Many shrimp keepers who are new to this hobby often freak out seeing their ghost shrimps molting. Molting is a very natural process and ghost shrimps will molt as they grow. If they are molting more often that means they are in good health and growing in the proper way.
If they are not molting then that is a matter to freak out because it is not good for a ghost shrimp’s health. No molting means they are facing problems and not having a proper growth. So, you don’t have to freak out seeing them molt because it is a good sign. In healthy conditions, adult ghost shrimps can molt every 3 to 4 weeks and baby shrimps molt more often than the adult ones.
As ghost shrimps are very sensitive species thus during the time of molting they need extra care. Now if you are new and don’t know what molting is then I would recommend you to go through my article. Also, I will be explaining everything you need to know and what you need to do when you see your ghost shrimps molt!
What Is Molting And How Do Ghost Shrimps Molt?
Molting is a process in which ghost shrimps take off their exoskeleton. The body of a ghost shrimp is covered with an exoskeleton. With the growth of ghost shrimp’s body, the exoskeleton doesn’t change the size and for this reason, they take off their old exoskeleton and a new one slowly forms in their body.
In the pre molting stage before taking off the exoskeleton inside the exoskeleton there grows a thin skin which is known as hypodermis. The shrimp takes calcium and other substances from the existing skeleton as well as from the water to develop the hypodermis and when it is grown enough it gets little visible.
When the hypodermis gets visible it seems like the shrimps’ body changed from transparent to a milky white color. However, it is not the shrimp’s body, it’s the hypodermis that later transforms into an exoskeleton in the shrimp body.
During the molting process, they fill their shell with water until the exoskeleton bursts open. The exoskeleton mostly starts to crack from the neck area and then the ghost shrimps bend itself into a ‘U’ position and wriggles to take off the old exoskeleton. Slowly the thin skin turns into a new exoskeleton.
What Happens If The Molting Process Gets Disrupted?
Molting is a very important process in every ghost shrimp’s life. As I already mentioned, if ghost shrimps do not molt or get an unsuccessful molting that means the shrimp is facing problems that are not good for its health. Without molting they can get diseases and die of stress. The growth of the shrimp also stops if they don’t molt more often.
Also, when the exoskeleton does not crack properly and ghost shrimps cannot easily get rid of it, we call it an unsuccessful molting. The white ring of death is a result of an unsuccessful molting which later leads the ghost shrimp to death. When the shell cracks across the whole neck and the flesh of the shrimp comes out this situation is called the white ring of death. The white flesh divides the whole exoskeleton into two different parts.
At this stage, nothing helps the ghost shrimps get rid of the exoskeleton. Even the ‘U’ bending doesn’t help to remove the shell. The shrimp starts to get more stressed and faces difficulty in moving. In most of the cases, the shell stays in the shrimp body and the shrimp dies.
Reasons For An Unsuccessful Molting/ The Process Getting Disrupted:
There are many reasons why ghost shrimps face problems in the molting process and some probable reasons are:
Imbalance In The Water Parameters:
Ghost shrimps feel very uncomfortable if the tank water doesn’t have the right water parameters. They start to face difficulties in surviving, get stressed easily, and in extreme cases, they die one by one. In this type of environment, they cannot concentrate on anything. So, during molting, if they are kept in water that does not contain the right water parameters the molting process gets disrupted.
Furthermore, the GH (general hardness) which measures the amount of magnesium and calcium needs to be balanced as well. Calcium carbonate is extremely important for shrimps during molting as it helps in making the new exoskeleton strong.
Ghost shrimps take 25% calcium from the old exoskeleton and the rest from the tank water to build the new exoskeleton. This means the amount of calcium needs to be ensured when you see any ghost shrimp molt so that they can absorb it from the water to build up their new exoskeleton.
If the GH gets too low that means the calcium level in the water is low. The ghost shrimp in this case will face difficulty to molt and cannot build-up a new strong exoskeleton. On the other hand, too much calcium carbonate in the water can also pose some other problems to the ghost shrimps.
Unsuitable Tank environment:
An unsuitable tank environment is one major reason for a failed molting. Ghost shrimps easily get stressed if anything seems uncomfortable to them in the tank. And, in an unsuitable tank environment, they stress out like crazy.
They start to jump off the tank if they are kept in an unsuitable environment for too long. So, during molting, if they are kept in an unsuitable environment, they get more stressed than usual and cannot concentrate on the molting process.
Now the things that make the tank environment unsuitable for ghost shrimps are:
Bad tank mates:
Bad tank mates make the tank environment very unsuitable for ghost shrimps. Ghost shrimps are very small species and most of the time they fear of getting attacked. If you have aggressive fishes in your tank, they chase ghost shrimps to eat them up.
Also, fishes that have big mouths can eat up ghost shrimps at one try and always chase the ghost shrimps. This gives the ghost shrimps stress and they keep themselves hiding most of the time. In these situations, they cannot focus on anything.
|Good Tank Mates||Bad Tank Mates|
|Other shrimp species||Any fish that are aggressive such as Barbs, Mollies, Serpea Tetra, Betta, etc.|
|Snails||Fishes with a large mouth to gulp the shrimp in a single instance|
Dirty water is full of toxins and the water parameters change very rapidly in it. The beneficial bacteria don’t grow in dirty water and ammonia also increases day by day which is the number one enemy of ghost shrimps. In whole, dirty water makes the whole tank environment unsuitable and ghost shrimps cannot survive in there for too long.
Imbalance of the water parameters:
Any imbalance in the water parameters also makes the whole tank environment unsuitable for ghost shrimps even if the other things around them are good. They get many diseases including fungal infections if the water parameters are not balanced properly. They feel very uncomfortable and in extreme cases try to jump off the tank as well.
No hiding places:
Ghost shrimps like to hide, mainly during their breeding and molting time. If you have other species in your tank then they will feel very insecure and unsafe if you don’t have enough hiding places. From these feelings, the tank environment may start to feel unsuitable to them.
Improper Feeding Diet:
An improper feeding diet is another reason for an unsuccessful molting. During molting, ghost shrimps need extra care. If you don’t feed them in the right amount of food, they will not be able to continue the molting process properly.
If you don’t feed them regularly and leave on algae only that would not be enough for them during the molting process. They will suffer from nutrition and other vitamins which will impact negatively in the molting process. Feeding an improper diet is said to be one major reason for the failure of the molting process.
Too Large Or Too Often Water Changes:
Changing water frequently can make the water parameters unstable. Also, if you change a large amount of water from the tank which changes the parameters all of a sudden can give the ghost shrimps a sudden shock and stress.
Often changes like this in the water parameters make the ghost shrimps feel uncomfortable and unsafe in the tank. During their molting, this can cause great harm to the ghost shrimp’s overall health besides disrupting the molting process. Also, sometimes change in the water parameters can force the ghost shrimps to molt which can turn out to be an unsuccessful one.
Things To Maintain During Ghost Shrimp Molt:
Ensure A Suitable Environment:
A suitable environment is a must for ghost shrimps for their overall survival. It not only makes their life healthy, it also makes the breeding and molting processes go very smoothly. They don’t have to struggle or get stressed in these situations if the environment is suitable.
If the environment is suitable, they molt more often with their growth which I already mentioned. So, keeping the environment in which they feel comfortable should be ensured if you want the molting process to be successful. Some maintenance you need to do to keep the tank environment suitable are:
- Don’t keep the tank water dirty for too long and once in a week change 30% of the tank water. Add the same amount of fresh water in the tank as well.
- Have enough live plants in the tank and make hiding spots because during molting ghost shrimps like to be alone. Hiding places makes the environment more secure and suitable for them.
- If you have any aggressive fish in the tank remove it or separate the shrimp from the tank. They keep on chasing the ghost shrimps thus the shrimps cannot live in peace in the tank. Choose species that are small and peaceful as these types are considered as the ideal tank mates for ghost shrimps.
- Maintain the water parameter ranges and always keep them in the limit ranges.
Balancing The Water Parameter Ranges:
You have to maintain the water parameter ranges very strictly when you see any of your ghost shrimp molting. In normal time if you maintain the limit ranges that are good enough for their proper survival but during their molting no matter what, you should strictly maintain the optimal range.
Maintaining the optimal ranges is not that hard. All you have to do is routinely change 30% of the water and add the same amount of fresh water. Besides that, make sure you have a good filter in your tank because filters help to keep the water purified and clean. It also helps in controlling the water parameters.
Don’t let the water get dirty because in dirty water the water parameters change rapidly. Use a test kit to check the water parameters twice in a week so that you can know how fast they are changing and you can take necessary steps to control it. Maintain the bioload as well because if the bioload is high the parameters have higher chances to change rapidly.
The ideal parameter ranges for ghost shrimps are
|Temperature||70-80 degrees Fahrenheit||62-82 degrees Fahrenheit|
|GH||5-8 ppm||3-15 ppm|
|KH||5-8 ppm||3-12 ppm|
|TDS||150-200 ppm||100-400 ppm|
Proper Food Diet:
As I already said, during molting ghost shrimps need extra care and foods that are rich in calcium and nutrients because it helps in building the exoskeleton. You can make a combination of a variety of foods and feed them routinely. A balanced diet is a key to get a successful molting.
Ghost shrimps can be fed shrimp pellets that contain nutrients and vitamins, besides that balanced vegetables like balanced kale, cucumber or zucchini, etc can be fed too as these are very rich in nutrients and other vitamins. Feeding these foods, you can help them in ensuring a successful molting.
I am recommending a shrimp food here for those who get very confused or have less idea about shrimp foods. So, I am recommending the Bacter AE which is highly available in the market. It is my personal favorite shrimp food to feed my shrimps and I believe if you buy it once you will stick on this one forever. This shrimp food is very nutritious and healthy for ghost shrimps.
And If you have a higher budget then the Mineral junkie is a very good option.
It is an excellent supplement for every type of species. It has the necessary nutrients and vitamins for ensuring proper breeding, molting, etc.
Routine Water Changes:
I mentioned earlier that frequent water changes make the water parameters unstable in the tank which is not good for ghost shrimps, especially when they are molting. You have to make a routine to change the water and besides that, maintain your tank in such a way so that you don’t have to change the water more than twice a week.
If you have a filter in the tank and the tank water doesn’t get dirty fast or the water parameters are in the right range then changing the tank water once in a week is good enough. Also, another thing you should keep in mind that you should not change more than 30% water of your tank and add the same amount of fresh water in the tank.
Some Other Tips:
- If you want you can separate the ghost shrimp that is going to molt into an isolated tank.
- After the shrimp is done with molting, take out the removed exoskeleton from the tank as soon as you see it has been removed from the shrimp’s body.
- Never take things into your hand meaning don’t think of removing the exoskeleton from the shrimp’s body on your own because it can put the shrimp into more risk because shrimps are very fragile.
Molting is very easy to handle if you know all the information regarding ghost shrimp’s molting. So, there is nothing to worry or panic about if you see any of your ghost shrimp molting. Keep patience and maintain all the factors that I mentioned above to help the ghost shrimps get a successful molting.
Happy shrimp keeping!