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Ghost Shrimp Turning White (Causes & Cure)

Ghost Shrimp Turning White (Causes & Cure)

Maintaining a stable and healthy aquarium is not the easiest of tasks. While there are fish species that have minimal requirements and will survive under any circumstances, shrimps are a completely different challenge. The smallest changes in the water environment could lead to stress, which is the ultimate factor for various diseases.

Why is My Ghost Shrimp Turning White? The most common cause actually is old age. This may sadden you but it usually means that the shrimp are at the end of their natural lifespan. A different reason may be molting, although they do not turn completely white when this occurs.

In addition, there are common sicknesses like Muscular Necrosis which turn shrimp white and to which, unfortunately, there is no known safe cure.

Water parameters need to be tested regularly. This is the key to maintaining a healthy aquarium, no matter the inhabitants. In case you are unfamiliar with what parameters you should be checking, they include temperature, pH, oxygen levels, nitrite and nitrate levels.

Ghost Shrimp Turning White

The easiest and most advanced option is to purchase a complete freshwater test kit from amazon.

Each issue brings its own characteristics. Shrimps will act differently, depending on the reason. To understand how to find out what has caused your shrimp to turn white, read below.

The Causes


As I mentioned above, each cause has certain easily-identifiable characteristics. To begin with, I will focus on molting. This is an essential process for healthy shrimp.

As you may already know, your shrimp live in something like a shell that does not grow. However, they will outgrow this shell and this is when molting occurs. Your shrimp will basically grow a new layer of shell which requires anything from a few hours to up to a couple of days to harden.

As the shrimp will continue growing, you can expect them to molt once every couple of months. During these periods, they will be extremely vulnerable to any possible dangers including predatory fish and unstable water conditions.

As soon as you find out your shrimp is ready to mold, test your water in order to be sure that it will not cause stress and therefore, disease.

If you suddenly lose sight of your shrimp, do not directly jump to the conclusion that it has died. As soon as they molt, they will normally hide for up to 72 hours simply because they are too vulnerable. This is why plants are a necessity for a shrimp aquarium.

What you can look for is a shrimp exoskeleton. Normally, it will float or lay somewhere on the ground. My advice is to take it out of the aquarium as it will quickly become food for other shrimp or other species. If you find such shell, you can be sure that your shrimp is not dead but is hiding somewhere.

How to promote molting

It is essential for shrimp to undergo this molting cycle, in order to survive. However, sometimes there might be something preventing them from molting. Commonly, this could happen when KH or GH in the water is either higher or lower than the shrimp requires.

In case you do not know, KH refers to Carbonate Hardness and GH refers to Total Hardness. Another way to promote molting is by changing the water more frequently.

Old age and bad water parameters

I mentioned that when it comes to molting, shrimp do not always turn completely white. They seem more opaque instead. If the color changes to completely white, however, then the reason is almost certainly old age. This means that the shrimp has between days and weeks left of life.

You can tell by your shrimp behavior whether they are ready to molt, or if they are just getting old. Usually, when they molt, they will hide. Unfortunately, if the shrimp seems lethargic and slow, and it stays in the open rather than hiding, it means that it is either sick or about to die.

It could, of course, be reacting to certain changes in the water. There is a section below that focuses entirely on the water requirements for this species of shrimp.

Make sure you test your water parameters and you may find there is an issue that is causing stress. Other than this, there is very little that you can do to help them as there are no cures for shrimp sickness.

The best decision would be to isolate the shrimp from the tank, especially if you have any predatory fish. Potential sickness and bacterial infections may wipe out your whole aquarium if another fish eats the shrimp before or after its death.

Take out the one or few which have turned white and put them under quarantine. In addition, change the water as soon as they have been removed.

Muscular Necrosis

This sickness is common for all types of shrimp. You can diagnose it if you see white spots or entire areas of white on the abdomen or tail. This sickness can occur due to a variety of causes, such as pH changes and a lack of nutrients in the water. In addition, it could happen due to rapid changes in temperature or inefficient oxygen levels.

As it is an infectious sickness, the affected shrimp need to be put under quarantine in a different tank. There is no real treatment for this, but it could be resolved through daily water changes of at least 10% of the water. In addition, try to stabilize the water parameters so that they suit the species.

Additional Information

Ghost shrimp tank requirements

Ideally, the perfect aquarium for a single Ghost Shrimp will be at least 5-10 gallons. For a larger number of shrimp, increase the tank size. In addition, it should be heavily planted as shrimp need places to hide and eat. See below for a detailed chart indicating the ideal water parameters for this species.

Temperature 20-25C (65-77F)
pH level 6.5-7.5
KH 5-12
GH 5-10
Nitrate Around 10 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm

The values that I have put in the table are the ones you should aim for. In some cases, even a single improper parameter could lead to stress for the shrimp, which can cause sickness. This is why I always advise for weekly tests instead of the regular monthly ones.

Additional Questions

Why is my Ghost Shrimp turning brown?

As long as your shrimp is not turning white, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. Sometimes when they grow, Ghost Shrimp will change their color depending on the terrain and substrate in the tank. If your ground is brown or black it could happen that they turn darker.

In addition, Ghost Shrimp naturally lose some of their transparency with age and get darker in color. Although changing the substrate might not make any difference, you could run a small test using a secondary tank with a different type of substrate.

Lastly, Ghost Shrimp are algae eaters. Over time, this can cause them to change color.

How long do Ghost Shrimp live?

As you already know, one of the main reasons for a Ghost Shrimp to turn white is old age. This species will naturally live for about a year, and in some cases a little bit longer.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see it whiten after a few months in your tank. It is just that they have a really short lifespan.

How to know which Ghost Shrimps are healthy in a store?

Shrimps commonly fail to survive the first few days in a new aquarium. Even if all the water parameters are correct, you may have to deal with a lot of them dying.

This is simply because this species is commonly considered as fish food and in some cases they do not get the care they need in a fish store.

One way to try to prevent this is by carefully selecting the shrimps you will buy. Do not let the sales representative decide this for you. Although you are not a professional, here are some things to look for when choosing the perfect shrimp.

Always look at how active they are and if they have any color disruptions. A healthy shrimp will not be lethargic. Choose only the ones that are active and transparent in color. You already know what happens when they have white spots on their bodies.

Annastasia Juarez

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

This has been so helpful!! Thank you so much!!!

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