The Fish Guru

Ghost Shrimp Survival: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Ghost shrimp, also known as glass shrimp, are a popular addition to many aquariums. They are a fascinating creature to watch and help to keep the tank clean by consuming leftover food and other debris.

While ghost shrimp are generally hardy creatures, there are various factors to consider to ensure their survival. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why ghost shrimp might die and how to prevent it from happening.

Wrong Water Parameters

One of the most common reasons why ghost shrimp might die is due to incorrect water parameters. These creatures are sensitive to changes in water conditions such as ammonia, nitrite, pH, temperature, GH, KH, and nitrate levels.

High levels of ammonia and nitrite are toxic to ghost shrimp and can lead to respiratory distress and death. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor water parameters regularly to ensure the optimal environment for your aquarium inhabitants.

Prevention Tips:

– Test water parameters frequently using an aquarium test kit. – Keep ammonia and nitrite levels below detectable limits.

– Maintain a stable pH level within the recommended range. – Keep the temperature within the optimal range for ghost shrimp.

– Maintain optimal GH and KH levels. – Keep nitrate levels below 20 ppm.

Poor Maintenance & Incomplete Cycling

Another common reason for ghost shrimp mortality is poor maintenance and incomplete cycling of the aquarium. The cycling process is crucial to establish beneficial bacteria that break down ammonia and nitrite, which are harmful to shrimp.

If the aquarium is not cycled correctly or maintained regularly, harmful substances can build up, leading to stress and death. Prevention Tips:

– Complete the cycling process before adding any shrimp.

– Conduct regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning filters and vacuuming gravel. – Prune plants and remove debris regularly.

– Avoid overfeeding and remove any excess food before it decomposes.

Excessive Water Changes

While water changes are essential to maintaining high water quality, excessive changes can also be detrimental to ghost shrimp. Sudden changes in water conditions can cause stress, leading to decreased health and eventual mortality.

Additionally, sudden changes in temperature and pH can lead to shock, which is also deadly for ghost shrimp. Prevention Tips:

– Limit water changes to 25% once per week.

– Ensure the new water matches the parameters of the existing aquarium water. – Use a water conditioner to neutralize any impurities in tap water.

– Acclimate the shrimp slowly to the new water conditions.

Putting Them in a Saltwater Aquarium

Ghost shrimp are freshwater creatures, and putting them in a saltwater aquarium can be deadly. The salinity level in a saltwater aquarium is much higher than what ghost shrimp can tolerate.

Additionally, the acclimation process from freshwater to saltwater can cause respiratory distress, leading to death. Prevention Tips:

– Keep ghost shrimp in freshwater aquariums.

– Avoid keeping them with other saltwater aquarium inhabitants.

Using Tap Water

Tap water can contain impurities such as chlorine and chloramine, which are toxic to ghost shrimp. Using water directly from the tap without treating it can lead to poisoning and death.

Additionally, the high levels of minerals in tap water can cause calcium buildup in the exoskeletons of shrimp, leading to complications during molting. Prevention Tips:

– Use an aquarium-safe de-chlorinator to eliminate chlorine and chloramine.

– Use a water filter or UV sterilizer to remove impurities from the water.

Excessive Amount of Copper in Your Aquarium

Copper is toxic to ghost shrimp, and exposure can lead to gill damage, breathing difficulties, and eventual death. Copper can find its way into the aquarium water through fertilizers, fish food, and other aquarium products.

Therefore, it is vital to be extra cautious when using new aquarium products. Prevention Tips:

– Avoid using copper-based fertilizers or medications.

– Read the labels carefully to ensure that products are safe for use with invertebrates.

Wrong Medication

In times of illness, it’s essential to use the appropriate medication for ghost shrimp. Medications not designed for invertebrates can be toxic to ghost shrimp and can cause shock and eventual death.

Additionally, medication dosages that are too high can also lead to stress and mortality. Prevention Tips:

– Quarantine sick shrimp to avoid contamination and minimize stress.

– Use high-quality medications specifically designed for invertebrates. – Follow medication instructions and dosage carefully.

Malfunctioning of Aquarium Equipment

Equipment failure can lead to various problems in the aquarium, including decreased water quality and poor conditions for ghost shrimp. Malfunctioning equipment like power outages, filters, heaters, and air pumps can lead to changes in water parameters, which can be stressful to ghost shrimp.

Prevention Tips:

– Check equipment regularly and replace damaged components. – Have backup power supplies or a generator in case of power outages.

Poor Diet

A poor diet can lead to malnourishment and decreased health in ghost shrimp. Overfeeding and underfeeding, as well as a lack of balanced nutrients and vitamins, can lead to susceptibility to diseases and parasites.

Prevention Tips:

– Feed ghost shrimp a nutritious, well-balanced diet. – Avoid overfeeding and remove any excess food before it decomposes.


Overcrowding is another common reason for ghost shrimp mortality. Ghost shrimp need enough space to move around and adequate hiding places to feel secure.

Confined spaces can lead to increased stress levels, making these creatures prone to diseases and parasites. Prevention Tips:

– Provide adequate space for the number of ghost shrimp in your aquarium.

– Add hiding places such as driftwood, rocks, and plants.

Wrong Tankmates

Not all fish and other invertebrates are compatible with ghost shrimp. Predatory fish such as cichlids, betta fish, oscars, goldfish, and angelfish can hunt and prey on ghost shrimp, leading to decreased numbers and eventual death.

Additionally, buildup of harmful ammonia from incompatible tankmates can also lead to toxic water conditions that are deadly for ghost shrimp. Prevention Tips:

– Select compatible tankmates.

– Avoid adding aggressive fish to the aquarium. – Avoid overcrowding the aquarium.

Acclimation Issues

Acclimatization is the process of gradually introducing shrimp to changes in the environment. Failure to acclimate ghost shrimp correctly can lead to respiratory distress, shock, and eventual death.

Prevention Tips:

– Slowly acclimate new ghost shrimp to the aquarium using the drip method. – Ensure that they are adjusting well and have adequate hiding places.

Molting Process Issues

Ghost shrimp undergo regular molting to grow. During this process, they shed their exoskeleton and form a new one.

However, problems can arise if the shrimp get trapped in the old exoskeleton or experience stress during this process. This phenomenon is commonly known as the “white ring of death,” and it can be deadly.

Prevention Tips:

– Provide a safe area for molting. – Ensure that the water is clean and free from any stressors.

– Avoid handling shrimp during the molting process.

Improper Male to Female Ratio

While ghost shrimp are generally peaceful creatures, aggressive males can lead to fights and dominance issues. Unresolved fights can lead to stress and eventual mortality.

Additionally, a lack of females in the aquarium can lead to aggressive behavior from males. Prevention Tips:

– Keep a balanced ratio of males and females in the aquarium.

– Avoid overcrowding.


In conclusion, ghost shrimp are exciting additions to any aquarium, but maintaining optimal water conditions and following prevention tips is essential to ensure their survival. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of having healthy and thriving ghost shrimp in your aquarium.

In conclusion, maintaining proper water conditions and preventing various factors from causing harm are essential for the survival of ghost shrimp. Ensuring the cycling process is complete, monitoring water parameters, and feeding a nutritious diet are essential.

Additionally, avoiding overcrowding and incompatible tankmates can reduce stress on these sensitive creatures. Providing a safe environment, checking equipment regularly, and ensuring proper acclimatization and molting procedures are followed can ensure a healthy ghost shrimp community.

Following these guidelines can help aquarium enthusiasts avoid the common mistakes that can lead to ghost shrimp mortality and enable them to enjoy thriving and healthy ghost shrimp in their aquariums.

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