Ghost Shrimp Turning White – Possible Reasons & What to Do!

Ghost shrimps, as the name implies, are very surreal creatures indeed.

Their translucent body makes them look like they are straight out of some old mythical scripture.

It is utterly fascinating to keep a ghost shrimp in your aquarium.

However, it is not unheard of for a ghost shrimp to go opaque. There are a lot of reasons why your ghost shrimp may suddenly start turning white.

It is important to rule out the most probable causes first before we look into more complicated cases.

Identifying the cause at an early stage can help us opt for better treatment options.

Reason #1 – Your Ghost Shrimp is Molting

All freshwater shrimps are known to molt from time to time. Ghost shrimps are no exception.

They go through the process of molting as well, even if kept in an aquarium.

In order to molt, a shrimp requires some elements from the water they live in. Most of these elements are directly absorbed by the ghost shrimps.

The process of molting allows a shrimp to cleanse itself from all impurities and renew its exterior.

How to tell whether your ghost shrimp is simply molting or going through some serious problem as they turn white?

A molting ghost shrimp would look for a cover. They would either be found hiding under some plant in the aquarium or would reside in some dark corner for some time.

If your ghost shrimp is turning opaque and is trying to keep you from seeing it, then the chances are high that they are molting.

Another simple way to confirm your diagnosis would be to keep an eye on the time taken for your ghost shrimp to regain its new translucent body again.

The process of molting takes about a day to complete.

If your ghost shrimp remain white for longer than 24 hours, you can rule out the possibility of molting. It is best to start considering other causes.

Before we move on to other causes, it is also important to know that for a shrimp to molt, they do not always necessarily turn white or opaque.

Reason #2 – Your Ghost Shrimp’s Internal Organs are Affected

After you have successfully ruled out molting as the cause of your ghost shrimp turning white, it is time to look for other serious causes.

Most ghost shrimps that turn white due to an underlying health condition or poor water quality are very less likely to regain their translucency.

A ghost shrimp turning white for a longer period may also be an indication of an irreversible or fatal health condition.

Internal organ failure is one of the most dreadful causes of ghost shrimps turning white.

Early diagnosis of internal organ damage may not help resolve the problem. However, it can slow the process of further or more serious damage.

It is essential to suspect poor water conditions alongside internal organ damage.

You can do something about the former, while the latter is all about accepting the inevitable outcome.

Timely identification of poor water conditions can be of help as it offers the chance of saving other not yet affected mates in the aquarium.

Reason #3 – Poor Water Conditions in the Tank

As discussed earlier, poor water conditions should be a very serious concern if your ghost shrimp starts turning white.

There are a lot of diagnostic processes available to help you analyze the condition of the water in the tank.

It may be too late to save your shrimp by the time you realize that the water in the tank may be causing it.

However, fixing the water may help you save other inhabitants of the tank. 

There are two major things to look at when suspecting unsuitable water conditions for the shrimps.

First, check the concentration of water in the tank water. Second, pay attention to the pH levels of the water.

Copper Concentration in the Water

Copper is an important element that is required by all invertebrates living in freshwater.

Copper allows them to form a healthy and robust exterior. However, copper is only needed in trace amounts.

Grossly high levels of copper in the water can be very damaging for all freshwater invertebrates, including ghost shrimps.

It would be useful to check the levels of copper in the water if more than one shrimp in the tank starts turning white.

It is a clear sign that an external factor is at play that is causing your shrimps to turn white.

Copper is needed in trace amounts for shrimp to maintain their beautiful translucent exterior.

It is also needed for molting. Slightly increased levels of copper would require ghost shrimp to molt more quickly to get rid of the excess.

However, a shrimp has a certain limit and cannot molt more frequently than that.

All the excess copper absorbed by the body of a shrimp will result in copper toxicity. In addition to maintaining a healthy shell, copper is needed to process oxygen in a shrimp’s body.

Increased amounts of copper would also lead to increased damage by a process called oxidative stress.

A copper test kit can help you regulate copper levels in the tank. If increased levels are recorded, a quick water change must be performed.

It would also be helpful to track down the source of excessive copper in the tank.

You should carefully look for anything broken or rusting in your tank. Also, look for any source of contaminants entering the tank.

Remove the source of contaminants, and you can save your shrimps from copper toxicity.

The pH Levels of the Water

All freshwater shrimps are extremely sensitive to rapid changes in pH levels of the water. Many shrimp would start to exhibit very peculiar behavior if water pH levels start swinging.

They would start to swim upside down or would also lie on their sides.

A lot of tanks with plants are equipped with a CO2 system. It would be helpful to turn off the CO2 system in your tank while you check for pH levels.

CO2 concentration in the tank directly affects the pH and makes it more acidic. Your shrimps are very susceptible to such changes.

If turning off the CO2 system makes your shrimps attain their original positions again, then no need to carry out further testing.

You can simply consider decreased pH levels to be the cause of your shrimps turning white or swimming upside down.

If switching off the CO2 system does not solve the problem, and pH levels are not within normal ranges, the chances of reversing the condition are pretty low.

Increased Concentration of Ammonia in Water

Increased levels of ammonia indicate very poor water conditions.

Such conditions make it impossible for shrimps to survive. They would eventually white-out and succumb to poor water conditions.

A new tank is expected to have increased levels of ammonia as there are not enough nitrifying bacteria present.

Hence, you must ensure that a filter is in place and biofiltration can take place.

Also read: How to Get Rid of Ammonia and Nitrates in an Aquarium?

Reason #4 – Your Ghost Shrimp is Getting Old

After ruling out all the reasons mentioned above, old age is the only reason you are left with. It is a natural process for ghost shrimps to turn white as they age.

It takes about eight months for a ghost shrimp to turn completely white.

Under such circumstances, it becomes very evident that your ghost shrimp may be living its last few days.

This is obviously a sad thing, but you must feel proud of yourself for raising a healthy ghost shrimp that got to live its maximum lifespan.

Treatments for Ghost Shrimp Turning White

When it comes to treatment for your ghost shrimp turning white, note that there are no special medications to cure this condition.

Whether it is a bacterial or fungal or some other infection attacking your ghost shrimp, your best bet is to rely on natural antibiotics.

Before you begin any treatment, make sure that the water condition is ideal for your shrimps, or else their condition could get worse.

Once you have ensured that the water parameters are up to mark for a sick ghost shrimp, you can try out the following treatment options:

Treatment # 1 – Oil Treatment

Follow the steps below for this method:

  • Add one drop of oregano oil to 5ml water.
  • Dip fish food in it for a few hours.
  • Feed this food to your ghost shrimp to get rid of the bacterial infection.

Treatment # 2 – Saltwater Soak Treatment

Follow the steps below for this method:

  • Add saltwater to a wide bowl.
  • Now, soak your fish in this saltwater a few times a day.
  • If there is an infection, it will automatically be cured.

Treatment # 3 – Maintain a Healthy Diet

If your ghost shrimp is turning white due to an infection, the best option to cure it is to maintain a healthy diet.

Try to feed your ghost shrimp nutritious food items like blood worms and plankton to restore their appetite.

The Bottom Line

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide on ‘Ghost Shrimp Turning White.’

If you experience this condition on your ghost shrimp, do refer to the tips mentioned above to try to cure this.

If the problem persists even after a few days, it is better to take your ghost shrimp to the vet.

Your ghost shrimp turning white may be due to several reasons.

Make sure that you observe your aquatic friend carefully to analyze the right reason behind this condition so you can come up with relevant solutions to cure it.

Wishing you the best of luck!

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