Why Are My Cherry Shrimps Dying? [14 Reasons Why]


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

This is the most common question I often face from shrimp keepers. Not only the new shrimp keepers, even the experienced ones face the death of cherry shrimps in their tank. Cherry shrimps can die for many reasons.

The most common reason for cherry shrimp’s death is not acclimating them. Acclimating is a vital process for introducing new cherry shrimps to the tank. Without acclimation, it is very normal for the shrimps to die.

Aside from not acclimating, there are many more reasons for cherry shrimp’s death. In the rest of the article, I’ll talk about each of these reasons and what can you do to avoid that.

1. Not Acclimating

This is by far the most common reason behind the new shrimp’s death. Mostly new shrimp keepers make this mistake. After you get your new shrimps, dumping them directly into the tank is a big NO NO.

You should never put newly bought shrimps directly into the tank. It will shock the shrimps, stress them and it often leads to the death of the shrimps.

This is because, the water parameters where the shrimps previously lived, most probably will not match with the parameters of your tank. And this can come as a shock to the shrimps. Also, there will be temperature and pH imbalance between the two waters.

As shrimps are very delicate creatures, if they face such a change of the environment all of a sudden, most of them won’t even make it.

So, what needs to be done here? The answer is, Drip Acclimation.

What Can You Do:

Drip acclimation is a very popular method of introducing new fishes to a new aquarium. Drip acclimation is a process where the fishes go through a gradual change in their environment. As a result, when they are finally released into the new tank, there won’t be any shock due to changes in water parameters.

Drip acclimation is very necessary for delicate fishes, especially cherry shrimps. Here’s how you can do that:

  • First, get your shrimps safely to the home. Once you are home, get a bucket and dump all the shrimps there slowly. (of course with the water they were transported in)
  • Then get a regular size tubing. Put one end of the tube in your aquarium. Now suck the other end and as soon as you can see water reaching the other end, place that end on the bucket. Check if there is a smooth flow of water from the aquarium or not. If not, do again.
  • Now that water is directly coming from the aquarium, we need to tie a knot at the bucket end so water doesn’t flow smoothly. It should only drip (1-2 drops per second) to the bucket. You can also do this using a control nozzle or valve.
  • Wait until the bucket is filled 4 times the initial amount. The process should roughly take about a couple of hours. By this time, the shrimps will be ready for the new tank.
  • No matter how busy you are, never forget to drip acclimate your cherry shrimps before releasing them into a new tank.
  • If you want to make the whole process hundred times easier, get this Drip Acclimation Kit. It comes with everything you’ll need to drip acclimate your shrimps.

2. Stress

There are basically 2 sources for us to get shrimps: local breeder and fish store. Most fish stores import shrimps from overseas. Imported shrimps are often stressed for the long journey they had to endure. As a result of the stress, you can see a high mortality rate in the newly bought shrimps.

When shrimps are imported overseas, they had to go through a long journey, which can tire even us, humans. First, if the shrimps are wild-caught, they are transported from there to a farm, and there to another shop in another country, mostly through oversea. This dramatic change in the environment is capable enough to make a shrimp extremely stressed.

Even if the shrimps are farm-bred, they had to go through a dramatic environment change twice when they are released into your aquarium. So, you can see how stressful it will be for the shrimps.

Due to this stress, new shrimps often die within a week after buying them.

According to a recent study, about 20%-100% shrimps are subjected to death due to import induced stress.

What Can You Do:

Basically, nothing is your fault here. However, you can do certain things to lower the death rate significantly:

  • Make sure you buy your cherry shrimps from a local breeder. Also, you need to know if the breeder is reliable or not. Most breeders often disguise imported shrimps as home-bred. So, it is better if you can get the shrimps yourself from the breeder.
  • Is there any shrimp farm near your location? If yes, go to the farm. See what conditions the shrimps are in, what are the water parameters. This way, you can choose the healthy shrimps yourself and replicate a similar environment in your home. As a result, the death rate will drop.
  • Before buying from any seller, check if he has a good selling record or not. If there is a website, check out the customer reviews. If not, try to get the reference to his regular customers and contact them. Check if the seller is breeding the cherry shrimps correctly or not. When everything checks out fine, only then purchase the cherry shrimps.
  • If you have to buy shrimps from a fish store, check what their shipment time and process is. Choose the one that provides the lowest shipment time. Also, check the quality of their packaging. Look for any survival guarantee. Any reliable fish store will ship its livestock safely and with utmost care.
See also  How Long Do Cherry Shrimps Live?

3. Overfeeding

It is very easy to overfeed your shrimps. Overfeeding is the number 1 reason for polluting shrimp tank water.

Not only it lowers the water quality, overfeeding can bring a deadly impact on the shrimps. Too much leftover food cause a spike of ammonia in the tank. This disrupts the nitrogen cycle of the aquarium. As a result, soon the environment gets toxic for the shrimps and they start to die one after another.

So, if you are guilty of overfeeding your shrimps, stop that immediately.

What Can You Do:

You should only feed your cherry shrimps the amount they can eat within 10-15 minutes. Even, there is no need to feed them every single day. Most shrimp keepers feed their shrimp every other day or a skip a day or two of the week.

This doesn’t starve the shrimps as there are lots of algae in the tank which is a perfect food source for cherry shrimps. Even, this is a better food schedule than feeding your shrimps every day.

Always remember that, shrimps don’t need much food. What they need is pristine water quality.

4. Uncycled Tank

Releasing cherry shrimps into a new aquarium before it is properly cycled is a rookie mistake. Most new shrimp keepers are guilty of this one. Even I made this mistake.

After setting up a shrimp tank, most hobbyists get too excited that they buy 10-15 shrimps right away. They don’t even think about the nitrogen cycle. Or even if they did, their patience wears out too soon before the cycle is complete.

If you don’t know what nitrogen cycle is, let me give a brief overview:

nitrogen cycle
  • The cycle starts with ammonia. Ammonia builds in your tank from the fish poop, uneaten food and other biological substrates. Decomposing plant materials also take part in producing ammonia. Ammonia can be very deadly to all the fishes and livestock inside the aquarium.
  • If your tank is properly cycled, there will be a colony of beneficial bacteria inside your tank. The bacteria will eat the ammonia and turn it into nitrite. But the cycle isn’t finished yet.
  • The nitrite now will turn into nitrates (by the same bacterial colony). The cycle ends here. Now, nitrate can only be removed by regular partial water changes.

So, you can see, if the shrimp tank is not properly cycled, there won’t be any beneficial bacteria colony to turn the ammonia into nitrate. So, excess ammonia will build-up which can easily kill the cherry shrimps in an uncycled tank.

What Can You Do:

Make sure your tank is properly cycled before releasing the cherry shrimps. After you’ve set up the tank and run the filter, wait for about a month. This time is necessary to build up the beneficial bacteria colony.

You can quicken this process by using filter media from an already established tank. Before releasing the cherry shrimps, check the water parameters with a water test kit. I prefer this one as it produces the most accurate result. Also, the price is comparatively cheaper considering the quality.

If all the water parameters turn out to be fine, only then release the cherry shrimps into their new home.

5. Inappropriate Water Parameters

Shrimps, especially cherry shrimps are very delicate. They are extremely prone to change in water parameters. A sharp change in the water parameters or inappropriate water parameters can cause shrimp death.

Before even buying the cherry shrimps, check if the water parameters are favorable or not for them. If not, you need to wait longer. Under no circumstances, you should bring new shrimps to an inhospitable environment.

See also  Cherry Shrimp Care Guide [#1 Resource For Beginners]

What Can You Do:

Here is a chart of the water parameters suitable for cherry shrimps:

Temperature70 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
pH6.5 to 7.5
GH6-8 ppm
KH1-4 ppm
TDS150-250 ppm

If you need a test kit for measuring the water parameters, I’ll recommend API Master Test Kit. With this master test kit, you can measure ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and many other water parameters. It is certainly a worthwhile investment for any shrimp keeper!

6. Adding Plants Directly To The Tank

If you love plants as much as I do, then chances are there are live plants in your shrimp tank. Live plants are extremely important and to some degree, essential for a shrimp tank.

They work as a hideout as well as a food source for the shrimps. However, after buying new plants, most of us plant them directly into the shrimp tank.

This is a BIG NO NO!

You need to quarantine the plants for a few days to check if everything is okay or not. Because, often plants carry with them harmful chemicals or pest eggs. These can bring a deadly impact on the cherry shrimps. Some chemicals are in fact so dangerous that your cherry shrimps can start dying right within that day.

What Can You Do:

  • First, rinse the plant thoroughly under running water. Make sure the plants are clean as much as possible.
  • After rinsing under running water, you can use the plants directly into the shrimp tank. But, I won’t recommend them. I’ll highly recommend quarantining the plants first.
  • By quarantine, I mean that you need to keep the plants in a separate tank first. The tank will work as a quarantine or hospital. During the few days, check if the plants are releasing any chemicals or pests are emerging from the plants. If everything turns out to be safe and okay, only then transfer the plants into your shrimp tank.

7. Higher Temperature

Higher temperature is not a good thing for cherry shrimps. The best temperature range for cherry shrimps is 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The below chart will show you how temperature affects certain aspects of cherry shrimp’s life:

Higher TemperatureLower Temperature
Shorter lifespanLonger lifespan
Eats more oftenEats less
Molts more frequentlyMolts less frequently
Breeds quickerBreeds slowly
Lower offspring qualityHigher offspring quality

What Can You Do:

  • Try to maintain a temperature between the 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit range. Don’t use a heater unless you must have to.
  • If you want to get the correct temperature reading of your shrimp tank, I’ll highly suggest this digital aquarium thermometer. It is cheap yet very reliable! It will show you the temperature in digital reading so that you know exactly what is going on in the tank!
  • If you need to use a heater, make sure it is of great quality and reliability. Most aquarium heaters malfunction and can electrocute everything inside the aquarium. That’s why you need to choose one that has a better build-quality and safety system.
  • I personally try to avoid using the heater in my shrimp tank as much as possible. Of course, if the outside temperature is freezing cold, then you’ll have to use a heater.

8. Chloramine In Water Supply

Chloramine is a water sanitizer. It is used in our water supply for sanitizing purposes. Though chloramine is safe for us, you can’t say the same for shrimps. Chloramine can be very deadly to them.

Shrimps are repulsive to certain chemicals, and chloramine is one of them. So if you use supply water directly into the shrimp tank, this can cause the death of many cherry shrimps (if the supply water has chloramine in it).

So, there needs to be an alternative way. Fortunately, there is!

What Can You Do:

There is no way you can take out the chloramine from the supply water. But, you can convert it to something else that is not harmful to the shrimps. And the mysterious friend that does this conversion is a de-chlorinator.

There are many types of de-chlorinator available in the fish stores. I like Seachem Prime the most. After being into the hobby for many years, I can confidently recommend Seachem Prime as a reliable de-chlorinator for shrimp tanks. Like me, thousands of shrimp keepers are using it to keep their supply water safe for cherry shrimps.

9. Presence Of Copper/Lead

I have already mentioned that cherry shrimps are repulsive to certain chemicals. Copper and Lead both fall into that category. Sometimes the cold tap water can contain copper or lead. Both of them can turn out to be deadly for cherry shrimps, even if they are present in very little amount.

Also, copper/lead can come from medications or fertilizers dosed in the aquarium. That’s why you can’t use just any fertilizer or medicine in a shrimp tank. You need to use the ones that are labeled as ‘Shrimp Safe’.

See also  Why Is My Cherry Shrimp Jumping Out Of Tank?

What Can You Do:

If your shrimps are dying mysteriously one after another, check if there is any copper/lead in the tank water. There are cerain test kits available for doing this from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals.

Also, don’t use any medicine or fertilizer without doing any research. Make sure they are safe for shrimps and don’t contain any copper/lead.

10. Medicines Containing Harmful Chemicals

There are many types of medicines intended to cure fish illness. However, not all of them are safe for shrimps. If you have a community tank and some of the fishes get sick, then medicating them may result in the death of shrimps.

This is because, some medications may contain chemicals such as copper/lead that are deadly for cherry shrimps. So, you need to check before dosing anything to the aquarium.

What Can You Do:

Don’t just dose any medication to the shrimp tank. Do research first and check if the medication is safe for shrimps or not. Anything containing copper/lead is very dangerous for cherry shrimps.

11. Pests

Pests can be the cause of death for baby shrimps. If your shrimp tank is infested with pests like Hydra, Planaria, Dragonfly Nymphs, or Vorticella, then they can pose a real threat to the baby shrimps.

Pests can infest the tank due to overfeeding. Also, they can come from any external sources such as through a new plant you bought from the fish store.

What Can You Do:

It is comparatively easier to get rid of planaria and hydra from the shrimp tank. All you need to do is use a product called No Planaria from FishAquatics.

This is 100% safe for both shrimps and the plants. Also, it will work its magic within just 72 hours of dosage.

However, you can’t remove Dragonfly Nymphs this way. You’ll have to remove them manually either with a siphon or a tube.

12. Too Many Males

If the shrimp ratio in your tank is heavy towards males, then it can be concerning. Too many males can be a reason of death for the female shrimps.

When there are too many males compared to females, many males will try to mate with a single female during the breeding time. The males especially do this when the female has just molted.

This type of crazy behavior from the males can stress out the female shrimps. Also, in some cases, I heard the male shrimps can attack the female one.

What Can You Do:

If you see there are an overwhelming number of male shrimps in the tank compared to the females, try to add some more female shrimps in the tank. The safer bet is to have more female cherry shrimps in the tank than the males.

13. Using Hot Water To Fill The Tank

During the colder months, many of us change the tank water with new hot water. We do this in order to regulate the temperature of the shrimp tank. But without knowing, we bring death to the shrimps from this practice.

Do you know how?

Remember I mentioned that copper is deadly for shrimps? When you get hot water from the supply, there is an excessive amount of copper ion in that water.

It is because, hot water reacts with the pipe cause corrosion. Due to corrosion, copper ions get mixed with the water. Also, along with copper ions, many other heavy metals can get seeped into the water. That’s why hot water from the supply can be deadly to cherry shrimps.

What Can You Do:

Just never use hot water from the supply when performing water changes for your shrimp tank.

14. Too Much Water Change

Too much water change or changing the water at a large amount can cause an imbalance in the water parameters. This can also result in temperature fluctuation.

I’ve said earlier, a sudden change in the water parameter or temperature can stress out the cherry shrimps. As a result, the cherry shrimps can face a temporary shock and die.

What Can You Do:

Do regular water changes maintaining a definite interval. I perform weekly water changes for my shrimp tank. During each water change, I replace 15-20% of the old water with fresh water.

This schedule works for me as well as my cherry shrimps. Also, if you are using direct supply water, don’t forget to add dechlorinator first before adding the water to the shrimp tank.

Cherry Shrimp Diseases & Prevention

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In this article, I’ve tried to lay down all the factors that are responsible for cherry shrimp’s death. These factors can also apply to any other shrimp in general.

So, if you are having sudden shrimp deaths, look into the root cause and try to eliminate that. Hopefully, your shrimps will survive the disaster!

Happy Shrimp Keeping!

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About Muntaseer Rahman

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