Why do Store Bought Dwarf Shrimp Die?

I cannot count how many times I have been asked a simple, yet very difficult to answer question:

Why did my shrimp die?

The reason this is a difficult question to answer is because there are many reasons a Dwarf Shrimp may die, but after discussing with the owners of the dead shrimp there is often a common occurrence. The shrimp were bought at a local fish store or a large chain pet store.

Why does this matter?

Just looking at the fact that the shrimp were store bought shouldn’t lead to a higher mortality rate, but when looking into it closer, it does make sense. Three of the main reasons that store bought shrimp have a higher mortality rate are many of the shrimp are wild caught, poor holding/shipping conditions and age.

Wild Caught

Many of the shrimp that are sold in stores are wild caught and imported. Every bit of this process is stressful to the shrimp and this alone leads to a higher mortality rate. Wild caught shrimp also have a more difficult time acclimating to captive life and changing water conditions.

Poor Holding/Shipping Conditions

Many shrimp that are shipped to fish stores are shipped in deplorable conditions with far to many shrimp in a bag and poor water conditions in that bag. Then when the shrimp arrives at the store, more times than not, they are put into water that is not ideal (and sometimes harmful to them) that often contains predators that only add to their stress level.


It is next to impossible to tell the age of an adult shrimp. With most shrimp being sold in stores being wild caught adults, there is a good chance that some of these shrimp are already at the top end of their life expectancy. Older shrimp also have a much harder time adapting to new conditions.

What’s the solution?

The best solution is to find a reputable breeder online and order from them. There are a few people that produce very high quality stock at a very reasonable price!