All about shrimp molting

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The world of living things is beautiful and complex. Living things are divided into different categories. Each category has its unique characteristics. Arthropods are one of the most diverse and surprising groups of animals. Their ability to molt is one of those surprises. Molting is a process that occurs in all types of arthropods, from insects to crustaceans.

Molting is the process of replacing the old shell with a new one. It is necessary for the growth of all crustaceans; these animals have a hard skeleton and must molt to grow. Molting is a cyclical process that occurs in all life stages of crustaceans. Shrimp are crustaceans, and the molting process is considered one of the requirements for their growth. Shrimp reproduction and metabolism are also affected by molting.

The shrimp body consists of three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen, and has a total of 19 parts. A hard and rigid shell, called the exoskeleton, covers the entire surface of the shrimp’s body. This outer shell is made of protein and protects the shrimp’s body. If you want to learn more about the anatomy of the shrimp body, take a look at our previous article on the site.

During molting, the shrimp’s exoskeleton, or shell, falls off and is replaced by a new one. Molting is controlled by a complex hormonal system. It is also influenced by environmental conditions such as temperature, water pH, food, and growth stage.

How do we know when molting is occurring?

Several behavioral signs indicate that the shrimp is ready to molt. One of these signs is a decrease in the shrimp’s mobility. During molting, shrimp spend most of their time standing motionless, moving only slightly nearby. In addition, shrimp are usually not active feeders at this time. Of course, it should be noted that these behaviors may indicate problems with the water parameters. It is therefore recommended to check the water parameters in such cases.

The body of the shrimp is vulnerable when it has just molted. Shrimp will hide until their shells reach the required hardness.

Shrimp Molting Steps

The shrimp molting process is divided into 5 stages, which are as follows:

1- Early post-molt: The first stage of the molting process is the post-molt stage. Here, the shrimp has just completed the molting process. The shrimp exoskeleton is still soft and vulnerable, and the shrimp are inactive and have no appetite for food. Water absorption is high at this stage due to the strengthening of the cuticle.

2- Late post-molt: At this stage, the exoskeleton of the shrimp body goes from soft to hard. The presence of more calcium at this stage causes the exoskeleton to harden.

3- Intermolt stage: This is a stage where sufficient calcium causes the exoskeleton to harden completely. This is one of the longer molting stages. During this stage, shrimp are active feeders, and their weight increases.

4- Pre-molt stage: In this stage, the shrimp prepare for a new molt. The duration of this stage is long and is divided into four parts. The cuticle layer begins to grow slowly during the pre-molt stage. Shrimp feeding decreases during this stage.

5- Ecdysis stage: This is the last and shortest stage of the molting process, lasting only one to two minutes. In this stage, the old exoskeleton is separated from the shrimp’s body. Some shrimp will eat their old exoskeleton during this stage. The old exoskeleton is a good source of calcium, so it is useful for building a new exoskeleton.

Molting occurs at all stages of the shrimp’s life. Shrimp weighing approximately 5 grams molt once every 4 to 6 days. For 10-gram shrimp, molting occurs every 7 to 10 days, and for 13 to 17-gram shrimp, molting occurs every 14 days. Note that environmental and nutritional conditions also affect molting intervals. As the temperature increases, the rate of molting increases, and as the temperature decreases, the rate of molting decreases as well.

What can we do to ease the molting process?

As mentioned above, molting is a natural process under the influence of hormones, but there are ways to make the molting process easier.

Reducing stress on the shrimp is the first solution. The molting process of shrimp is more difficult under stressful conditions. One of the causes of stress in shrimp is significant changes in water parameters.

Managing feeding during the molting process is another solution. Shrimp molting goes through different stages and the amount of shrimp feeding decreases or increases according to these stages. Controlling these stages and regulating shrimp feeding is essential.

The next solution is to provide shrimp with sufficient nutrients during the molting process. Shrimp need a sufficient amount of calcium to build a new exoskeleton. Calcium and other necessary minerals can be fed to shrimp as food or poured directly into the water. These materials will facilitate the molting process.

Farmers should monitor and control any changes in shrimp shells during the molting process. Unpredictable changes in shell appearance may indicate that a disease is developing. Many shrimp diseases cause shell deformities, allowing farmers to detect the spread of the disease and take appropriate action.


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