Cherry Shrimp 101: Care, Lifespan, Breeding & More!

If you’re looking for something new, fascinating, and an absolute breeze to care for-look no further than the Cherry shrimp. These adorable little invertebrates are tough, beginner-friendly, and would even help you with your algae problem! 

The table below gives a quick overview of the Cherry shrimp profile:

Profile AttributeValue
Care DifficultyEasy
LIfespan1-2 years average 
DietOmnivorous
Color(s)Various (red is most popular)
TemperamentPeaceful
Maximum Size1.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size5 gallons
Tank SetupFreshwater, heavily planted
FamilyAtyidae
CompatibilityCommunity (selective)

Below is our Cherry shrimp care guide, continue reading to find out more about its appearance, tank mates, diet and more.

Cherry Shrimp Overview

Native to Taiwan, the Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi, previously classified by the names Neocaridina heteropoda and Neocaridina denticulata sinensis) is a freshwater invertebrate, commonly found in streams and ponds. They come in a variety of colors, although they are selectively bred to be as vibrant red as possible. As a matter of fact, Cherry shrimps are graded depending on how absolutely red they are; the redder, the pricier. 

Apart from their striking looks, the Cherry is also easy-going and peaceful by nature. They don’t typically cause any trouble, and instead even help its owner with cleaning up the algae from their tanks. Cherries aren’t fussy with their food either; being omnivores, you won’t find it difficult to feed them at all. While it depends on the grade of Cherry as well, in general, these shrimps can survive in a wide range of water parameters, which is why they are categorized as beginner-friendly. Needless to say, these little guys are extremely popular in the aquarium hobby, not only for novices, but for anyone looking for novelty in their tanks.  

Appearance

Wild-type Cherry shrimps and those selectively bred have different looks. The natural wild coloration of these shrimps is somewhere along the spectrum of green, olive and brown. Due to plenty of selective breeding, however, these colors now range from shades of red, yellow, orange, green, blue, to violet, black and more. Among all, Its most popular color variant is bright red, and is the one most often sold in pet stores. Colors of adult Cherry shrimp depend a lot on its breeding. In line with that, their shade and depth of color also determines their ‘grade’ and store price. Cherry shrimps are typically graded by levels, to categorize which are the most valuable. 

The lowest grade is your basic Cherry shrimp which are mainly translucent, with only a hue of pink to them. Next comes the Medium grade, where the Sakura Cherry shrimp is classified. The Sakura shrimp is primarily red, but still has blotches of clear color along its body. The Medium-High grade includes the Fire Cherry shrimp, with a plain bright red body. There are no more clear spots on the Fire Cherry body. Lastly, is the High-Grade Painted Fire Red, they are very much red all over the body and legs. This is the highest quality Cherry shrimp in the market, and also the steepest-priced.

Cherry shrimps can change the shade of their coloration lighter or darker depending on their environment. This tidbit can prove to be loads of fun when you are aquascaping. Apart from the usual optimate water parameters, food also influences the color and shade of Cherry shrimps. These shrimps are also easy to breed, and one of the main reasons is that they are highly sexually dimorphic. Male shrimps are smaller and less brightly-colored; their tails are slimmer as well. Females are naturally larger, and have more full-looking tails, most likely due to their ability to carry eggs. Female Cherry shrimps are also more vibrant, and if they’re transparent enough, you can see eggs on its upper body. 

Tip: Cherry shrimps colors turn dull and drab when they’re feeling stressed out, unhappy, or sick. Observe your little pets well for any sign of their colors changing to know what’s going on.

Lifespan

Regretfully, even with the most upstanding care and upkeep, Cherry shrimps are awfully short-lived. These creatures last only an average of 1-2 years, mainly dependent on the quality of care you provide them during their time with you.

Average Size

Perfect for a modest tank setup, Cherry shrimps are naturally tiny. As adults, Cherry shrimps only grow up to around 1.6 inches, or 4 cm. It’s the females that typically reach this maximum length; the males are significantly smaller than their female counterparts.

Cherry Shrimp Care Advice

Water Parameters

One of the best things about the Cherry shrimp is that it can be quite happy in the water parameters of most other fish you might have in the aquarium. Usually, you won’t have to adjust a lot to add them in your already functional aquarium. They’re tough and hardly need intensive care at all. What matters the most is not the range, but the cleanliness and consistency of the conditions in your tank. You only need to keep zero ammonia, nitrite, and low nitrates (less than 20 ppm) to really get the best results when keeping these invertebrates. 

Water Parameters:

  • Temperature: 57–84°F or 14–29°C
  • pH level: 6.5-8.0
  • Water flow: Mild (too strong water flow can overcome your shrimps)

While relatively unfussy, the hardiness of the Cherry shrimp also depends on their ‘grade’. More expensive Cherry shrimps such as the Painted Fire have stricter requirements and are more susceptible to stressing out over water parameters. Conversely, the wild-type, or even the lowest grade Cherry is the toughest of the bunch, able to survive in a wider range of water conditions.

Tip: Don’t put Cherry shrimps in your tank immediately! More than anything, these shrimps are sensitive to nitrites, so make sure your tank is fully cycled and ready before introducing any shrimps.

Tank Size

Being very small, Cherry shrimps hardly need a large tank. In fact, they can even fit in a desktop aquarium of only around 2 gallons and be quite satisfied. It’s a different story of course, if you’re thinking about keeping an entire colony, or community. 

Inside Tank Setup

We’ve already mentioned how positively unfussy the Cherry shrimp is. The same can be said for their ideal tank set up. You can have free reign when it comes to aquascaping, with only minimal requirements for the Cherry shrimp. 

Cherry shrimps ADORE plants. Plants serve as a sort of hiding tool for shrimps, providing cover and comfort for shrimp colonies. These fellas also frequently graze on plant surfaces, nibbling on algae and any sort of biofilm that may have grown. A couple of great options are Java ferns, and Java moss. It’s important to get plants that will thrive in the same environmental conditions as your Cherry shrimp, to ensure the plants won’t die on you. Baby shrimps also love their vegetation, and will in fact, spend most of their time hiding within them. You can also add other ornaments such as driftwood or other cave-like structures where algae can grow; munching on these growths is one of the Cherry shrimps’ favorite activities. 

Choosing the substrate for your shrimps is a bit more amusing than choosing plants for them. You see, Cherry shrimps adapt their colors to whatever their background is. In the wild, this is a survival adaptation that enables them to camouflage themselves from possible predators. In your tank, however, it can merely be for aesthetic purposes. Pebbles or smooth rocky substrates will do a good job of emulating their natural habitat. 

Installing a heater is entirely up to you, as it is not really necessary. Your cherry shrimps can usually thrive in a wide range of temperatures, and won’t easily succumb to stress or disease. When it comes to a filter, things become a bit more tricky. Filters that are too powerful usually end up creating a too-strong water flow, which ends up sucking your shrimps (Oops). Opt for a sponge filter instead, or calm down strong filters with some foam. Since Cherry shrimps don’t expel a lot of waste (Phew!), you won’t really need such a heavy duty filter anyways. 

Potential Diseases

While classified as relatively tough, Cherry shrimps can still fall victim to a cascade of sicknesses when you don’t care for them properly. Most of the time, these shrimps get sick for reasons that are mostly preventable. One of the most common reasons is you’ve already bought an infected or sickly shrimp from the store. From this one infected shrimp, you can easily spread infection to other members of the tank. Similarly, buying plants or ornaments that are infected can also introduce diseases in your tank. Cherry shrimp eggs scatter on your aquatic plants, and when they hatch, these baby shrimps immediately become host to whatever is infecting your plants. Lastly, the water parameters in your tank are too unideal. Whether the temperature, or mineral concentration is too high, all of these can result in disease. Here are some possible diseases that may afflict your shrimp:

  • Vorticella
  • Bacterial infections 
  • Parasites
  • Fungal infections

Many, if not all, of the mentioned diseases are caused by an unbalanced diet, and filthy, suboptimal water conditions. And while they can be treated with readily available medications, truly, the most hassle-free method is still to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Apart from the preventative methods we’ve mentioned before, conduct regular, weekly water changes to promote quicker molting for Cherry shrimps. Molting gets rid of their exoskeleton, thereby getting rid of any infection quicker.

Diet & Food

Feeding is never a problem with the Cherry shrimp. They’re ravenous omnivores who can eat a wide array of food choices. They even enjoy munching on algae, moss, and other microorganisms that might’ve built up in your tank. High-quality shrimp pellets should take care of their nutritional needs, but variety in the forms of other food will ensure they really stay healthy. The only thing to note is you must feed them in moderation. Don’t go overboard with their meals, and make sure they get enough variety as well. We recommend a regular feeding schedule of around once a day, missing one day in a week. 

Food suitable for Cherry shrimp includes:

  • High-quality shrimp pellets
  • Catappa leaves
  • Cholla wood 
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Algae wafers 
  • Zucchini (blanched)
  • Carrots (blanched)

Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates

Truth be told, while these guys are peaceful by nature, they are best suited to species-only tanks. In other words, they are most ideally kept with only other Cherry shrimps for company. But that is not to say you can’t house them with anything else; Cherry shrimps can get along with a select aquatic creatures. In fact, you can have loads of tank mates to choose from, so long as you know what to look for. Peaceful bottom-dwellers are a good choice, as well as small easy going fishes. When deciding which mates to get, consider fishes that won’t see your shrimps as their next meals (yikes). Naturally, larger or aggressive fishes such as Oscars, Arowanas, and Cichlids are out of the question. 

Tank Mates suitable with Cherry shrimp:

  • Snails (Nerites, Ivory, Mystery)
  • Chili rasboras 
  • Small plecos
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Small, peaceful tetras
  • Cory catfish
  • Amano shrimp
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Vampire shrimp

Cherry Shrimp Breeding Behavior

If you’re interested in breeding these Cherries, you’re in luck. Cherry shrimps are a breeze and a joy to breed. Since you’ll have to remove the parents soon after they fertilize and release eggs, start off with a breeding tank. 

The Cherry might just be the easiest shrimps to breed. Unlike many other fishes we’ve talked about, the optimal conditions for Cherry shrimp are usually just their normal conditions. Ensure they have plenty of plants around them, and they are properly fed meaty meals. Simulate temperatures of the Summer season, around 82°F, and you’re almost done, really. Cherry shrimps don’t need much coaxing to mate, and will do so once they’re comfy and mature (4-6 months old). It’s also easy to tell when female Cherries are in the mood, since their eggs are pretty visible. Cherry females also flip their tails around this time, to supposedly give her eggs some oxygen. 

Cherry shrimp eggs typically hatch after approximately a month, or 30 days. After they do, immediately separate your moms and dads. Cherry shrimps won’t be winning any parents of the year awards, so you can stand in instead. Feed these cute little baby shrimps plants like Anacharis, to help them grow healthy.

Tip: If you’re having a bit of difficulty breeding your Cherries, don’t worry. Some owners suggest putting all-natural bee pollen weekly in their tanks can help with breeding. 

Temperament & Behavior 

The Cherry shrimp is incredibly good-natured. They’re peaceful, and very active. In fact, when they feel threatened at all, they choose to hide among plants or within ornaments. They can be playful both during the day and night, and really prefer staying in groups of at least 10. Keeping Cherry shrimps in colonies won’t just make them comfortable either, but also curb any aggression or dominating tendencies. Most of the time, you’ll find your Cherry shrimps grazing on plants and ornaments, having the time of their lives.

Whenever a Cherry shrimp is happy and content, this shines through to their outward appearance. Indeed, happy and healthy Cherries are usually brighter and more vibrant than if they are feeling under the weather. Cherry shrimps will molt, every now and again, leaving behind their exoskeleton. When they do, don’t remove it immediately; shrimps eat these exoskeletons and absorb the nutrients within. 

Summary

The Cherry shrimp is sincerely one of those creatures where there are more reasons to get them than not. They’re beautiful, fun, active, and impossibly low-maintenance! Feeding, and breeding them is a piece of cake; and as long you know what to look for, even tank mates aren’t a problem. Is it any wonder then, why they’re so popular not just for beginners, but for absolutely anyone in the aquarium hobby?

Note: Please consider the environment before printing this Cherry Shrimp care sheet.

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