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)|
|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 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.
When 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 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!