Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. red, formerly 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.
|Minimum tank size||5 gal (18L)|
|Temperature||57-86 °F/14-30 °C|
Scientific name: Neocaridina davidi var. ‘Red’. Also sometimes still referred to as Neocaridina heteropoda var. ‘Red’.
Common names: Cherry Shrimp, Red Cherry shrimp, Fire Shrimp, Sakura 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 while others state 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.
Not all Cherry Shrimp feature the same level of coloration. Selective breeding for color results in more intensely colored shrimp, while letting a colony breed freely causes their reds to fade. Cherries with more opaque coloration are considered a higher grade and will be more expensive. They’re not “better” than other Cherry Shrimp, though. It’s just a matter of preference.
It should be noted that colored varieties of this species are not naturally found in the wild. Wild Neocaridina are typically brown with light or clear patches. Shrimp with wild coloration are typically referred to as a “wild type” shrimp. However, this doesn’t mean that the shrimp itself is from the wild – it only refers to the color!
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 can thrive in big community tanks that lack bigger, hungrier tankmates, but these shrimp also look great in nano aquascapes. Unlike fish, they can live in small tanks like the beverage dispenser tank!
Be sure to always cycle your tank before introducing any shrimp, as they are extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrites. Medication that contains copper isn’t a good idea either, as it’s unfortunately deadly to shrimp. Weekly water changes are needed to reduce the amount of nitrates in the water. Be sure to match the new water to the old, both in temperature and water values.
If you’re stocking Cherry shrimp for the first time, it’s recommended to get 2 to 5 individuals per gallon (3.5 L) of water. Under ideal conditions, they’ll populate fast. Fortunately their bioload is very small, so you don’t have to worry about overstocking on Cherry shrimp alone.
Cherry shrimp tankmates
As long as they’re provided with plenty of hiding spaces like coconut hides, patches of Java moss and other plants, Cherry shrimp can be kept in aquariums with larger fish. Even if the occasional shrimp ends up as a snack the colony will likely breed faster than the predators can eat them. Keep in mind that it’s still always a gamble, though. Fish that are very focused on hunting (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 setup 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 are naturally omnivores that feed on biofilm. In the aquarium they will accept almost any types of food they come across, which is why they make a great clean-up crew. In community tanks they can live off leftovers from other fish and tiny particles they find in plants and algae patches. Specialized shrimp food, algae pellets and blanched vegetables can also be given occasionally and will be much appreciated.
In a single species tank it’s a good idea to feed a small amount of food 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.
When your shrimp sheds its exoskeleton, it may be tempting to take it out but don’t! Cherry shrimp can eat the shed and regain essential minerals.
Cherry shrimp behavior
Cherry Shrimp are extremely peaceful. They spend most of their time foraging and searching for food. 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! After a water change or after an individual molts you might see your Cherry Shrimp ‘dancing’. Don’t worry, they’re not going crazy. The males are chasing the females all over the aquarium in an attempt to breed.
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. If you’re interested in breeding your shrimp be sure to pick up a starter colony of at least 10. You can buy Cherry Shrimp here!
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!