Cherry shrimp in the aquarium

The cherry shrimp is a freshwater shrimp that is small, active and rather easy to care for. It does not mean that it can live everywhere without any attention. To keep the cherry shrimp in the aquarium you need to follow some rules and it will provide a healthy and happy life. After reading this article, you will be ready to establish a tank with cherry shrimps in it and probably other tank mates.

the cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp origins

Red cherry shrimp, actually Neocaridina davidi, comes from Taiwan. Nowadays it is still commonly found there in rocky streams and ponds if the vegetation is dense.

In the 90s, fish keepers started to keep them in aquariums as cleaners. But it should be mentioned that the red cherry shrimp that we can see today in pet stores are actually a recent development done by selective breeding over time. So the original species look much more different than those we know from our aquariums- at first they were transparent with a few delicate red dots. The intensity of its color depends on many external factors i.g color of the substrate, diet, pH and water temperature, stress factors etc.

As the red cherry shrimp was born, new variants appeared too- including the sakura cherry shrimp, fire red cherry shrimp, yellow sakura and other variants even blue or greenish ones.

red cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp appearance

The shrimp's body color is the most noticeable feature of their appearance and this is why breeders decided to grade cherry shrimp. The better color of the shrimp, the higher it will be on the list and will have more value. Lower grade shrimp are red cherry shrimp and sakura cherry shrimp. Red cherry shrimp is the lowest on the list because of its minimal red color. Higher graded shrimp are fire red cherry shrimp and painted fire red shrimp. The last one is the most marketable because of the most reddish color.

Regardless of the grading level, female shrimp tends to be lighter and more colorful than the male cherry shrimp but it's hard to tell apart the female shrimp and the male shrimp if they are juveniles. However, while maturing, the female cherry shrimp develops an orange abdomen.

The maximum size that female cherry shrimp grow 1.5 inches and male shrimp is less structurally built and is only 0.8 to 1 inches in length.

If you properly take care of cherry shrimps they can live up to 2 years.

Tank mates

If you want to establish a new aquarium, it often consists of aquatic plants and fish. Shrimps end up being an addition. There is nothing wrong with that until you match them with proper tank mates. Unless you want them to be eaten by large or predatory fish. The ideal shrimp tank is with fishes that do not care about their existence. Even other tiny species can be a threat to your shrimp so the best option is to find unaggressive species. Unfortunately they don't have any self-defense mechanism while targeted. They can only hide among aquarium plants or rocks. Great fish examples to live peacefully with cherry shrimps are i.g.:

We may also think about non-fish mates in our shrimp tank. Suitable options are freshwater snails like for example:

  • Mystery snails

  • Nerite snails

  • Ramshorns

Last but not least is a fact that cherry shrimps live in groups. Make sure to keep at least 10 of cherry shrimps in the tank for healthy ecosystem and to avoid them feeling lonely. They will also do well with the Amano shrimp (read more about the Amano shrimp here) or other shrimp species like the Ghost shrimp or the Vampire shrimp. Don't worry about crossbreeding. In this case, it does not happen.

the Amano shrimp

Cherry shrimp diet

In the wild, they are scavengers and omnivores. They eat whatever they can find and most of food that can fit in their mouths. In captivity, they eat algae off the surfaces in the tanks. Add to your tank lots of live plants to encourage our algae eaters to get down to business.

However, eating algae is not enough. You should feed cherry shrimp with some shrimp pellets, algae wafers, blanched vegetables twice a week. When preparing these vegetables, place them in boiling water until they are soft, 2-3 minutes for leafy vegetables and longer for carrots and zucchini.

If your shrimp tank has other inhabitants, cherry shrimp population are going to solve the case with their uneaten food. Fish food of the typical high protein diet is not needed for these shrimps. More protein will increase their rate of growth and force faster molting. That could shorten their lifespan, and you may notice an increase in berried females dropping their eggs to molt.

Tank setup

As it was mentioned, cherry shrimps live naturally in ponds or streams with live plants and rocky substrate so the safest option is to mimic those conditions.

First of all, the size of the aquarium is something that is worth mentioning. We would say, the bigger the better. Controlling all the parameters is easier in larger tanks. Of course, a 5-gallon tank sounds good for the cherry shrimp population but if you have the possibility to choose something a little bit bigger, do it, especially if you want to introduce them to other livestock.

The best environment for the cherry shrimp is a planted aquarium. They thrive among aquatic plants and are no demanding when it comes to decoration. Any plants, rock, caves can serve as a protection for them and also as a source of food for them (algae growth).

Without any racist hate, a regularity is noticed. Lower grade shrimp are more adaptable to the water temperature and conditions than their higher graded shrimp mates but in either case it is essential to monitor ammonia and nitrite levels. If you want to read more about the nitrogen cycle, check here.

Remember to test your water quality with reliable aquarium test kits and change 20% of your water every week. Unfortunately high ammonia spikes could easily kill those adorable creatures.

the red cherry shrimp


When it comes to the filter, it is probably the biggest concern because usually filters are too strong to those tiny cherry shrimps and they may get sucked by this device. It is wise to choose among sponge filters. This type of a filter prevents the cherry shrimp to be found inside the device. Sponge pre filter is the first stage of the entire filtration system that collect debris (and lightweight cherry shrimps) before it enters the main filter. The sponge filter allows for the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduces the water flow within the aquarium. Even smaller sized power filters may cause too much water flow in a small aquarium causing a disruptive environment for the aquatic life. The sponge filter is also a great option for planted aquariums, allowing for as much biological filtration as possible without a strong water flow. It is commonly used while having small fish but will work perfectly for a baby shrimp.

Cherry shrimp breeding

When you consider breeding cherry shrimp make sure that in your cherry shrimp tank there is sufficient number of adult shrimp both males and females.

If the female shrimp is ready to breed a saddle appears. This is a yellow or green spot high up their back, just behind their head, consisting of unfertilized eggs. This signifies that the shrimp has reached sexual maturity and is ready to mate. If you want to speed up the process you can raise the water temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit because the process of breeding cherry shrimp happens during summer months.

The successful breeding process can be declared if you can see the female cherry shrimp carrying eggs under their tail. Female cherry shrimp takes care of those eggs and fans them until the eggs hatch. And this is how new Neocaridina davidi under the form of shrimplets.

an aquarium with lots of places to hide

What is molting?

Like all shrimp, cherry shrimp have armor that they shed as they grow. The simplest way to explain it is to say that cherry shrimps grow everyday, just like humans do, but the their shell doesn't. And when they grow big enough, the shell becomes too small for them and they have to replace it. Cherry shrimps usually do it on their own but of course there are some molting- related issues. Sometimes they fail to lose it or half-fail losing only one half of their shell and it can even lead to the death.

In case of a successful molting, it should not be taken out of the aquarium as it is a source of calcium for these freshwater shrimps.

the cherry shrimp that is molting


This dwarf shrimp are peaceful tank mates, undemanding creatures and can add stunning coloration to freshwater tanks. These shrimps look great, clean your tank, and are amazing to watch, especially on a dark substrate in which their red color stands out on the set.