Why Ship Young Shrimp?
by Ryan Wood
It is extremely important for all hobbyists to understand the importance of the best size of shrimp to ship. Unfortunately the Shrimp Hobby is very new and therefore the majority of hobbyists fail to recognize the significance of receiving small shrimp versus large shrimp.
Shipping shrimp is a very important subject in the Shrimp Hobby. Virtually all hobbyists around the world buy, trade, and sell their shrimp. It is not only important to know how to package, insulate, and ship the shrimp but it is also very important to know what the optimal shrimp size is that are being shipped. If you are interested in how to package and ship shrimp please read the article Shipping Inverts. Information for acclimating shrimp to a new tank can be found in the article Acclimating New Shrimp.
There are several factors that play a role in shrimp size related to shipping. One factor is stress. Adult shrimp have lived the majority of their lives in one tank. The adult shrimp has grown accustomed to one environment and can easily be stressed when physically transported. Another factor is the acclimation to new water conditions. The adult shrimp has grown in one tank its entire life and when placed in a new tank it is subjected to a completely new environment including water parameters, substrate, inhabitants, plants, etc. Shipping adult sized shrimp is not recommended nor effective in the long run. A way to circumvent and/or reduce the potential for stress is to simply not ship adult shrimp and instead ship young shrimp. Receiving small shrimp is the best way to establish a healthy colony and produce many offspring over time. Patience is the key. It does not take long for a shrimp to reach adult size.
As a hobbyist myself I have purchased numerous shrimp and received numerous packages from many different breeders. Over this period of time I have realized that the smaller the shrimp the better. I know for a fact that the survivability rate of small shrimp versus large shrimp when introduced to a new tank is much higher. Adult shrimp do not like being introduced to a completely new environment. Some of the adults will turn white, as if their insides are cooked, and will not show good health. The coloration of newly acquired adults will be poor. Breeding will also be poor for the newly acquired adults. However, small shrimp are given a better opportunity to survive and breed readily in the new environment. The simple fact that they grow and reach adulthood in your tank, and not the breeders tank, is the key. They become accustomed to your tank and show much healthier colors and breeding patterns as they grow. In the long run the smaller shrimp will do much better than the adults.
My theory is that when it comes to shrimp, which are invertebrates, they molt and create their exoskeleton according to their environment as they grow. Their exoskeletons are custom made in order for the shrimp to successfully survive in the water conditions it grows in.
In the following example I am not trying to emphasize temperature, but am instead trying to emphasize a change in environment and time to adapt to such change: Think of the exoskeleton as sort of like wearing a winter coat, the coat being the shrimp exoskeleton. Imagine being in cold weather and all of a sudden being transported to hot weather. Of course this example is an extreme as far as temperature, but I am only trying to empasize the point that the shrimp depend on their exoskeleton for protection and can only adapt when they molt. Molting takes time, they cannot just rip off the "winter coat" and adjust instantly to the different environment. I have done some research online and will definitely update this article to reflect any factual detail pertaining to exoskeleton development and adaptation.
New Shrimp Hobbyists need to realize that shrimp are not a toy, they are live organisms. If you purchase shrimp from a breeder you should not want the "WOW" effect right out of the box. Instead you should be patient and in a very short amount of time you will know why it is better to get small shrimp. Think about it: would you rather have 10 young shrimp grow to be healthy and breed well, or 10 adult shrimp which will not live as long nor breed as well? Both are the same exact species.