So the egg has hatched and you have just become the proud daddy / mommy (or however else you identify) of a newly born baby shrimp. Hooray! But with the joy of becoming a parent also come a lot of worries and responsibility. Shrimplets are as cute as fragile, and unfortunately they are especially prone to stress and other threats. As many other types of fish and water creatures, shrimp spawn in large quantities because the majority of the eggs are not expected to evolve into adults: predators and diseases often decimate newborns while they are still vulnerable. In a tank, seeing your shrimplets lay motionless as they float around can be quite daunting, but it is an almost inevitable part of the aquarist hobby. Fortunately, there are some precautions that you can take in order to minimize losses.
How to increase shrimplets survival rate?
It is especially important to test your water TDS and ensure that it is not too high and that there are no high levels of harmful compounds. Remember: every organism in your tank, including the shrimplets, will contribute to TDS – but overfeeding is the n°1 culprit of really high TDS levels. Don’t be tempted to drastically increase the amount of food you throw into the tank just because you have a lot of new mouths to feed: what you feed your shrimplets is actually much more important for their survival rate, and their tiny stomachs cannot actually handle that much. Any leftover food will just float around potentially polluting your water.
Having a good oxygen level in your water may also improve survival rate. Filtration and aeration are both vital and investing in a good air filter is never a bad idea.
If you have other fish or different species of shrimp in your tank, make sure that there are enough hiding spots for shrimplets to find shelter. You can do this by filling your tank with moss – which will also double as food.
What to feed shrimplets?
While baby shrimp can eat the same food as adult shrimp (provided it is grounded in tiny pieces), it is good practice to feed them protein that they can use to grow and harden their shells. Their tiny mouths are especially fit for feeding on biofilm and other microorganisms, especially in their early days. Some useful commercial products like Bacter AE promote the development of biofilm in your tank. Bee pollen is also commonly recommended, as well as baby food like BorneoWild Bebi or GlasGarten’s Shrimp Baby Food.
How long does it take for shrimplets to grow into adults?
It takes a few months on average for a shrimplet to reach maturity. Different factors such as species, environment, water temperature and nutrition can slow down or speed up this process. In general, you can expect neocaridina shrimp to reach maturity size in about 3-4 months, while larger species could take a little more. A warm water temperature may make your shrimplets develop faster but this also means a shorter lifespan. Females who reach maturity early and breed when they are still small in size will also lay less eggs for the next generation.
Do adult shrimp eat fry?
While uncommon, shrimp can sometimes show cannibalistic behavior. Shrimp are opportunistic feeders and will eat their own mineral-rich shell left behind after molting and also the remainss of shrimp that has recently deceased. When you buy shrimp online, it is common for seller to ship a larger number of specimens so that if some of them don’t make it to your door alive, they become a source of food for the rest. That said, freshwater shrimp do not commonly prey on other live shrimp or fry unless they lack other sources of protein or minerals in their diet, which can be easily addressed by purchasing high quality, nutrient-rich shrimp food like Shrimp King’s Protein Sticks or Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Bloodworms.