If you are looking for an outstanding living thing that you can add to your aquarium, make sure Cherry Shrimp are in your list as their vibrant red color will jazz your tank immensely. Keep on reading to know how to take care of and breed them.
Table of Contents
- Cherry Shrimp Overview
- Cherry Shrimp Appearance and Behavior
- Tank Requirements
- Tank Mates
- What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat
- How to Take Care of Cherry Shrimp
- Most Common Diseases
- How to Breed Cherry Shrimp
Cherry Shrimp Overview
Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) are dwarf freshwater crustaceans that are native to Taiwan. They are also known as Sakura Shrimp and Fire Red Shrimp due to their coloration.
These shrimp belong to the Atyidae family that comprises more than 20 varieties of shrimp. They are the cousins of Blue Velvet and Black Diamond that are also renowned for their stunning colors and no-fuss maintenance.
Being easy to take care of yet adding pops of reds in the tank, Cherry Shrimp becomes one of the most popular crustaceans that many beginners want to keep. They are also suitable for experienced aquarists who want to add more colors to the aquarium.
A fun fact you need to know about this species is they come in a wide array of colors in the wild. The reason why they have turned into vibrant red shrimp is that they have been selectively bred for years.
Another reason why many aquarists want to keep them is they are algae eaters that can help you keep your tank clean. They have become the best alternative cleaning crew, especially if you cannot afford Amano Shrimp.
They cannot clean your tank as well as Amano can do. But they are much cheaper than their counterpart, which makes them a top-notch choice when it comes to creating a spectacular and algae-free tank on a budget.
These shrimp can live for around one or two years depending on the tank conditions that you provide. Although they are hardy, you still need to pay careful attention to the water parameters so that they can be robust and live longer.
Cherry Shrimp Appearance and Behavior
These shrimp are renowned for being peaceful and non-aggressive. They like to spend most of their time grazing on plants, moss, substrate, and whatever you put into your aquarium. Nevertheless, they are very active during the day and night.
As the name suggests, these shrimp are as red as cherry. However, they can feature various kinds of red hues, from the paler to the deepest one. Their coloration determines what grade they belong to.
Here are the grades that you will be likely to encounter at fish stores:
They are the lowest grade of Neocaridina heteropoda which are also known as the regular cherry shrimp. Their color is subtle. It even looks like several red dots covering their body due to the weak density.
However, you might also find this grade comes in a reasonably solid red if you are lucky enough to get the shrimp whose dots are close together. Their legs are usually colorless.
The males are usually colorless, but some of them can also display scarce spots of red. Like most Neocaridina, the females will show a more intensive color than the males with a well-defined backline.
Sakura Cherry Shrimp
The red color of the shrimp has more density but they still have those clear patches on the body. The denser hue is also found in carapace and abdominal segments, but not the lower body. The legs are usually very spotted or striped.
Fire Red Shrimp
Their body can be completely red as the color intensity is relatively deep. Even the legs exhibit the same hue, too. However, in some cases, you may still find a small translucent or orange tint on the shell.
The red carapace and abdominal segments have some small cracks and holes.
Distinguishing the males and females at this grade is tricky because both of them can be completely red.
Fortunately, you can still tell which one is the female as their saddles and eggs are quite visible under regular lighting.
Painted Fire Red Shrimp
These Cherry Shrimp are the highest grade and, therefore, the most expensive. They exhibit solid deep red from the body to the legs without any transparent areas.
The red color of the males is not as deep as the females. Unlike the Fire Red, you can only see saddles and eggs only under special lighting conditions.
Another way to distinguish them is by checking their size. The females are typically larger than the males as they can grow up to 1.5 inches long. You can also use this technique for the other shrimp grades.
Cherry Shrimp are extremely hardy and will be able to survive in any freshwater aquarium setup. However, you should provide the proper environment for them to thrive well.
They need to be kept in at least a 5-gallon tank with the water temperature between 65-85 °F. Installing a heater to make it stable is not necessary. You can still go for it, though.
These shrimp can live and breed well if the water hardness 6 – 8 with the pH level between 6.5-8.0 because it contains higher levels of calcium and minerals needed for maturation of eggs. You can obtain it by adding a few limestone chips to the filter.
Talking about the filter, you might be wondering whether you need it or not as it can suck your shrimp into them. You do not want it to happen for sure.
You can use a sponge filter to prevent this problem. If you are going to use a more powerful filter, try using the inlets with foam so that the flow can be reduced.
If your water conditions are poor, better choose the lower grade Cherry Shrimp. Otherwise, you will need to set up your aquarium fastidiously only if you are going to keep higher grade ones. Make sure you do not put them in an uncycled tank due to their sensitivity to nitrites.
Aquascaping and Emulating Cherry Shrimp Natural Habitat
Any shrimp can be robust if they live in an aquarium that emulates their natural habitat, and so can Cherry Shrimp.
In the wild, these shrimp live in ponds and streams with a rocky substrate and densely packed plants. Therefore, you should endeavor to mimic this condition in your tank as closely as possible.
The first thing you need to do is adding lots of aquatic plants, such as Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias Nana Petite, and Water Wisteria because they like to live in heavily planted setups that give them sufficient shelter and hiding spots.
These shrimp enjoy hiding especially when they feel threatened. Therefore, you can also incorporate some driftwood into the tank since they can hide in it and nibble the algae from it. Do not forget to add small pebbles to mimic the rocky substrate.
How Many Cherry Shrimp per Gallon
The minimum tank size to keep Cherry Shrimp is 5 gallons. You can add 2 or 5 of them per gallon. The more shrimp you have, the bigger aquarium you will need.
You might need to consider keeping 5 or 10 shrimps as they will breed quickly and you end up having an overcrowded tank.
Cherry Shrimps are peaceful. Therefore, you can keep them along with other fish, snails, or shrimp. Just make sure that their tank mates are not aggressive, nor bigger than them because they only have little, or even no, defense capabilities.
The ideal tank mates for your Cherry Shrimp are:
- Vampire Shrimp
- Catfish, such as Cory and Otocinclus.
- Small Tetras
- Ghost Shrimp
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Amano Shrimp
- Freshwater Snails, such as Ivory, Mystery, Gold Inca, Nerite, and Malaysian Trumpet.
- Small Plecos
Bear in mind that your Cherry Shrimp should not be kept with Oscar, Cichlid, Arowana, Discus, and Betta.
Instead of keeping them in a community tank, you had better put them in a single-species aquarium. You can begin with putting 10 Cherry Shrimp in it. The larger group you add to it, the more confident they will be.
What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat
Naturally, Cherry Shrimp are scavengers and omnivores. It means you do not need to break a sweat when feeding them as they are not fussy. They can eat any food you give, even the algae in your tank.
However, it is still necessary to give them high-quality pellets for the core of their diet. You might be still wondering what to feed besides the aforementioned foods. Therefore, you can try to add some supplements that contain veggies and frozen foods.
There are various kinds of vegetables you can give to them, such as Spinach, Carrots, Lettuce, Cucumber and Zucchini. Just make sure you boil and blanch them well before giving them to your shrimp.
How to Take Care of Cherry Shrimp
As stated above, Cherry Shrimp are hardy and not fussy, which makes them a good choice for a complete novice. It does not mean that you can just ignore the other details, though.
Like much other shrimp, this species is extremely sensitive to copper. Therefore, you should double-check the medication and fish feed that you are going to give as they may contain it.
Besides copper, ammonia spikes can cause disturbance for the shrimp. For this reason, the water parameters in your tank have to be stable at all times.
As time goes by, you will find their empty exoskeletons in the tank. It is perfectly normal and you should just leave them there.
These shrimp will eat their exoskeleton up to restock on essential minerals. So, you can feel at ease.
Most Common Diseases
Your Cherry Shrimp can suffer from several diseases. You have to be aware and notice the symptoms as soon as possible.
Here are the most common diseases that you might found:
This disease is quite hard to diagnose. But if your shrimp has transparent bodies, you might have the chance to observe the symptoms.
A healthy shrimp has a dark inner body while the infected one appears to be pink as if it were inflamed.
It is a protozoan looking like light white fungus that grows on the shrimp’s shell which is near the tip of its nose.
This parasite occurs due to food and organic waste trapped in the substrate and cannot be touched by the shrimp. As a result, the bacteria will increase, which feeds Vorticella. If it is left untreated, it can kill your shrimp.
Therefore, you must maintain the water conditions of the tank well and clean it regularly.
How to Breed Cherry Shrimp
Breeding Cherry Shrimp is merely a breeze. That is one of the reasons why many aquarists keep them. As long as you provide good water conditions, everything will be under control.
Let’s take a look at their life cycle when it comes to breeding.
The first and most indispensable step is preparing the tank. Make sure you have added lots of plants in it for the sake of security and comfort of your shrimp. Give them high protein foods, and raise the temperature to 82°F to emulate the summer.
Once you put the matured males and females into the tank, they need to settle in it for about 3 or 5 months before starting to breed.
You will soon know that the breeding is successful by looking at the pregnant females which are carrying lots of eggs underneath her tail.
It will take about 30 days for the eggs to begin to hatch. Once they hatch, you will see fry that look the same as their parents.
The fry should be moved to a matured tank because a newly cycled aquarium does not provide the minute organisms that they rely on to eat. You can also try planting something with leaves like Anacharis. They will eat it for sure
Do not expect your matured Cherry Shrimp to take care of their babies. They will just leave the fry and be busy to fend for themselves.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist, Cherry Shrimp will always make a good option for your tank. They are not fussy, algae eater, and inexpensive due to the straight forward breeding process. So, go grab some.