At some point in your shrimp keeping journey, you may find dropped eggs in your tank.
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to rescue the eggs. You can help them grow into healthy adults with just a few minutes of work.
Keeping the eggs healthy
While being carried under the mother’s body, the eggs are constantly being fanned by her swimmerets.
This fanning moves the eggs around and has a few benefits:
- Prevents mold
- Reduces risk of bacteria growing
- Oxygenates the egg
These are the jobs you’ll need to take over, to give the dropped eggs the best chance of survival.
Preventing mold and bacteria
As they’re carried underneath her body, the eggs are often fairly close to detritus and other dirt on the aquarium floor.
Moving water around the eggs helps to prevent bacteria and mold clinging to the eggshell.
The eggs are shuffled around slightly too, so the same egg isn’t constantly exposed to the elements.
As well as cleaning, the fanning motion helps to oxygenate the eggs, and keep the babies healthy.
How long do the eggs take to hatch?
Normally the eggs will hatch within around four weeks.
You can tell they’re close to hatching when you can see their tiny dark eyes through the shell. It should be less than a few days once you see eyes.
- Use a net near your filter flow
- Build a DIY egg tumbler
Using a net near your filter
Move the eggs into a fine mesh net, and find a way to hold it near your tank’s filter flow.
This can work for Hang on Back filters, with the waterfall flowing into the net.
Make sure the flow isn’t too strong, or you risk damaging the eggs or pushing them out of the net.
Similarly, you could hold the net over your spring filter or airstone, so the air bubbles gently tumble the eggs inside the net.
After a few days or weeks, the babies will hopefully hatch and flee the net. They’ll find a new hiding spot nearby, and graze on biofilm until they’re ready to explore.
Build a DIY tumbler
You can make a simple egg tumbler with a few basic supplies:
- Clear tube, pipe, or an open container
- Mesh netting
You want to make something like a fish breeder box, but for shrimp eggs.
If you’re using a container, cut small holes in the top and bottom for water/air to flow through.
Cover these holes with the fine mesh to keep the eggs from being thrown out.
Place an airstone or airline tube underneath the pipe / container to gently agitate the eggs.
Using clear housing lets you see exactly what’s going on. You’ll see how much the eggs are moving, and whether any have hatched yet.
- Count the eggs
- Cut back on powdered foods
Keep count of the eggs
Try and count the eggs every few days to check if any might have fallen out of your tumbler, or even hatched.
Reduce powdered foods
If you normally feed powdered foods, especially ones which encourage bacteria/biofilm growth, you should stop for a while.
You do not want to coat the exposed eggs in food particles.
Any bacteria that latches on to the shell could eat through it and prevent the baby hatching. Biofilm growth could also suffocate the egg and prevent oxygen getting in.
It’s absolutely fine to start feeding again when the eggs have hatched, or are very close, because the baby shrimp will benefit from powdered food.
What causes dropped eggs?
- Mother’s lack of experience
- Stress caused by water quality
- A berried shrimp dying
It’s totally normal for new, inexperienced mother shrimp to drop some or all of their eggs.
Each time they become berried, they should get better at fanning and keeping hold of their eggs.
A berried shrimp experiencing stress is quite likely to drop her eggs.
Essentially, she’s struggling to live herself and can’t deal with the extra responsibility of caring for the eggs too.
Check your water parameters and try to see if your shrimp are showing any signs of stress.
A berried shrimp dying is quite rare, but it’s absolutely possible to save the eggs and help them grow into healthy adults.
You will need to remove the mother from the tank and carefully remove the eggs, using tweezers or a toothpick.
Be extremely careful not to damage the eggs, as they’re quite fragile.
If you’ve had a few other recent deaths in your tank, you should investigate what might be causing it.