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3 Ways To Keep Your Live Shrimp Alive

4 Ways To Keep Your Live Shrimp Alive

"I Want To Fish With Dead Shrimp Instead Of Live Shrimp," Said No Angler Ever

There is nothing more frustrating than reaching in a live well for a live shrimp and only finding dead ones at the bottom. This is a speedy way to ruin a fishing trip. Every year anglers will use thousands of live shrimp as bait that they have caught themselves or bought. One problem with shrimp is how fragile they are. They are quick to die in bad water, warmer temperatures, and other environmental factors. By knowing what kills them, we can develop ways to avoid these issues and preserve the shrimp bait for as long as possible. Allow us to examine in more detail a few ways that will always kill your shrimp and how to prevent it from happening.

Live Shrimp In Livewell

Keeping Your Shrimp Alive Is The Key To A Successful Fishing Trip

4 Ways That Kill Your Live Shrimp And How To Prevent It

1) The Sun: Hot Temperatures Will Always Kill Your Bait

Sun Kills Shrimp

The Sun Can Kill Your Shrimp Fast Due To High Water Temperatures

The sun is such an essential part of life, but when it comes to a shrimps world, it can kill fast. After buying your shrimp or throwing a cast net for them, you put them into a 5-gallon bucket or bait container. These small live wells contain a limited amount of water. Any direct sunlight can raise the water temperature dramatically and fast. This temperature change will cause the shrimp to stress and die. Because of this, it is essential to keep the shrimp in the shade. An excellent alternative to a 5-gallon bucket is a modified cooler that has a lid to close and keep them fresh.

2) Overcrowding: Too Small Of Bucket + Too Many Shrimp = Death

Overcrowding In a Bait Bucket

Overcrowding Can Kill Your Shrimp (Photo Credit: Florida Sportsman)

There have been many times when I have been throwing cast net on shrimp and catch way more than I need. A lot of times I would throw them into a 5-gallon bucket with an aerator on them to keep them alive. What I noticed is that about 25% would still die with fresh water and proper oxygen levels. The more shrimp you have, the larger the container needs to be. Anglers swear by the "dozen per gallon rule." This says that a good number of shrimp per gallon is around 12. Meaning in a 5-gallon bucket keeps no more than 50-60 live shrimp. Periodically throughout the day replace the water to keep the ammonia levels low. This will help keep your shrimp more fresh and lively. Another trick I have learned over the years is putting them into a floating bucket and let them float behind the boat. This allows for them to stay in fresh saltwater and avoids unnecessary pollutants and heating issues.

3) Oxygenation: Low Oxygen Levels Kills

Oxygen Depletion

Low Levels Of Oxygen Will Leave Your Shrimp Dead (Photo Credit: BioPublisher)

Shrimp are very sensitive to changes in oxygen levels within the water and will die from drastic changes. All anglers should have a bubble box or a water aerator system to move water and replenish depleted oxygen. Oxygen is diffused into water through the bubbles. The larger the bubbles, the less amount of oxygen will be dispersed. The best oxygenators will produce micro air for adequate oxygen diffusion. An alternative to this would be to have a bait storage system that allows fresh flow through it. These are great for on the boat or wade fishing, but not feasible when you are away from the water. Always remember "keep the O2 high, and you will keep the shrimp fly!"

4) Overnight: Keeping Shrimp Over Night Can Kill

Keeping Shrimp Over Night Can Be A Challenge

Keeping Shrimp Over Night Can Be A Challenge (Photo Credit: Instagram) 

One of the hardest things for me was to keep bait, shrimp specifically, alive overnight. It always frustrated me when I would catch three days worth of bait and want to use it multiple days because keeping them live was a challenge from hell. Unless you keep them in a cold area, do frequent water changes, and have an aerator system they can be challenging to stay alive. They are very fragile and will always pose a problem. The longer you keep them, the more water changes will be required to make because of nitrate levels in the water. It is not impossible to keep them but to keep them fresh and lively keep your water clean.

We hope a few of these techniques will help you keep your shrimp alive so they can be used for bait. If you have any questions or comments, we want to hear them and answer them. Feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at Send us pictures of all your catches on shrimp to be featured on all of our social media pages. Maybe you have a tip that we have not mentioned we would love to hear it and share with our readers. Keep your shrimp more fresh, relaxed, and full of life with our tips for keeping your shrimp alive more effectively.



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james william fore - July 13, 2021

Shrimp will also last longer if a small piece of burlap in in the bait bucket so they have something to cling to if you keep them in the bait bucket overnight in the bay.

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