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. Cherry shrimp belong to the Atyidae family, which includes various species of freshwater shrimp. The genus Neocaridina encompasses several species of shrimp, including Neocaridina davidi, commonly known as red cherry shrimp. Within the Neocaridina davidi species, there are different color variations such as red, yellow, blue, and more, each bred selectively for specific traits.
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.
Cherry shrimp are typically found in areas with abundant vegetation, including submerged plants, moss, and driftwood. They thrive in habitats with leaf litter and natural debris, which provide them with hiding places and a source of food. Cherry shrimp are often found in areas with slow-moving or still water, as they are not strong swimmers.
Nowadays fans have even invented a classification for them (based on the size and color) and elite cherry shrimps sometimes are quite costly.
Here are some common classifications:
- High Quality: These are cherry shrimp with vibrant, intense, and solid colors. They typically have a deep and uniform red coloration without any blemishes or fading. High-quality shrimp also exhibit clear and distinct coloration throughout their body, including their legs and antennae.
- Grade A: Grade A cherry shrimp display good coloration, but may have slightly less intensity compared to high-quality specimens. They might have minor color variations or markings, but overall, their color is still appealing and attractive.
- Commercial Grade: Commercial-grade cherry shrimp are generally considered lower in quality compared to high-quality or Grade A shrimp. They may have lighter or duller coloration, slight variations in hue, or minor blemishes. However, they are still healthy and suitable for most shrimp hobbyists.
- Culls: Culls are cherry shrimp that do not meet the desired quality standards for specific traits or coloration. They may have significant color variations, irregular patterns, or physical deformities. These shrimp are often sold at a lower price or used for breeding projects where the focus is on improving specific traits.
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.
How long do cherry shrimp live? The lifespan of cherry shrimp, can vary depending on various factors such as water conditions, diet, and overall care. On average, cherry shrimp can live for about 1 to 2. years in optimal conditions. However, it’s quite difficult to say for sure, since as a rule there are about several dozens in a tank. Proper water parameters, including temperature, pH, and water quality, are crucial for the well-being and longevity of cherry shrimp. While cherry shrimp have a relatively short lifespan compared to some other aquatic species, they are prolific breeders. Given the right conditions, they can reproduce quickly and replenish their population.
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.
|Scientific Name||Neocaridina davidi|
|Common Names||Cherry shrimp, Red cherry shrimp, RCS|
|Maximum Size||Approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm)|
|Lifespan||1 to 2 years (can vary based on care and environmental factors)|
|Body Shape||Compact and elongated|
|Antennae||Long, thin, and highly sensitive|
|Gender Differences||Males are generally smaller and more slender than females|
|Behavior||Peaceful and social, often seen grazing on surfaces and plants|
|Water Temperature||68°F to 78°F (20°C to 25°C)|
|pH Range||7.0 to 8.0 (slightly alkaline to neutral)|
|Water Hardness||Soft to moderately hard water (4-8 dGH)|
|Tank Size||5 gallons (19 liters) or larger|
|Diet||Omnivorous, feeding on biofilm, algae, and small organic matter|
|Breeding||Easy to breed; females carry and hatch eggs|
|Tank Compatibility||Peaceful and compatible with many community fish and invertebrates|
|Natural Habitat||Freshwater streams, rivers, and ponds in Taiwan and Asia|
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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.
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.
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. The tank should be 20 litres large (4.4 gal) and you can keep a small colony there. Cherry shrimp are active and curious creatures. Having a larger tank allows them more space to explore, forage, and engage in natural behaviors. It also helps prevent overcrowding, reducing stress and potential conflicts among the shrimp.
If you’re interested in breeding cherry shrimp, a larger tank provides more surface area for beneficial biofilm growth and algae production. Additionally, it gives the shrimp more hiding places, such as live plants or moss, where they can protect their eggs and increase the chances of successful breeding.
The water should be neutral or a bit acidic one (pH 6.5-8), water temperature about 20–25 °C with low content of nitrates and ammonia – that is all that required to keep in a tank. It’s important to avoid significant fluctuations in pH as it can stress the shrimp. Gradual changes are generally better tolerated than sudden shifts.
Cherry shrimp are sensitive to high levels of ammonia and nitrite, as they are toxic to them. It’s crucial to keep ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm (parts per million). Nitrate levels should be kept as low as possible, ideally below 20 ppm. Regular water changes and proper filtration help maintain these parameters.
Cherry shrimp prefer moderately hard water. The general range for water hardness (GH) is 6 to 8 degrees, while carbonate hardness (KH) should be around 2 to 5 degrees.
Regularly perform partial water changes (10-20% every 1-2 weeks) to maintain water quality and remove accumulated waste. Before adding water to the tank, it’s essential to remove any chlorine or chloramine, as these substances can harm the shrimp. Treat tap water with a suitable water conditioner or use aged water that has been left out for at least 24 hours to allow chlorine to dissipate.
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.
The optimal temperature range for cherry shrimp is between 68°F and 78°F (20°C and 25°C). Keep in mind that extreme temperature fluctuations or prolonged exposure to temperatures outside this range can stress or harm the shrimp.
It’s generally recommended to use an inert substrate for cherry shrimp tanks. Inert substrates do not significantly alter water chemistry or leach harmful substances into the water. This helps maintain stable water parameters, which is important for the shrimp’s health.
Cherry shrimp are known for their vibrant red coloration, and a dark substrate can enhance their appearance. Dark substrates, such as black sand or dark-colored gravel, provide a striking contrast against their red bodies.
If you plan to have live plants in your tank, consider a substrate that supports plant growth. Nutrient-rich substrates like aqua soil or specialized planted tank substrates can provide essential nutrients for plant growth, benefiting both the plants and shrimp.
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.
What do cherry shrimp eat? In general they feed on various microalgae. While they are primarily scavengers and can obtain some of their nutrition from the natural biofilm and algae in the tank, it’s important to supplement their diet with additional food to ensure they receive proper nutrition.
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. Boil or steam the vegetables until they are soft and then cool them before feeding. Remove any uneaten portions after a few hours to prevent water quality issues.
The cherry shrimps pick up pieces of live and frozen food from the tank bottom and eagerly eat specialized food. Offer occasional treats of live or frozen foods such as mosquito larvae, daphnia, brine shrimp, or bloodworms. These protein-rich foods are highly appreciated by shrimp and can promote growth and reproductive health.
If you want your cherry to be really bright, you should feed them with branded food. High-quality shrimp-specific pellets or flakes are readily available and can serve as a staple food source for cherry shrimp. Look for products specifically formulated for shrimp that contain essential nutrients.
It is desirable to feed once a day. The amount of food should be enough for the cherry shrimps to eat in 5 minutes maximum. Overfeeding is very bad. Feed cherry shrimp sparingly and avoid overfeeding, as uneaten food can decompose and negatively impact water quality. 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.
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.
What fish can live with cherry shrimp?
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, ember tetra. They are generally non-aggressive and won’t pose a threat to the shrimp. I used to keep all these fishes successfully and I’ve never had any problems.
|Fish Species||Size||Temperament||Tank Size (Minimum)||Additional Notes|
|Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)||Small (1.5 inches)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Active and colorful, should be kept in groups|
|Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae)||Small (1 inch)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Vibrant red coloration, should be kept in groups|
|Green Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon simulans)||Small (1 inch)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Similar to Neon Tetras, but with a greenish-blue stripe|
|Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)||Small (2 inches)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Active and colorful, should be kept in groups|
|Phoenix Rasbora (Boraras brigittae)||Very small (0.8 inch)||Peaceful||5 gallons||Beautiful red coloration, should be kept in groups|
|Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei)||Small (up to 1.5 inches)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Colorful and active, males have striking patterns|
|Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio margaritatus)||Very small (0.75 inch)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Delicate and colorful, requires well-established tank|
|Otocinclus Catfish (Otocinclus spp.)||Small (1.5 to 2 inches)||Peaceful||10 gallons||Algae eaters, gentle and non-aggressive towards shrimp|
|Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras spp.)||Small to medium||Peaceful||20 gallons||Bottom dwellers, gentle and non-aggressive towards shrimp|
Cichlids, especially larger and more aggressive species, have a natural predatory instinct and may view the small cherry shrimp as potential prey. There is a high likelihood that cichlids will actively hunt and eat the shrimp, resulting in the loss of your shrimp population. 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, like ram cichlid), 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.
|Fish Species||Size||Temperament||Tank Size (Minimum)||Additional Notes|
|Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish)||Small to medium||Aggressive||5 gallons||Known to be aggressive towards shrimp and may hunt them|
|Angelfish (Pterophyllum spp.)||Medium to large||Semi-aggressive||30 gallons||Can see shrimp as food and may prey on them|
|Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster spp.)||Small to medium||Semi-aggressive||15 gallons||Can be territorial and may harass or nip at shrimp|
|Goldfish (Carassius auratus)||Medium to large||Semi-aggressive||20 gallons (per fish)||Highly likely to eat shrimp due to their large size and appetite|
|Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia spp.)||Small to medium||Semi-aggressive||20 gallons||Can be nippy and may harass shrimp|
|Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)||Small to medium||Semi-aggressive||20 gallons||Known to nip at shrimp and may stress or injure them|
|Red-tailed Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)||Medium to large||Semi-aggressive||30 gallons||Can be territorial and may harm or stress shrimp|
|Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata)||Large||Aggressive||55 gallons||Highly aggressive and will prey on shrimp|
|Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)||Large||Aggressive||75 gallons||Very large and predatory fish, will eat shrimp|
Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. red) can generally be kept with other Neocaridina shrimp without any issues. They are the same species and have similar care requirements, making them compatible tank mates. However, it’s important to note that crossbreeding may occur between different color variations of Neocaridina shrimp, resulting in offspring with mixed colors.
Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata) are larger than cherry shrimp but are peaceful and can coexist in the same tank.
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.
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.
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. To maximize breeding success, consider setting up a separate breeding tank or section within your main tank. This allows you to provide optimal conditions specifically for breeding and ensures the safety of newborn shrimp.
Add plenty of hiding places, such as mosses, plants, or aquarium decorations, where the shrimp can feel secure. Dense vegetation provides ample hiding spots for the female shrimp to molt and release eggs.
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. Cherry shrimp breed through internal fertilization. The male shrimp will deposit sperm packets (spermatophores) on the substrate, plants, or other surfaces. The female shrimp will pick up these packets and fertilize her eggs.
After mating, the female shrimp will develop a saddle-shaped mark on her back that will gradually transform into a dark berry-like cluster of eggs. This stage is known as being “berried.” In some cases a young female may drop the eggs due to its small size or lack of experience. Provide ample food and a stable environment to support the development of the eggs.
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. The newly hatched shrimp are tiny and vulnerable. Provide dense vegetation or specialized breeding mats to offer hiding places for the juveniles to find refuge and grow safely. 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.