevention: If the shrimp died from a disease or parasite, leaving its body in the tank could potentially spread the disease to other inhabitants.
  3. Aesthetics and Odor: Decomposing organisms can be unsightly and produce unpleasant odors.
  4. Preventing False Readings: Decomposing organic matter can affect water parameters and give false readings when testing water quality.
  5. Avoid Overfeeding Scavengers: If you have scavengers in your tank, like certain fish or snails, they might consume the dead shrimp. While this might seem like a natural cleanup process, it can lead to overfeeding, which can be harmful to the scavengers and can also contribute to water quality issues.
Owner: Kaz Brown

do shrimp curl up when they die?

Yes, it’s common for shrimp to curl up when they die. The curling is due to rigor mortis setting in, causing the shrimp’s muscles to contract and stiffen. The tail muscles, in particular, tend to contract, which causes the shrimp to curl into a C-shape. This is a typical posture for a dead shrimp, whether in the wild or in an aquarium.

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However, it’s worth noting that not every dead shrimp will be found in this curled position. Various factors, such as the cause of death or water conditions, might influence the exact posture of a deceased shrimp. But if you find a shrimp in a curled position and it’s not moving, it’s very likely that it has died.

do shrimp play dead?

Shrimp don’t “play dead” in the same way that some animals, like opossums, might feign death as a defense mechanism. However, shrimp can exhibit behaviors that might be mistaken for playing dead.

Shrimp periodically shed their exoskeletons in a process called molting. During and after this process, they can be very still and vulnerable, which might be mistaken for them being dead. After molting, they often hide and remain inactive while their new exoskeleton hardens.

If shrimp are introduced to a new environment or experience sudden changes in water parameters, they might become stressed and less active. This can sometimes make them appear as if they’re dead.

Shrimp can be startled by sudden movements or disturbances in their environment. In response, they might freeze momentarily, which can be mistaken for playing dead.

Some species of shrimp, such as the Amano shrimp, are used as natural pest control in planted aquariums.

do shrimp eat dead shrimp?

Yes, shrimp can and often will eat dead shrimp.

Shrimp are opportunistic scavengers, which means they will consume a variety of organic matter, including dead members of their own species.

In an aquarium setting, if a shrimp dies and is not promptly removed, other shrimp in the tank may begin to consume it.

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While this behavior might seem a bit morbid, it’s a natural way for shrimp to obtain nutrients and recycle organic matter in their environment. In the wild, scavenging helps to break down and recycle dead organisms, preventing the buildup of decaying matter.


Shrimp can float when they are dead but they don’t initially. When a shrimp is dead, we should get rid of it quickly before it starts to affect the fish tank. If we are unable to see the shrimp it can be hiding somewhere too.  

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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