Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Guide (How To Breed Ghost Shrimp)

In this article, we’ll educate you all about the signs of pregnant ghost shrimp and how to properly breed them to increase your aquarium’s ghost shrimp population. We’ve outlined the ways that you can tell when your ghost shrimp is bearing eggs and what the different stages of pregnancy (or gravidity) look like.

We’ll also show you how to set up a breeding tank, care for your pregnant shrimp and newly hatched ghost shrimp fry. We’ll alert you to the mating behaviors your ghost shrimp may be exhibiting as well as behaviors of your pregnant ghost shrimp. Get ready to take on the challenges of being a ghost shrimp breeder and watch your aquarium thrive!

How Can You Tell When Your Ghost Shrimp Is Pregnant?

There are six surefire ways to tell if your ghost shrimp is bearing eggs and they all rely on your close observation of the gravid shrimp.

Visible Eggs

Since ghost shrimp are transparent, it is very clear to see the white to yellowish eggs developing on the legs close to the abdomen of a pregnant female ghost shrimp.

Green Specks

Before the eggs are fertilized or even grow large enough to develop, they appear as minute green specks near the abdomen of the female ghost shrimp on a part of her body known as the saddle.

Leg Fanning

Pregnant ghost shrimp will often fan the legs that have attached eggs to them presumably to provide oxygen for the developing fry.

Specks Near Her Tail

Once the eggs begin to grow larger, they will migrate toward the tail and rear legs and away form the abdomen. If they are still green, they have not been fertilized; but if they are white then a male has done his part.

Weight Gain

If the males that cohabitate the female’s tank begin competing for the female’s attention, chances are she’s bearing eggs and they want to be the first in line to fertilize them.

The addition of 20-30 eggs will make your female ghost shrimp appear larger than previously observed.

Male Attention

Lastly, you may also notice that your females are suddenly getting a lot more attention from the males which they didn’t have before.

Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Stages

Pregnancy (or gravidity) for ghost shrimp does not last long – only three weeks – but results in a few dozen offspring if successful.

Week 1

The little green dots will appear on the female ghost shrimp’s saddle near the base of her abdomen.

Week 2

The eggs will lighten in color and move down the legs toward the tail. Fertilization by the males usually occurs during week 2.

Week 3

Fertilized eggs will turn white and the eyes and stomach of the fry will be visible as black specks. By the end of week 3, the fry hatch from the eggs.

How Do You Know When Your Ghost Shrimp Is About to Give Birth?

There are a couple of telltale signs given by the appearance of the eggs as well as the behavior of the female ghost shrimp which indicate the fry are about to hatch.

Visible Eyes and Stomach

When the fry are ready to hatch, you should be able to distinctly see black specks within the white eggs which are the developing eyes and stomachs of the ghost shrimp fry.

Female Behavior

The pregnant female ghost shrimp will often swim away from the bottom of the tank and use her forelegs to wipe off the eggs encouraging the hatching fry to exit their embryonic homes.

How to Setup a Breeding Tank for Ghost Shrimp

It’s important to keep a separate breeding tank for ghost shrimp as the newly hatched young can be difficult to keep alive especially with hungry adult shrimp looking to feast on them. Here are some steps to setting up a breeding tank to give the young ghost shrimp their best chance of survival.

Step 1: Set up tank and filter

Purchase a ten-gallon tank and equip it with a sponge filter for cleaning. You want to avoid using a regular fish tank filter to clean the water because the suction can be too strong for baby shrimp to fight and kill them.

Step 2: Install an air pump

Ghost shrimp need oxygenated water in order to live so failing to use an air pump will be fatal to your crustacean wards.

Step 3: Bottom cover

Use sand or gravel to cover the bottom of the tank. Different colors will affect the shrimp’s appearance so choose a lighter bottom cover to keep the shrimp transparent or a darker bottom cover to encourage the development of spots.

Step 4: Fill with water

Fill the tank with water and let it sit with the filter and air pump running for a full day before adding shrimp to make sure any unwanted chemicals have been cleaned out. Make sure the water temperature is optimal for ghost shrimp, keeping it between 65 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 and 28 degrees Celsius).

Step 5: Add plants

It is highly recommended to add plants to your breeding tank because the young shrimp will feed on the plant debris. Java moss is especially popular to use because it traps debris making it easier for young ghost shrimp to access.

How Do You Care for a Pregnant Ghost Shrimp?

Pregnant ghost shrimp are easy to care for as long as you feed them and pay close attention to the stages of their pregnancy.

Diet

Feed your pregnant ghost shrimp a diet high in algae and with more than enough food available to feed multiple adults. Also, make sure there are plants in the breeding tank as the ghost shrimp will eat the plant debris.

Isolation

Separate the pregnant ghost shrimp from the rest of the adults once the eggs are fertilized (have turned white) to reduce the chance of fry being devoured upon hatching.

Removal

Once all of the babies have hatched, also remove the no longer pregnant female shrimp from the vicinity of the fry as she will most likely try to eat them.

(Find out about 12 great freshwater shrimp you can add to your aquarium.)

How Do You Care for Ghost Shrimp Fry?

The biggest challenge for keeping ghost shrimp fry alive is getting them to eat and helping them avoid becoming meals themselves. Here are some tips to ensure your ghost shrimp fry will survive to adulthood.

Nursing Tank

Keep the ghost shrimp fry in a nursing tank equipped with a sponge filter separate from adult ghost shrimp to avoid becoming prey to the bigger crustaceans. Make sure there’s a layer of sand or gravel on the bottom and keep the temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aquarium Lighting

Baby ghost shrimp tend to be photophilic and can injure themselves by swimming into the glass walls of their nursery tank. Only use an overhead aquarium light and block out any ambient light by covering the sides of the tank with construction paper or fabric.

Oxygen

Without a constant flow of oxygen, ghost shrimp fry will perish. Be sure to install an air pump in the nursing tank. Adding plants will also increase the oxygen supply as well as provide shelter and food.

Food

Do not neglect to feed your baby ghost shrimp as starvation is the greatest killer of these little critters. Every three hours (yes, even through the night) they require a balanced diet of liquid fry food, microworms, daphnia, and baby brine shrimp.

What Is Common Ghost Shrimp Mating Behavior?

Males and females exhibit different types of behavior when it comes time to breed but both recognize the other’s patterns and baby shrimp are the end result of their courtship.

Females

When females are ready to mate, eggs will develop as small green specks on the saddle near the base of her abdomen. These will eventually move down to her rear legs under her tail and she will exhibit a fanning behavior to oxygenate the eggs or perhaps make them more apparent to a male.

Males

Males can detect when females are ready to breed presumably through chemical cues released into the water. Male ghost shrimp will gather around the females and fight each other to compete for her approval to mate with her and fertilize her eggs.

Why Is a Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Curling Up?

The main reason why any ghost shrimp curls up is to clean itself or molt. Pregnant ghost shrimp may also be shedding unwanted eggs or eggs that are hatching.

Cleaning

Pregnant ghost shrimp still clean themselves while gravid and curling up may be a simple sign of cleaning.

Hatching Eggs

Another reason a pregnant ghost shrimp will curl up is if her eggs start to hatch. She may curl up and began to use her forelegs to wipe off the eggs that are hatching to encourage the babies to be born.

FAQs

How Long Does It Take for a Ghost Shrimp to Lay Eggs?

Female ghost shrimp will carry their eggs for a total of three weeks before they hatch. This time includes the development of the eggs as well as the fertilization. Most female ghost shrimp will carry 20 to 30 eggs at a time.

Will Ghost Shrimp Breed in a Community Tank?

Ghost shrimp will definitely breed in a community tank as long as the tank is adequately filtered, oxygenated, and does not house any shrimp-eating fish. Adding live plants to a community tank will further increase your chances of ghost shrimp breeding by providing additional food and shelter.

Just remember to keep baby ghost shrimp out of the community tank or they will become quick prey to the adult shrimp and other inhabitants of the aquarium.

Will a Ghost Shrimp Die After Laying Eggs?

As long as a ghost shrimp is properly cared for, fed, and water conditions are optimal, a ghost shrimp should not die after laying eggs. Once their eggs are laid they are viable to lay another set of eggs and keep cycling through the process until they do eventually die of neglect, starvation, or predation.

Do Ghost Shrimps Lay Eggs or Give Birth?

Ghost shrimps lay eggs – they never carry the eggs inside their bodies and nourish them with yolks or through placental attachments. The eggs are fertilized externally by the male. As such female ghost shrimps bearing eggs are considered gravid, not pregnant.

Can Ghost Shrimp Give Birth in Community Tanks?

A ghost shrimp can hatch her eggs in a community tank, however, this is ill-advised. Newly hatch ghost shrimp are easy prey for adult ghost shrimp and other fish living in a community tank. If they do escape predation, the chances that they will fall victim to other aquarium hazards such as being sucked into the filter or starving to death are highly likely.

If you want your baby ghost shrimp to survive to adulthood, it’s best if they are hatched in a separate nursery tank and then moved to the community tank when they reach adulthood.

Recap

Ghost shrimp are easy crustaceans to care for and breed as long as you give them the proper attention and environment to thrive. Be sure to set up optimal conditions in their tanks especially when it comes to oxygenation and food, and they will start breeding in no time.

Watch carefully for the mating behaviors of both males and females and observe how the gravid females progress through the stages of pregnancy. Note how the eggs turn from green to white as they become fertilized and pay attention to the shedding behaviors of the female once eggs start to hatch.

It’s important to move newly hatched ghost shrimp fry to their own nursery tank in order to ensure they don’t fall prey to adult shrimp. Take extra caution in setting up their environment by eliminating any typical aquarium hazards such as the distraction of ambient light or the strong suction of normal filters.

Most importantly, feed those baby shrimp often as starvation is the number one killer of ghost shrimp fry. You are ready to start breeding your very own ghost shrimp – good luck!

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