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Caresheet: Cherry Shrimp | Neocaridina heteropoda

March 30, 2013
cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda var. red) are a type of dwarf shrimp appreciated by many aquarists for their bright colors and easy care. If you’re looking for an aquarium clean up crew, a new breeding project or just a fun addition to a peaceful aquarium, you’ve found it! Keep reading for everything you need to know about Cherry shrimp care.

Tank size 5 gal (18L)
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 57-86°F (14-30°C)
pH 6.5-8
Length 1 inch (2.5 cm)


Neocaridina heteropoda var. Red, Cherry Shrimp, Red Cherry, Fire Shrimp

Cherry shrimp natural habitat

Where the natural form of the Red Cherry can be found is quite difficult to determine. Most likely Taiwan, China and other parts of Asia. Some sources report pools and slow moving streams, others say they also occur in faster flowing streams, protecting themselves from the water flow by hiding behind rocks and plants.


Red Cherry Shrimp are a dwarf shrimp variety, which means they stay small. Females can grow to a maximum of around an inch, while males are usually smaller. The red color, which is what makes these shrimp such attractive additions to the aquarium, is also brighter in females than in males, that can be recognized from the fact that they’re smaller and never carry around yellow or green eggs.

cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp requirements

Cherry shrimp care is relatively easy. Groups of Cherry Shrimp (preferably 5+) can live in a wide variety of environments; large colonies often thrive in big community tanks that lack bigger, hungrier tankmates, but they also look great in nano aquascapes. Unlike fish, they can live in small tanks like the beverage dispenser tank! It’s important to always introduce them into a cycled tank, though, because shrimp don’t react to ammonia and nitrites too well. Medication that contains copper isn’t a good idea either, as it’s unfortunately very deadly to shrimp.

Cherry ShrimpWhen provided with plenty of hiding spaces like shrimp caves, patches of Java moss and other plants, Cherry shrimp can be kept in aquariums with larger fish that like to eat one occasionally because they will usually breed faster than they can be eaten; it’s always a gamble, though, and fish that like to hunt (cichlids, bettas, puffers) might be able to wipe out an entire colony.

If you want your Cherry shrimp to be the centerpiece of the tank or if you want to raise as much fry as possible (to sell or as live food), a dedicated nano with only very peaceful tankmates like Otocinclus (Otocinclus spp.) or Pygmy Cories (Corydoras pygmaeus) is probably the best idea. That way, the shrimp will be able to breed quickly and forage out in the open so you’ll see them more often.

Cherry shrimp diet

Cherry Shrimp will accept almost all types of food they come across, which is why they make a great clean-up crew. In community tanks, then can live off leftovers from other fish and tiny particles they find in plants and algae patches. Special shrimp food, algae pellets and blanched vegetables can also be given occasionally and will be much appreciated. In a species-only tank, it’s a good idea to feed a little bit every day; be sure to remove any pieces of food that aren’t eaten within a few hours, though, as they can cause dangerous ammonia spikes when left in the water for too long.

cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp behavior

Cherry Shrimp are extremely peaceful. They spend most of their time foraging; pregnant females can also often be observed waving fresh water over their eggs to supply them with oxygen. During feeding time, the whole colony will often flock to the food and try to eat as much as possible. Quite an interesting sight!

Breeding Cherry shrimp

Part of what makes these shrimp such a popular beginner’s choice is how easy it is to breed them. Just provide good water quality as well as plenty of food and females will usually be pregnant all the time, releasing miniature versions of themselves after around 30-40 days of carrying eggs. The fry is very tiny and usually hard to spot: it takes a while before they develop the typical red color. Because they are so vulnerable and will be eaten by almost all species of fish, hiding places like Java moss are a good idea if you want to make sure they survive.

Buying Cherry Shrimp

When buying shrimp, look for brightly colored specimens that are actively moving around and foraging. You can buy Cherry Shrimp here!

I’ve been keeping Cherry Shrimp years now. They were the first aquarium inhabitants I ever owned, and a huge colony still thrives in our tropical community tank. I release a few of them in every new aquarium as a clean-up crew, and they always do a great job.
I’d be lying if I said Cherries weren’t one of my favourite species to keep, and I can definitely recommend them to anyone who is looking for an easy species to start with or a low-bioload crew to clean up after their fish.

If you have any more questions about Cherry Shrimp care or want to share your own experiences with them, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!

Cover photo: Red Cherry in the Sun by joachimp

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  • Reply Virginia Doran August 17, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Hi! I was wondering if I could feed cherry shrimp hikari cory cat diet? It’s leftover and I’d love to reuse it. If not, that’s fine. Just curious!

    • Reply Mari August 22, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Sure, you can pretty much feed them anything! Just be sure to supplement their diet with some greens because Corydoras food might not contain all the plant matter the shrimp need. 🙂

  • Reply Gregg Martin April 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Wow, lots of interesting comments. As I’ve said before I think the poorly named least least killifish would do fine in a well planted 5 gallon tank. However, I have a question concerning the RCS. I have a well cycled 2.5 gallon tank that has baby platys rescued from a larger tank, that I’m putting finally in a larger 10 gallon tank. The 2.5 has a plastic plant, covered with algae, in a dense stand of guppy grass, Najas g., with frog bit above. There is no substrate. I use a Jardin mini sponge filter and do a 50 % water change every 3 or 4 days. My ph is 7.6 and ammonia and nitrite is O ppm and Nitrate is 5 ppm. I do not know the hardness, but a triops we had moulted well and lived a long (for them) life. How might this do for the shrimp? Would the maintenance be similar to fish? Hope it is acceptable.


    • Reply Mari April 10, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Sounds fine for cherry shrimp, the 5 gallons is just an indication in this case. If you have experience with aquariums and fishkeeping something smaller shouldn’t be a problem, these shrimp have a tiny bioload and won’t cause any cycle swings. 🙂

      • Reply Gregg Martin April 10, 2016 at 9:14 pm

        Thank you!


  • Reply Lou December 3, 2015 at 6:36 pm


    Love your fact sheet, I am just about to buy a tank to set up for cherry shrimp. I have seen lots of different information around the set up. Some people recommend using products under the substrate for example borneo wild minerax, bebi and enlive. Do you recommend these products for this type of shrimp as they are a bit expensive?
    Thank you for your advice.

    • Reply Mari December 3, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      Hi! For simple cherry shrimp, those are definitely not a must. Cherries are very hardy and will do well in almost any type of aquarium. Those products are usually used for the more expensive and less resilient types of shrimp.
      Good luck! I’d love to see your setup when you’re done. 🙂

  • Reply Iliana November 13, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Will shrimp eat my plants? It would be nice if they trimmed them but if they’re going to completely ravage a plant…well.

    • Reply Mari November 15, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Nope, they won’t touch your plants except to eat algae and aufwuchs stuck to them!

  • Reply Irene July 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Hi, I have 28 litre tank. Have say around 20 shrimp, made up of various ages. Wishing to add fish. Know the limit of fish re, litre of tank, but cannot find answer to this anywhere. Does having shrimp in tank lesson number of fish alowed, and is there a max no of shrimp for my 28 litre tank? .

    Also, my shrimp are only active in the evening. My find who fave me them, is in habit of keeping tank lighrs out for most of day, as he’s at work. Has he turned my shrimp into night shift workers lol?


    • Reply Mari July 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Shrimp populations usually kind of manage themselves, but if you think your tank is getting overpopulated you can always try selling/giving them away to other aquarists or your local aquarium store.
      As for fish, in 28 liter tanks you’re very very limited. A single betta fish would be possible, but they are aggressive towards shrimp and it’s a huge gamble as a betta could wipe out the entire shrimp population OR leave the shrimp alone. Other than that, I wouldn’t go for fish at all. Some sources will say it’s fine but most experienced fishkeepers will agree that 28 liters is just a bit too small. However, don’t despair! A pair of dwarf crayfish would probably do wonderfully in there and they should leave cherry shrimp alone. There’s a caresheet for them here!
      As for the evening activity, I’m pretty sure that’s normal. In the wild, the evening would be a safe time for them to forage!
      Good luck with your shrimp!

      • Reply Irene July 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm

        Thanks, for quick reply and info. They’re amazing when they’re all out and about, and right enough, I’m only at friends house in evening. Do fancy cray fish, so will look into that. Thanks again

  • Reply Alvin Yao September 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Could I keep a breeding population of cherry shrimp in an unheated community tank? I have read that the shrimp stop breeding at below 20 degrees C, and the tank’s temperature drops quite low in Winter, to about 16 degrees C. In Summer the water temperature would be higher than 20 degrees C, maybe even around 30 degrees C. I would be keeping dwarf crayfish and fish similar in personality and size of white cloud mountain minnows. The tank is 56cm*36cm*26cm.

    • Reply Mari September 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      I think it would be possible to keep cherry shrimp in an unheated tank and have them breed, although breeding may slow down a lot during winter. Keeping them with fish isn’t the best idea if you want the baby shrimp to survive, though, almost all fish will try to eat them! I personally also think your tank is too small to actually keep fish like white clouds or danio (which are similar) in. Both species are very active swimmers and would be better suited to a least a 20 gallon long.
      Good luck! This sounds like a fun project.

      • Reply Alvin Yao September 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        If I can’t keep white clouds, then what other possibilities of fish are there, my main focus is the fish, not the shrimp, and the tank will be heavily planted. There is also a moderate current at the surface of my tank. I thought white clouds were much smaller than danios. My local fish store keeps many active white cloud sized fish in a much smaller tank than I have, and they seemed to be doing fine with no health problems I could see. There are many sites that say a white clouds minimum tank size in a small school of 5 would be 5 gallons, or 19L. I am planning to keep a small school of 5 in a 15 gallon or 56L, which is my one and only tank I think I am allowed. It is currently a dirt bottomed tank. The filtration is an overhead sump filter and a small DIY 350ml bottle filter, which you is based upon this filter the KIng of DIY built,copy the the link below to whatch the video:
        I also have an airstone and will heat the tank in winter to keep the temperature at 16 degrees C, I forgot to mention that.
        Again thanks for any advice and replying to my comment!

        • Reply Mari September 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

          I am aware many sources say white clouds can be kept in very small setups. Whether you do this is your own choice, but I personally think it’s not humane to keep such active fish in a small tank. The housing in pet stores is temporary so that’s not something to base your own stock off! Keeping your white clouds in a very small setup like a 5 gal won’t immediately cause health issues, but I can imagine it’s quite stressful for them. You may be able to fit a smaller school into your own tank if it’s well-planted, it’s kind of on the edge of what works in my opinion.

          • Alvin Yao September 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm

            Thanks again, but
            What other fish can I buy then? I used to believe what my fishkeeping guide book says, but it seems that it is outdated. 🙁 It says goldfish grow to the size of the tank, I know that is kind of true, but the organs of the goldfish will keep growing, and the goldfish will become stunted. I’m not trusting that book again. Nor my LFS’s staff. They recommended a loach to eat my hundreds of baby pond snails in my not even cycled aquarium!!!! What fish are small enough to be happily kept in an unheated 15 gallon long aquarium for most of the year? I want some top-mid dwellers, they don’t have to be schooling, but I would love to have some as well. It seems that the only aquarium I have is too small to house any fish. :'( But for my whole life I had been in love with fish!! From the day I knew what they were!!! My first drawings were of fish, i seemed obsessed with fish and even today I am still obsessed. I can’t just let the tank size become a huge problem!!! I NEED fish, I want them to be healthy, not crammed into a tank too small for them, I thought white clouds were perfect, turns out they’re not. What other mid to top dwelling fish can be kept in my aquarium?
            Thank you again for any further advice, I hope this isn’t bothering you too much, I hope I am not becoming annoying, If i am please tell me to stop, I just can’t help it, sorry, just so much clashing info in the net, don’t even know what’s right any more.

          • Mari September 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

            Don’t worry, I know how frustrating the conflicting info on the internet can be! I get a lot of almost desperate mails/comments from fishkeepers all the time because they just don’t understand what to do anymore. Seriously Fish is one of the better places to start if you’re looking for info on specific fish. They seem to agree with me that your aquarium is just at the edge of what can or won’t work.

            My personal favorite for cooler aquariums is Rhinogobius duospilus, but they’re not schooling fish nor are they mid-/top-dwellers. They’re also carnivores that will happily snack on cherry shrimp, but I still wanted to mention them because they’re very very interesting fish to keep.
            You could go for the white clouds instead if you really want schooling fish. I guess it’s a personal choice! I personally find species like gobies much more interesting.

            Good luck! I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, the choices are pretty limited for smaller coldwater tanks. It’s still possible to make a beautiful setup out of this though, be sure to check out the latest article which coincidentally happens to be about coldwater aquarium plants 🙂

          • Alvin Yao September 29, 2014 at 3:20 am

            Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it.

          • Alvin Yao September 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

            I just read that the ideal tank base dimensions for them on the website “Seriously fish” were 60cm*30cm.
            My tank base dimensions are 56cm*36cm.

  • Reply Carly June 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Would I be able to keep 5 shrimp in a 5.5 gallon tank with a betta? Or would that be too much?

    • Reply Mari June 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      No, that sounds fine to me! Dwarf shrimp have a very low bioload. Whether it will work is another thing – some bettas are more aggressive than others and there is a possibility they’ll attack and kill smaller shrimp like cherries. Larger shrimp are unfortunately not an option for this size tank.

      • Reply Carly June 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm

        Thanks for the response! And I’ve heard some horror-stories about bettas eating shrimp. What would you recommend using for little hiding spots?

        • Reply Mari June 19, 2014 at 5:56 pm

          I always use shrimp flats! You can get them online or in most aquarium stores. Good luck!

          • Alvin Yao September 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

            what’s a shrimp flat?

          • Mari September 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm

            A shrimp flat is a hiding place for shrimp built up of ceramic tubes. Most inverts appreciate it. You can buy it at most aquarium stores and online 🙂

  • Reply Deven Kolage April 24, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Recently started with plantation, and have few Guppies in my tank along with few Red Cherry Shrimps and non CO2 required plants. Few days later I was advised to add a Snail Eater (unaware of scientific name) that helps to control wild snails and algae in tanks. Soon I observed that Red cherry shrimps counts started decreasing, I am not too sure whether the snail eater is the reason but I am not able to sight the dead shrimps either. Would Snail Eater be the core reason behind this? Can you suggest me some tank mates who are friendly to shrimps and shrimplets as I would love seeing the multiplying.
    Deven Kolage.

    • Reply Mari April 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by Snail Eater, is it a clown loach (Chromobotia macracanthus), dwarf puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) or Assassin snail (Clea helena)? If it’s one of the first two, I’m not surprised by your shrimp dying. They are not really suitable for calm community tanks and I would suggest rehoming them. Good tankmates for cherry shrimp would be Pygmy corydoras, otocinclus catfish, mosquito rasbora etc., provided your tank is suitable for them.
      Hope that helps! Good luck 🙂

      • Reply Deven Kolage April 27, 2014 at 6:12 am

        Thank you, It’s Assassin snail (Clea helena). I have purchased Java Moss as it is categorized in Non CO2 required list. Also would like to confirm whether all Mosses are categorized in Non CO2 required list ? If Not which Moss except Java Moss can be introduced ?
        Your suggestion on Non CO2 required plants would be appreciated.

        • Reply Mari April 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

          In that case I do think there may be some damage to the shrimplets from the assassin snail. They probably can’t catch adult shrimp, but I’m not sure about young ones. Not all mosses are non CO2 required I think, but I’m unfortunately not an expert. Practical Fishkeeping can help you out here.
          As for more non CO2 required plants, check out 8 Easy Aquarium Plants!

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