Pregnant Ghost Shrimp? Look For These 5 Signs First!

Jun 29, 2021

pregnant ghost shrimp

Sitting on the bottom tier of the aquarium hierarchy, it is easy to assume ghost shrimps don’t have much personality or specific needs. At least, this is what I thought. 

That’s why, when I first started rearing shrimps, I had 5 failed batches of eggs. As hardy as ghost shrimps are, they require delicate and unique care for breeding.

So, I’ll tell you all there’s to know about pregnant ghost shrimps in this blog.

This is your one-stop guide to ghost shrimp pregnancy, from pregnancy’s early signs to raising the fry. 

So, buckle up! It’s going to be a long ride. 

Top 5 Signs Of A Pregnant Ghost Shrimp 

  • Green dots under the tail, near the belly 
  • Attention from male shrimps 
  • Weight gain 
  • White/green dots under the tail 
  • Fanned legs 

Here’s a little disclaimer. 

The term ‘pregnant’ is, in fact, only used for livebearers like us. The correct term for egg-layers like ghost shrimps is ‘gravid.’ 

Here’s a video of a gravid ghost shrimp!

So, let’s see how to tell if a ghost shrimp is pregnant in depth! 

Green Dots Under The Tail

The first sign of a pregnant ghost shrimp is green dots under the tail. Ghost shrimps have several swimmerets under the rear part of the body that carry the eggs. 

So, technically, she doesn’t carry the eggs in her belly. 

Since ghost shrimps are transparent, it’s pretty easy to notice the green hues. In the start, they’ll simply look like teeny tiny green dots. 

Attention From Male Shrimps 

Your pregnant female ghost shrimp will naturally receive a lot of male attention – sometimes unsolicited – as males try to fertilize the eggs. 

So, if you see male shrimps hovering around a female, this is a telltale sign that she’s pregnant (gravid).

Weight Gain

Usually, female ghost shrimps are a bit bigger than males. When pregnant, they’ll get even bigger, although they’re pretty tiny, to begin with. 

You could see the abdomen and the area underneath the tail a bit swollen if you look carefully. After all, she’d be carrying 20-30 eggs at a time. 

White/Green Dots Under The Tail 

Once the eggs are fertilized, the green hues will turn white. They’ll also swell up more. 

The eggs will then also move a bit lower down in the saddle. 

Fanned Legs 

Across several forums, I read that pregnant ghost shrimps fan their legs frequently. But, to be honest, I didn’t realize this until I read about it. 

However, the reasons are still quite unclear as of yet. It’s thought that they fan their legs to keep the eggs oxygenated. 

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Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Stages

Ghost shrimps reach sexual maturity at around 4-6 months of age. So, it all begins when females start producing eggs. They’ll usually produce 20-30 eggs once every three weeks. 

In the beginning, during the first week, you can just see tiny green specks. Most probably, at this point, she wouldn’t have gained weight. 

Around the second week, the eggs will have gotten a bit bigger and moved further down the saddle. 

By the third week, the eggs will be ready for fertilization, upon which they’ll turn white. 

During the end stage of pregnancy, you could even see tiny black dots in the eggs, which are the eyes and stomach of fry. 

After fertilization, the eggs will take around 12-14 days to hatch. 

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge on pregnant ghost shrimp, let’s see how to breed them correctly. 

How To Breed Ghost Shrimp?

Ghost Shrimp

Purchase Tanks 

The rule of thumb is at least a gallon per shrimp. So, if you have 10 shrimps, you’ll need at least a 10-gallon tank. 

You need two tanks since the fry will have to be kept separate from adults. Otherwise, they’ll turn into tasty snacks for their seniors.

The fry tank doesn’t have to be as big as the main tank. However, the survival rate is always high in larger surface areas. 

Here’s a simple and cheap 10-gallon tank from COLIBROX that I use for my fry. 

Install Filters And Air Pumps

Shrimps need to molt, and they require clean water for it. So, it’s absolutely imperative to keep the water clean in both tanks all the time. 

You can use any filter in your main tank that works the best. For example, I use a canister filter since the tank also houses guppies and tetras. 

Most filters work by sucking in the water to clean it. And that’s going to be an issue in the fry tank as they can easily get sucked in. 

Thus, you should always use a sponge filter for the fry. 

Here’s a sponge filter from Hikari USA that provides fantastic value at a super affordable price. 

You also need to add air pumps in both tanks, so the water produces enough oxygen for everyone. Like the majority of tank creatures, ghost shrimps need the help of air pumps to breathe in water. 

Add Layers Of Substrate 

You need to add substrate layers to both tanks. It’s best to use sand or fine gravel since these bottom-dwellers cannot shift big grained linings to scavenge. 

Also, it’s difficult to spot and examine ghost shrimps in a light substrate. So, I always go with darker sand. 

You can also add live plants like java moss and anacharis that will serve three valuable functions:

  • Oxygenate the tank 
  • Become a source of food for shrimps
  • Serve as hideouts during molting 

Correct Water Parameters 

pH Level6 to 8
HardnessHard
Water Flow RateSlow
Water Temperature65-85°F (18-29°C)
Nitrate Level20ppm

In most places, tap water is treated with chlorine. So, if you’ll be using tap water, make sure to let it run on the sink for a few minutes first. However, the safer option is using water conditioners. 

Also, make a habit of doing partial water change (10-25%) once every month to keep the levels of nitrite, ammonia, and nitrate in check. 

Breeding Time 

In nature, ghost shrimps usually spawn in the period between April-October. 

In northern regions, the ideal temperature for breeding is around 64-73°F (18-23°C), while in the south, it clocks in somewhere around 78-82°F (26-28°C). 

In the tank, the ideal temperature is reported to be around 75°C.

There’s no particular requirement or ritual for mating in shrimps. Simply add male and female shrimps in the primary tank, and you’ll end up with several gravid female shrimps. 

Caring For Pregnant Ghost Shrimps 

Once you start noticing pregnant ghost shrimps, promptly transfer them to the breeding tank. But make sure that you’re gentle, so you don’t harm the mother shrimp or her eggs. 

Use a net and swiftly move them to the already prepared and conditioned fry tank. If possible, keep the tanks adjacent when transferring the females. That’s because they’re known to drop the eggs under stress. 

Once fertilized, the incubation period can be anywhere between 21-24 days. During this period, it’s crucial to feed nutritious food to the gravid shrimps. 

Make sure they’re getting to eat a mix of both vegetation and insects. 

However, also make sure that you’re not overfeeding. As scavengers, they’re naturally inclined to forage on algae and dead matter in the tank. So give food just twice a day.

Once the eggs are hatched, the larvae will come out free swimming. As soon as you notice a lack of eggs in mothers, don’t forget to transfer mother shrimps to the main tank. 

Ghost shrimps are known to eat their own offspring! 

Don’t wait it out until you see the larvae because they’re barely visible to the human eye in the first few weeks.

Caring For Baby Ghost Shrimps 

Unfortunately, baby ghost shrimps have a high mortality rate. Thus, you really need to be extra careful when handling them. 

As you can imagine, baby ghost shrimps are extremely tiny and have even tinier mouths. So, you need to be selective about what they can ingest and what not!

For the first two weeks, they can sustain on infusoria. It refers to the minute debris produced by plants and algae. 

After this, you need to supplement their diet with other nutritious options, so they grow and molt well.

Here’s a list of food you can give to ghost shrimp fry 

  • Rotifers 
  • Baby brine shrimp
  • Spirulina algae (powdered)
  • Pulverized flakes

It pays off to closely monitor the feeding partner of the fry. If they don’t eat the food you offer, you need to immediately try a new option. They can starve very quickly. 

And once they develop eggs, they can finally walk into adulthood (no pun intended) and eat regular shrimp food. But it’ll be easier for them if you crush the food first. 

At 5 weeks of age, your ghost shrimp fry are ready to be transferred to a new tank! 

Can Ghost Shrimps Breed In Community Tanks?

Yes, ghost shrimps can breed in community tanks, but the success rate is relatively low. This is because your fish will snack on the larvae before they have the chance to grow up. 

Not just fish, even older ghost shrimps will devour the young ones. 

So, it’s best to transfer the pregnant shrimps into a new tank if you’re serious about breeding ghost shrimps. 

But if you don’t want to go through that hassle, here’s a smarter and cheaper alternative: A breeding box. 

Here’s one by Fluval that I have used a couple of times. 

This is designed to hang on the outside of the tank- so it doesn’t take up the tank’s space. 

How Long Are Ghost Shrimps Pregnant?

Once the eggs are fertilized, the incubation period can take around 12-14 days. It’s not unusual if it takes up to 3 weeks. 

How Many Fry Do Ghost Shrimps Give Birth To?

Ghost shrimps lay around 20 to 30 eggs during one egg-laying period. However, not all larvae make it to adulthood. The mortality rate in ghost shrimp fry is very high. You need to make sure everything is to the t, so they don’t die. 

How Are Ghost Shrimp Fry Born?

After the two-week-long incubation period, ghost shrimp larvae are born live and free-swimming. 

Do Ghost Shrimps Die After Giving Birth?

No, ghost shrimps don’t die after giving birth under normal circumstances. 

Researches have shown that ghost shrimps can lay eggs multiple times during their lifetime if the water temperature is favorable. 

However, we cannot rule out death due to complications during or after pregnancy. As hardy as they’re, ghost shrimps lead a very short life. They live for around a year. 

Do Ghost Shrimps Eat Their Babies? 

Yes, ghost shrimps eat their babies. The reason behind this is unclear, but if we go by the common theories, it could be due to two reasons:

  • Food scarcity
  • Eliminating weaklings for better survival of the species

That’s why as soon as the mother shrimp gives birth, you should transfer her back to the main tank. 

How To Take Care Of Pregnant Ghost Shrimp?

It’s best to keep pregnant ghost shrimps in a separate tank so they aren’t stressed. It’s crucial to have a separate fry tank if you’re serious about raising ghost shrimps. 

They don’t require much care, but you can, of course, fortify their diet with some nutritious options. 

When transferring the pregnant shrimps to the new tank, it can cause them to drop the eggs. So, be very gentle and patient during the process.

How Long Does It Take For Ghost Shrimp Eggs To Fertilize? 

Fertilization happens within a few days if your shrimps are healthy and the optimal tank conditions are met. 

When a female ghost shrimp is carrying eggs, you can see males swimming and hovering around her as they compete to fertilize the eggs. 

If the eggs aren’t fertilized on time, the female will drop the eggs. And as you already know, the eggs will turn white once fertilized. 

Final Words: Pregnant Ghost Shrimp? 

Caring for pregnant ghost shrimp isn’t rocket science. However, there are a few things you need to get absolutely right. 

Ghost shrimps aren’t livebearers. They lay eggs. And one batch includes around 10-20 eggs. 

Once fertilized, the incubation period lasts for 12-14 days. There’s nothing extra or unusual that you need to do to take care of your gravid ghost shrimps. Just make sure to give nutrition-rich food. 

To give your ghost shrimp fry a better survival chance, you can use a separate fry tank. And you need to remove the mother shrimps as soon as the fry are born. If not, they’ll get eaten! 

Make sure to read through the whole article. I’ve tried to condense absolutely everything you need to know on this topic into one article! 

Keep Reading!

What To Feed Baby Ghost Shrimp? 8 Great Options!

Are Ghost Shrimp Nocturnal? The Secret Dark Knight

Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Fish? Are They Scavengers Or Predators?

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.