Ghost Shrimp Turning White: Most Common Causes and Solutions

ghost shrimp turning white

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Ghost shrimp are popular because of their interesting translucent bodies, but what happens when they start turning white? This is actually a natural process that you may notice in all your shrimp, so don’t be alarmed.

A ghost shrimp can turn white due to molting, old age, or other health conditions. It’s important to find out whether the change is caused by a natural or dangerous issue. While some causes are perfectly understandable, some could be a sign that your shrimp is sick.

Today, we will look at the main causes of this phenomenon, as well as what you can do if it happens. Let’s go!

Why Are My Ghost Shrimp Turning White?

There are several reasons why your shrimp may turn white, from health conditions and natural old age to poor water conditions.

Molting

The first cause is perhaps the most common, and the safest. It is normal for a ghost shrimp to appear white when it is molting, which means they are growing and renewing their shell. This cycle also helps them purify their body from toxins and other harmful substances.

If you see the shrimp starting to turn opaque and white, while also looking for shelter among plants and other hiding places, then there is a good chance that it is simply molting. In other words, don’t worry! They will be finished in just 24 hours.

With that said, not all ghost shrimp will turn white when they molt. This means you still need to be careful and observe for other symptoms that might indicate a more serious problem.

If your ghost shrimp shows erratic behavior or stays white after the 24-hour mark has passed, it’s time to consider the other reasons.

They Are Sick

Sometimes a ghost shrimp can appear white when they are not molting. If they show symptoms like shaking and jittering, it can signify some type of infection. In this case, it’s important to isolate your infected fish so it does not affect the others.

Other signs that you may want to look out for include cloudy eyes, lethargy, and drawn bellies. You will have to act quickly and treat your shrimp, as it is dangerous for them to remain white for long.

Some of the most common diseases in this species are tuberculosis and swim bladder problems. They can even contract bacterial and fungus infections simultaneously.

So, what is the cause of this sickness? It could be that your shrimp is inherently weak and unhealthy and has organ failure. But it could also be due to poor water quality. If it is the latter, then you should directly address the issue before the other residents in your tank suffer too!

Poor Water Quality

Regular partial water changes are important for any aquarium, including one filled with ghost shrimp. In particular, check for copper sulfate content in the water and pH balance. These are the usual culprits for health problems among ghost shrimp.

Ghost shrimp, like other shrimp species, are highly sensitive to copper. This is because their organs can absorb copper to turn oxygen, but they have no way of turning the “valve” off. Meaning they will simply take all of the copper into their bodies.

Once that happens, they can no longer process oxygen and will experience copper toxicity. Even the smallest amount in the water may kill them, with turning white becoming the first symptom of the sickness.

So, if you observe multiple shrimps turning white, then there is good reason to suspect that the problem lies in the water.

On a similar note, pH swings can be lethal to a ghost shrimp too. When there is too much carbon dioxide in the water, the pH will shift and cause your shrimp to swim upside down. It can be useful to regularly check the pH level in your tank.

Wrong Water Parameters

Having the wrong water parameters can also lead to poor water quality and, naturally, unideal conditions for your ghost shrimp.

If you are keeping ghost shrimp in an aquarium, you should set it up accordingly and ensure the correct parameters. This means having a pH of 7.0 to 8.0, a temperature of 72 to 79 F, and water hardness between 10 and 20 dGH.

Meanwhile, make sure that the nitrogen cycle is in check so that the amount of ammonia and nitrite in the tank is still reasonable. The best level is 0 ppm of both ammonia and nitrite.

When the water parameters are not ideal, your ghost shrimp can’t maintain their health and will develop high levels of stress. This will, as expected, causing them to turn white.

Old Age Can Cause Ghost Shrimp Turning White

Let’s say you have checked all the possible causes above. So, your shrimp is not molting or sick, the water quality is impeccable, and the parameters right. What could be the problem? In that case, the likelihood is that the shrimp is simply old!

The average lifespan of a healthy ghost shrimp is two years. When they reach the end of their lives, ghost shrimp may start losing its translucent shell as it turns white.

There is no need to stress or worry! Turning white because of old age is a good thing because it means your little friend will die a peaceful death without suffering from any sickness or unpleasant condition.

If a single ghost shrimp starts to appear white with no apparent reason, then it is likely that they are getting old.

What Does Ghost Shrimp Molt Look Like?

Ghost shrimp molt in moss
Image by shrimpscience.com

Molting is a natural and completely normal process. It refers to the moment when a shrimp sheds its old exoskeleton and builds a new one. An adult shrimp usually molts once around every four weeks.

However, no one really knows the exact period or frequency for a ghost shrimp. This is because they live in groups and it can be difficult to track which shell belongs to which shrimp. You may regularly find shells that are empty and white in your shrimp tank.

There is no need to worry when you see empty shells as it is a sign that the shrimp are growing and developing. Make sure that there are enough hiding spots, as molting shrimp like to find shelter among live plants.

There is also no need to clean the shells. In fact, we recommend leaving them in the aquarium so that the other shrimp can feed on them. They can then consume the minerals to build strength for their own molting process.

Final Words on Ghost Shrimp Turning White

If you notice that your ghost shrimp is becoming white, don’t freak out. The first step is to find out what is causing this and if there is an underlying problem that you should fix. If the shrimp is simply molting or dying of old age, that is good news.

However, if the issue is in the water quality or parameter, we recommend addressing it as quickly as possible. And if your shrimp is sick or infected, remember to immediately isolate them so they do not infect the other inhabitants of the tank. Good luck!

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