Why Do Ghost Shrimps Turn White?

Why Do Ghost Shrimps Turn White

Many of the ghost shrimp keepers often say that their shrimps are turning white and ask for a suggestion. As there are several causes, every ghost shrimp keeper needs to know these facts thoroughly. So, I did quite an amount of research to find out why ghost shrimps turn white.

Ghost shrimps can turn white before molting. They can also turn white when they are at the end of their lifespan and about to die. Moreover, some conditions like muscular necrosis can cause the shrimps to turn white.

Ghost shrimps can turn white for several reasons and there are different safety steps to handle the condition. I discussed every reason of this condition details in this article. If you go through the rest of the article, you can get a clear idea about the white coloration of your ghost shrimps.

Causes Of White Coloration Of Ghost Shrimps

As ghost shrimps are small and sensitive, you need to care for any fluctuation from the normal conditions of the ghost shrimps. Generally, ghost shrimps are transparent. When they seem white, then you have to realize that something abnormal is happening.

But remember abnormal condition doesn’t mean diseased condition always. Hence, don’t be panicked. Just try to identify the problem and take steps.

White Coloration Due To Molting

Molting is a necessary part of the life of your ghost shrimp. The body of the ghost shrimp is covered with an exoskeleton which is made of chitin, protein, and calcium carbonate. This exoskeleton doesn’t grow larger with the growth of the ghost shrimp inside. So, the ghost shrimp needs to put off the exoskeleton. And this putting off the exoskeleton is called molting.

Now the question is how the ghost shrimps look white color when they are about to molt. To understand this, you need an idea about molting. There are some steps in molting, especially the first step which is considered as the pre-molting stage.

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In the pre-molting stage, there grows a hypodermis or thin skin under the exoskeleton. And an interesting fact is that the shrimp takes calcium and other substances from the existing skeleton to develop the hypodermis. When the hypodermis has grown enough, it becomes a bit visible and the shrimp seems white.

However, focus on some points to be sure. The shrimp doesn’t look completely white before molting. You will see a thin white layer under the exoskeleton and that’s it. However, you should take care when your little shrimp is going through molting.

Steps You Can Take To Help In Molting

Molting is important to the shrimps. But they need a proper environment to do this process. In this regard, you should test the water parameters regularly to promote the molting of the ghost shrimps. And you need a testing kit to test the water.

Your water should have an environment with the parameters as given below:

ParameterOptimal RangeLimits
GH5-8 ppm3-15 ppm
KH5-8 ppm3-12 ppm
TDS150-200 ppm100-400 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!

Make sure that the water doesn’t contain nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, chloride, etc. The high level of these substances can be very harmful to your shrimps. In this regard, you should change the water regularly and remove the dead shrimp if any of your shrimps passes away.

When your little shrimp has already left the exoskeleton, it becomes very weak and tender. It can be vulnerable to any of the dangers. So, it tries to hide. Water plays a role in this process. If there is a shift in the range of parameters or the presence of any parasite that is harmful even life-threatening to your shrimp. So, be careful of the water of your tank.

Another piece of advice I want to give you about molting is, if you watch your ghost shrimp lying still on the floor of the tank for a long time, maybe something is wrong. You should isolate the shrimp and give the proper environment to help the ghost shrimp.

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It’s not unusual if the ghost shrimp dies. Many people may advise you to do many weird steps. But I have not got any results from that yet. So, follow the way which you follow to care for your shrimps but very carefully.

White Coloration May Happen Due To Old Age

Ghost shrimps have a limited lifespan. Usually, the lifespan of the ghost shrimps can be up to one year in a proper condition. And in some cases, it can be more than one year. However, your shrimps will have to pass away one day. And they can show some symptoms before death.

The white color of a molting ghost shrimp and an old ghost shrimp are not the same. The molting shrimp just shows a thin white covering over the body which is not completely white. But the old shrimp which is about to die becomes whiter day by day. And when the shrimp is dead, it becomes completely white like the cooked shrimps we eat.

Another point to differentiate between molting and dying is to notice their movements. The molting shrimps hide when they are in the post-molting stage. But the old ghost shrimps just lie down on the floor of the tank and don’t move for a long time. They show no tendency to move and hide.

Death is certain if the shrimps are old enough and at the edge of lifespan. You cannot control its normal lifespan if everything is fine. But if a young ghost shrimp shows the symptoms of an old shrimp, it can be an indication that the shrimp is sick. Then you have to do something to cure the ghost shrimp.

Muscular Necrosis

Muscular necrosis is termed for the condition of destroying multiple cells of a living organism. It is one of the most common diseases of ghost shrimps. However, muscular necrosis can be caused by some other reasons including bacterial infection and inappropriate water parameters.

Muscular necrosis can be identified by the white coloration at the abdomen and tail part. The destroyed cells cause inflammation and the protein released from the inflammatory part causes milky white coloration. If the whole abdomen of the shrimp turns white, the shrimp will die. There is no safety step to cure the shrimp. But if the white color is not spread throughout the whole organ, then you must try your best to cure the shrimp.

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You must isolate the infected ghost shrimp no matter whether it is fully white-colored or not. Because muscular necrosis can infect the other shrimps. Change the water of the tank. And check the water parameters mentioned above. If the result deviates from the standard, take steps to fix it. You must ensure that there are enough nutrients and oxygen in the tank water.

Should You Keep The Exoskeleton And Dead Shrimps In The Tank?

cherry shrimps molting

Many people suggest keeping the exoskeleton of molting shrimp in the tank. I also think that it is a good idea. As there is a lot of calcium in the exoskeleton of ghost shrimps, it can be a good source of calcium for all the shrimps including the molting shrimp. Calcium is needed to grow the new exoskeleton quickly. But if the ghost shrimp was infected with any parasites, I don’t suggest to keep the shell in the tank.

If any shrimp dies, the shrimp will look like cooked shrimp and lie down on the ground having a “U” shape. If you look at such a condition, you can poke the shrimp with something. If the shrimp has no response, it is dead.

If the dead shrimps are left in the tank, other shrimps and fishes will take it as food. It is not healthy for a shrimp to eat another dead shrimp. And it’s not wise to let your fishes grow the habit of eating dead shrimps.

In addition, it pollutes the water of the tank. So, I strongly forbid keeping dead shrimps in the tank.

Final Words

Keeping ghost shrimps is neither very hard nor very easy. But you must check the condition of the shrimps regularly. If you take safety steps in the initial stage of any abnormal condition, it will be easy to maintain them and they will be able to live longer.

If your ghost shrimp turns white, you should diagnose first. Then take the next steps. It will ensure the safety of the white-colored ghost shrimp as well as other shrimps of your tank. So, follow the guidelines I gave you. Hopefully, your ghost shrimp will get better!

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. 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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