An adult Peppermint Shrimp

Breeding Peppermint Shrimp

Peppermint shrimp, or Candy Cane shrimp, are one of the most popular ornamental shrimp within the aquarium trade. In fact, they are so popular that they are intensely harvested, more so peppermint shrimp from Monacothan most other invertebrate species. With them being so popular, and their ease of breeding, we really should be working together as hobbyists to ease up on just how many we collect. These shrimp serve several ecological purposes- from controlling pest anemones, cleaning decaying organic matter from the reef, and even acting as a cleaner shrimp removing dead skin and parasites from fish. If we continue to harvest these little shrimp at the rate we currently are, who knows what kind of impact we could accidentally have on their natural habitat. Thankfully, Peppermints are one of the easier shrimp to breed and tank bred specimens are getting easier and easier to find. And, hobbyists dedicated to breeding set ups are also able to rear young. If you are up for a challenge, this is a fun project to undertake!

The Parents

First, you have to establish your breeding colony. Candy Cane shrimp are notoriously cannibalistic and aggressive towards one another, so do not expect every single one you buy to survive. It is better to start with a few extra and let them work out who is strongest and gets to be part of the colony. Typically, about 2 shrimp per 10 gallons is about where they will level out. So, if you have a 20 gallon tank to breed them in, purchasing 4 to 6 shrimp is recommended.

The Breeding Tank

In the breeding tank, place a heater, gentle filter, sand, and live rock. Most importantly, do not add any other fish or invertebrates as they will prey on shrimp larvae, which may discourage breeding. Remember to keep parameters in check, and carry out routine maintenance as if this was your main display tank. Many hobbyists who have tried breeding Peppermint shrimp have killed their breeding colony due to poor water parameters or disease when they forgot to perform proper water testing or changes. Plenty of live rock is needed to provide the shrimp territory and places to get away and hide from each other. Right after molting, the adults are vulnerable and can be easily hunted down and injured or killed by another shrimp. Many successful breeders also stress the importance of feeding the parent colony daily with a varied, enriched, and healthy diet and how much it increased their success rate.
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Larvae Hatching

From my research, there is no one answer as to how long shrimp carry their eggs before releasing them. Some have their shrimp carry for 10-20 days, while some have individuals who carry for upwards of 2 months. This is all likely influenced by the size of the colony, predators in the tank, and water parameters. But, when the eggs are ready to hatch, you will notice that they turn a more silvery color. At this point, you will need to decide how you will transfer the free swimming larvae to the larval rearing tank. Some prefer to catch the parent shrimp a day or two before they will release their young and move it to the other tank until then. Others will black out the breeding tank, and use a flashlight to attract all of the larvae to one area, and scoop them out gently with a bowl. And finally, some purchase a “larvae snagger /catcher” device online and use it to catch young for them. Make sure you plan your methods before it is too late! Peppermints release their free swimming larvae after lights go out, with most reporting 10 PM to 2 AM being the most common times.

The Larval Rearing Tank

This should be an empty tank in a darker room, with only a heater and airstone. The stone should be gently releasing air into the tank, not violently releasing a tornado of bubbles that explode everywhere and thrash the babies around. A 5 to 15 gallon aquarium is typically a good tank size to use. Airline tubing will also be needed to preform daily, yes daily, water changes. Baby Peppermint shrimp require a lot of food, and it will quickly foul the water and kill everything if you don’t do daily water changes. Airline tubing is recommended so that you can easily maneuver the tank to avoid sucking up any larvae. Water from the parent breeding tank can be used as clean water, which will encourage you to keep up on maintenance in both tanks!

How to Raise the Larvae

For the first few weeks of life, the larvae will be free swimming, unlike their parents. From day 1, you need to have a supply of brine shrimp eggs available to hatch continuously. I highly recommend having 3-4 different hatching stations. The baby Candy Cane shrimp will need to eat roughly 5 times a day, every 2-3 hours. For the first week, very very young baby brine shrimp is required. Basically, you need to have just-hatched brine ready to dump in 5 times a day. For their second week of life, slightly older brine shrimp may be used. Around 2 weeks old, feed the young small frozen foods (chopped up mysis, adult brine, krill, plankton, and any other meaty cubes you have). You can also now incorporate crushed flakes. Each of these foods should be enriched, baby brine with phytoplankton and other foods with a vitamin soak.

Larval Stages

To help you keep track of the progression while breeding peppermint shrimp, here are some major stages they will undergo on their journey to adulthood. First, they will be hatched without eye stalks. Between days 3 and 4, they will grow eye stalks and be roughly 50% larger than they were previously. Around days 6 and 7, they undergo a major morph. Long legs with paddle like ends grow at the front of the body. This is a particularly energy draining transition, and mortality rate typically increases around this time. While a few more stages are seen between this and settlement, they are small and barely noticeable aside from the size increases. Between days 40 and 65, the free-swimming larvae settle and metamorphose into actual shrimp. Now, you will see them walking around the bottom and sides of the glass. A few days after this, their white or clear color takes on the red and pink adult coloration. Now, they are ready to grow a little more and then be transferred to your grow out tank! It is important to remove them now, as younger larval shrimp make tasty snacks for their older siblings. Do not move them into the adult breeding tank, many people report that adults will bully and kill young shrimps. Most people set up a few plastic trays with rocks and airstones to allow shrimp to safely grow before being added to your reef tank, sold to other hobbyists, or traded in at the local fish store.

Conclusions

With Peppermint shrimp being such great clean up crew members, and their appetite for Aiptasia Anemones, it’s easy to understand why this invert is so intensely traded across the globe. Aside from their aggressive tendencies towards each other, there are really no downsides to be said about this shrimp. If you have a couple of spare tanks, breeding peppermint shrimp is definitely a fun, education, and somewhat easy project to work on to further your involvement in this wonderful hobby!
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417 thoughts on “Breeding Peppermint Shrimp”

    1. I’ve had good results with Peppermint shrimp eradicating aptasia anemones in the past. I know it’s hit or miss for some people, but the trick is to not feed them IME. Hungry shrimp will go after the pest anemones. Once the aptasia are gone, you can feed normally.

  1. This is awesome!!!! Never even thought of it. To bad, tanks needs no fish.. I have a 20 gal with only 2 clowns I could easily do this with. Sorry Algae Barn my next order of peppermint Shrimp may be my last order.

  2. I don’t know if I have the patients to breed shrimp. I couldn’t handle phyto and pods. I do need a peppermint shrimp in my new setup though. Started it with all dry rock and already have an aptasia. Must have snuck in on a frag I got from my wifes office tank.

  3. Has anyone actually done this and been successful? Sounds like ALOT of work. With that being said if anyone has done it and are selling Peppys in bulk cheap, let me know

  4. I think I will pass on breeding them. I do not have the time or patience required to dedicate at this time. Great info!

  5. Never tried raising them, but always liked having pairs in my large reefs. The babies are good food for picky coral and fish. Indefinitely don’t recommend in tanks smaller than 10 gallons as they can start eating corals if not feed and it’s hard to feed them enough and not pollute the water in a smaller aquarium. At least that’s my opinion.

  6. Alejandro Rodriguez

    I first saw how popular shrimp keeping as a hobby at the Aquatic Experience in the Meadowlands NJ Expo this past Fall. I would like to begin breeding them late Summer 2020.

  7. These were some of the first creatures I added to my tank when I made the leap to saltwater last year. Breeding them sounds a lot like breeding various fish species.

  8. I think introducing as many captive bred animals as possible is really important to keeping the aquarium hobby sustainable!

  9. Well the first paragraph told me something I didn’t know-their cannabalistic nature. I thought something else was offing my shrimp! Thank you-Merry Christmas!

  10. Great read, but no way in heck would I ever consider breeding shrimp after reading this nightmare of steps you have to go through. I will leave that to the professionals, thank you very much.

  11. Sounds very intriguing. Clownfish breeding is a breeze compared to these little guys! But, would like to mark that off my bucket list too!

  12. Krystal Whittington

    I always have Peppermint Shrimp in my tanks but I would never want to try and raise them. Just dont have the time

  13. Why Buy more shrimp when you can breed your own! Honestly this article was very interesting and informative looking forward to reading tons more articles! Happy Holidays!!!!!!

  14. Why Buy more shrimp when you can breed your own! Honestly this article was very interesting and informative looking forward to reading tons more articles! Happy Holidays!!!!!!

  15. Good read thank you!
    Not something I can picture myself doing successfully. But I am super supportive of more “captive” bred systems to alleviate the strain on our real reefs!
    Happy Holidays

  16. Very cool! I’ve had cleaner pairs breed many times in my tanks. Of course they always get snarfed down in minutes by the fish but would love to be able to breed them successfully some day!

  17. shackelford.jim

    I have a couple of peppermint shrimps in my cleanse crew, and never realized they could be bred in a tank.

  18. shackelford.jim

    I have a couple of peppermint shrimps in my cleanse crew, and never realized they could be bred in a tank.

  19. Happy Holidays!! I would love nothing more than to add some shrimp to my reef tank! I only have a 20 gallon but my dad has always had a 180 that I adore and take care of! Getting my own large system tanks is a dream!

  20. I have owned ghost shrimp before but never had heard of the peppermint shrimp! I love shrimps they are so cute!! I actually never thought of breeding these! Awesome read! Happy 2020 everyone!!

  21. This would be fun to do, a big challenge for me but a lot of fun, I would hate it though if just one shrimp died.

  22. Honestly never thought of using peppermints for invasive anemones, might have to look more into that and apply it to my tank. Should look into if my skunk shrimp and a peppermint to see if they’ll get along!

  23. These shrimp are really neat! I didn’t know they removed dead skin and parasites from fish, so I learned something new today.

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