Shrimp molting is a good sign that they are growing well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstanding on this behavior.
In this article, you are going to learn about the shrimp molting cycle, including their frequency. You are also going to learn how to help your shrimps to molt properly and the kind of problems that might arise.
How often do shrimp molt
Different breeds of shrimps have different molting frequency. On average, shrimps molt around 2-6 weeks. The frequency will increase based on a number of factors including how stress they are, how stable the water condition is etc. Below is a more detail breakdown of molting frequency according to breed:
- Cherry Shrimp: 3 to 6 weeks
- Ghost Shrimp: 2 to 4 weeks
- Cleaner Shrimp: 2 to 3 weeks
- Amano Shrimp: 5 to 6 weeks
- Fire Shrimp: 4 to 8 weeks
- Peppermint Shrimp: 2 to 3 weeks
Why do shrimp molt – good or bad?
Shrimp molt mainly to grow and is a normal process that you will observe in your shrimp tank. However, shrimps sometimes also molt due to negative external conditions such as too much chemical concentration.
This is why it is important to know the frequency of your shrimp’s molting to know whether are they molting excessively.
If yes, you might need to check the condition of your shrimp tank to detect any possible problems with water perimeters.
Factors affecting frequency of shrimp molting
While molting is a normal part of a shrimp’s growth process, there are a number of externals factors that can affect the frequency:
- Breed: As you can see from above, different breeds have different molting cycles. Fire shrimps for example molt less than say, ghost shrimps.
- Age of shrimp: Younger shrimps molt more frequency as they are growing up. Adult shrimps should molt more slowly, and should be between 4-6 weeks.
- Chemical concentration: Shrimps also molt to get rid of unwanted chemicals on their shell. This is not a good sign. So I strongly advice checking your water’s perimeter if you find that your shrimps are molting excessively. Usually, it might happen when your tank is not cycled enough or you introduce too many things into the tank at once.
- Water change: Shrimps might molt to adapt to the water condition. Since water change does affect its perimeter, your shrimp should molt more frequency if you change water frequency.
- New tank: Similar to the water change reason, shrimps might molt when they brought into a new tank. The reason is to adjust to the new water conditions. If you want to avoid this, try to match your new tank’s water perimeter to the store or your previous tank.
What to do with shrimp molt
Once the exo skeleton has been shed, it is good to leave them in the tank.
The molt act as calcium source for the shrimps to intake after their molting. Usually, you wouldn’t see the molt after a day as the shrimps consumed them as food.
So yes, shrimp do eat their molt.
However, if you see them floating around the surface after 2 days, you can scoop them out with a net. This means the shrimps probably have enough food.
Shrimp molt or dead
One common challenge of shrimp molting is not knowing whether the shrimp is really molting or dead. This is especially difficult for a beginner.
The main thing to look out for is color.
A dead shrimp looks like a cooked shrimp with a pinkish color. A shrimp molten is transparent and when shed, is ghostly white in color.
You can see how each looks like in the images below.
How to help shrimp molt with molting problem
Molting, like all natural processes, does not always happen without issues. Some shrimps molted and die, probably due to losing too much calcium. Some shrimps simply don’t molt enough to grow properly.
Here are a few ways to help your shrimp molt more efficiently:
- Maintain your water perimeters well: A healthy tank tend to encourage more molting as there is sufficient minerals for the shrimp to eat and grow. Important to make sure the gH/kH/TDS are at the right levels. In the long run, it is better to have a natural tank, rather than adding man made chemicals that might disturb the water’s stability.
- Balanced diet: Try to let your shrimps have 2-3 food types, rather than relying on one particular mineral supplement. Tannin in particular is a good source to boost the shrimp’s immune system and can be found in things like almond leaves, alder cones etc. Also make sure there is sufficient calcium in their diet.
- Avoid big water changes: Big water changes leads to sudden changes to water perimeters. This might have an adverse effect of the shrimps as they try to adapt to the new condition. Keep it at 20-30% water change is recommended especially when the shrimps are molting.
- Use Ro water for water change: If your tap water spikes the TDS too much, it might cause molting waters. When that is the case, use Ro water instead. However remember to remineralize it to the right levels as shrimps do need some minerals to grow well.
Shrimps are at their more vulnerable when molting. If you see a prawn stuck in molting, you need to isolate it asap before they become food for other aquatic creatures.
The key to a healthy molting experience is to make sure the tank is well maintained and that the shrimps have a balanced diet. Inevitably, you will lose some of your shrimps to this process. Don’t feel bad.
Just makes sure you improve the tank and diet and your shrimp casualty rate will go down over time.