- Saddle: Yellow/green eggs developing in the ovaries (just behind the head)
- Berried: Carrying fertilized eggs under the body (see photo above)
When will they breed?
New shrimps which have been added to a tank with different parameters and layout to their previous home might take a few weeks, usually between 3 to 6 weeks, to scope out their new territory and be comfortable enough to breed in it.
Cherry and Bee shrimps reach sexual maturity at around 4 to 6 months old, so if you only have young, smaller shrimp then they may need more to mature before they can breed. You should also check your population's ratio of females to males for optimal breeding, but simply aiming for more females is a good start.
This is assuming that all of your tank parameters are optimal for them to breed in too, check your TDS, KH, GH, and nitrate levels are within an optimal range for your shrimp.
Shrimps will typically breed more readily in slightly warmer water, around 23c. If your water is cooler then you can wait for the summer or consider adding a heater which might help encourage breeding.
What to look out for
Once a female is saddled and has eggs ready to be fertilized, the next time she molts she will also release a pheromone to attract males to mate with her.
The males will swim laps excitedly around the tank trying to find the female once they detect these sexual hormones. The female will typically be hiding somewhere in the tank as she is still vulnerable from the recent molt.
Once a male finds the female they will mate and the saddle will move all of the eggs, usually 20 to 30, down under her body to her pleopods (swimmers) and is now berried.
Whilst the female is carrying the eggs, she will frequently fan them using her pleopods to keep them clean and oxygenated until they're ready to hatch in around 3 to 4 weeks.
It's a common misconception that changing the water more frequently will trigger molting and thus speed up breeding.
Water changes should be performed with your normal schedule, taking care to match the current parameters and introduce the new water slowly. Otherwise the new water parameters could shock any new molted shrimp and cause them unnecessary stress or even death.
Ensure there is sufficient biofilm, algae, or other foods available for the baby shrimp to eat after they hatch.
Normally they will hide in a section of the tank soon after hatching and not venture much for another few weeks, so it's vital that there is a decent distribution of food throughout the tank.
Some suggestions for baby food are bacteria supplements like Bacter AE or Shrimp King BioTase, to encourage biofilm growth - their main diet. Alternatively, bee pollen, snowflake food, and leaf litter make great foods for baby shrimp as they cover a large area and adults stealing the food will be unlikely.
It's important to have plenty of hiding places for the shrimp so they can avoid stress after molting and allow the baby shrimp to feel comfortable.
Some great hiding places can be found in mosses and plants as they will also have large surface area for biofilm to grow on too. Java moss in particular is fantastic for this because of how quickly and chaotic it grows. Rock and driftwood caves are also great for similar reasons and are a good alternative if you have lots of water movement that would cause plants to sway a lot and not provide consistent cover for the shrimp.
Filter intake sponge
Baby shrimp are incredibly small when they first hatch so it's important to make sure that all of your filter intakes have very fine sponge covers to prevent the shrimp getting pulled into the filter.
Alternatively you could use a very fine mesh behind your filter intake in all-in-one tanks for example.
It's fairly common for first-time berried shrimp to lose some, or all, of their eggs before they're ready to hatch.
If you notice this, check the water parameters and adjust if necessary, or wait for the shrimps to improve their carrying technique over time.