Cherry Shrimp Care Guide: The Ultimate Tank Janitors

Cherry Shrimp are very popular tropical invertebrates.

They are most commonly found at the bottom of aquariums cleaning up the algae and biofilm.

This Shrimp gets their name because of their bright red color and they can be found in many different shades and patterns depending on their grade.

They will get along just fine with most fish, but because they are so small it is often easier to only keep them with other invertebrates.

Do you want to add this hardworking tank janitor to your tank?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Cherry Shrimp…

Fire Red Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp
Other Common Names: Red Cherry Shrimp
Scientific Name: Neocaridina davidi
Family Name: Atyidae
Distribution: Taiwan
Size: 1-1.5 inches
Color: Sakura, Fire, Painted, Wild Type, Shoko, Kanoko, Bloody Mary
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 1 year
Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
Minimum Tank Temperature: 70-80°F
Tank Mate Compatibility: Nano fish, small invertebrates

Cherry Shrimp 101

Cherry Shrimp Close Up

Cherry Shrimp are a red color morph of the freshwater shrimp Neocaridina davidi.

They come from the Atyidae family, which also includes other popular color morphs such as Blue Velvet and Black Rose Shrimp.

Although they were once endemic to Taiwan, they can now be found all over the world because of the aquarium trade.

Their popularity comes from their stunning color and also because they are fantastic algae eaters.

Unfortunately it is rare for one to live for longer than a year. Thankfully though these critters breed so quickly that they are able to replenish their populations and compensate for their short lifespan.

You can find these shrimps in most aquarium supply stores and they will cost around $4 each.

They are the perfect starter shrimp and are appropriate for every age and skill level.

Pros

  • Very good algae cleaner.
  • Fits into every size aquarium.
  • Peaceful and easy shrimp to keep.
  • Works well in social groups.
Cons

  • Often preyed on by larger fish.
  • Vulnerable to metal poisoning.
  • Easy to overfeed.
  • Can get caught in filter intakes.

Grading

A Cherry Shrimp’s grade is determined by their shading and depth of color, as well as any additional markings and patterns that appear.

High grade shrimp usually have a uniform shade of color whereas the lower grades can have a mixture of light and dark shades.

The grading system is as follows:

  • Low grade (B): This is the basic color and grade and most Cherry Shrimp that you find will be this grade. A B grade shrimp will have a light red or reddish brown color. It occurs in Red, Wild Type, and Shoko color morphs.
  • Medium grade (A): A medium grade shrimp has a deeper red or red-orange color, with a glossier appearance. Most Sakuras are this grade or higher.
  • Medium-high grade (S): A shrimp with a medium-high grade is almost entirely opaque in color. It can be any shade of red, but cannot have any additional colors or markings.
  • High grade (SS): This is the highest possible color grade and also the most expensive. High grade shrimp have extremely deep red colors and often have black markings. Painted Fire and Kanoko color morphs both fall under this grade.

Cherry Shrimp Appearance

Cherry Shrimp

Only red Neocaridina davidi can be called Cherry Shrimp.

Those in colors other than red cannot be classified.

In the wild they are actually a cinnamon color rather than the bright red that you see in aquariums. This cinnamon color helps them to blend into their environment.

On a basic low grade shrimp the red color will be lighter in some places and darker in others. Higher grade shrimp will a uniform color and they are usually completely opaque.

Although they only grow to around 1.5 inches they are easy to spot in aquariums thanks to their vibrant colors.

Just like all other arthropods a shrimp’s body is segmented and each segment carries a different set of specialized appendages.

The fused head and upper body is called the cephalothorax and this is protected by a hard shell (carapace). The cephalothorax has 5 pairs of walking legs. The first pair ends in 2 tiny claws called chela which are used for grabbing and holding food.

Behind the cephalothorax is an abdomen split into 6 different segments. The first 5 each contain a pair of swimming legs, or swimmerets.

The sixth segment ends in a tail (telson) which has a fan-shaped appendage called a uropod. This uropod is used to swim backwards when necessary.

Your Cherry Shrimp will have two beady eyes that protrude from the cephalothorax which are flanked on both sides by antennae and antennules.

Telling the 2 genders apart is fairly easy, however you might need a magnifying glass. Females are larger and rounder than males and have a bloated abdomen (saddle) for carrying eggs.

Color Varieties

When bred in captivity Cherry Shrimp can produce some truly astonishing colors and patterns.

In total there are over 25 different color morphs, but only the red ones can be classified as Cherry Shrimp.

Here are the most popular color varieties:

Cherry Shrimp Types
Cherry This is the most common variety. They have a distinctive bright red color which can show up in darker or lighter shades.
Wild The Wild Cherry Shrimp is a tan to cinnamon brown color.
Sakura Sakura can refer to an orange color form or an A to S grade red color. On a Sakura Shrimp the body is less translucent and the colors appear in shades of orange and red. Sakuras often have a glossy appearance and red Sakuras can look almost pink.
Fire Red As their name suggests a Fire Red morph shrimp is a deep flame red. The color must be completely uniform and they should have no pale or translucent spots on their body.
Painted Red A Painted Red shrimp has the deepest red shades that you can find. Across the carapace and abdomen are little spots of black paint. All Painted Red shrimp are SS grade and the black paint drops distinguish them from the similarly colored Bloody Mary shrimp. If an SS grade shrimp has a black banded pattern rather than black spots, it is a Kanoko and not a Painted Red Shrimp.
Rili A Rili Shrimp is a striped or banded shrimp. They have a red and white banded pattern similar to a Crystal Red Bee Shrimp. Some Rilis have a speckled pattern rather than stripes or bands, though these are lower grade.
Bloody Mary A Bloody Mary is an extremely eye catching blood red color. They are a slightly deeper color than the Fire Red and Painted Red but they have no black spots or bands. The body has a very glossy, smooth appearance that resembles red velvet. It must be at least S grade to qualify, but is usually SS grade.
Kanoko The Kanoko is one of the rarest and most sought after colors. They have black bands over a blood red body. Kanoko shrimp are highly prized, hard to breed and therefore very expensive and difficult to find.

Breeding Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp Breeding

Breeding Cherry Shrimp is almost effortless.

They do work is done on their own!

You will find that with a mixed gender group they will breed on their own and do not need any. However manual breeding lets you try for different color morphs and higher grades.

To start with you will need a group of at least 6 Cherry Shrimp.

You can prepare the breeding tank by raising the temperature to 82°F and furnish it with Java Moss and a single Java Fern.

Male Cherry Shrimp looking for a mate can be spotted swimming through the water instead of scuttling along the bottom. Once the mate is selected they will copulate immediately. A pregnant female can hold up to 60 eggs at a time and she will carry them in her rearmost swimming legs until they hatch.

It takes up to 20 days for the eggs to hatch and the young will look like miniature versions of their parents.

Immediately they will start to scavenge for microscopic prey. You do not need to feed them anything extra during this stage of life.

As they grow up you can introduce powdered algae tabs or shrimp flakes to the tank.

It will take up to 6 months for them to reach maturity and you can tell they are mature when the frequency of their molts slows down to about one per month.

Natural Habitat and Tank Set Up

Cherry Shrimp On Leaf

Originally Cherry Shrimp were endemic to rivers and streams in Taiwan.

However these days they can be found in freshwater habitats all over the world.

They live in bodies of water that are naturally heated to temperatures above 65°F and are usually found in areas with mixed currents.

Their ideal environment is heavily planted and slightly acidic from the accumulation of leaf litter. Of course, there must also be plenty of algae and moss available for grazing.

You will need at least a 5 gallon aquarium to keep a small group of 4-6 shrimp.

They can handle temperatures as low as 65°F, but prefer a steady temperature between 70-80°F. Lower grade shrimp handle shifting temperatures much better than higher grade ones.

The pH can range from 6.5-8.0 and the hardness should range from 4-12 dGH.

You can place a bit of leaf litter or Peat Moss at the bottom of the aquarium to help replicate their natural environment. They will also need moss in their aquarium and ideally the kind that attracts algae and biofilm in large amounts.

Java Moss is the best option here. But you can also use Peacock Moss and Marimo Moss Balls.

You should include a few shady plants too such as Java Ferns and Brazilian Pennywort. Read 25+ Best Low Light Aquarium Plants: Easy & Low Maintenance for more.

Use a foundation of fine gravel and layer it with larger pebbles to create your substrate. Just remember to use soft and smooth rocks that will not injure burrowing shrimp.

While these shrimp do appreciate at least a moderate current, a powerful filter can sweep them up into the intake. So you can use either a sponge or hang on back filter.

Run a moderate light intensity using a full spectrum aquarium light. Your shrimp will spend most of their time hiding where the light will not disturb them.

Finally, you will need to provide adequate hiding places so try using PVC shrimp shelters. You can also add logs, driftwood, and mossy rocks for a more natural look.

Quick Set Up:

  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons.
  • Tank Type: Freshwater Planted.
  • Temperature: 70-80°F.
  • pH: 6.5-8.0.
  • Hardness: 4-12 dGH.
  • Flow: Low to Medium.
  • Substrate: Rocks.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

A small group (4-6 Shrimp) of Cherry Shrimp can live in a 5 gallon tank. Larger groups with at least 10 Shrimp will need at least a 10 gallon tank.

The general rule is to add 1 gallon for each new Shrimp.

Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates

Cherry Shrimp With Young

Keeping these shrimp in a freshwater community tank is a double edged sword.

On one hand they are sociable enough to get along with everyone.

However their small size encourages fish to eat them.

This is why lots of people decide to keep them in a single species tank, or to keep them with other small invertebrates.

However if you want to keep them in a community with fish it is possible – you just need to choose the right fish.

The safest options are Nano fish with tiny mouths.

Flame, Ember, Cardinal, and Neon Tetras can complement these colorful shrimp.

Pygmy, Harlequin and Chili Rasboras also make a great choice.

In slightly colder waters you can include a school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows. For warmer climates try a group of colorful Guppies.

Dwarf Gouramis are the only truly safe Gourami for this tank, as they do not visit the bottom often and are unlikely to disturb your shrimp.

Invertebrates are much safer for this setup. Cherry Shrimp can live in perfect harmony with Amano and Ghost Shrimp.

You can also consider Bamboo Shrimp.

Nerite, Mystery and Trumpet Snails are also perfectly safe.

You should avoid any predatory bottom dwellers such as Plecos and large Loaches. Make sure to stay away from Goldfish, Bettas and Cichlids too.

Cherry Shrimp Colonies

These social shrimp get along much better in groups than when kept on their own.

You should keep at least 4 of them together in a group.

When Cherry Shrimp are kept in a group they will engage in communal feeding and often share the same hiding places.

They can live with other Neocaridina davidi color morphs as well – this can create a rainbow at the bottom of your aquarium!

Cherry Shrimp Care Guide

Cherry Shrimp are an excellent choice for any fishkeeper.

They make an excellent introduction to the world of invertebrate keeping and the lower grades in particular are surprisingly hardy. If you are keeping shrimp for the first time then it is recommended you start with the lower grades first.

Just like all crustaceans they are highly vulnerable to metal toxicity.

Copper, zinc, and other metals are highly toxic even in small amounts, so you will need to find metal-free options for plant fertilizer and medication for your fish.

You should monitor your water quality regularly and make sure to keep it clean and consistent.

A Cherry Shrimp On A Rock

Behavior

Just like most other aquarium invertebrates they are very timid little critters.

Cherry Shrimp spend most of their time hiding under plants, rocks or logs.

When they do venture out into the open they are usually scavenging for food. All of your shrimp will crowd around the same food source.

You will often spot them congregating on the moss at the bottom of the tank.

Within their own kind they are highly social and tend to follow one-another around. However, they are largely indifferent to other species of shrimp.

You may notice that every month or two one of the shrimp in your group will be more skittish than usual.

They will isolate from the group and find a place to hide. This means they are getting ready to molt and shed their skin – the process takes between 7-14 days.

Feeding

Cherry Shrimp can be more difficult to feed them other omnivores.

They will not eat just anything that they find in the substrate.

Most of their nutrition comes from the biofilm that coats the surface of mosses, rocks and leaves. A large portion of their diet is also made up of algae.

They will also eat leaves, other plant material and will even munch on carrion and discarded molt skeletons on occasion.

Inside the aquarium you can feed them a mix of shrimp flakes and algae tablets which have been crushed into a powder that is small enough to fit in their mouths. One half of an algae tab is enough. When you trim your Java Ferns or other leafy plants you can leave the cuttings in the tank for your shrimp to eat.

You can also cook and blanch some lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and zucchini for a tasty treat.

Just remember though that these veggies are high in calories and should only be given as an occasion treat.

It is very easy to overfeed these little guys.

They do not need as much as the much larger species and will find most of their food on their own.

You will only need to provide them with food about 3 times per week. It is best to feed them before sunrise or after sunset as this is when they are most likely to be out scavenging.

What Food Can They Eat?

While these shrimp are scavengers their diet is not as varied as other invertebrates. You can feed them:

  • Powdered shrimp flakes
  • Powdered algae flakes
  • Algae
  • Biofilm
  • Plant material
  • Carrion
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

Species History

This species was first discovered by Kemp in 1918 and was originally known as Neocaridina denticulata sinensis.

Since then Cherry Shrimp have been through 2 taxonomy changes until their final classification was settled.

Captive specimens were used in scientific research throughout the 20th century and from here they spread over into the aquarium hobby.

Their official introduction to the aquarium hobby did not occur until 2003.

Fishkeepers quickly fell in love with their vibrant colors and algae cleaning ability.

During the 2010s there was an explosion of interest during which time the grading system and alternative color morphs were created. Now, there are entire communities built around shrimp breeding.

Other Shrimp To Consider (Summary)

A group of Cherry Shrimp can make a very useful addition to an aquarium.

These hardworking tank janitors come with the added bonus of brightening up your aquarium too.

They are incredibly easy to care for and they will fit into even the smallest freshwater setups.

Since they breed so easily you should always have a continuous supply for your setup. In this way, they compensate for their short lifespan.

There is really no reason not to include these sensational shrimp in your aquarium.

Which Cherry Shrimp color morphs do you have in your tank?

Let us know in the comments section below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*