Cherry Shrimp 101: Care, Diet, Mates, Food, Tank Size, Setup & More

By Sofia Hall

Welcome to the captivating world of cherry shrimp! These vibrant creatures are scientifically known as Neocaridina davidi var. “Red Cherry” are nature’s living gems that will transform your aquarium into an underwater paradise.

Originating from Taiwan, cherry shrimp mesmerize with their stunning colors, ranging from dazzling red to captivating yellow, orange, and even blue variations. Despite their small size, they bring elegance and charm to any aquatic environment.

Caring for cherry shrimp is a breeze. They thrive in freshwater aquariums with stable water parameters, preferring temperatures between 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C) and a pH level of 6.5 to 8.0. Compatible with various fish species, they make peaceful companions.

Feeding cherry shrimp is a delight—they happily graze on algae, biofilm, and other organic matter. Supplement their diet with shrimp pellets and occasional treats of blanched vegetables for optimal health and coloration.

Breeding cherry shrimp unveils a magical process. Females carry eggs beneath their tails until they hatch, and the young shrimp mature, intensifying their vibrant colors.

Cherry shrimp are captivating, low-maintenance creatures that bring sophistication and tranquility to your aquarium. Embrace these enigmatic gems and embark on a captivating journey of their mysterious charm.

 

 

Cherry Shrimp Care, Diet, Mates, Food, Tank Size, Setup More

Appearance

Cherry shrimp are known for their stunning colors, especially when they’re healthy and happy in their environment. Their vibrant red coloration is what makes them so popular among aquarium enthusiasts.

However, just like any living creature, they can show signs of stress, and one of the ways they do that is by dulling their coloration. So, if you notice your cherry shrimp looking less red than usual, it could be an indication that something is bothering them in their tank.

Now, telling the difference between male and female cherry shrimp isn’t the easiest task, especially when they’re young. It’s not until they reach sexual maturity that the females develop a distinctive feature called an “orange saddle.” This saddle is located under their tail and serves as a place to hold their eggs after breeding. So, if you spot an orange patch under a shrimp’s tail, you can be pretty confident that it’s a female.

In the wild, cherry shrimp display a wide range of colors, including different shades of red, orange, and even brown. But thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders, captive cherry shrimp have been selectively bred to have more consistent and intense red coloration. So, if you’re keeping cherry shrimp in your tank, you’re more likely to see a consistent shade of red among them, which is quite beautiful.

Remember, keeping an eye on the color of your cherry shrimp can give you a clue about their well-being. If their color starts to fade, it’s a sign that something might be stressing them out. Providing them with a comfortable and suitable environment will help them maintain their vibrant colors and thrive in your aquarium.

 

 

 

Size

Cherry shrimp are relatively small freshwater shrimp species. On average, they reach a size of about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) when fully grown.

Their small size is one of the reasons why they are well-suited for keeping in-home aquariums. It allows them to comfortably navigate and explore the tank while also making them an excellent choice for smaller setups.

Although cherry shrimp are small in size, their vibrant coloration, especially the red variant, makes them highly noticeable and captivating to observe. Their tiny size doesn’t diminish their beauty or the enjoyment they bring to aquarium enthusiasts.

It’s worth noting that cherry shrimp can vary slightly in size, with some individuals being slightly larger or smaller than the average size mentioned above. However, these differences are generally minimal and don’t significantly affect their care requirements or compatibility with other tank inhabitants.

 

 

Cherry Shrimp Color Grading

Cherry Shrimp Color Grading

When it comes to color grading in cherry shrimp, it’s important to understand that color intensity can vary among individuals and is influenced by various factors. However, there are some general guidelines that can help in assessing and grading the coloration of cherry shrimp.

The primary color of interest in cherry shrimp is red, and breeders strive to achieve vibrant and consistent red hues. A high-quality red cherry shrimp typically exhibits a deep, rich, and intense red coloration. The red should be evenly distributed throughout the shrimp’s body, including the head, thorax, and tail.

In terms of color grading, breeders often use different classifications to categorize the quality of cherry shrimp based on their color. Here is a common color grading scale used for red cherry shrimp:

Fire Red: This is the highest grade and represents the most intense and vibrant red coloration. Fire Red cherry shrimp showcase a striking, eye-catching red hue without any noticeable variations or dilution.

Sakura Red: The next grade down from Fire Red is Sakura Red. Sakura Red cherry shrimp exhibit a good level of red coloration, although it may be slightly less intense compared to Fire Reds. They still have a vibrant red appearance but may show some minor variations or patterns.

Painted Fire Red: Painted Fire Red cherry shrimp have a beautiful red coloration, but it may not be as consistent or intense as the Fire Reds or Sakura Reds. These shrimp may display some variations, such as patches of lighter or darker red color, but they still possess a desirable red hue.

High-Grade Cherry Red: High-Grade Cherry Red shrimp have a good amount of red coloration, although it may be less intense and more diluted compared to the higher-grade shrimp. They still exhibit a noticeable red color but may have some variations or patterns on their bodies.

Low-Grade Cherry Red: The lowest grade on the scale is assigned to Low-Grade Cherry Red shrimp. These shrimp display a red coloration, but they may be significantly lighter or more diluted compared to the higher grades. They may also exhibit patterns or variations that reduce the overall intensity of the red color.

It’s important to note that color grading can vary slightly among breeders, and there may be additional grades or variations depending on individual preferences. Additionally, the grading scale primarily focuses on red coloration, and other color variations like yellow, blue, and green have their own grading systems.

Color grading is a useful tool for breeders and enthusiasts who are looking to select and breed cherry shrimp with specific color traits. However, it’s important to remember that all cherry shrimp, regardless of their grade, can bring beauty and joy to your aquarium.

 

 

Cherry Shrimp Care

Caring for cherry shrimp requires attention to their specific needs to ensure their well-being and vibrant colors. These small freshwater shrimp have become popular among aquarium enthusiasts due to their striking appearance and relatively easy care requirements.

Cherry shrimp care involves providing them with a suitable tank environment, maintaining proper water parameters, and offering a balanced diet. They are generally hardy and adaptable, making them an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

When it comes to caring for cherry shrimp, there are several key aspects to consider:

 

 

Water Parameters

Proper water parameters are essential for the care of cherry shrimp. Here are the base water parameters to consider:

Temperature: Keep the water temperature between 70-78°F (21-26°C) for optimal shrimp health.

pH Level: Maintain a pH range of 6.5-7.5, slightly acidic to neutral, to create a suitable environment.

Ammonia and Nitrite Levels: Ensure that ammonia and nitrite levels remain at zero, as they are toxic to shrimp. Regular testing and a well-established nitrogen cycle are necessary.

Nitrate Levels: Keep nitrate levels low by performing regular water changes. Aim for below 20-30 ppm to maintain water quality.

Hardness: Cherry shrimp can tolerate a moderate hardness level. Aim for a range of 4-8 dGH.

Regular monitoring of these parameters and maintaining stability will help promote the overall health and well-being of your cherry shrimp.

 

 

Water Cleanliness

Maintaining clean water is crucial for the health of cherry shrimp. Here are some expert tips to ensure water cleanliness:

Regularly change the water: Replace 10-20% of the tank water weekly to remove waste and maintain water quality.

Remove debris: Clean the tank by removing uneaten food and decaying plant matter to prevent water pollution.

Avoid overfeeding: Only provide the amount of food that shrimp can consume in a few minutes to prevent excess waste.

Balance the bioload: Avoid overcrowding the tank and ensure the filtration system can handle the waste produced by the shrimp.

Use appropriate filtration: Opt for a gentle filtration system like a sponge filter to maintain water cleanliness without stressing the shrimp.

Minimize chemical use: Avoid unnecessary chemicals or medications, as cherry shrimp are sensitive to them.

Monitor water parameters: Regularly test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature to ensure optimal conditions.

 

 

Bioload & Filtration Guidelines

Cherry shrimp have a low bioload, which means they produce minimal waste compared to larger fish species. This is one of the fascinating aspects of keeping cherry shrimp, as it helps maintain higher water quality and makes it easier for beginners to maintain suitable tank conditions. However, it’s important to cycle the tank properly before adding any animals to ensure a stable and healthy environment.

When it comes to filtration systems, special precautions should be taken due to the small size of cherry shrimp. They can easily get sucked into powerful filtration systems, which can be harmful or fatal to them. To prevent this, it is recommended to use a sponge filter. Sponge filters are gentle and provide both mechanical and biological filtration. They work by drawing water through a sponge, trapping debris, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. This type of filter is less likely to harm or trap shrimp due to its gentle water flow.

If using a different type of filtration system, such as a power filter, it’s important to take steps to minimize the risk of shrimp getting sucked in. One method is to partially block the filter inlets with a sponge or filter media to reduce the flow and create a barrier that prevents the shrimp from being pulled in.

 

 

Tank Size & Setup

When setting up a tank for cherry shrimp, there are several important considerations to ensure their well-being:

Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 5 gallons (19 liters) is recommended for a colony of cherry shrimp. This provides enough space for them to swim, forage, and breed comfortably. A larger tank is even better, as it offers more stability in water parameters and allows for a greater number of shrimp to thrive.

Substrate: Opt for a fine-grained substrate like sand or gravel that is gentle on the shrimp’s delicate bodies. Avoid rough or sharp substrates that may cause injury or difficulty during molting, a process where shrimp shed their exoskeleton to grow.

Plants and Decorations: Live plants are highly beneficial for cherry shrimp tanks. They provide hiding places, and grazing surfaces and help maintain water quality by absorbing nitrates. Consider using a variety of plant species such as mosses, Java fern, Anubias, and floating plants to create a lush and natural environment. Additionally, adding driftwood, rocks, and other aquarium-safe decorations can provide additional hiding spots and visual interest.

Lighting: Cherry shrimp do not have specific lighting requirements, but they appreciate a consistent day-night cycle. Moderate to low lighting is generally sufficient for their needs. Avoid intense lighting, as it may promote excessive algae growth, which can negatively impact water quality.

Water Parameters: Maintain stable and suitable water parameters for cherry shrimp. The temperature should be within the range of 70-78°F (21-26°C). The pH level is ideally kept between 6.5 and 7.5. It’s important to ensure that ammonia and nitrite levels remain at zero, while nitrate levels should be kept low through regular water changes. Monitoring water parameters regularly using test kits is essential for their overall health.

Filtration: Use a gentle filtration system to avoid strong water flow that could harm or stress the shrimp. Sponge filters are commonly used and provide both mechanical and biological filtration. A pre-filter sponge on the intake can prevent shrimp from being sucked into the filter. It’s important to clean or replace filter media regularly to maintain optimum filtration efficiency.

Hiding Places: Create ample hiding places for the shrimp to feel secure. Dense plantings, mosses, caves, or small tubes provide hiding spots for molting and protection from potential predators or aggressive tank mates.

Remember to acclimate cherry shrimp slowly when introducing them to the tank and provide a well-established tank environment to ensure their successful adaptation. By setting up an appropriate tank size, using suitable substrate and decorations, maintaining proper water parameters, and providing hiding places, you can create an ideal habitat for cherry shrimp to thrive and exhibit their vibrant colors and fascinating behavior.

 

 

Adding Cherry Shrimp To a New Tank

Adding cherry shrimp to a new tank requires careful consideration to ensure their successful acclimation and overall well-being. Here are some expert tips to guide you through the process:

Tank Preparation: Before introducing the shrimp, ensure that your tank is fully set up and properly cycled. This means establishing a healthy nitrogen cycle by allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize the tank. It’s important to monitor water parameters such as temperature, pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels to ensure they are within the suitable range for cherry shrimp.

Drip Acclimation: Shrimp are sensitive to abrupt changes in water parameters, so it’s crucial to acclimate them slowly. The drip acclimation method is highly recommended. Float the bag containing the shrimp in the tank to equalize the temperature. Then, gradually add small amounts of tank water to the bag over a period of 1-2 hours using a drip line or airline tubing. This allows the shrimp to adjust to the tank water conditions without experiencing a shock.

Dim Lighting: After acclimation, it’s beneficial to provide a dimly lit environment for the shrimp. This can be achieved by reducing the intensity of your tank’s lighting or by creating hiding spots using live plants, decorations, or floating objects. Dim lighting helps the shrimp feel more secure, reducing stress and encouraging exploration.

Predator-Free Environment: Ensure that your tank is free from potential shrimp predators, such as aggressive fish or large invertebrates. Cherry shrimp are small and can be vulnerable to attacks. Opt for peaceful tank mates that won’t harm or stress the shrimp, allowing them to thrive in a safe and harmonious environment.

Proper Feeding: Offer a balanced and suitable diet for your cherry shrimp. Specialized shrimp pellets, blanched vegetables (like spinach or zucchini), and occasional treats such as dried leaves or algae wafers are excellent choices. Start feeding a day or two after introducing the shrimp to provide them with proper nutrition and stimulate their natural foraging behavior.

Monitor Water Parameters: Regularly test and monitor water parameters in your tank to ensure they remain stable and optimal for cherry shrimp. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be kept at zero, and nitrate levels should be maintained at a low level through regular water changes. Consistently maintaining good water quality is essential for the health, well-being, and successful breeding of cherry shrimp.

 

Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates

Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates

Cherry shrimp can be kept with a variety of tank mates as long as their size and temperament are compatible. Here are some suitable tank mates for cherry shrimp:

Amano Shrimp: They are similar in size and temperament, making them good companions for cherry shrimp.

Ghost Shrimp: These shrimp are peaceful and share a similar size with cherry shrimp, but some individuals may display more aggressive behavior.

Vampire Shrimp: They are larger filter-feeding shrimp that can coexist with cherry shrimp if the tank size is sufficient.

Small Tetras: Species like neon tetras, ember tetras, or celestial pearl danios can be compatible tank mates for cherry shrimp, but avoid larger tetras that may see shrimp as prey.

Plecos: Smaller pleco species, such as bristlenose plecos, can be suitable companions for cherry shrimp.

Gouramis: Peaceful gourami species like honey gouramis or sparkling gouramis can coexist with cherry shrimp if they are not aggressive.

Grazing bottom-feeders:  Grazing bottom-feeders can be excellent tank mates for cherry shrimp. These species help keep the aquarium clean and provide interesting dynamics within the tank.

Remember to observe their interactions and provide enough hiding spots if needed. Research the care requirements and compatibility of potential tank mates before adding them to the same aquarium.

 

 

Behavior and Temperament of Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp are active and peaceful creatures. They enjoy exploring their environment, foraging for food, and interacting with other shrimp. To ensure their well-being, it’s important to provide plenty of hiding spaces in the aquarium to make them feel secure and minimize stress.

Cherry shrimp have a docile temperament and generally get along well with non-aggressive tank mates. It’s best to avoid housing them with larger or more aggressive species that may harm the shrimp. Keeping them in larger groups, with a minimum of ten shrimp, promotes a harmonious community and discourages dominance-related conflicts.

When cherry shrimp feel safe and comfortable, their colors become more vibrant, enhancing their beauty in the aquarium. They are known for their constant movement and often graze on surfaces, such as rocks and plant leaves, in search of algae and biofilm.

 

 

Molting Process

Cherry shrimp, like many other crustaceans, undergo a fascinating process called molting. During molting, they shed their old exoskeleton to allow for growth and regeneration. This shedding process is a natural and necessary part of their life cycle.

When a cherry shrimp is ready to molt, it will seek out a safe and secluded spot in the tank. It may become more reclusive and exhibit less activity during this time. The shrimp will then begin the molting process by separating its old exoskeleton from its body.

After successfully shedding its exoskeleton, the shrimp will appear soft and vulnerable. It will typically hide and remain inactive for a short period while its new exoskeleton hardens and forms. This period is crucial for the shrimp’s survival, as it is more susceptible to predation and injury during this time.

As an aquarium owner, it’s important to resist the temptation to remove the shrimp’s old exoskeleton from the tank. While it may seem like debris that needs cleaning, the shrimp actually benefits from it. After molting, the shrimp will consume its own exoskeleton, absorbing the valuable nutrients and minerals trapped inside. This recycling process ensures that the shrimp recovers and gains the necessary nutrients to support its growth.

Leaving the shed exoskeleton in the tank also mimics the natural environment, providing a familiar scent and hiding spot for the shrimp. It can also serve as a visual cue for other tank mates that the shrimp is undergoing the molting process, prompting them to be more cautious and less likely to disturb the vulnerable shrimp.

So, it’s best to let the shrimp take care of its own molting process. By leaving the shed exoskeleton in the tank, you are providing a natural and beneficial environment for the cherry shrimp to thrive and grow.

 

 

Cherry Shrimp Breeding chart

Cherry Shrimp Breeding Steps

To successfully breed cherry shrimp, it’s important to follow certain steps and provide the necessary conditions:

Preparatory Phase: Create a comfortable and secure environment for the shrimp by adding more plants and hiding places in the tank. This enhances their sense of security and encourages breeding behavior.

Temperature Adjustment: Raise the temperature to around 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28°C). This mimics the warmer conditions of the summer breeding season for cherry shrimp in the wild. The elevated temperature can help stimulate breeding activity.

High-Protein Diet: Provide a diet rich in high-quality protein to support the breeding process. This is especially important if the shrimp are not yet sexually mature. Regularly offer foods such as specialized shrimp pellets, blanched vegetables, and protein-rich flakes to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.

Maturity and Breeding Age: Cherry shrimp typically reach sexual maturity at around four to six months of age. It’s important to ensure that your shrimp have reached this stage before attempting to breed them.

Settling Period: Keep in mind that breeding may not occur immediately after placing the shrimp in the tank. It can take up to five months for the shrimp to fully settle into their new environment and exhibit breeding behavior.

Berrying: Breeding has taken place when you observe females carrying a cluster of eggs under their tails, which is commonly referred to as being “berried.” The female shrimp will fan her tail regularly to ensure proper oxygenation of the eggs.

Incubation Period: After being berried, it takes approximately 30 days for the eggs to hatch. During this time, it’s crucial to provide stable and suitable tank conditions, maintaining proper temperature and water parameters to support the development of the eggs.

Newly-Hatched Shrimp: Once the eggs hatch, the baby shrimp are fully independent and will start exploring the tank on their own. It’s beneficial to have a well-established tank with a natural cycle, as it provides a source of small organisms that can serve as food for the newly-born shrimp.

 

Conclusion

Cherry shrimp are captivating and low-maintenance creatures that bring elegance and charm to your aquarium. With their stunning colors and peaceful nature, they create a tranquil underwater paradise.

By providing them with a suitable environment, proper care, and compatible tank mates, you can enjoy the beauty and fascination of these enigmatic gems. Embrace the captivating world of cherry shrimp and embark on a journey of their mysterious charm.

 

 

 

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