Pregnant Ghost Shrimp? What to Look For and How to Care For Them

Ghost shrimp are perhaps one of the most unique aquatic creatures to add to your home aquarium. They have completely transparent bodies, making them almost impossible to see without really looking for them. 

You can often find your ghost shrimp walking along the bottom of the tank, busying themselves with cleaning and keeping the tank presentable. They offer a low biological footprint and are peaceful to other aquatic creatures, keeping to themselves for the most part. 

Some aquatic keepers enjoy using ghost shrimp as feeders for larger fish in their aquarium. This means that they are used as live bait for the larger fish. 

If you were to look at a ghost shrimp, you’d be able to see all of their internal organs easily. You can even spot the foot that they eat working its way throughout their digestive system! 

So, it’s not unusual to think that some of your ghost shrimp look a little strange, as they are so different from other aquatic creatures usually found in a home aquarium. But if you see little green dots under the tails of your ghost shrimp, you might have a bigger issue on your hands. 

That’s right, green dots can be a sign that your ghost shrimp is carrying their eggs and has been pregnant! 

Today we’ll be looking into how to care for a pregnant ghost shrimp and what to do if you see that they’re carrying their eggs. You might be excited or interested, but read our full article before getting carried away so that you know what you’re doing. 

A little more about the ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) is a type of freshwater shrimp that is originally found in North America’s Atlantic Coastal Plain lakes and rivers. They are most common between New Jersey and the top of Florida. 

While you can often find ghost shrimp in freshwater, they can also sometimes be found in brackish water thanks to their hardy nature. If you find a vegetation-dense bottomed lake or river that falls under these criteria, you’ll likely find a ghost shrimp or two living at the bottom. 

They will often be in clearer waters, as their transparent bodies allow them to live here freely without the worry of predators. Undisturbed, ghost shrimp can live for around one and a half years. 

Male ghost shrimp can grow to 1.5 inches in length as they mature, while females can grow larger to 2 inches long. Females often also have a more rounded abdomen, making them easy to differentiate between. 

Noticing whether your ghost shrimp is pregnant 

When first stocking your aquarium, you won’t be able to differentiate the female and male ghost shrimp due to their immature age. This means that you’ll very likely be getting a variety of sexes if you’re opting for more than one ghost shrimp. 

You will only be able to tell whether they are male or female once they reach breeding age. At this point, you might find that your female has small and round green eggs underneath her tail. Thanks to the transparent body you can easily see whether she’s pregnant or not. 

The gestation period of a ghost shrimp

Once you notice the green eggs underneath your ghost shrimp’s tail, it will take a few days for the male shrimp to fertilize them. So, the green eggs themselves are not a sure sign that your ghost shrimp is pregnant. She might just be carrying her eggs. 

If these eggs are fertilized by a male ghost shrimp, the gestation period is between 12 and 14 days. 

More information on breeding ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp are born between April and October while living in the wild, as these are the months that tend to have the best water temperatures for breeding. However, this will all depend on the environment, weather conditions, and climate. 

The ideal temperature for ghost shrimp breeding is between 64.4 and 73.8 degrees Fahrenheit in northern waters. In southern waters, the ideal water temperature is between 78.8 and 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In warmer climates, ghost shrimp can breed twice a year. This is something to consider if you keep your aquarium warmer due to your other aquatic animals. 

If you’re wanting to breed ghost shrimp, there are no specific requirements that you need to follow. More often than not, having a male and female ghost shrimp will simply result in babies.

This can be both a blessing and a curse to keepers, depending on whether or not you wanted more ghost shrimp in your tank. 

However, leaving baby ghost shrimp in your communal tank can provide them with a lot of stress, and they will often not survive very long due to being eaten by other fish. If you suspect that your female ghost shrimp is pregnant, a breeding tank is the best course of action. 

What to do when you see the green eggs

When you notice the green eggs within your ghost shrimp, it’s best to set up a breeding tank that you can transfer her to after they have been fertilized. A successful birth and raising of the baby ghost shrimp will be best in a breeding tank so that they’re undisturbed by the other fish. 

Ghost shrimp do well in communal tanks, but baby ghost shrimp become particularly susceptible to being eaten by the larger fish in your tank. So, using a breeding tank until the babies are larger is best to prevent them from being eaten. 

You should only have 10 ghost shrimp for every gallon of water in a species-only tank. This will help you determine how large your aquarium will need to be once the babies have been born. 

The babies will need to be raised until they are almost an adult size before being introduced back into your communal tank.

Setting up your breeding tank

A breeding tank does not need to be anything fancy, but it also shouldn’t be too bare. Ghost shrimp like to reside at the bottom of the tank, so you’ll need to line it with a fine substrate that the shrimp can use to scavenge in to search for food.

As the babies will be so small, they’ll need a fine substrate that they can move rather than a larger grained alternative. 

Some live plants should also be in the breeding tank so that they can provide food for the shrimp as well as shelter. These will also keep the water well oxygenated for the new additions.

Our favorite live plants to use as java moss and hornwort. The shrimp will eat the algae and organic matter found on the plants. 

Add some rocks, driftwood, or caves to the breeding tank that can be used as shelters as well. Ghost shrimp tend to like to hide once they’ve molted, so giving them areas for this will go a long way in relieving their stress. 

Ghost shrimp tend to shed their shells often as they mature, so it is incredibly important that they have little hideaways to go to when they need to hide. They’ll return back to a visible spot once their new shells have hardened and they feel safe again. 

Getting the water right

Ghost shrimp are rather hardy animals, so they can thrive in a wide range of water conditions and temperatures. However, there are optimal conditions that you can abide by to ensure that your ghost shrimp remain in the best health possible. 

To ensure this, you should keep the water temperature between 65 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You also need to keep an eye on the pH levels, as these should stay between the range of 7.0 and 8.0. In terms of water hardness, the best levels are within 3.72 and 6.75. 

To keep the water fresh and well oxygenated, change out 10% to 25% of the tank’s water once a month. This will help to keep the ammonia levels low, as well as the nitrate levels. You might want to check these levels anyway by using water test kits that you can find at any local pet store. 

What you’ll need for your breeding tank

Ghost shrimp are relatively strong for their size and therefore can live in your communal tanks without any issues. However, baby ghost shrimp are much weaker and they aren’t able to swim as well as their parents. 

So, you cannot use a high-powered filtration system in your breeding tank as this increases the risk of them being sucked into the filter. Instead, you can use a sponge filter for your breeding tank. 

A sponge filter is much more gentle and works great for both baby and mature ghost shrimp. They will be safer without the risk of being sucked into the filter, and even the adults won’t have to work as hard to remain safely on the bottom of the tank. 

You should also add an air pump to your breeding tank, as well as the live plants and frequent water changes, to keep the water well oxygenated.

As ghost shrimp remain at the bottom of the tank, they will need the water to get enough oxygen all the way down there rather than it all remaining at the top of the tank. 

As the ghost shrimp will remain at the bottom of the tank, they don’t need any lighting as long as you have enough plants to cover them. 

How to feed your pregnant ghost shrimp

It’s not uncommon for any pregnant animal to eat more food than one that isn’t pregnant. After all, they’re eating for two - or more, in the ghost shrimp’s case. More nutrients are often needed to ensure that the babies are given the best start in life possible. 

However, this is not the case for pregnant ghost shrimp. In fact, they won’t need any additional requirements for their diets than what you were feeding them before they became pregnant. 

When left to their own devices in the wild, ghost shrimp are omnivorous scavengers. This means that they eat both vegetation from algae and plants, as well as insects or waste and debris from other animals within the water. 

While keeping ghost shrimp in your aquarium, it could be a good idea to supplement their diets with some high nutrition flakes or sinking wafers. The latter could be best for ghost shrimp so that they can actually get to the food before the other fish get to them first, higher in the water.

Ghost shrimp can also be fed soft vegetables as well from time to time, as a special treat. These will offer them lots of nutrients that they might not usually be getting from their usual diet. 

Feed ghost shrimp only twice a week to prevent overfeeding them. They will scavenge for food from the live plants between these mealtimes. 

Ghost Shrimp

The babies have arrived! Now what?

A female ghost shrimp can carry anywhere between eight to 85 eggs within her tail. Once these have been fertilized by a male ghost shrimp, it will take them between 12 and 14 days to hatch and be born.

Once this time has elapsed, you’ll see tiny larvae swimming within your breeding tank.  

After your ghost shrimp has given birth, you’ll want to allow the babies plenty of time to grow into adults before introducing them back into your communal tank. The breeding tank will keep them safe until they are ready for this to prevent them from being eaten by other animals. 

Keeping the babies in a breeding tank will also allow them to get all of the food they need to grow. In the communal tank, they’ll be competing for the food they need with all of your other fish.

These fish will often win and steal all the food as they’ll swim up to the top and eat it all before it can sink to the bottom where the ghost shrimp are. 

Once the babies have been born, remove the parents from the breeding tank so that the babies are on their own. As ghost shrimp are born scavengers, there is a good chance that the mature shrimp will eat their babies before they grow large enough to defend themselves. 

It often takes around five weeks for the baby ghost shrimp to grow large enough to be introduced into the communal tank and be reunited with their parents. 

Caring for baby ghost shrimp

Newborn ghost shrimp have very small mouths and therefore can only consume very small pieces of food. For the first week after their birth, infusoria is a good option for their food as it is small enough for them to digest. 

Java moss mops also promote algae growth and therefore provide good sources of food for baby ghost shrimp. Some keepers have also had luck with liquid fry food, algae powder, and cultured micro worms. 

After the first week has elapsed, the shrimp will now be larger and therefore can be moved onto pulverized fry food, such as flakes. However, these flakes should still be finely broken into pieces to help with digestion. Baby brine shrimp can also be used for food after the first week. 

As the ghost shrimp get larger, what you’re feeding them can also become larger as they will be able to digest it. 

Summary

We hope that you found some valuable information within our article about your pregnant ghost shrimp! Caring for ghost shrimp babies is relatively easy and simple, as long as you keep them in a breeding tank until they are large enough to be reintroduced to the communal tank. 

Take care of their diets and the breeding tank’s conditions as well. Good luck and enjoy the rewarding feeling you’ll get after successfully rearing baby ghost shrimp into adults!