Save the Eggs from a Dead Shrimp.

Dwarf shrimp How to save eggs

Today we are going to talk about how to save the eggs of your shrimp and artificially hatch them. Unfortunately, all shrimp breeders have to deal with the death of their shrimp. This is inevitable. However, what makes it even worse, sometimes we have dead females with eggs. In some cases, the berried females molt and shed their exoskeleton with the eggs. In both cases, the eggs will not survive. But not this time!   

It is possible to save the shrimp’s eggs. All you need to do is to replicate the fanning process by building DIY shrimp egg tumbler and remove them from the dead shrimp or the exoskeleton with a toothpick. Do not worry, it will not take much time.   

For the eggs to successfully hatch they need to be moved constantly. I will give you step-by-step instruction on how to imitate this process so that the shrimp’s eggs will not rot and die in vain.

The whole process consists of three parts:

  1. Building the shrimp egg tumbler.
  2. Removing eggs from the dead shrimp or the molt.
  3. Placing shrimp’s eggs into the tumbler.

You can also read my article “Missing Shrimp Eggs: Why This Occurs”.

How DIY Shrimp Egg Tumbler Works.

The air goes down the tube and raises the bubbles. The bubbles create suction (vacuum) from underneath, which (then gets filled by the water) creates an upward flow. That is how we can artificially tumble and eventually hatch the shrimp’s eggs.

What do You need to build DIY Shrimp Egg Tumbler?

You can build the shrimp egg tumbler completely free out of spare parts lying around your shrimp or fish room. Depending on what you have, it should not take you more than 10-15 mins.

To build the egg tumbler you will need:

  • Gravel vacuum tube (or any plastic tube with any kind of cups)
  • The cup from vacuum tube
  • Rubber band (or zip tie)
  • 2-3 pieces of mesh netting (old nets)
  • Filter media bag or foam media block (optional but advisable)
  • Heater holder with a suction cup (or barbed suction cup)
  • Air pump
  • Airline hose

Optional: airline adjustment valve

Building DIY Shrimp Egg Tumbler

  1. The gravel vacuum. I would like to start off by saying that instead of the gravel vacuum you can use any kind of plastic tubes. The principle is the same. So, take off the cup from the gravel vacuum. Take the gravel vacuum tube and cut it into two approximately even sections or as even as you can get it (Now, let’s call them an upper chamber and a bottom chamber). Note: Be careful, do not cut yourself. Then take the upper chamber and cut another piece off it (let’s call it a bottom piece) about 1 inch (~3 cm) long. In the end, we have three different sections and the cap from the gravel vacuum.

Tip: when you are cutting the tube, do not worry about rough edges because:

  • You will hide one rough edge (on the upper chamber) up inside of the cap of your gravel vacuum (see Step #2).
  • The second rough edge (on the bottom chamber) will hold the net even better (see Step #5).
  1. The cup. Take the cup and drill out that little stopper inside of the gravel vacuum cup. After that, drill another hole next to it for the airline tubing (if you have a simple rubber cup, just make two holes in it). Be careful, the second hole should be slightly smaller (to fit the airline tubing securely inside it). Next, put the cup on the rough edge of the upper chamber (see Step #1).

Note: Do not worry, if the second hole became bigger than you expected and airline tubing does not fit well. Make another hole in the cup. It will still work for letting the flow go through it. So once you have your cap drilled out for your airline tubing and you have the stopper inside of the gravel vacuum drilled out you can move on.

  1. Heater holder with a suction cup. You do not need to do anything with it.
    • Alternative version – The barbed suction cup. If you have only a barbed suction cup, in this case, take the upper chamber and drill a hole for the suction cup somewhere in the middle. Now, again just like with the airline tubing drill a hole slightly smaller and insert it into the upper chamber.
  2. The bottom chamber. Take the bottom chamber and cut it lengthwise. A pair of scissors will help you do it. This enables you to just squeeze it inside of itself and basically to be able to fit it inside of the upper chamber. However, do not do it yet.
  3. The net. Take one of the pieces of the net and put it on the bottom chamber (put the net on the side that has the rough edge (see Step #1).
  4. Inserting the bottom chamber. Take the bottom chamber and squeeze it inside the upper chamber. (The end of the bottom chamber with the net goes inside the upper chamber). 1.5 inches deep (3-4 cm) is enough. Now the tubes together sit snugly inside.

Why do we do it? This piece of the net will prevent newly-hatched shrimplets or any eggs to shoot up every once in a while. Nothing is going to come up and out.

This is one of the main differences compared to other self-made shrimp egg tumblers, which you can find on the Internet. This version of a shrimp egg tumbler is simply safer in all cases.

Note: If the netting is not even, the eggs can get stuck into its folders. Be careful.  

  1. The bottom piece. This is the piece that your eggs are going to sit on top of.
  • Cut off about an inch of it out to give it more of a rebound effect to pull the netting tighter.
  • Use the cleanest edge. You need this piece of netting to sit completely flat and to be completely level inside the tube. Take your time, level it flat across the top as best as you can. You do not want any eggs falling into corners and not getting any circulation.
  • After that, insert that piece into the bottom chamber.
  1. The foam media block. Take a piece of the media block. It should be a little bit larger than the diameter of the bottom piece. Squeeze this media block in and insert it into the bottom piece. Note: this media block should not touch the net. Keep it just about 1/8 of the inch (3-5 mm) off the bottom of the net. You need to do that to
  • prevent any unnecessary contact with the eggs.
  • give the eggs some filtration.
  • keep anything from swimming up under the tube and eating the eggs.

If you do not do this (many guides do not tell this) the shrimp eggs can get damaged or stolen by snails, shrimp and fish through the net.

  • Alternative version. If you do not have a spare piece of foam media block, you can get basically the same result by using the net once again at the end.
  1. The rubber band. Wrap the rubber band around the end of the bottom chamber to secure everything together.
  2. Installing the DIY Shrimp Egg Tumbler. Take your airline tubing, push it down through the hole in the cup (see Step # 2) till the end.

DIY Egg Tumbler is finished.

DIY-Mode- shrimp eggs tumbler

The advantage of DIY Shrimp Egg Tumbler construction

With this version of the egg tumbler, you do not have to use any kind of air control valve on your air pumps. There is no need to a create slower or faster flow because the eggs will not shoot right up out of the tube and then go floating around somewhere else in the tank.

Anyway, if you want to replicate exactly what the female shrimp are doing, you can utilize a control valve.  Splice it into your airline tubing.  It has a knob on it where you control the flow of air.  If you do not have any control valves you can take a zip tie put it around your airline tubing and slowly tighten it down to where you get the perfect flow. Keep in mind that if you over tighten it you will have to cut it and start over.

Removing Eggs from the dead Shrimp or the Molt 

  1. Take out the molt with eggs or the dead female shrimp out of the tank, place her on the plate.
  2. Add some water to the plate from the tank, so that the eggs will not dry up.
  3. Separate the eggs from the shrimp body or the shell.
  • Use the toothpick to pierce through the center of the body (or molt) to keep the body steady or you can hold it with tweezers (do not squeeze too much, you can squash it). Choose whatever suits you better.
  • Use the other toothpick to apply some light pressure and scrape the eggs off. Sometimes, you have to pick in between the swimmerets to get the last few.

Note: the eggs are very sticky and they can cling to the swimmerets and to each over. That is the reason why shrimp females usually do not lose eggs. In addition, be careful with the body or molt, do not do sudden moves. Otherwise, you can tear it apart, and then you will have nowhere to grip it.

  1. Separate the eggs from each other.

You need them to bounce in the tumbler freely. It will prevent fungus and detritus from building up on the eggs.

Tip: Take the toothpick and a knife. Use the knife as a separator, help yourself with the toothpicks.
Note: Some shrimp breeders do not do this step and also have success in artificial hatching eggs. However, I believe that separated eggs have more chances for survival.

Placing Shrimp’s Eggs into the DIY Tumbler. Artificial Hatching

All that remains to be done is to transfer these eggs into the tumbler. This is a very delicate process because you do not want to lose the eggs.

Tip: you can use the airline tubing to suck up the eggs and add them into your egg tumbler. Make sure you do not push too hard down on the eggs; it is more of just basically trying to get them into the tube stopping it and then reversing them back into the tumbler.

An alternative way is to use a big pipette (or Syringe) to suck up the eggs and transfer them that way.

  1. Pull the tube of the tumbler above the waterline.
  2. Use the airline tubing, the pipette, or the syringe to suck up the eggs. Do not rush. Then release the eggs into the tube. Maybe you will have to wait a few minutes before they will start to sink down at the bottom of the tube.
  3. Once all the eggs have sunk down, put the cup back.
  4. Place the tube of the tumbler under the waterline.
  5. Because of the DIY construction, the rest part is easy. Unlike many other types of tumblers, you do not need to adjust the air flow which makes the process very delicate. Because if you adjust it too quick and too much air comes out and the eggs will fly around the tank everywhere.

Basically, this is how to save the eggs off of the molted or dead female shrimp. With a little bit of luck, you will have baby shrimps hatching, depending on how old the eggs were.

Tip: Once they hatch, do not dump them immediately into the tank. In the wild, the baby shrimp do not move around a lot. They prefer to stay in their zones where they can hide and feel safe. Simply remove the cup of the tumbler and let them go out themselves.


4 thoughts on “Save the Eggs from a Dead Shrimp.

    1. Hi Zu,
      Depending on the temperature, once the eggs are fertilized, females will carry them for about 25 – 35 days.
      The same is with artificial hatching.
      Best regards,

  1. Have read in some places that the dead shrimp eggs are viable only if closer to hatching date (if eyes are visible). Is this true?

    1. Hi Joe,
      Of course, the closer to the hatching date, the less likely you are to make a mistake, thus increasing the chances of survival.
      Nonetheless, two weeks before hatching is a possibility. Therefore, I would probably disagree with the statement that dead shrimp eggs are viable only if closer to the hatching date (if eyes are visible).
      Best regards,

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