The cherry shrimp is a very popular and sought-after exotic species of shrimp. They are the smallest freshwater shrimp available, and their bright red coloration adds to their popularity.
This article will cover everything you need to know about these amazing crustaceans, including their origin, their feeding, their breeding and much more.
Origin Of The Cherry Shrimp And Its Technical Name
The cherry shrimp originates from Taiwan, Thailand and nearby places. The technical name for the shrimp family is ‘Neocaridina’ And the cherry shrimp in particular are called Neocaridina Heteropoda.
Cherry Shrimps were originally Brownish in color. Subsequently, due to interfered breeding, they are now available in red, blue, yellow and white as well.
Grades Of Red Cherry Shrimp
The cherry shrimp is so named in view of its red color. There are fives grades of cherry shrimp starting from the lowest grade called the cherry shrimp. Cherry shrimps are graded on the basis of the redness.
The deeper the redness, the higher the grade. Cherry completely red in color and only have red patches. However, as the grade goes up, the percentage of redness on the body of the shrimp is higher.
Let us begin with the lowest grade of the cherry shrimp which is the Cherry Shrimp. This generation has a transparent brown color on its body with red spots all over.
This generation is more transparent than red. Even the red spots are not deep red and it’s antennae and legs are transparent in color. Most of the underbelly is also largely transparent.
Then we have the Sakura Cherry Shrimp which is mostly red on the top part of the body but the lower part of the body is transparent with a few spots or even stripes.
As usual the legs and the antennae are transparent. It also has a large quantity of red stripes across its back. If you would like to differentiate between the cherry shrimp and the Sakura Shrimp, look at the underbelly.
If the underbelly is entirely transparent or mostly transparent then it is not a Sakura cherry shrimp.
The next grade is the Fire Red Low-Grade Cherry Shrimp. This cherry shrimp will look entirely red but is not completely red.
The lower parts of this cherry shrimp have small transparent spots or stripes and the antennae remains transparent. The legs however are not completely transparent and you may find some red spots on them.
The Fire Red High-Grade Cherry Shrimp differs from the low-grade. This cherry shrimp is completely red with fully red body and legs.
If you would like to differentiate between the low grade and the high-grade fire red cherry shrimps all you have to do is look at its legs. If the legs are completely red you know it is the high-grade fire red cherry shrimp.
Lastly, you have the Painted Fire Red Cherry Shrimp. It is not very easy to differentiate between the fire red high-grade Cherry shrimp and the painted fire red cherry shrimp. However, there is a difference between the two which is very mild.
If you look at the leg of the fire red high-grade cherry shrimp, you will be able to see that as it goes downward the shade becomes lighter.
However, in the case of the painted fire red cherry shrimp the entire body is a deep opaque red and flawless as far as the color is concerned. This is the highest grade amongst the cherry shrimps.
Note: There are two other types of the cherry shrimp called as the kanoko and the red rili. However, these are not exactly red cherry shrimps and the Kanoko has black patches and they rili has white patches. These shrimps can be termed as the different types of red cherry shrimps. However, when it comes to grading, it wouldn’t be apt to include these two.
Maintaining The Quality Of Cherry Shrimps
It is important to remember that different grades of cherry shrimps or different colors of cherry shrimps cannot be placed in the same tank together.
This is because if these different types of shrimps end up breeding with each other, the end result will be that you will either get a very low-grade Cherry shrimp or they may end up hatching the original brownish cherry shrimps.
Pro Tip: The substrate in your tank affects the color of your Cherry shrimp. If the substrate is dark, your Cherry shrimp will adapt itself to show out its brightest color. If your substrate is very light in color, your Cherry shrimp may even become transparent although it is of the highest grade.
Basic Nature Of The Cherry Shrimps
Cherry shrimps are very hard-working in nature and work towards keeping your tank clean almost all the time. Cherry shrimps walk around the tank most of the time and usually you can see them moving backwards more than forward.
Although they like to swim, it is not their primary mode of movement. Shrimps are delicate creatures and fall under the crustacean category. they are peaceful and do not attack any fish in your tank.
They love planted tanks because the plants provide a place to hide from the other predatory fish.
A Few Shrimp Facts
Cherry shrimps can grow up to 1.5 inches in size and the females are larger than the males. Males can grow up to 1 inch in size. They live for about a year or two. However, they are capable of breeding right from the age of three months of age and multiply very fast.
They are omnivorous as far as their diet is concerned and practically eat anything from algae to dead fish or snails. They require a tank of a minimum of 5 gallons. They are fresh water fish and can live with other shrimps and snails in harmony.
Female Power: Female cherry shrimps are more intense in their color and larger than the males.
Once they are fully grown you can differentiate a female by looking at the underside of their tail where they have kind of pouch like structure to hold the eggs once they breed. This is slightly orange in color.
Amazing Fact: Cherry shrimps can see in different directions at the same time. Their eyeballs are not inter-related to each other in such a way that they move together in the same direction.
This mechanism helps the cherry shrimp see their predators from any angle and hide quickly.
Pro Tip: Betta fish and other large predatory fish will eat up your shrimps. So, it is important that you don’t cohabitate your shrimps with these types of fish.
Growth Of A Shrimp
Shrimps grow by molting. This means that they become too big for the existing skin and the shed their skin.
It is important that you allow the molted skin to remain in the tank so that the shrimp can eat it and fulfil its protein and other nutritional requirements.
Molting is a good indicator of growth in a shrimp. Healthy adult shrimp will molt every 3 to 4 weeks. The skin from which the shrimp comes out is called exoskeleton.
Pro Tip: A 20% water change can induce your shrimp to molt. The calcium and mineral content in your tank has a lot of impact on the ability of the shrimp to molt. A few egg shells wrapped in a transparent net can help your shrimps a lot.
Pro Tip: It is good to provide a coconut shell or other cave like structure in your tank to help your shrimp to go through its molting process peacefully. If you have a heavily planted tank and there are sufficient places for the shrimp to hide then it should be fine. This is even more important if your shrimps are living with other fish in a community tank.
Water Parameters Required For Hosting Cherry Shrimps
Cherry shrimps do not require high maintenance. They would be fine as long as the water parameters and quality of the tank remains satisfactory. One thing you need to remember is that Cherry shrimps are very sensitive to changes in their environment, particularly when it comes to water conditions.
More so in cases of temperature, ammonia spikes and pH changes. Mainly make sure that you have a stable ecosystem for the teeny-weeny cherry shrimps.
Coming to the water parameters, cherry shrimps can survive in our aquarium PH between 7 to 7.8. Neutral water is much better for shrimps.
The temperature can range between 72 to 78° Fahrenheit. However, it is important that you maintain a stable range of temperature and pH for your shrimps without allowing sudden stark changes.
Shrimps or other sensitive creatures and Will immediately react to any changes. A GH between 7 to 15 and a KH between 2 to 8 would be ideal. If you are looking at TDS anything between 182 to 400 is fine. Nitrates must be less than 20 ppm.
The usage of water conditioner/De-chlorinator is always good when you’re changing water for your shrimps.
Identifying Stress In Shrimps
If you see your shrimp stationary in one place and not moving around it is an indication of your shrimp being stressed or sick. Cherry Shrimps are always active and prefer moving around the tank.
If they are floating at the surface then you surely know it’s not a good indication. Discoloration or dark spots are another indication of stress. Do ensure that you watch your shrimps regularly.
Copper And Shrimps
If you know that paracetamol is fatal for cats, then you should also know that copper is fatal for shrimps. Usage of medication with copper content can you kill your shrimps.
So make sure that before adding anything into your shrimp tank, check the contents thoroughly. If the medication contains only traces of copper, then it would be okay to use if there is no other alternative.
Even then it would be best to use these products only when really necessary and avoid regular usage without change of water.
Cherry Shrimp Diet Requirements
Cherry shrimps are basically Algae eaters and can gather the algae from whatever grows inside your tank. They also live on the dead fish and the plant matter inside your tank.
However, if you do find that your tank is exceptionally clean and that there is no formation of algae then you will need to feed the shrimps with algae wafers in order to supplement their nutritional requirements.
In any event there is no harm in giving your shrimps algae wafers once in a week. Cherry shrimps Can be found grazing in your tank.
If you do feel that the cherry shrimp is inactive or looking around without feeding, then, your shrimps are probably looking for proper food and it is time to provide them with an algae wafer.
Pro Tip: Java Moss are very good for your cherry shrimps because they allow micro-organisms to grow on them which are very good for your shrimps. Driftwood is also good for a shrimp tank.
Feeding Vegetables To Your Cherry Shrimp
You can feed vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, carrots and spinach to the cherry shrimps. However, you have to make sure that they are boiled and blanched before they are given to your cherry shrimps.
Since cherry shrimps are very small, they do not require additional food unless they are looking for it. They are pretty much capable of feeding from whatever is available within the tank. So, you will only be polluting your ecosystem by overfeeding them.
Color Change In Cherry Shrimps
It is natural for cherry shrimps to change their color. You need not be alarmed at this unless it is accompanied by other symptoms of sickness. Color change depends upon several factors when it comes to changing color.
Just like the substrate, the diet, the hardness of the water, the pH and other water parameters, the water quality and even the food and the nutrition have a bearing on the color of the cherry shrimp.
If you thought that the chameleon is the only color changing being, then even cherry shrimps can change color to protect themselves from predatory fish.
This is why they try to camouflage themselves with the substrate. Cherry shrimps can easily camouflage themselves and they are very good at it.
Tank Mates For Your Cherry Shrimps
Cherry shrimps are very peaceful creatures and do not need high maintenance. As a result, you can host them in any community tank or even have them in a separate tank.
The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that there are several types predatory fish which eat cherry shrimps as a part of their diet and need to be avoided.
This is more so in the case of the Bolivian Ram which is used to control shrimp population. Since Cherry shrimps multiply very fast, there are people who host predatory fish in the shrimp tank to control the shrimp population.
Tank requirements for cherry shrimps
Having discussed several aspects about cherry shrimps, the first thing a shrimp tank requires is plants. This is because plants also provide certain food for the cherry shrimps by shedding certain plant matter.
Normal tank lighting is more than sufficient for these creatures. They do not enjoy very bright lighting. Cherry shrimps require a mild filter which is not too strong. This is because shrimps are very delicate and can get killed if the filter is too strong.
A sponge filter is an excellent idea for a cherry shrimp tank. This is because the cherry shrimps gather around the filter and feed on the waste that is stuck to the filter.
An air stone to keep the water moving is very important as far as shrimp tanks are concerned.
There is no harm in again stressing that stability of water conditions is the key to maintaining shrimps. Mineralized water is excellent in these cases.
Driftwood is also an excellent addition to your cherry shrimp tank. Manzanita driftwood can provide good nutrition to your cherry shrimp.
Pro Tip: Indian Almond leaves are recommended to be used in a cherry shrimp tank because they contain tannin. However, if you do not like your water to be tea colored, then, this is not exactly mandatory. An alternative is Peat Moss. You can use the almond leaves in a sick tank.
Hosting other algae eaters along with cherry shrimps
Whilst there is no harm in hosting other algae eaters with cherry shrimps, one has to understand that the larger algae eaters can end up consuming a large part of the cherry shrimp’s food and you will then need to feed the cherry shrimps with algae wafers.
So do look at the size of the other algae eaters or the scavenging fish in your shrimp tank before hosting them together.
Breeding in Cherry shrimps
Cherry shrimps are very small creatures and before reaching the adult stage they are even smaller.
So, they are easily eaten up by predatory fish. If you are planning breeding of cherry shrimps, you will have to ensure that there is no predatory fish present in the shrimp tank.
It is even more essential that moss and small caves are provided to the breeding shrimps.
High-protein foods are very important when it comes to breeding cherry shrimps and also the water temperature must be increased up to 82° Fahrenheit.
The reason for this is that the cherry shims perceive increase in temperature as the onset of summer and begin their breeding. Shrimps mature very soon and they are ready to breed as soon as they complete about 3 to 4 months of age.
The actual breeding process occurs with the female releasing sexual hormones and the males are attracted to the female due to this hormone. This is when the male and the female mate.
Once this process is complete, female deposits sperms which turn into eggs. As soon as the shrimps complete their mating you will find that the underneath of the female’s tail is covered with eggs. This stage is called “berried”.
You need not be alarmed if you find your cherry shrimp finding her tail. This is because she is ensuring that the eggs receive oxygen. The eggs hatch after 30 days. New born baby Cherry shrimps are just a mini version of the adult.
Cherry shrimps are very easy to maintain peaceful crustaceans. With the right water conditions and tank set up, they are one of the best creatures to have in your aquarium.
Capable of eating all types of algae including black beard algae, shrimps and the best to have if you want a clean tank.
Why Do My Cherry Shrimps Keep Dying?
Cherry shrimps are extremely sensitive creatures and there are two reasons why they die easily. The first reason is that they are very sensitive to water changes and water parameters.
Any spike in ammonia, nitrates, PH, GH etc, can affect your cherry shrimp. The second reason is the failure of the cherry shrimp to molt itself and grow.
Poor water and nutrition can prevent the Cherry shrimp from completely throwing out its exoskeleton and as a result they may die during molting.