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Breeding Ghost Shrimp

Last Updated: 1/30/12

More information on ghost shrimp can be found here.

Other Aquarists' Ghost Shrimp Breeding Stories

One aquarist who reports success in breeding ghost shrimp provided the following helpful information. The babies look like white mosquito larvae but are very small. To prevent their being eaten, they must be removed (they go through most nets) to their own tank. At first, they need live newborn brine shrimp (artemia) since they cannot eat like adults. Once they look like their parents, they eat fish food, dead animals, and young snails. He believes that a major cause of young ghost shrimp death is their propensity to move towards light. When the room is lighter than the tank (at night usually), they jam themselves into the glass and die. To prevent this, he covered the sides of the tank with black paper and kept a light on overhead 24 hours a day. They required feeding every 2 to 3 hours 24 hours a day.

Another successful breeder of ghost shrimp had the following setup. This fish wholesaler put about 10 ghost shrimp in a 33 gallon rubbermaid storage tub. He did not set out to breed them. Note that in such a tub, the above mentioned light problem would not exist so it may have merit. To the tub were also added bunches of anacharis, small trapdoor snails, and assorted microorganisms that came with the anacharis including daphnia, rotifers, worms, insect larvae, and copepods. After a few months, the tub was full of baby ghost shrimp. He believes that the small snails were a vital part of the setup. I think the plants and small potential prey that lived therein were the key. He plans to try to cultivate them.

Yet another aquarist had success after adding an artificial wood log to an aquarium with plants, fish, and ghost shrimp and turning up the temperature to 80 degrees F (for some fry). The ghost shrimp created a "cave" in the fake log and would come out several times a day in line. Now, the aquarist says there are more ghost shrimp "then I know what to do with."

Here is even another breeding account from Elara: "I've had ghost shrimp for years, and they're really easy to raise. A pump without too much force is required (sponge and very small air pump is perfect in a 10 gallon). I had a regular tank set up (gravel, aged water 65-80 degrees, depending on season) with lots of live plants (especially floating ones). As you know, the eggs are green. When they start to get a bit more clear and you can see the eyes on the babies (you really have to look), they are ready to hatch. The mother will go somewhere in the top third of the tank and hang upside-down on something. The babies will pop out of the eggs one at a time and go floating to the surface of the water, where they hang like bats (from their tails). They start to move around pretty soon and are then on their own. I didn't remove the parents or do anything fancy with the food. Soon I had so many ghost shrimp I didn't know what to do with them. All ages seem to be content with flake. Just make sure there is a lot of floating vegetation for the babies to hide in when they pop out (I used duckweed)..." Thanks for the information, Elara!

One aquarist says they kept record of when they first noticed a female ghost shrimp with eggs and when the babies were released. The time was 27 days. I do not know the tank temperature or other variables.

Joann, on 9/2/09, wanted to share this ghost shrimp story:

"I wanted to share my success story 'breeding' ghost shrimp. I use the term 'breeding' liberally as I only had two survive but I did it on purpose! It seems so ironic that a shrimp that costs just over 30 cents a piece can be so tricky to breed while red cherry shrimp breed like rabbits and cost almost $2 a piece!

The ghost shrimp available in my area are sold as feeders so they come with all the usual warnings about feeder animals, not raised for longevity, not raised under optimal conditions etc. But, we find them such whimsical additions to our 10 gallon betta tank that we would love to be able to breed our own continually. The last time I brought home a bag of ghosties, one female was heavily berried. The eggs were very dark green so I assume they had only recently been fertilized.

I purchased a 5 gallon rectangular tank with hood and fluorescent light. I fixed it up with heater, gravel, anchored plants as well as floating. I used a water sprite variety as I had it in abundance. I did not filter the tank this time as I did not have an extra filter, and it was just one shrimp; however, I now am cycling the tank to have more than one shrimp in it and have installed a sponge filter.

I placed the mom in the maternity tank and a pond snail that came along for the ride. I continued feeding the mom fish flake which she and all the others are fed in the larger tank. I waited and waited and waited, and those little eggs take a heck of a long time to mature! I forgot to keep a daily tally but you are very correct, it takes anywhere from 3-4 weeks. Towards the end, I started trying to establish a food source for the baby larvae. I started adding Hikari First Bites fry food every few days. I did not keep the tank 'TOO' clean. I wanted it to have a supply of various food elements, decaying food, decaying plants etc. Mind you, this is a 5 gallon tank with only one ghost shrimp and a very tiny pond snail so it was not in huge danger of becoming toxically dirty. I would do small water changes but no vacuuming etc. Soon, I had infusoria barely visible to the naked eye swimming around. To be truthful, I don't know if they were essential or not, but I didn't worry about them.

Eventually, the eggs turned clear and soon little eyes were visible. Then one day, the mom had no more eggs. I looked and looked and looked and could see nothing. I returned her to the 10 gallon and kept the small tank percolating. But I never saw anything. After a week and a half I determined that my attempt had failed. I was breaking the tank down when, pop, out hopped two of the smallest shrimp imaginable, no wonder I hadn't seen them! I was excited even though there were only two. It worked! People may wonder why I care when you can get 3-4 for a dollar, but we love having these little clowns in our tanks, and it's fun to try to breed your own stock.

I took the tank down a while later and have just now gotten it back out. I am doing a fish-less cycle and have added a sponge filter. I plan on using it as a maternity shrimp tank and see what happens. For the record, I was not able to control the amount of daylight and did not keep the tank in the dark like some others have. Would I have had a higher survival rate if I had? Who knows. I'll see what happens this time around, and I have a mamma ready to use it when the tank's ready."

Joann sent this follow up story on 9/24/09:

"This is a follow up to an email I sent about a month earlier regarding purposefully breeding ghost shrimp. At the time of the email, I had re-set up my 5 gallon tank and was cycling it in order to use it for shrimp.

Once cycled, I added some cherry shrimp which I had in abundance in my betta tank. The normal habitat for my ghost shrimp is the betta tank but I planned on using the cherry tank as a maternity tank for the ghost shrimp. Once cycled and steady, I moved the berried ghost shrimp female from the betta tank to the shrimp tank. It has gravel, a sponge filter, heater, and rooted and floating plants.

When I added the ghost shrimp female, I began adding Hikari First Bites every few days to prep for the babies. I fed her fish flakes. The female was in the tank about five days before releasing her hatched eggs. I removed her at that time. Once I knew the eggs had been hatched, I would add the First Bites one to two times a day; I also would grind fish flakes into powder and add that. I was not able to confirm that I had any babies surviving until today, about five days from removing the mother. I just happened to see one floating while I was feeding the tank. It truly is one of the smallest things I've ever been able to see in an aquarium; and see-through to boot!

With all the floating plants I added for their benefit, it's a miracle I was able to see it at all; it just happened to float clear from the plants about the time I was looking. It is still tail up/head down with no active swimming possible on its part. I would assume in the next few days it may molt and be an active tiny ghost shrimp. While I was watching, I was able to see it grab and eat a particle of something that happened to float by it. Because of their tiny size and invisibility plus the fact that they are floating, I don't plan a water change until they are bigger and can actively swim. I will avoid vacuuming all together until they are large enough to be easily seen.

So, for now, breeding has been successful. I won't know how many I have for a while yet but I also have another mother that I've added and am waiting for her brood to mature and hatch. Meanwhile the red cherry shrimp breed like wild fire! "

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