Molting in shrimp is an indication of growth when they relinquish their tight exoskeleton to enlarge and grow. Even though this is a natural and crucial process for breeding, it can be a risk when shrimp can’t get out of the molt.
You hardly have any option before you when your pet shrimp is stuck in molt. All you can do is let the nature take its course and hope that the shrimp can get out of this situation.
Your first instinct after watching your pet struggle might be to help it. But is it a good method? Will it work? What can you do to ensure a healthy molting? To learn more about these, keep reading the article to the end.
What Does “Stuck in the Molt” mean?
The outer skeleton of the shrimp’s body hardens during the molting stage and inside the shell, the shrimp grows in size. When the time of shedding comes, sometimes the shrimps fail to come outside the shell causing a failed molt. This creates a critical situation for the shrimp because if they can’t come out, they will die inside the shell.
The reason can be that the shell broke in an incorrect way or place. If the cells inside the shrimp grow exponentially due to water parameter level or water changing, they can be stuck inside the molt. In consequence, they lie on the bottom ground in a paralyzed state.
What Can You Do to Help the Struck Shrimp?
You can’t really help the shrimp stuck in the molt. In best case scenario, the shrimp will succeed to liberate itself but unfortunately, that is the fate of a very little number of shrimps. Being stuck is one of the common reasons for the death of pet shrimps. So, can you do anything to help?
Watch If It Can Set Itself Free
Sometimes, a shrimp can unshackle itself from molt after a bit of struggle and determination. If the shrimp is healthy and strong, it can get out of this prickly situation. But nothing we can guarantee. So, keep the shrimp on close watch and check for any movement.
Do Not try Any Manual Method
Helping the shrimp manually to remove the skeleton is definitely not a wise decision. Shrimps are very fragile and frail in nature. One wrong move can break the shell and injure the shrimp for life. And such intricate procedures can terrify and scar little shrimps.
Unless you have expertise in removing molt from the shell, do not attempt to do it at home with a tweezer. Let the shrimp be on its own.
How to Prevent This from Happening?
If you notice your pet shrimp is stuck in molt, you do have not many options before you save him. But you can save the other shrimps in the tank to prevent them from getting into a such critical situation. Molting is a very big change for the shrimp and external ambiance has an impeccable role to play in avoiding a failed molt.
So, if you spot one shrimp is stuck in molt, do these immediately to rescue others_
Improve Water Parameters.
A balanced water parameter is extremely important for the shrimps and for a smooth molting experience. For a perfect water level, grab a test kit and analysis the acidic balance (pH), carbonate hardness (KH), general hardness (GH), and total dissolved solids (TDS) levels in the tank. The reading should be:
New pet owners face difficulties to restore the balance of water parameters in the beginning. Following the table, you can ensure a suitable water environment for your shrimps. This range works best for freshwater shrimps. If your shrimp is of a different kind, check their requirement before purchasing.
Diet and Nutrition:
High-nutrient food will help the shrimp to grow stronger muscles which will lead them to shed the exoskeleton from their body easily and smoothly. Their diet should consist of an adequate amount of minerals and protein. Calcium is an extremely important substance for healthy growth.
The diet should be both meat-based and plant-based. Shrimp’s best friend is algae which they love to munch on from the surface of the tank. But you should also provide them with quality algae tablets. It is a great source of calcium but lacks protein in its content.
It is best if you can provide them with shrimp-specific food. Also, soy-based tablets, zucchini, biofilm, and blanched kale can provide them with nutrients. Snowflake foods are also a great option because they can munch on them for a long time without the risk of polluting water.
However, make sure the foods you are providing are reaching them. Shrimps lay on the bottom layer and floating food on the surface will be impossible for them to reach. So, when you are on the market, read the label of the food and check whether those are sinkable or not.
Consistent Water Change:
Water cycling is a common ritual for tank owners. But when it comes to shrimps who are about to molt, be mindful of it. Drastic water change can dilapidate their cell’s algorithm, making it hard to survive. When a shrimp gets used to a certain level of water parameters, its cells are adapted to that level.
Certainly, a drastic change in the water parameter will create an imbalance in their body. The number of cells may expand drastically, larger than the exoskeleton itself. So much so, the shrimp will be stuck inside the exoskeleton and will fail to molt. Thus, water changes should be in a gentle amount and with great care.
Is It Normal for Shrimp Not to Move After Molting?
After a molting cycle, shrimps have a tendency to be lethargic and exhibit solace and stoic behavior. Shedding is a tiresome process and the feeding pattern during the molting severely disrupts. Thus, the shrimp take time to recuperate and regain energy to be playful and cheerful again.
Calcium levels in their body fluctuate since the creation of the outer shell takes tons of calcium from their body. To restore the deficiency, the shrimps hardly move after molting. Also, their inner body is exposed without the shell. So, shrimp do not move before a layer of shell starts to rebuild on their body.
How Long Does It Take for A Shrimp to Molt?
The preparation of molting takes a longer course than the molting itself. For an adult, it can take up to 2 to 4 weeks. For the younger ones, it can take roughly 1-2 weeks. The inter-molt stage where the shell hardens takes the longest time, from 4 to 10 days.
The separation of the exoskeleton from the body actually takes a split second, at best 2 minutes. Replacement of the old shell with a new one will take a few hours.
How Long Do Shrimp Hide After Molting?
Hiding during and after molting is very common for a shrimp. How long it will take will depend on the type of shrimp actually. The freshwater, cleaner shrimp will take 12 hours as a hiding period. Other shrimps may take several days to come out. The shrimps suffer from anxiety and stress during the molting period.
So, hiding is not that unusual. If you are worried that your shrimp might be dead, lure them with their favorite food, like palate or biofilm. Leave the food in a bowl for 20 minutes and see if they come out and take it. If they do not, they probably might’ve passed away.
What to Do with the Exoskeleton?
You don’t need to remove the shaded exoskeleton out of the take. As mentioned earlier, it is built with nutritious minerals, especially calcium. The other shrimps will munch on them and gain valuable nutrients. However, if they are exposed to any parasites which may prove fatal for the shrimp’s health, you should remove them for their betterment.
If a shrimp is stuck in molt, your hands are really tied for the stuck shrimp. But you can help the other shrimps to prevent such situations by mindful water change, nutrient feeding, and balancing the water parameters.