Can Ghost Shrimp Get Ich or Ick Disease? 4 Tips To Avoid Contamination


A lot of hobbyists add Ghost Shrimp to their fish tanks as they are effective in cleaning up algae and waste from organic substances. They’re super cheap and hardy. But not all is neat and dandy if they can be a source of a problem that might wipe out your fish.

Can Ghost Shrimp Get Ich?

But wait, Ghost Shrimp are not fish, and the effect is not the same.

Ghost Shrimp can’t get sick with ich as the trophont (feeding stage of the parasite) cannot feed off of them. Thus, you shouldn’t worry about them contracting or dying from ich especially if you have a Shrimp-only tank.

If ich cannot find a host, they will slowly die off from lack of nourishment.

What Is Ich Disease?

For those new to the hobby and not familiar with this common fish disease, ich is very common in an aquarium. There are very few that can say they have never had ich in their tanks.

Ich, or Ichthyophthirus multifiliis, is a protozoan parasite that attaches itself to the bodies of fish under the scales. It’s also known as ick or White Spot Disease. It has 3 stages: the egg or torment stage, the theront or host-seeking stage, and the trophont or the feeding stage.

Because ich is a parasitic disease, it takes a couple of weeks for it to kill fish. They multiply and suck on nutrients from the fish, fall off, lay eggs, and reattach to a host.

Symptoms of ich on fish include raised, white spots on their bodies that look like grains of salt. They multiply, which you can observe after looking at the fish again for 24 hours.

Other symptoms would be that the fish would feel very itchy and irritated as well as scratching its body on things in the tank (flashing). If the infection is severe, there would be parasites in its gills, leading to panting for air. The fish would then weaken and die.

But don’t worry, your fish doesn’t have to perish because of ich. It’s a treatable disease that your fish can recover from as long as it’s detected early enough.

Can Ghost Shrimp Carry Ich?

Nobody knows where ich really come from. Some say they’ve always been in the tank just waiting for the fish to get weak so they can latch on to their host. Others say they’re transported from tank to tank by carriers, including invertebrates like Ghost Shrimp.

Despite Ghost Shrimp not getting affected by ich, they can become carriers of the parasite’s eggs (tomonts). This is evident by the white spots you can see on their scales.

Can Ghost Shrimp Get Ich?
Can Ghost Shrimp Carry Ich?

They are sometimes used as live feeders for Cichlids and other larger fish. But whether or not they’re being kept as pets or live food, they have the potential to harm your fish if they carry the parasite.

Ich can also attach itself to any part of the aquarium— substrate, rocks, walls, leaves, and decorations.

Avoiding Ich Tank Contamination By Ghost Shrimp

Ich is a headache you can steer clear of. If you’re adding Ghost Shrimp to your fish tank, here are some tips to avoid spreading ich.

Tip #1: Buy only from trusted sources

Buy your Shrimp from trusted aquarists and not the pet store. This way, you’re getting your species from clean tanks and you’re helping fellow hobbyists, too.

That’s not fool-proof, though. Some Shrimp sources may not be truthful about whether or not their tank has ich.

Tip #2: Keep your tank occupants healthy

Prevention is better than cure, so make sure your Shrimp, fish (if any), plants, and snails are healthy. If they have strong immune systems, fish would have healthy slime coats that would protect them from the parasites. And with regular maintenance that includes water changes and gravel vacuuming, your water will have less chances of containing ich eggs.

Tip #3: Always inspect Shrimp before buying

Inspect the tank you’re buying the Shrimp from. Don’t just look at the Shrimp, look at the other occupants if any. If there’s ich, you’ll notice white spots on them just like what we described above. You can back out of the deal or look for another tank that looks clean instead.

Tip #4: QT when in doubt

Quarantining your Shrimp for a couple of months is still an option, but most don’t do this and only settle for acclimating instead. It’s an extra step, but some would rather be safe than sorry.

Shrimp quarantine can last up to 72 days to guarantee that they’re ich-free. Whether it’s worth it is up to you.

Shrimp And Fish Tank Ich Treatment

In the unfortunate event— after confirmation of symptoms— that your fish has contracted ich, there are some things you can do to treat your fish and your tank.

Most ich treatments are not suited for tanks with Shrimp or plants, that’s why we recommend Hikari Ich-X. It’s copper-free and relatively safe for all occupants of your tank, whether fish, Shrimp, plants, or snails.

Wood Shrimp In Ghost Shrimp Tank
Wood Shrimp In Ghost Shrimp Tank

Remove the charcoal you have in your filter (if any) for the medicine to be effective. Follow the right dosage of Ich-X and you should see a change in 1 to 2 days.

You have band-aids and Neosporin in your medicine cabinet, right? Well, having a bottle of Ich-X is the same thing. Ich-X is a great product to keep in your aquarium arsenal just like your API Master Test Kit, especially if you have fish.

However, if there’s no difference after treating for 5 days, stop the medication. When this happens, it might not be ich at all and you could’ve misdiagnosed the problem.

Some may recommend using the Aquarium salt and high heat treatment, but we advise you to be cautious with that method as most plants and even some fish do not react well to this. Do your research on the species you have to avoid killing off your aquarium instead of saving them.

What Does It Mean When Ghost Shrimp Turn White?

If not being carriers of ich eggs, Ghost Shrimp can sometimes turn white due to other reasons.

Cause #1: Old age

Dying Ghost Shrimp may turn white if they’re old. As they only live about a year, don’t be surprised when at this time they start to lose their translucent look and become inactive even with the best care.

Cause #2: They’re molting

Molting is when the Ghost Shrimp reduces its activity, sheds its exoskeleton, and then grows a new one after some days. Juvenile Ghost Shrimps molt every few days, but adults molt only once a month. This will be evident when they start to look white and flaky. They grow back their outer shells after a few days.

Cause #3: They’re sick

Shrimps become susceptible if there are wild changes in water parameters including temperature and the presence of nitrates.

Consistency is the key when keeping Ghost Shrimp. Plus, make sure they have lots of plants to hide in, good food, and a comfortable tank.

Wrap-up

Ich is the first suspect when it comes to Ghost Shrimp turning white or “spotted” and rightly so, as this disease is a pain to go through for any aquarist who has fish. Some tanks have been wiped out by this disease, while some go through it once in a while and survive just like a common cold.

If you want an ich-proof aquarium, why not keep a species-only tank? Many people are into just Shrimp-keeping nowadays, and it’s just as exciting as caring for fish.

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