Why Won’t My Shrimp Breed?

10 Common Reasons Why Won’t My Shrimp Breed

Shrimp keeping hobby is a rewarding experience, for both young and old. Because breeding and caring for most dwarf shrimp species is relatively simple, their popularity as pets has been increasing all the time. Nonetheless, sometimes things don’t always turn out the way we want them to – our shrimp do not or stop breeding at all. Why?

Well, there can be many reasons why shrimp do not breed in our tanks. For example, wrong or unstable water parameters, stress factors, inappropriate diet, diseases, age, gender ratio, wrong species, etc. In most cases, it is a combination of some of these factors.

As we can see, there is no simple answer to the question of why my shrimp do not breed. Every situation requires individual analysis to fix this problem.

This article will dive into what affects shrimp breeding and what we can do about it. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the most popular reasons for this problem in detail.

10 Reasons Why Shrimp Do Not Breed

  1. Wrong water parameters
  2. Not matured tank
  3. Unstable water parameters
  4. Large water changes
  5. Stress factors
  6. Inappropriate diet
  7. Diseases and parasites
  8. Age
  9. Gender ratio
  10. Wrong species

1. Wrong water parameters

It is extremely important to do your own research about particular shrimp species that you have. Ideally, you need to know everything about its environment preferences:

  • Learn the correct pHKHGH, TDS, and temperature ranges for the water in your shrimp tank.
  • If you bought these shrimp not long ago, ask the seller a few questions about the history of their shrimp. Are they captive-bred and if so, how long the species have been bred? Are they the first, second, etc. generation? What parameters they were kept in, etc. All these questions will give you an idea about optimal parameters for your shrimp because it is quite possible that your shrimp may have already accustomed to less ‘ideal’ water parameters.
Wrong water parameters have many adverse effects on our shrimp and one of them is low reproduction (or eggs loss).

Ensuring appropriate water parameters and environmental requirements is fundamental for shrimp breeding. Also, make sure that your tank is cycled!

Aquarium cycling entails the series of actions involved in making the aquarium ecosystem safe and non-toxic for the shrimp by establishing an active biological filter to break down and convert the harmful nitrogen compounds (ammonia and nitrites) into a less toxic form (nitrates).

The nitrogen cycle is THE MOST important process in the tank.

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2. Not Matured Tank

Many articles and guides mention that after cycling you are free to add shrimp right away.

DO NOT do that!

I would say that this is one of the popular mistakes that inexperienced shrimp keepers make. DO NOT rush to add shrimp to the tank. Many species are too sensitive for that, and as a result, it affects their breeding.

So, what should we do?

Let the tank mature a little bit. A mature tank is a tank that has been running smoothly, with stable water parameters, and without having any problems with it. 

How long should we wait after cycling to mature the tank?

I would say that it will require at least 4-5 weeks. During this period of time, it will develop a stable ecosystem with biofilm and algae for your shrimp to graze on.

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3. Unstable water parameters

The one thing you have to remember is stability is key in shrimp breeding! I cannot stress that enough.

DO NOT blindly chase the numbers recommended in all articles. Pay attention to your tank!

Dwarf shrimp do not like changes. Actually, this rule should be written in stone!

The chances that your shrimp will not breed in unstable water parameters are extremely high!

Sometimes having stable (although sub-optimal water parameters) is even better than having the ideal water parameters that fluctuate all the time.

4. Large Water Changes

Large water changes are not recommended for the shrimp tank. Water changes can have a direct effect on shrimp reproduction.

The main problem with large water changes (assuming that new water does not contain any harmful chemicals) is that large water changes still affect water parameters in the tank. *Remember – stability is the key!*

And what is worse, it happens very suddenly for the shrimp. The downsides are pretty significant:

  • Stress the shrimp,
  • Molting problems (“White Ring of Death),
  • Cause shrimp to prematurely molt which can lead to loss of eggs or even death in extreme cases.

Doing large water changes may reduce or even prevent your shrimp from breeding.

5. Stress Factors

Dwarf shrimp are pretty sensitive and easily stressed animals. For example, incompatible tank mates, incorrect acclimation, poor water quality, and even overfeeding can cause stress in shrimp.

Although shrimp might be able to tolerate a single stressor for a short period of time, multiple stressors over prolonged periods of time will definitely lead to suffering, decreased growth rate, molting problems, and breeding problems as well.

It is extremely important to look at the factors that may contribute to decreased fecundity and reduced fertilization success and adjust as needed to improve the breeding rate of the shrimp.

Therefore, reducing stress for dwarf shrimp not only helps provide a better quality of life but also improves their breeding rate.

Note: Keep in mind that shrimplets tend to stay in the place they had hatched for several days (hiding most of the time). So, maybe your shrimp are breeding but you have not noticed it yet.

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6. Inappropriate Diet (Underfeeding and Overfeeding)

An inappropriate diet is another reason why shrimp do not breed.

It is a well-known fact that dwarf shrimp are omnivorous scavengers. They are an amazing clean-up crew and feed on a variety of organic matter that falls on the bottom of the tank. But why is it so important to know about their diet?

  • Underfeeding

Because being scavengers also means that their diet does not consists of the same food every day. A shrimp diet that includes a wide variety of ingredients is just as important for ensuring adequate nutrition, a long and healthy life. As a result, it also has a direct effect on their breeding rate.

Shrimp will not breed if they are starving.

To improve their breeding rate, we need to provide them with a well-balanced diet. By doing so, shrimp will get all the necessary microelements, vitamins, and minerals that are needed for their body (including egg production).

So, if your tank is not matured and does not have enough algae and biofilm to sustain its growth, it is necessary to supplement them with commercial food.

  • Overfeeding

Another problem is overfeeding. Actually, it is way worse than underfeeding because shrimp can at least easily survive without food for a few days before it starts to take a toll on their health and general well-being. Whereas overfeeding is one of the biggest causes of death for dwarf shrimp.

Overfeeding our shrimp deteriorates water quality, causes infections, and diseases and in general, puts them in danger of serious health conditions. All these factors will have a negative impact on shrimp fecundity and fertilization success.

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7. Shrimp Diseases and Parasites

It is important to know that shrimp also can get sick or attacked by parasites. Some epibionts, bacterial, and fungal infections are extremely dangerous to the shrimp.

Generally, sick shrimp do not breed, their immune system is fighting for survival, and they cannot spend any inner resources for anything else (including reproduction).

In some cases, it becomes even physically impossible to mate, for example,  Cladogonium ogishimae or Ellobiopsidae infiltrates into the muscles of the abdominal part of the shrimp and prevents the shrimp from mating.

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8. Age

Depending on the temperature, most dwarf shrimp species become mature at 75-80 days old. After that, under optimal conditions, well-fed shrimp will be ready to mate and breed within 1 – 3 days.

So, if your shrimp are not breeding, it is quite possible that they are too young.

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9. Gender Ratio

As your shrimp colony grows, sometimes an imbalance in sexes can cause breeding problems.

The results of the experiments proved that multiple mating leaves a big impact on the health of the females, their mortality rate increased by 37%. This is because of two main reasons:

  1. There is a huge tradeoff between the number of eggs produced and the amount of energy (both physical resources and female care) put into caring for them.
  2. Females need to molt before mating, it makes their body soft and flexible which makes fertilization possible. At the same time, it makes them vulnerable and absolutely unprotected. If there are too many males they may overwhelm her. Considering the fact that she is soft and weak, it also stresses the female a lot.

On the other hand, if the number of males is not enough, it will decrease the rate of successful mating and reduce the reproduction rate. Females will throw off unfertilized eggs and you lose a potential batch of shrimplets.

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 10. Wrong Species

Ornamental shrimp include many genera such as Neocaridina, Caridina, Halocaridina, Atyopsis, Macrobrachium, Palaemonetes, etc.

Shrimp of different genera cannot interbreed together. All shrimp species in different genera are too distantly related to crossbreed.

Even more, shrimp of different species of the same genus generally do not crossbreed as well. For example,

and some others will not crossbreed with other species of the genus Caridinna.

Important: Keep in mind that some freshwater shrimp species require marine or brackish conditions to hatch. It is important to learn more about their suitable rearing conditions. These shrimp species WILL NOT BREED in freshwater tanks.

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In Conclusion

If you shrimp do not breed or stop breeding – do not despair! Our hobby is not always sunshine and rainbows and, yes, we all make mistakes.

It is important to check and double-check everything in your aquarium. I would recommend starting with your water parameters and feeding. In my experience, these are by far the main causes of why shrimp do not breed in the tanks.

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2 thoughts on “Why Won’t My Shrimp Breed?

  1. Hello, why shrimp stop breeding in the winter period?? Tnx

    1. Hi Zveky,
      Are there any changes in your water parameters? Do you know that even photoperiod affects their breeding?
      Best regards,

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