Shrimp Vorticella: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

How To Set Up A Shrimp Tank Easily Shrimp Vorticella: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Keeping freshwater shrimp is exciting until you experience the sudden death of your shrimp in large numbers. The novices often misunderstand the shrimp vorticella as fungus seeing white molds over the affected shrimp. So, people ask around in various forums about the causes, prevention, and treatment of shrimp vorticella.

In this article, I’ve shed light on the signs, causes, preventions, and possible treatments of shrimp vorticella. If you want to bring shrimp as pets, you should go through this article to be concerned beforehand.

What Is Shrimp Vorticella?

Vorticella is an uncommon parasite that almost looks like a fungus. These are an extracellular protozoan parasite that attaches themselves to plants, rocks, or animals. Since vorticella parasites make their habitations in freshwater, freshwater shrimp often become victims of these parasites. 

Initially, vorticella parasites do not extract nutrition from the host shrimp. These parasites consume microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, etc. But, vorticella parasites put severe negative health effects on shrimp when these parasites multiply themselves into large amounts. 

4 Signs Of Vorticella In Shrimp

Several signs can help you detect vorticella in your shrimp. Let’s check these symptoms out.

1. White Fuzzy Growth

If vorticella attacks your shrimp, your shrimp will have whitish growth like fungus. But, you’ll be wrong if you consider the growth as fungus. You may notice such whitish growth as snowfalls on the antenna, nose, and mantle of your affected shrimp. 

The shrimp vorticella do not usually attack the legs or other parts of the shrimp. They target the space between the shrimp’s eyes, the top of the shrimp’s head, and down the rostrum.

These white mold-like growths are visible to the naked eye. You can detect these fuzzy growths without any help from special instruments.

2. Loss Of Appetite

Several types of research show that shrimp vorticella causes loss of appetite in the affected shrimp. You may notice uneaten foods at the bottom of the tank when your shrimp get affected by this parasite. The vorticella parasite tends to absorb the plasma of the host shrimp. 

3. Unusual Swimming Pattern

You can readily detect the attack of shrimp vorticella by the unusual swimming pattern of your affected shrimp. Your sick shrimp may swim upside down or in a circle. 

Such inverted swimming is a clear sign of shrimp vorticella. But, the affected shrimps show these signs when the infestation of vorticella parasites becomes heavy.

4. Excessive Stress

When vorticella parasites attack the shrimp gills heavily, the gas diffusion through the gills becomes too low. It may cause suffocation to the affected shrimp. 

As a result, vorticella in shrimp causes excessive stress to the affected shrimp. It may lead to death since several reports show a 60% mortality rate in cases of shrimp vorticella.

5 Causes: How Do Shrimp Get Vorticella? 

If your shrimp get vorticella, you should understand the incoordination in their requirements. Several things trigger the infestation of vorticella parasites. I’ve penned down 5 causes of how shrimp get vorticella. 

Let’s check these points out. 

1. Poor Water Conditions

If you check the lifestyle of vorticella parasites, these parasites consume small protozoans and bacteria. They use shrimp as the host. By attaching to the shrimp, these parasites look for food from the surrounding.

When the shrimp tank has poor water conditions, there will be growths of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. The cloudy water of your shrimp tank refers to the bloom of bacteria. 

Like other living, shrimp also make waste products and excretion in water. On the other hand, enteric protozoans are common parasites of feces. 

If the tank water gets contaminated with shrimp feces, the protozoans will get into the tank water. As a result, there will be new inclusion of foods for vorticella parasites. In addition, such foul water promotes the growth of vorticella parasites.

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2. Not Removing The Leftovers

Your shrimp may not finish all foods that you provide regularly. A basic rule of shrimp maintenance is to remove the leftovers daily. When you do not remove the uneaten foods, the leftovers start decomposing at the bottom of the tank.

As a result, bacteria, mold, and fungus will grow over the decomposing foods. Moreover, the decomposed leftovers release ammonia into the water. This ammonia promotes bacterial growth in your shrimp tank. 

Besides, you might know that shrimp foods contain several nutrients, phosphates, and vitamins. These components encourage bacterial bloom in the water.

Not to mention, these bacteria and small protozoans attract the vorticella parasites. So, they choose your shrimp as their host to feed on the

3. Poor Aquarium Husbandry

To remove the food source of vorticella parasites, good husbandry is a must-thing for your shrimp tank. Lack of maintenance causes low oxygenation, improper water circulation, etc. As a result, there can happen a large infestation of shrimp vorticella.

If you do not clean your shrimp tank and remove wastes regularly, there will be an abundance of growth of bacterial colonies. Besides, you must clean the substrate of your shrimp tank regularly. Not to mention, the leftovers, decaying plants, and feces may accumulate over the substrate.

It’ll result blooming of bacteria in the shrimp tank. Since there is no scarcity of foods for vorticella parasites in the tank, your shrimp become victims of shrimp vorticella.

4. Bad Filtration System

Another reason behind shrimp vorticella is the bad filtration system of the shrimp tank. Poor filtration systems fail to remove all waste particles from the water. As a result, there will be a higher concentration of ammonia, which leads to bacterial bloom.

Moreover, there will be excess nutrients in the water when the filtration system doesn’t work properly. Such bacterial bloom promotes shrimp vorticella infestation. 

5. Improper Temperature Range

If you do not keep the temperature range constant, the improper temperature can encourage bacterial growth. Several studies show that the microorganisms like bacteria can grow well at higher temperatures. As a result, your shrimp tank might become a heaven of food for vorticella parasites. 

5 Preventions Of Shrimp Vorticella

If you don’t want to make your shrimp suffer from the vorticella attack, you should take the necessary steps of preventing shrimp vorticella. 

These parasites leave the host when their foods are scarce around the host. So, your main target should be making your shrimp tank free of bacteria and other protozoans.

There are also some other ways for vorticella to arrive in your shrimp tank. Hence, I’ve made a small list of preventions for shrimp vorticella. Let’s check these out.

1. Quarantine The Newly Brought Items

Sometimes, the new owners directly add newly bought décor items, plants, or other things that may be kept in another setup. If you bring any stuff from a fish tank, there will be a higher chance of a parasital infestation in your shrimp tank.

Hence, you should keep these newly brought items quarantined. Before adding these new items to your shrimp tank, you should keep these items in a separate container with freshwater aquarium salt. This salt will kill vorticella parasites if there remain any parasites from beforehand.

2. Perform Regular Water Change

The most effective way of preventing shrimp vorticella is performing a regular water change. A regular water change will improve the quality of the water. 

Due to leftovers, the nutrients from foods add to the water promoting bacterial bloom. When you do a regular partial water change, the additional nutrients will be discarded from the water. So, the bacterial colony can not sustain itself in the water without any nutrients for them.

As a result, there will not remain any bacteria or other foods of vorticella parasites. When there is no food, the infestation of vorticella will be stopped automatically.

Fixing Tank Light for shrimp tank Shrimp Vorticella: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

3. Keep A Good Aquarium Filtration System

A good filtration system is a must required thing to prevent shrimp vorticella. If the waste particles do not get filtered, these particles will increase the ammonia level of the water. In addition, there’ll be a sudden increase in nutrients.

As we mentioned before, increased levels of ammonia and nutrients promote bacterial bloom in the tank. To stop the infestation of the vorticella parasite, you should keep a good filtration system in your shrimp tank.

Click here to know more about the best shrimp filter buyer’s guide. 

4. Keep Good Maintenance 

If you want to prevent shrimp vorticella, you should remove the root problem. You need to vanish the food sources of vorticella from your shrimp tank. For this, you should perform good maintenance of your shrimp tank.

You should scrub the side walls of your shrimp tank once a month. Besides, you should make other regular maintenance. Otherwise, you’ll notice a bloom of debris and other organic particles. 

5. Introduce Beneficial Bacteria 

Although it may sound weird, beneficial bacteria can kill off bad bacteria. If you introduce good bacteria in the tank, these will lower the nitrogen cycle rate. So, you can decrease the food sources of vorticella by introducing beneficial bacteria into your shrimp tank.

Possible Treatments: How Do You Treat Vorticella In Shrimp?

There are some effective methods of treating vorticella in shrimp. Several chemical treatments show huge success to make the affected shrimp free from vorticella. 

I’ve made a small chart mentioning the possible treatments with their dosage. Let’s check the following chart.

ChemicalConcentration (per liter)
Potassium Per Manganate 1 ppm
Malachite green100 ppm
Copper sulfate 50 ppm
Formalin50 ppm
Methylene blue 100 ppm
Acriflavine 100 ppm
Flavone  pm

1. Potassium Permanganate

You might know potassium permanganate as a strong oxidizer. Since this chemical can oxidize impurities, it has wide use in treating water. As a part of water treatment, you can use potassium permanganate to get rid of vorticella from your shrimp.

Treating The Affected Shrimp With Potassium Permanganate 

  • By following the 1 ppm dose, you should mix potassium permanganate in a small container of water.
  • Make sure that this chemical gets completely dissolved.
  • Keep your affected shrimp with vorticella in this water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Then, you can remove your shrimp and keep it back in the main tank.

Treating the Entire Tank With Potassium Permanganate

  1. It’s a full tank treatment.
  2. You should use potassium permanganate per 1 ppm of water. If your tank water turns muddy brown or yellowish, it’ll refer to poor water quality. 
  3. Make a 10% water change after six hours of applying this chemical.
  4. You should make a further 10% water change the following day. By now, the vorticella might have vanished. 
  5. Make sure to keep away the light sources from around the tank. Exposure to lighting can reduce the potency of potassium permanganate. 
  6. After applying this method, you must oxygenate your shrimp tank.

2. Copper Sulfate

Copper sulfate is a strong chemical that can kill bacteria, fungi, algae, and other harmful microorganisms. You must remain conscious about the dosage while treating shrimp vorticella with copper sulfate.

Treating The Affected Shrimp With Copper Sulfate

  • Firstly, you can take a bowl of water. Now, you should calculate the optimum dose of copper sulfate to mix in that water. 
  • Mix the copper sulfate at half of the amount with the water.
  • Keep your affected shrimp for only 10 minutes.
  • You should check whether your infected shrimp show signs of stress.
  • Afterwards, you can take your shrimp back to its aquarium.
red cherry shrimp carrying eggs Shrimp Vorticella: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

3. Formalin

Using formalin is a popular bath treatment to remove parasites including vorticella. But, its wrong dosage can affect the gills and skin of your shrimp.

  • The experts recommend a 25-150 ppm dosage of formalin to mix with the water. But, I’ll recommend starting with a small dosage.
  • Keep your infected shrimp for 10-30 minutes. 
  • If your infected shrimp is still distressed, you can increase the dose of formalin.
  • Use aeration in the tank to avoid any harm to the gills.  
  • For quick treatment, you can use 150 ppm of formalin for only 1 hour.

4. Malachite Green

Another way of treating vorticella is applying malachite green. Use 100 ppm dose in the water. This chemical will kill the parasites, protozoans, and other harmful bacteria in the water. 

5. Methylene Blue

Methylene blue is a popular antiparasitic agent. 

  • Following the instruction of 100 ppm dosage, you should calculate the optimum dose for a separate container of water. 
  • Instead of treating the full tank, you can make your infected shrimp a dip bath in a separate bowl or container. 
  • Mix this chemical with the water. Then, you can keep your infected shrimp in the quarantined container for 30 minutes.
  • Afterwards, you can remove your shrimp. The vorticella should be gone.
  • If you want to treat the entire tank, you can leave this chemical for 6 hours.

6. Acriflavine

This antiseptic is used widely for water treatment to prevent fungus and bacteria. You should use the prescribed dose in the water of your shrimp tank. This medication helps remove the vorticella parasites from your shrimp tank.

7. Flavone

Another chemical treatment for shrimp vorticella is flavone. Use 50 ppm of this chemical in the water of your shrimp tank.

8. Salt Bath

The most popular way of removing vorticella is by adding aquarium salt to the water of your shrimp tank. You can disinfect your shrimp from vorticella by giving them a dip salt bath.

For this, you should mix one tablespoon of aquarium salt in a separate bowl. Take the water from the shrimp’s tank. 

After stirring the aquarium salt properly, you can keep the infected shrimp in the bowl for 30-60 seconds. Afterward, your shrimp will be treated gradually.  

How Do I Get Rid Of Vorticella In My Shrimp Tank?

Tannin Acid

A natural way to get rid of vorticella is to add tannin to your shrimp tank. You might notice tea-colored water in the wild habitation of shrimp. It happens due to the fallen brown leaves, which release tannins. 

This tannin has multiple functions, including anti-bacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and other effects. There are liquid tannins found commercially. You can also add almond leaves, oak leaves, beech leaves, etc. The vorticella parasites will get vanished within a few days.


Iodinol is one of the most suitable options to get rid of vorticella without impacting shrimp negatively. You should add 0.25 ml of iodinol in 1 liter of water. 

But, this is a monthly treatment process of removing parasites. After adding iodinol, you should make around 30% of the water change once or twice a week.

Before You Go

I hope you got a clear idea about shrimp vorticella and several ways of their prevention, treatments, etc. There is another threat for shrimp named shrimp muscular necrosis. You can take a look at the following article to know more about this deadly disease.

Shrimp Muscular Necrosis: Causes, Prevention, Treatment 

About Muntaseer Rahman

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