Help! My Shrimp Aren’t Molting!

Every experienced shrimp keeper knows that shrimp that aren’t molting can be a serious problem.

There could be several reasons your shrimp aren’t molting, such as varying water parameters, changing the tank water too often, and poor diet.

If your shrimp aren’t kept in optimal conditions, this could lead to the “white ring of death,” a common and deadly result of shrimp not molting.

This article will reveal the most common reasons your shrimp may not molt and the secrets to successful molting.

shrimp not molting


Normal Molting Behavior in Shrimp

Molting is a normal part of a shrimp’s growing process and a sign of good health.

Since they’re rapidly growing, younger shrimp molt once every two weeks or even once a week. On the other hand, full-grown shrimp molt every three to four weeks.

Molting occurs when shrimp outgrow their shell or their exoskeleton. They “shed” their old shell and wait for a new one to harden.

During this period, shrimp are vulnerable, and they usually find a place to hide until their exoskeleton grows back.

A shrimp’s body is very fragile underneath the shell. If you see their shell floating around the tank, but you can’t spot the shrimp, it’s a good sign.

The hardening process can take up to two days.

Molting is also necessary for breeding. For example, when a female shrimp loses its exoskeleton, it releases pheromones into the water, signaling male shrimp that she’s ready to breed.

Why Aren’t My Shrimp Molting?

If you’re reading this article, you may have noticed that your shrimp aren’t molting.

The three most common factors that prevent shrimp from molting are poor diet, varying water parameters, and changing the tank water too often.

Poor Diet

Shrimp not molting usually has something to do with what they eat. If your shrimp don’t receive the necessary dose of calcium, this could be the reason they aren’t molting.

After all, they need to be strong enough to wriggle out of their exoskeleton and protect themselves from other shrimps in the tank.

Aside from calcium, their diet should also contain a healthy dose of protein.

Inconsistent Water Parameters

Consistent water parameters are also vital for the health of your shrimp.

Specifically, general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (CH) must be optimal for the shrimp to molt.

Too Frequent Water Changes

Another reason your shrimp aren’t molting is that you’re changing the tank water too often or not enough.

It can cause the shrimp to molt before they’re ready. Premature molting is also a cause for concern.

Changing your water can also lead to the “white ring of death.” This occurs when the shrimp’s exoskeleton cracks around the shrimp’s neck, forming a white circle.

It prevents the shrimp from escaping the exoskeleton, leading to death.

Too much protein and calcium can also lead to this deadly condition.

How Do You Induce Shrimp Molting?

If your shrimp live in a healthy environment, there shouldn’t be any molting issues. That said, there are various things you can do to induce shrimp molting.

Maintaining Consistent Water Parameters

Consistent tank water parameters is one of them.

There are many test kits available for shrimp tanks, which you can use to check the pH levels and other vital parameters.

If there are any levels of nitrogen or ammonia, the test kit will pick up on that.

Since shrimp don’t react well to sudden changes in their environment, it’s important not to change the tank water too often.

Once a week is enough. In addition, don’t drain the tank entirely, but only replace about 25% of the water.

When it’s time for the shrimp to change their shell, they fill it with water so that it can break, allowing them to wriggle out.

They absorb about 25% of the calcium from their old shell and the rest from the water during this process.

Too much calcium can cause their shell to become too hard, so they won’t be able to molt.

On the other hand, not enough calcium can make the shell too flexible and not strong enough. Balance is key.

Keeping a Balanced Diet

Your shrimp should enjoy a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients.

Shrimp can eat almost anything; they often even eat their old shell rich in calcium.

In addition, they graze on biofilm and algae on the tank’s plants and in the water. So, of course, their diet should consist of vegetables as well.

Just make sure to blanch them beforehand. Vegetables providing enough calcium for your shrimp include zucchini, broccoli, kale, and cucumber.

In Summary

To be healthy, happy, and ready for breeding, your shrimp must molt their exoskeleton every couple of weeks.

However, not molting could result from inconsistent water parameters, changing your tank water too often, and an unhealthy diet.

Fortunately, you can easily improve these factors to prepare your shrimp for molting.

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