Cherry shrimp care guide

Cherry shrimp (lat. Neocaridina davidi) – is without any doubt the most popular shrimp that inhabits in tanks. It’s not picky, easily gets accustomed to any tank parameters and conditions. Besides, this shrimp is peaceful and eats food leftovers in the tank. For most of the aquarists this is the shrimp that becomes the first one bought and stays the favorite one for ages. So, our article is exactly about keeping in a tank and breeding.

Habitat in the wild

Actually, this cherry shrimp is a color variation of an ordinary freshwater shrimp from Taiwan, bred by means of selection and improving of its rich coloring. However, in the wild these species have rather plain, pattern painting. Which is hardly a surprise, since with bright red coloring they will barely survive in the wild.

As for their classification, it is in a mess nowadays. At first their Latin name was – Neocaridina heteropoda and Neocaridina denticulata sinensis, but now they were renamed to Neocaridina davidi.

Its wild cherry shrimp ancestors inhabit in freshwater habitats in Taiwan and are known for their unusual plainness and breeding rate. These were the first shrimps that appeared in amateurs aquariums, but they gave way to cherry red ones over time.

Nowadays fans have even invented a classification for them (based on the size and color) and elite cherry shrimps sometimes are quite costly.

Scientific NameNeocaridina davidi
FamilyAtyidae
Common NamesCherry shrimp, red cherry shrimp
Range and habitatAsia
Size2.5 cm (1 in)
Lifespan1 year
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size20 liters (4.4 gallons) and more
TemperamentPeaceful
DietOmnivorous
Temperature75–81 °F (24–27 °C)
pH6.5-8
Water hardness5-20 dGH

Description

This is a small shrimp which very seldom grows to be 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. Usually they are about 2 cm (0.8 inches) large. Its lifespan is about a year. However, it’s quite difficult to say for sure, since as a rule there are about several dozens in a tank.

As for its coloring – its name speaks for itself. The shrimp is cherry red and it looks very good and bright against green background of dark green java moss, for example. It’s quite difficult to discuss some of coloring peculiarities, because these shrimps are small and you really can’t see much.

How long cherry shrimp lifespan? Well, it is not very long – about a year. But usually they breed fast and you’ll have lots of juveniles by the end of older species lifespan.

Tank mates

In the wild cherry shrimp is very vulnerable and the same they are in a tank. Shrimps are small sized, can not defend themselves, they can only mask. However, cherry shrimps can not even mask. Even small fish can eat them or cut their chela off. Therefore, it is perfect to keep them in a special tank without any fishes.

In case if you don’t have such a possibility, you should keep small and peaceful fishes. These can be, for example: harlequin rasbora, neon tetra, oto, white cloud mountain minnow. I used to keep all these fishes successfully and I’ve never had any problems.

But it was angelfishes, who killed all the cherry in my tank completely. In a few month there was nothing left from dozens of cherry shrimps! Therefore, I advise you to avoid any cichlid fishes (even dwarf ones), especially convict fish.

The rule is simple here – the larger the fish, the higher chances are that it’s not compatible with cherry shrimps. If there is no choice and you have already put them into the tank, you can at least put some java moss into it – for it is easier to hide there.

Behavior in a tank

They are completely harmless. If you have seen them eating some dead fish – the fish has died as a result of some natural factors and shrimps are just eating its body. These shrimps are active during the day, you can see them moving around the tank and decorations when looking for some food.

Red cherry shrimp regularly shed their skin and you can see their empty exoskeletons on the tank bottom or in the water. There is nothing to worry about here, since shedding is a natural process and since the grows its exoskeleton becomes too small for it. You may just leave it in the tank, shrimps will just eat it.

The only thing you should keep in mind is, that when shedding your cherry shrimps will need a place to hide and java moss or other tank plants will be perfect for this purpose.

Care and keeping in a tank

Are perfect tank inhabitants even for beginners. The main thing you should remember is not to keep them with large fishes. These shrimps excellently adapt to quite different tank conditions and parameters.

Tank size

First of all you should know that cherry shrimp is a schooling one. This kind of crustaceans feels fine only in a school of ten or more species. The tank should be 20 litres large (4.4 gal) and you can keep a small colony there.

Water parameters

The water should be neutral or a bit acidic one (pH 6.5-8), water temperature about 20–29 °C with low content of nitrates and ammonia – that is all that required to keep in a tank. Small number of cherry shrimps can be kept even in nano tank. Still to make your shrimps feel comfortable you need a tank of larger capacity and a lot of tank plants, especially moss.

As for the chemicals, the only danger you should be aware of is the presence of copper in the tank water, since it is harmful to all crustaceans. If you are using tap water to fill the tank, you should buy conditioners to clean water from copper, plumbum and other metals.

Tank decor

For instance, java moss gives the shelter and food, since it captures some food particles in it. Cherry shrimps eat zoo- and phytoplankton that forms on moss twigs and at that they don’t harm the moss at all. Also moss shelters the shrimps when they are shedding and their juveniles after their birth.

This way a pile of moss turns into a “kinder garden”. So, all in all a bunch of moss in a tank with shrimps is not just very beautiful, but it is also necessary and important there.

Coloring is another important issue. The darker the tank bottom and plants are, the brighter the shrimps look. If you have a light colored tank bottom, these shrimps look pale. Also how bright is their red coloring depends on the food the shrimps eat.

Live and frozen food makes them brighter colored and vice versa eating flakes makes their coloring pale. However, you can feed them with special food which brighten their red color.

Feeding

What you should use to feed cherry shrimp? In general they feed on various microalgae. When in a tank these shrimps eat any kind of food, but they prefer food with high content of vegetable substance. You can also feed them with vegetables: slightly boiled squash, cucumbers, small carrots, spinach, nettle and dandelion leaves.

The cherry shrimps pick up pieces of live and frozen food from the tank bottom and eagerly eat specialized food. If you want your cherry to be really bright, you should feed them with branded food.

It is desirable to feed once a day. The amount of food should be enough for the cherry shrimps to eat in 2 hours maximum. Overfeeding is very bad.

It may cause their death as well as affect tank water parameters. Remember that in the wild they collect waste and leftovers from the bottom. They are omnivorous, they eat everything they find 24/7.

Gender differences: male vs female

Cherry shrimp male is smaller and less bright if compared to a female. Tail of the males is not that wide as the one of the female, since it’s not meant for carrying eggs.

The easiest way to see between male and female is when they are carrying their eggs (the female holds the eggs under her tail).She moves all the time and moves her legs to ensure that the eggs get enough oxygen.

During this period of time female becomes especially timid and it hides in the dark.

Breeding

This is a totally simple process. You just have to create proper conditions and put cherry shrimp males and females in one tank. Later you can see the female carrying eggs under her tail, they look like grapes. As for mating, it happens as follows.

Usually after shedding female releases pheromones into the tank water and this way signalizes to the males that she is ready to mate. The cherry shrimp male start looking for the female and then the short mating process occurs. In some cases a young female may drop the eggs due to its small size or lack of experience.

To decrease its stress try not to disturb the female and keep the tank water clean during this period. As a rule, female carries about 20-30 eggs for 2-3 weeks. The eggs are yellow or greenish and they become darker as they grow.

When small cherry shrimps hatch they are tiny (about 1 mm large), but they look exactly as their parents. They hide in the tank plants for several first days (they are almost invisible there) and eat plankton. Juveniles don’t require any special care.

The main thing they need is a place to hide. As for the female, in a few days she can be carrying eggs again.