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What a Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Looks Like – Fascinating

What a Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Looks Like – Fascinating

When my kids asked for a freshwater aquarium for Christmas, I was not very keen.

The guy at the pet store was quite helpful, so I asked him what I could add to the tank to keep the green stuff under control, ‘cause this mamma didn’t want to know about cleaning fish tanks. He suggested ghost shrimp. 

Back home, we added the shrimp, some plants, a few driftwood pieces that we glued in place, and a couple of colorful fish.

We spent many hours watching the fish, but the showstoppers were the ghost shrimp. Their translucent bodies were simply magical to watch. 

Imagine my surprise when I noticed one of the ghost shrimp was starting to look different from the others.

This little shrimp had grown in size, and it had green dots at the bottom of its belly. Concerned, I called the fish guy for answers—my ghost shrimp was a girl, and she was pregnant!


What Does a Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Look Like?

One of the first signs that a ghost shrimp is pregnant is green dots that are visible on the underside of the shrimp. Following this, the shrimp gains weight over the next two weeks once the other shrimp (the males) have been extra interested in her. Like frogs, the male shrimp fertilizes the eggs once they are the right size, and soon, the fertilized eggs become little green balls that turn into shrimp larvae or fry. You will then notice strange behavior in the female shrimp. She will fan her legs, possibly oxygenating the eggs, and the green balls will become white once they have been fertilized.


Signs Your Female Ghost Shrimp Is Pregnant

Ghost shrimp are fascinating to watch. Since they are entirely see-through, you can watch everything inside their bodies, from how food gets digested and excreted to how the eggs grow inside the female shrimp.

There are signs that a female shrimp is pregnant.

It is important to watch out for these signs because although the shrimp can give birth on its own, the young newborn shrimps are not fast swimmers and can be eaten by fish and other shrimp.


Sign One: Green Dots

When your female shrimp suddenly has a couple of green dots forming on the bottom of her body in an area known as the saddle, you can be pretty sure that she’s pregnant. In her see-through body, the presence of opaque green dots is hard to miss.


Sign Two: Weight Gain

In preparation for the upcoming pregnancy, the female shrimp will begin to eat more, and she will put on a little bit more weight.

The green dots will also grow larger, becoming green balls. These balls will begin moving towards the female ghost shrimp’s tail. 


Sign Three: Male Interest

When the female is ready, and the green eggs are at the right size (about two and a half weeks into the pregnancy), the male shrimp will become very interested in the female. They will fertilize the eggs that will then turn white. 


Sign Four: Fry Appearance

Soon, the eggs will begin to form a black dot and a small black line, which is the fry’s eyes and digestive tract.

The female ghost shrimp will be quite swollen with the size of the eggs at this point, and she will instinctively seek hiding places such as among the aquatic plants and under rocks where the fries can hide while they mature after birth.


Sign Five: Female Fanning

As the eggs grow larger, the female ghost shrimp will engage in strange behavior. She will use her legs to fan her tail and underbelly. Whether this is some way of helping to oxygenate the eggs or a way to encourage the redistribution of sedimentary food sources is uncertain. The strange fanning behavior is hard to miss. 


Explaining Ghost Shrimp Pregnancy to My Kids

The female ghost shrimp will undergo a strange metamorphosis.

My kids and I loved watching Lisa, as we named the little shrimp, and we were glued to the fish tank to see each change as she went through the phases of her pregnancy.

First, she had a couple of bright green dots on the lower side of her body. 

Soon, these dots became larger and paler in color.

This was followed by the eggs moving to her tail region, where the boy shrimp could ensure future generations of ghost shrimp with their genetic contribution. The green dots became larger and turned white. 

Before long, we could see eyes forming, and the mommy shrimp signaled the readiness of the birthing by fanning her underside.

Finally: we watched the first fries pop out of their mommy to wriggle away and hide among the java moss we specially planted for them. 


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding How A Pregnant Ghost Shrimp Look Like


How long does it take for ghost shrimp to lay eggs?

Ghost shrimp don’t lay eggs as they have a live birth once the eggs hatch inside them. The whole process takes just a little over three weeks.


What does a pregnant ghost shrimp look like?

The shrimp will form green dots that will grow in size as these move towards the female’s tail where they will be fertilized. The dots will then turn milky white, and soon you will see eyes forming. Once the eggs are ready, they will hatch as a live birth from the female. 


How often do ghost shrimp have babies?

Ghost shrimp can have eggs every couple of weeks. They have this many hatchings as their life expectancy is short. Ghost shrimp only live about a year to a year and a half. Each pregnancy can produce between 20-30 little eggs that hatch inside the female shrimp to make live-born fries. 


The Final Ghost

I have grown to love our little aquarium, and we often sit and watch Lisa.

She’s given birth to at least three sets of fries now, and while quite a few have met a fish’s kiss, most have thrived in the java moss and other plants we have added.

The see-through shrimp bodies are a real picture of the whole process from dots, to green balls, to being fertilized, and finally turning white with a little black dot for an eye. 

Best of all: Lisa has made many more tank cleaning little ghost shrimp, which means this mommy doesn’t have to get her hands dirty scrubbing all that green stuff off the glass. So go on, Lisa, have many more green dots!