Cherry Shrimp Care

Cherry Shrimp Care

Cherry shrimp, Neocaridina denticulata sinensis, are one of the most popular freshwater shrimp in the aquarium hobby.
Cherry shrimp are not difficult to care or breed and can live up to two years in an aquarium.
It is important to understand what is required to keep the shrimp healthy and comfortable.


Follow this guide and you’ll be enjoying the beauty and interesting behavior of your own shrimp aquarium.

In its natural form, the shrimp is a greenish-brown color.
Great for hiding from hungry predators in the wild.
Through selective breeding, brightly colored morphs are available.
Breeders selected and breed shrimp for specific colors.
The colors are due to chromatophores.
These special pigmented cells reflect light, giving the shrimp their bright coloration. Here’s a list of the color types and corresponding chromatophores:

  • Yellow – The yellow color is caused by xanthophores.
  • White – White coloration is caused by leucophores.
  • Blue – Iridophores reflect blue light.
  • Red – The red color is caused by erythrophores.
  • Violet – Violet is a mixture of iridophores (blue) and erythrophores (red).
  • Black – Melanophores are black.
  • Chocolate – Brownish melanophores. Additional erythrophores (red) or xanthophores (yellow) can add to the brown coloration.
  • Clear – No color due to lack of chromataphores.
Cherry Shrimp Care

Cherry shrimp need their own aquarium

The most important thing to understand about shrimp keeping is that tiny shrimp are incompatible with nearly all freshwater fish.

In nature, many freshwater fish eat shrimp and other crustaceans.

Their brains are programmed to bite, nip, crunch and swallow anything that looks shrimp like.
Even if the shrimp is the same size as the fish, the fish will constantly poke and chase it.
Now add bright coloration.
The shrimp is like a flashing sign that says, “Eat me, I’m tasty!”

This is why successful shrimp keepers prefer to set up a dedicated shrimp tank.
It allows the shrimp to feel safe and explore the aquarium without having to hide from predators.

We’ve covered how to set up a shrimp aquarium in details in another article.
But here is a short list of items you’ll need to provide a suitable environment for Cherry shrimp.

  • An aquarium in the 3 to 10 gallon range is ideal for Cherry shrimp. A larger aquarium is not essential but it does allow for more complex aquascaping with plants, rocks, logs and other items.
  • LED light fixture that highlights the shrimp’s beautiful coloration. Lighting is essential for keeping live plants too. LED lighting is much cooler than traditional aquarium lighting and uses very little energy.
  • Aquarium heater to stabilize the water temperature and prevent fluctuations
  • A small filter that does not create a lot of turbulence in the tank. Cherry shrimp don’t like to be “blasted” with strong water flow.

Cherry shrimp like places to explore and things to climb on.
Create structure with aquarium-safe rocks and drift wood.

Specialty shrimp caves and homes are also available. Cherry shrimp really like to climb on live plants.

Live plants look great and are natural filtration systems that reduce nutrients that stimulate algae growth on the glass.
If you don’t want live plants, use silk or plastic aquarium plants.

Experienced shrimp keeps claim the shrimp’s colors will lighten if the gravel in the tank is lighter in color. Consider a brown or black substrate.

Cherry shrimp and water quality

Cherry shrimp are not picky about water parameters but they don’t like fluctuations in temperature and water chemistry.

Dechlorinated tap water is fine with Cherry shrimp provided the pH is between 6.0 and 7.6.
pH should be adjusted if it is out of this range.
Water hardness is not critical but should remain stable.
When making water changes, make sure there are no dramatic changes in pH or hardness.

The shrimp thrive in a wide temperature range.
The aquarium can be kept at 65-80°F. But temperature swings must be avoided.
A submersible aquarium heater will prevent low-temperature shock.

When topping off or making water changes, let the water warm up avoid temperature swings.

A word about copper

Cherry shrimp are very sensitive to copper.
In trace amounts copper is an essential element in their diet.
Shrimp blood even uses copper to carry oxygen.
Shrimp blood is blue due to the copper containing hemocyanins.
But too much copper in their water can kill shrimp.
Many tap water supplies contain copper caused by copper pipes.
If you see blue or green stains in the sink, toilet or bath tub, you’ve got copper in the water supply.
If this is the case, consider using “spring” or “filtered” water in the shrimp aquarium.
Avoid distilled or reverse osmosis water.
These types of highly purified water contain no minerals or pH stabilizing carbonates.
Spring and filtered water typically contain a variety of minerals but no harmful copper or other metals that can harm the shrimp.
Some water conditioners contain a metal detoxifying chemical but it may not be strong enough to render all of the copper harmless to the shrimp.

cherry shrimp care

Image by Pedro Doria MeunierOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Cherry shrimp and water changes

If you’re new to aquarium keeping, you may not understand why water changes are necessary.
Aquariums are “closed aquatic systems.”
Tropical streams are constantly flushed with water from springs, upstream tributaries and rain.
Aquariums have no natural flushing system.
The only way for new, clean water to get into the tank is through a partial water change.
Over time, aquarium water changes for the worse.
Natural organic substances from the breakdown of algae, plants, fish waste and prepared food builds up in the water.
This causes a tea like discoloration that reduces light penetration.
Research has proven that aquariums with a high level of organic waste also have more problems with disease and poor health.
While aquarium filters help, water changes are essential for replenishing minerals while reducing excess salts and waste materials.
Algae promoting phosphate and nitrate also increase over time. Partial water changes dilute these nutrients and lower the chances of algae growth on the rocks, gravel and aquarium glass.
Changing 10% of the water every week or 20% every two weeks is recommended.
Use a siphon tube or gravel cleaner to remove old water and particles of debris.
Be careful not to suck out a curious shrimp.
They love to explore new things in their tank, even a suction tube!
Make sure the replacement water is about the same temperature as the aquarium water.

Feeding Cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp are omnivores, meaning they eat plant and animal-based diets.
Their natural food is live algae and biofilm.
Biofilm is a combination of microscopic bacteria, algae cells and other tiny life forms invisible to our eyes.
The shrimp forage for this live food as they explore the aquarium.

The shrimp will climb on the aquarium glass, plants and driftwood, scraping away biofilm and live algae.
There is no need to maintain a “spotless” algae free shrimp aquarium because it provides a healthy diet.

Cherry shrimp will eat any type of aquarium fish flake or pellet. Specialty shrimp pellets are also available.
When feeding the shrimps, you need to pay attention, especially during the first month of setting up a new shrimp aquarium.
The biological filtration process can take up to 30 days to become fully active.
Over feeding the aquarium can cause a surge in harmful ammonia and nitrite, which will stress or kill the shrimp.

Aquarium test kits are available to monitor these parameters.

Java moss is a welcome food source for Cherry shrimp.
The moss provides a niche for microscopic live foods to grow. The shrimp will explore and “harvest” the food that inhabits the java moss.

Some shrimp keepers experiment with small bits of soft vegetables like zucchini.
As a general rule, be careful never to let food particles decay in the aquarium.

As the shrimp grow, they shed their exoskeleton. Many shrimp keepers leave the clear skeleton in the tank. Shrimp will eat it, recycling the minerals contained in the clear skeleton.

Cherry shrimp compatibility

It may seem like a cool idea to mix different color morphs together in the same aquarium.
But, sorry, it won’t work!

Neocaridina species will crossbreed.
This means their offspring eventually revert to the dull greenish brown wild type.
If you keep only one color type, they will continue to breed and maintain the population in the aquarium.

For variety you can mix Red Crystal shrimp and Bee shrimp (Caridina) with Neocaridina species.
Indonesian “gold rabbit” snails are shrimp safe and keep the tank clean.
Freshwater clams and Nerita snails are also interesting tank-mates for Cherry shrimp.

Breeding Cherry shrimp

Young Cherry shrimp won’t be able to breed until they are 4–6 months old.
Breeding the shrimp is not difficult once they are sexually mature.
Keeping five or six shrimp should work for finding a breeding pair.

Signs of developing eggs appear as a greenish yellow “saddle” pattern on the female’s back.
She will molt when the eggs are ready for fertilization by the male shrimp.
The female releases pheromones into the water to attract male shrimp.
When males detect the mating chemical they will actively search for the female.

The male shrimp will become quite active before building up the actual mating procedure.
He will will climb onto the female and deposit sperm onto the female. But the eggs are not yet fertilized.

Only as she lays her 20-30 eggs, attaching them under her body, are they fertilized by the male’s sperm. Once the female is carrying eggs, breeders say she is “berried”.
First time breeding sometimes fails. It could be from immaturity, inexperience, stress or poor water conditions.

Healthy, fertilized eggs turn darker as they develop toward hatching.
After about three weeks the eggs hatch.
The baby shrimp are very small but fully developed.
They immediately begin feeding on biofilm.
Eventually they will grow to the adult size and begin mating.
Since Cherry shrimp have a relatively short lifespan, breeding replenishes the population in your aquarium.
If fish were present, they would most likely eat the baby shrimp, even if they left the adults alone.

Final thoughts

Cherry shrimp are an easy and fun addition to the aquarium hobby.
You don’t need to invest in a large aquarium to enjoy the vibrant red beauty and active antics of Cherry shrimp.
Just follow this guide and you’ll be on the way to big fun with tiny Cherry shrimp!
If you wish to buy Cherry Shrimps, you can check out the store at The Shrimp Farm. This is an affiliate link, which means that is you buy using this link, FTW will get a commission at no extra cost for you.

Cherry shrimp are not difficult to keep or breed and can live up to two years in an aquarium. It is important to understand what is required to keep the shrimp healthy and comfortable. Check out this guide and you’ll be enjoying the beauty and interesting behaviour of your own shrimp aquarium.