Well, it’s official…
All the things I need to set up my first dedicated shrimp tank are on their way!
To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the century!
I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but it seems like things just always get in the way (life, am I right?).
So as I wait for the new stuff to arrive (sponge filters, air pump, and a couple of other small things) I have plenty of time to finish planning things out.
I’ve already got my tank, an old 10 gallon, and a heater, and I know precisely the shrimp I want to start with:
It’s gotta be those beautiful cherry shrimp!
I remember seeing them in my Local Fish Stores way back in the day, and I always enjoy watching them forage for food in a beautifully planted tank.
As I prepare to care for this new to me aquatic species, I like to do the same thing I do for any new fishy friend I bring into my home:
I do research!
It’s always a good idea to find the potential issues you’ll run into with a species.
Aside from what water parameters to use, what food is both beneficial and attractive to them, and what tank mates are not a good idea, I like to also look up the potential treatments you might have to put in place if they get sick.
One question I found during my research was about the color of eggs and whether or not that meant they were sick.
So this article is dedicated to my findings and explaining how to tell if the color of your shrimp’s eggs is just natural or something to worry about.
Cherry Shrimp usually have Yellow colored Eggs, but they can also be Orange or Green. Green eggs are often found on shrimp which have a lighter colored body (more transparent than red) but can also be a sign of Ellobiopsidae, a parasite which can infect your whole tank.
What are Cherry Shrimp Eggs?
Cherry shrimp are a member of the neo-caridina family of dwarf shrimp.
These small hobbyist shrimp are all of a very similar body structure, and can actually interbreed.
The main difference between the variations in the color of the body. Here is a list of the different colors and grades of Neo-caridina shrimps, and there’s a color for every tank!
All of the different types hold their eggs in the rear and under their tail – well the females do at least.
When the shrimp are getting close to having their babies, they will go through a stage of bearing the eggs in which they’re referred to as “berried”.
A berried shrimp makes the eggs much more visually distinct, and once you have one that’s at this stage you can start to see the color of your eggs.
Usually, with cherry shrimp, in particular, you would expect to see a yellowish colored egg, sort of the same color as a baby chicken (but not as bright as marshmallow ones you buy at the supermarket).
Sometimes you will get a shrimp with Green eggs instead. These usually look like a regular egg in shape, but with a bit of a Green tint rather than a solid Green color.
As this is definitely not the norm, it can be a bit worrying to find on your little expecting shrimp mommy.
So why exactly are those eggs a different color?
Why are my Shrimp’s Eggs Green?
There are really two main reasons that a Shrimp’s eggs would be green rather than yellow.
I want to specify that the first reason here is something I have only been able to find identified in Cherry shrimp, but other colors and grades are very similar so it’s not impossible to see either of these causes in different types of dwarf shrimp.
The good news is, Green Eggs can be something completely natural and nothing to worry about.
There are many reported cases where normal, healthy Cherry shrimp are found bearing light Green eggs instead of yellow.
These eggs have developed to full maturity and hatched into standard cherry shrimp babies without any observable health defects.
The general consensus is that this condition is more commonly found in mother shrimp who are much lighter red in color.
As you may know, Cherry Shrimp is actually a pretty full catchall name for a variety of shrimp which are all red, but which differ in the shade of red and the depth of red (or how see-through they are).
Many shrimp keepers have noted that naturally green eggs appear most commonly if not exclusively on shrimp which are translucent and only tinted red, with a browner colored body also being a potential link.
This can also be a result of the different stages of maturation of the eggs, going from newly fertilized to little shrimplets ready to hatch.
The usual progression goes from a solid colored egg, usually yellow but sometimes green or orange, and over time it will get a lighter color (sometimes shifting a bit from one color to another) and get more and more transparent.
An excellent way to identify if your eggs are Naturally Green is to look at the shape and uniformity of the egg clusters. If they look like a green-tinted version of the eggs on another shrimp, then you’re in the clear!
But if you see a little bit of a feathered shape, or uneven green protrusions coming from underneath your shrimps tail, it’s possible you may have a bit of an issue on your hands.
Do Green Eggs mean my Shrimp is sick?
Green eggs on a cherry shrimp, like discussed above, doesn’t necessarily mean your shrimp is sick.
It is entirely possible for this variation in color to only be genetically related – after all there are dozens of color variations in shrimp bodies, so one or two variations in eggs color is not some far-out theory.
It’s also possible for the food your shrimp are eating to contribute to the color of their eggs.
In a somewhat strange example, but the best one I can think of, there is commonly a slight change in the color of chicken eggs based on their diet.
The yolk of an egg can vary from a light yellow to a dark, almost orange color based on how many bugs, how much grain, or other minerals and vitamins are found in their diet.
Even the shell of the eggs can be different depending on the species of the chicken, with some being speckled, spotted, or even a greenish tint!
So if your shrimp is looking healthy otherwise, the eggs look like regular eggs, and they just have a tinge of green? They probably aren’t sick.
Green can be a sign of sickness though, in something called Ellobiopsidae.
Ellobiopsidae is a parasite found in neo-caridina shrimp which is noted for it’s bright green colored and is sometimes confused with healthy, green colored berries.
What is Ellobiopsidae and how can I identify it?
Also called the “Green Fungus”, Ellobiopsidae is a parasitic infection which is characterized by bright green protrusions coming from underneath the tail of cherry shrimp and other neo varieties.
This parasite will root itself under the shrimp’s shell or carapace and will steal nutrients from the shrimp much like a tapeworm in humans.
This can weaken the shrimp, limit its ability to move, and eventually will kill them prematurely.
To identify this green menace, and differentiate it from a healthy cluster of eggs, we just need to go back to the shape and overall appearance.
Ellobiopsidae looks more like feathers poking out from between the berries of your shrimp than it looks like the eggs themselves.
While both can have a green color to them, the parasite will likely have a brighter green color, almost like a neon green.
There’s an excellent video showing the differences, including a naturally occurring green color here:
I want to point out I have no affiliation with Sergeant Tank, I just found this video really helpful in understanding Ellopbiopsidae.
So, if you’ve Identified this issue, the next question is: What do you do?
What to do if your shrimp has Green Fungus?
Unfortunately, the Green Fungus can be a complicated aquarium infection to deal with, both for preventing and eliminating the parasites once you can see and identify them.
Ellopbiopsidae can exist in shrimp that you get in while not being able to see it right away.
Think of it like the common cold.
You may have a cold, and not have all of the symptoms yet, but in a couple days you’ll start sneezing and coughing
The first thing to do, and this applies for other potential shrimp health issues, is to quarantine any new shrimp before adding them to your tanks.
Using a quarantine tank allows you to accurately dose new shrimp with medication to eliminate any possible bugs lurking inside them.
At the same time, you should make sure the water in your quarantine tank has the same parameters – or very close – to those of the tank you plan to keep them in.
Giving them a few days in this special tank will help them get used to the way you have your tanks set up, but also allows you to see if any sickness that’s been hiding during transport will become visible before introducing that to your other shrimpies.
For Ellobiopsidae in particular, using something like Seachem Paraguard is a robust method for trying to contain a breakout and eliminate it early on.
If you have some shrimp in your main tank which show the bright green feathers though, it will take a bit more work than that.
Chaz Hing wrote a really thorough and in-depth article explaining a bit more about this disease, along with some of his own research findings.
Using a combination of external medication and medicated food, he was able to successfully eradicate this fungus from his tank after encountering it first hand.