Cherry Shrimp Care: Breeding and Behavior Insights

cherry shrimp resting on rock
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 17, 2024
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Is algae a **headache** in your aquarium? Meet the Cherry Shrimp – your **natural clean-up crew**! These little critters can **magically transform** your cloudy fish tank into a **crystal-clear wonderland**.

Article Summary

  • Cherry Shrimp, scientifically known as Neocaridina davidi, are native to Taiwan and Southern China, prized for their vibrant red coloration.
  • They are small freshwater invertebrates that play a valuable role in maintaining water quality by feeding on decaying organic matter and algae in the wild.
  • Cherry shrimp come in various colors and patterns, including red, yellow, blue, green, black, and transparent, with different names for each color variation.

Species Overview

Cherry shrimp, scientifically known as Neocaridina davidi, are native to Taiwan and Southern China. These small freshwater invertebrates are highly sought after for their vibrant red coloration, which adds a striking visual appeal to any aquarium.

Originating from the rivers and streams of Taiwan, red cherry shrimp thrive in freshwater environments. Their natural habitat consists of areas with ample plant cover and leaf litter where they can find food and seek shelter.

In the wild, these resilient creatures play a valuable role in the ecosystem by feeding on decaying organic matter and algae, helping maintain water quality.

Cherry Shrimp Coloring and Characteristics

Cherry shrimp exhibit various colors and patterns. They come in different varieties such as red, yellow, blue, green, black, and even transparent. They also come in a variety of colorful names such as the following:

  • Fire red cherry shrimp
  • Sakura cherry shrimp
  • Bloody Mary shrimp
  • Red cherry shrimp
  • Painted fire shrimp
  • Ruby red shrimp
  • Scarlet shrimp
  • Crimson shrimp
  • Cherry blossom shrimp
  • Red velvet shrimp

Through selective breeding efforts by enthusiasts worldwide, numerous color morphs have been developed over time. The grading system used to classify these colors is significant for breeders and collectors alike.

Distinguishing between male and female red cherry shrimp is relatively easy once you know what to look for. Adult males tend to be smaller in size compared to females and have a more slender appearance.

Females possess a larger abdomen due to carrying eggs when matured. Baby shrimp and juvenile red cherry shrimp may not display clear gender differences until they reach sexual maturity.

In terms of size, red cherry shrimp typically grow up to 1-1.5 inches (2-3 cm) long when fully matured. Their growth rate largely depends on factors such as water conditions, diet quality, and genetics. With proper care and maintenance in captivity, these tiny creatures can thrive and reach their maximum potential size.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of cherry shrimp. These small, colorful crustaceans require specific conditions to thrive in your aquarium. Let’s dive into the key factors that contribute to their success.

Cherry shrimp prefer a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 in their aquatic habitat.

Cherry shrimp prefer a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 in their aquatic habitat. This slightly acidic to slightly alkaline range provides them with an environment similar to their natural habitats. To ensure optimal conditions, regularly test the pH levels using reliable testing kits available at pet stores.

In addition to pH, it’s essential to monitor general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) levels in your aquarium water. GH measures the concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, while KH indicates the buffering capacity of water against pH fluctuations.

Fluctuations or extreme values can lead to molting problems and even mortality. To maintain appropriate GH and KH levels, consider adding mineral supplements like crushed coral or specialized shrimp mineral products.

Cherry shrimp species thrive best within a temperature range of 70°F to 78°F (21°C-26°C). It’s important to invest in a reliable heater that can maintain a consistent temperature within this range.

Water Quality Maintenance

Sudden temperature fluctuations can cause stress and negatively impact the health of your red cherry shrimp. Avoid placing the aquarium near drafty areas or direct sunlight as these factors can lead to temperature instability.

FUN FACT

Ammonia primarily comes from fish waste, decaying plant matter, uneaten food, or any other organic material in the aquarium. Nitrites are produced during the breakdown of ammonia by nitrifying bacteria. Both ammonia and nitrites can be harmful to cherry shrimp, causing stress, illness, or even death.

Clean, well-filtered water is crucial for the survival of cherry shrimp. They are highly sensitive to ammonia and nitrites present in high concentrations, which can be toxic for them.

To maintain optimal water quality, consider the following steps:

  • Use a reliable filtration system that includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
  • Regularly clean filter media to prevent clogging and maintain efficiency.
  • Perform regular water changes to dilute any accumulated toxins and replenish essential minerals.
  • Test your water parameters regularly using appropriate kits to ensure they remain within safe limits.

Filtration Systems and Water Changes

A well-maintained filtration system is vital for maintaining water quality in your aquarium.

Do shrimp need a filter for their tank? A well-maintained filtration system is vital for maintaining water quality in your aquarium. It helps remove debris, excess nutrients, and harmful substances while providing beneficial bacteria colonies that contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

Consider incorporating a power filter and installing a sponge filter into your setup. The power filter provides efficient mechanical and chemical filtration, while the sponge filter offers additional biological filtration as they provide surfaces for beneficial bacteria growth.

In addition to proper filtration, regular water changes are essential for maintaining optimal water conditions. Partial water changes help remove accumulated toxins such as ammonia and nitrites while replenishing fresh water with the necessary minerals for cherry shrimp.

Remember to treat tap water with a dechlorinator before adding it to the aquarium. Chlorine and chloramines present in tap water can harm red cherry shrimp.

Tank Set Up

There are a few key factors to consider in order to create an ideal environment for these vibrant crustaceans. From providing hiding places to choosing the right substrate and lighting, every aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and happiness of your cherry shrimp.

Tank Size and Substrate

It is important to select an appropriate tank size for your cherry red shrimp. A 10-gallon tank or larger is recommended as it provides enough space for these active creatures to thrive. The larger volume of water also helps maintain stable water parameters, which is essential for their well-being.

Choosing the right substrate is crucial. Opting for a substrate that allows them to forage and graze is ideal. Fine-grained substrates such as sand or gravel work well, as they mimic the natural habitat of cherry shrimp. These substrates not only provide a suitable environment but also make it easier for the shrimp to dig and search for food.

Lighting and Decorations

Proper lighting plays an important role in supporting plant growth and algae production within the tank. While red cherry shrimp do not require intense lighting like some other species, providing moderate light levels will encourage healthy plant growth and create a visually appealing environment. It’s recommended to use LED lights specifically designed for aquariums, as they offer energy efficiency and adjustable settings.


Incorporating live plants into your tank setup provides numerous benefits such as oxygenation, natural filtration, and additional hiding spots for molting shrimp. Some popular aquarium plants that complement red dwarf shrimp tanks include Java Moss, Anubias Nana, and Water Wisteria.

RECOMMENDATION

In addition to live plants, adding driftwood or rocks can further enhance the aesthetics of your aquarium while providing additional hiding places for the shrimp. Shrimp caves, specifically designed structures that mimic natural crevices, can also be a great addition to your tank setup.

Importance of Mature Tanks

When setting up a sakura shrimp tank, it is crucial to establish a mature tank environment. This means having an aquarium with established microfauna and mulm. Microfauna refers to tiny organisms such as copepods and daphnia that serve as a supplementary food source for cherry shrimp. Mulm, on the other hand, is the organic debris that accumulates at the bottom of the tank and provides essential nutrients for plant growth.

By creating a mature tank environment, you are ensuring that your cherry shrimp have access to ample food sources and a stable ecosystem. This promotes overall health and encourages vibrant red coloration in their appearance.

Tankmates and Temperament

Cherry shrimp are peaceful creatures that can coexist harmoniously with other non-aggressive fish in a community tank. However, it is important to choose cherry shrimp tank mates carefully to ensure the safety and well-being of these vibrant crustaceans.

Avoid keeping them with large or aggressive species as tank mates as they may view red cherry shrimp as a tasty snack. The key is to maintain a balance where all inhabitants can thrive without any undue stress or conflict.

Hiding Habits and Scavenging

Cherry shrimp are active and docile creatures. They have a natural inclination to hide, seeking shelter in plants, rocks, or driftwood. Providing an ample amount of hiding spaces will make them feel secure and encourage their natural instincts.

Cherry shrimp are avid scavengers.

Cherry shrimp are avid scavengers. They spend much of their time foraging for food particles on the substrate and surfaces of plants. This scavenging behavior not only helps keep the tank clean but also provides an entertaining spectacle for observers.

It is advisable to keep red cherry shrimp in larger groups rather than solitary individuals. In a group setting, they become more confident and display their full range of behaviors. Moreover, observing them molt periodically adds another layer of fascination to their presence in the aquarium.

During molting, cherry shrimp shed their exoskeletons as they grow larger. It is crucial not to remove these discarded shells from the tank immediately as they serve an essential purpose – nutrient absorption. Leaving the exoskeletons in the tank allows the shrimp to derive valuable nutrients from them, contributing to their overall health.

Cherry Shrimp Compatible Community

When incorporating cherry shrimp into a community tank, several considerations must be taken into account. Besides ensuring compatibility with cherry shrimp tank mates, it is essential to maintain appropriate water conditions that suit the needs of all inhabitants.

Cherry shrimp can happily coexist with a variety of tank mates that share similar temperaments and requirements. Here are some recommendations for suitable companions:

Dwarf shrimp: Other species of dwarf shrimp, such as Blue Velvet Shrimp or Amano Shrimp, make excellent tank mates for the red cherry shrimp. They have comparable care requirements and will not pose a threat to each other.

Otocinclus Catfish: These small catfish are known for their algae-eating habits and peaceful nature, making them compatible with cherry shrimp.

Zebra Pleco: Zebra Plecos are small, bottom-dwelling fish that tend to stay near the substrate and seek shelter in caves or crevices. Their small size reduces the likelihood of competition for space or aggression between the two species.

TIP

Snails: Algae-eating snails like Nerite Snails or Malaysian Trumpet Snails can peacefully inhabit the same tank as cherry red shrimp. These gastropods contribute to maintaining a clean and balanced ecosystem.

Chili Rasboras: These tiny fish add vibrant coloration to the aquarium while remaining peaceful towards red cherry shrimp.

Nano Fish: Various small fish species, such as Ember Tetras or Celestial Pearl Danios, can be suitable tank mates due to their non-aggressive behavior.

It is worth mentioning that cross-breeding between different Neocaridina species should be avoided unless intentionally breeding for hybridization. This ensures the preservation of distinct genetic traits within each species.

Cherry Shrimp Care

Regularly monitoring water parameters using test kits is essential for maintaining the well-being of your cherry shrimp. This includes testing for pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate concentrations. Keeping these parameters in check will help prevent any potential issues that could arise from poor water quality.

Feeding a balanced diet is crucial to the overall health of your cherry shrimp. These omnivorous creatures thrive on a combination of high-quality shrimp pellets and blanched vegetables. It is highly recommended to feed cherry shrimp shrimp-specific foods enriched with calcium and minerals to support their growth and molting process.

Cherry shrimp are natural detritivores.

Cherry shrimp are natural detritivores. Cherry shrimp eat algae, decaying matter, biofilm, and more. While they can find some of their food naturally in the aquarium, it’s important to supplement the fire red cherry shrimp diet with appropriate foods. Aquatic botanicals such as catappa leaves and cholla wood can serve as additional sources of nutrition.

Determining whether your cherry red shrimp is molting or experiencing mortality can sometimes be challenging. During the molting process, shrimp shed their exoskeletons to grow larger. It’s essential to understand this natural occurrence to avoid unnecessary concern over potential deaths.

Enhancing the coloration of your cherry shrimp through culling is another aspect of care worth considering. By selectively breeding individuals with vibrant colors, you can create a more visually appealing colony over time.

To ensure optimal health for your cherry shrimp, it’s important to address common health concerns proactively. Maintaining stable water conditions by performing regular water changes helps prevent stress-related illnesses. Mineral supplements like crushed coral, Wonder Shell, and Seachem Equilibrium can aid in maintaining proper mineral balance within the aquarium.

Breeding the Red Cherry Shrimp

Breeding red shrimp can be an exciting and rewarding experience for aquarists of all levels. These small, colorful creatures are known for their ease of breeding and fascinating behavior.

NOTE

Creating the perfect environment is crucial. Start by setting up a species-only tank to ensure optimal breeding conditions. This means keeping only red cherry shrimp in the tank, as other fish or shrimp species may pose a threat to their survival.

Maintaining stable water conditions is essential for encouraging successful breeding cycles. Aim for a general hardness (GH) level between 9-12 and a pH range of 7.0-7.6. Maintain a water temperature between 70-75°F to mimic their natural habitat.

To establish a thriving breeding cherry shrimp colony, there are several key tips to keep in mind:

Maintain Both Sexes: Ensure that your tank contains both male and female cherry shrimp for successful reproduction.

Provide Ample Nutrition: Feed your cherry red shrimp a balanced diet consisting of specialized shrimp pellets and blanched vegetables rich in nutrients.

Remove Predators: Create plenty of hiding spots within the tank using live plants, mosses, or artificial decorations to protect newborn shrimplets from adult predators.

Cherry Shrimp Reproduction

Cherry shrimp are known for their remarkable reproductive abilities.

Cherry shrimp are known for their remarkable reproductive abilities. Females carry eggs under their abdomen until they hatch into miniature baby shrimp or shrimplets, which adds an element of fascination to observing their life cycle.

One advantage of breeding cherry shrimp is that they face minimal predation on young baby shrimp and shrimplets compared to other species. This makes it easier for them to survive and grow without constant threat from adult shrimp or fish.

The males often perform an elaborate courtship dance to attract females, showcasing their vibrant colors and intricate movements. Once a female is ready to mate, she enters the berried stage, where she carries fertilized eggs under her abdomen.

During this period, it’s essential to provide a safe and stress-free environment for the berried female. Hatching the baby shrimp typically occurs after two to three weeks, depending on water temperature. Avoid any sudden changes in water parameters or disturbances that could cause her to drop her eggs prematurely.

Baby Cherry Shrimp Care

After the female cherry shrimp has hatched her eggs, it is important to provide proper care to ensure the survival and well-being of the shrimplets.

RECOMMENDATION

Keep the water temperature between 72-78°F (22-26°C) and maintain a pH level of around 7.0-7.5. Sudden changes in water parameters can stress the shrimplets, so it is essential to monitor and adjust the water conditions accordingly. Perform small, frequent water changes of around 10-20% every week to ensure optimal conditions for the shrimplets’ growth and development.

Provide plenty of hiding places such as moss, plants, or small caves. These hiding spots will offer the shrimplets a safe place to retreat and minimize the risk of predation.

Crushed or powdered fish flakes, baby brine shrimp, or specialized shrimp fry food can be offered in small quantities to baby shrip. Ensure that the food particles are small enough for the shrimplets to consume easily.

While it is important to provide enough food, overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and negatively impact the shrimplets’ health. Feed small amounts of food once or twice a day and remove any uneaten food after a few hours to maintain water quality.

Keep a close eye on the shrimplets’ behavior and growth. Healthy shrimplets will be active, exploring their surroundings, and growing steadily. However, it is important to watch for any signs of distress or illness.

Look out for any changes in their appetite, coloration, or swimming patterns. By observing and monitoring the shrimplets closely, you can quickly identify any issues and take necessary actions to maintain their health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cherry shrimp difficult to keep?

Cherry shrimp are considered one of the easier shrimp species to care for in the aquarium hobby. They are well-suited for beginners due to their hardy nature and adaptability to a range of tank conditions.

Do cherry shrimp clean the tank?

Yes, cherry shrimp are excellent natural cleaners for your shrimp aquarium. They graze on algae and organic debris, helping to maintain a cleaner and healthier tank environment. They are often used as part of a natural cleanup crew in aquariums.

How many cherry shrimp should be kept together?

It’s recommended to keep cherry shrimp in groups of at least six or more. They are social creatures and thrive when kept in larger numbers. This also enhances their natural behavior and makes for a visually appealing display in your tank.

How long do cherry shrimp last?

With proper care, cherry shrimp can live for about 1 to 2 years on average. However, some well-maintained individuals have been known to live longer. Providing them with suitable tank conditions, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment can contribute to their longevity.

What size tank do you need for cherry shrimp?

Cherry shrimp are small and do well in smaller aquariums. A tank with a capacity of 5 to 10 gallons (19 to 38 liters) is usually sufficient for a group of cherry shrimp. It’s important to ensure stable water parameters and provide hiding spots and vegetation for them in the tank to create a comfortable habitat.

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