Shrimp diseases

How to recognise shrimp diseases?

Bakterielle Infektion bei Garnelen
Sandra Wiersch, Bacterial infection Blue Pear Shrimp, CC BY-SA 3.0

If the shrimp do not feel well in the aquarium, this can have several causes. Shrimp diseases are one possible explanation. Diseases can be caused by bacteria, for example. Bacteria are part of every aquarium. If the shrimp are healthy and their immune system is strong enough, they do not pose a problem for the shrimp. As with humans, bacteria are even helpful and necessary in some areas (e.g. digestion). However, if the shrimp’s immune system is weakened by influences such as incorrect water values, stress or inadequate nutrition, these bacteria can cause diseases in shrimp.

To detect shrimp diseases, the inhabitants of the aquarium should first be closely observed. Do they behave conspicuously, is the mortality rate higher than usual or do the animals appear weakened? Depending on the disease, external characteristics may also indicate the disease. For example, rust or burn marks on the shell of the shrimp can be seen in some diseases. Fluffy growths can indicate fungal infestation. If it is a parasite infestation, the parasites may be visible to the naked eye.

What are the five most common diseases in shrimp?

1. Fungal diseases and fake fungal diseases

Mushrooms are mostly taken up with food. If the shrimp’s immune system is strong enough, the fungi cannot harm it. However, if the shrimp suffers from stress, for example, the fungal infestation can have devastating consequences for them. A fungal infestation is often not detectable without the use of aids. A microscope is usually needed for this. The fake fungal disease (also known as fur disease), on the other hand, is often seen on the animals. Single-celled organisms form a kind of fluffy chain on the shrimp. The treatment of fungal diseases is particularly complicated in the advanced stages.

Pregnant females suffering from fungal infection can be cleaned in a short bath so that they do not pass the disease on to the young animals. If necessary, a short-term relocation of the animals (duration of approx. 15 minutes) to a pool with a lower salt content can help. The water and also the aquarium itself must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after a fungal attack.

2. Bacterial infections:

Bakterielle Infektion bei Garnelen
Sandra Wiersch, Bacterial infection Blue Pear Shrimp, CC BY-SA 3.0

How a bacterial infection manifests itself in shrimp depends entirely on which organ is affected. Infections can affect both internal and external organs. In most cases, infections are caused by too high a bacterial count due to a lack of hygiene in the aquarium. The germs are often absorbed through the food (e.g. spoiled food or dead shrimp). Symptoms can be: an increased mortality rate, a whitish abdomen, loss of colour, disorientated swimming around, apathy, growth arrest, reduced food intake or moulting problems.

If the infection is still in its early stages, natural remedies such as banana leaves, alder cones or sea almond leaves can help. If the infection is already advanced, various medicines from the shrimp pharmacy can help. For particularly persistent infections, a microscopic examination must be carried out to find the perfect medicine for treatment. Bacterial infections unfortunately often lead to the death of the animals.

3. Rust and burn spot disease:

Rust and burn spot disease is more likely to be a symptom of a fungal disease or infection. Depending on the disease that causes the burns, the treatment must be carried out. The disease usually proceeds as follows: Small injuries (e.g. caused by a fight) or damage to the tank are infected. Often the burn mark is small and punctiform at first and then grows slowly. In most cases no treatment is necessary, because the tank is replaced during the next moult. If the disease becomes acute, the spots multiply strongly and the armour will be dissolved by the inflammation.

The disease can also become chronic. Then black or brown spots appear on the armour again and again, which can grow up to one millimetre in size. If the infected areas are not shed during moulting, special means should be used to improve the quality of the water in order to prevent the germs from spreading. If the infestation is more severe, there are special tinctures with which the affected areas can be treated. These have a disinfecting effect and keep the areas clean. If the disease cannot be cured, affected animals must be killed.

4. Shrimp ass (parasite):

One of the most common parasites that plagues shrimp is the woodlouse. The parasite, which is about one centimetre in size, usually settles on the side of the shrimp’s head. The shrimp woodlouse is a water sowbug. The woodlice bites or stings the shrimp with their mouth parts, which can weaken the shrimp’s immune system. If an woodlouse is found on a shrimp, it can be carefully removed with tweezers. Before doing so, the woodlouse should be soaked in strong brandy or spirit with a cotton swab. As soon as it lets go of the shrimp, the tweezers can be used.

5. Wormlike parasites:

In addition to the shrimp ass, shrimp can also be infested by worm-like parasites. These are usually suction worms, hookworms or leeches that attach themselves to the shrimp. The small parasites are usually difficult to detect. The flukes not only feed on the shrimp’s body fluid, they also lay eggs in the shrimp’s head. The parasites can be treated with medication. It is advisable to contact a veterinarian if you have an infestation of the suckerworm. He can help determine the perfect amount of medication so that the shrimp is not harmed during treatment.

How can shrimp diseases be prevented?

Fish have been decorating our aquariums for a long time. The situation is different with shrimp. These beautiful animals have only been in aquariums for a few years and therefore diseases that can affect shrimp are still relatively unexplored. Preventing shrimp diseases is therefore even more important. Most diseases are the result of mistakes in keeping the shrimp. Such mistakes can be, for example, poor hygiene, stress caused by an unsuitable environment or the wrong food or water in the aquarium. If the animals are weakened, they are easy victims of viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. In order to ensure the shrimp’s health, the following points should be observed:

– Water values

If the water values are not correct, the animals do not feel comfortable in their environment. If it is noticed that the animals are weakened or perhaps even already suffering from a disease, the water values should first be checked. Does the temperature of the water match the shrimp’s requirements? Are the pH value and water hardness correct? Is there sufficient oxygen in the aquarium or is there an excess of carbon dioxide? If there are problems with these values, aquatic plants, for example, can help as suppliers of CO2.

In some cases it is also possible that there are simply too many shrimp in one aquarium. Aquarium owners should definitely check from time to time whether the water is contaminated with heavy metals. Proportions of heavy metals (especially copper) in the aquarium can be life-threatening for the shrimp, as they can block the transport of oxygen in the blood.

– Food

For shrimp, nutrition is one of the most important foundations for their health. Shrimps eat a mainly vegetable diet. They should find many food possibilities permanently in the aquarium, e.g. moss, which they can graze. A certain amount of protein food should not be missing either. Those who ensure a varied diet for shrimp are rewarded with healthy animals. In addition to a one-sided diet, rotting food remnants or dead plant parts can also be the reason for shrimp disease.

– Hygiene

A lack of hygiene in the aquarium is also a frequent trigger for shrimp diseases. Food remains and excrements put a strain on the water quality. To keep the number of germs in the water as low as possible, regular water changes are absolutely essential. Autumn leaves of beech, alder or oak or alder cones serve as food for the shrimp and also have an antibacterial effect. Dead fish or shrimp should always be removed from the aquarium as quickly as possible.