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Cherry shrimp guide

by Amanda Lupton August 21, 2020 10 min read

Cherry shrimp guide

Cherry shrimp are valued for their unpretentious maintenance, high reproduction rate, and the undoubted benefits that these small invertebrates bring, eating food remains and algal fouling.

You can also watch our complete guide on how to set up an aquarium for cherry shrimp:


In addition, bright red cherry shrimps are able to revive any aquarium landscape, look beautiful against the background of the surrounding greenery of living plants. It is interesting to watch their constant fuss around. They are a good choice for beginner aquascapers, as they can exist in a wide range of water parameters, they are not as demanding on conditions as other types of shrimp, for example, crystals, in addition, they can be settled even in a small aquarium.

Name Cherry shrimp
Scientific name Neocaridina heteropoda var. red
Kingdom Animal
Type Arthropod 
Subtype Crustacean 
Class Malacostraca
Family Atyidae
Genus Neocaridina
Aquarium size 40L for a colony, but a small amount can live in 10L fish tank
Difficulty of care Very easy
Water parameters Temperature: 22-29 С or 72-84°F, pH 6.5 - 8.0, kH 3 - 10
Life length 1-2 years
Body size Up to 4 cm or 1.5 inch
Color Red (also bred orange, yellow, green, and blue morphs)
Feeding Omnivore 



Cherry shrimp is a small crustacean, it grows in length up to 2.5-4 cm. The body is translucent, elongated, flattened from the sides, includes two sections - the cephalothorax and abdomen. The legs are located on the anterior abdominal segments. The cephalothorax is protected by a shell covering the gill cavities. The back of the cherry shrimp is usually pinkish-red in color, the claws and legs are covered with small light spots that form a characteristic marble pattern. Mustaches ( antennae ) are either white or pink.

The general body color is often cherry of varying intensity, extremely changeable, pigment cells are able to instantly expand or contract, and the shrimp can instantly turn pale or, conversely, become very bright. This phenomenon depends on a complex of factors - nutrition, environmental parameters, surrounding vegetation, neighbors in the aquarium, and even age. On dark soil, cherry shrimp usually also darken and acquire a richer color, in case of stress (for example, when starting a new aquarium) they can practically discolor. As a result of breeding work, there are many fixed options for the color of cherry shrimp, for example, "red fire" - a bright red color with an opaque shell.

Males and females differ in size, females are usually larger, thicker, and brighter. But the main distinguishing feature is the "saddle" on the back of females - a yellowish spot that represents the ovaries in which eggs develop.

In the process of growth, cherry shrimp, like other crustaceans, molt and shed their old chitinous cover. Sometimes in the aquarium, you can see an empty shell of a shrimp, which does not have to be removed - it will serve as an additional source of food for the cherry tomatoes themselves.


Cherry shrimp shed regularly, and their empty shells remains lying on the bottom or float in the water.


There is no need to be afraid of this process because molting is considered natural because the cherry grows in size and its shell becomes small. The shrimp eats the shed skin to replenish the supply of nutrients in the body. But when molting, shrimps need to hide, as they become completely defenseless - grass or moss is perfect for this.

The success of a molting depends on many factors. One of them is the presence of calcium in the water. Calcium is the basis of chitin for the shell. An element such as iodine is also very important. It is a coenzyme for chitin synthesis. With iodine deficiency, there is a high probability that the shrimp will not be able to molt and will die.

Therefore, if crustaceans live in your aquarium, aquarium drugs with iodine is your best friend.

Determining the sex of cherry shrimp: male and female

Determining the gender of cherry shrimp is very easy. The female is larger than the male, has a darker red coloration, as well as a curved lower abdomen. By introducing shrimp after a short amount of time, you will be able to determine gender without problems.

It should be noted that the female cherry has a saddle. It got this name because of the similarity in appearance with the saddle that is used for horses. Most saddles are yellow, but they can also be green.

Saddles are a sign of puberty and also a good indicator that eggs should be expected soon.

Green saddles are believed to arise from a type of wild species genetics. Cherry shrimp eggs are mostly yellow, but can also be green. If the saddle is green, then the eggs will be green and vice versa. There are no differences between green and yellow eggs, i.e. color does not in any way affect the quality of eggs and is not an indicator of health.

Breeding process

Breeding cherry shrimp requires absolutely no effort. Under comfortable conditions and with the required number of individuals of different sexes - from 10 to 20 pieces, they are able to independently reproduce and increase their population.

As the eggs mature in the female, she begins to produce special pheromones that attract the male.

If you prefer video follow we recommend you to watch this video:

Sometimes the chaotic movement of crustaceans around the aquarium indicates readiness for reproduction and procreation.

Fertilized shrimp eggs mature under the tail for 3 weeks. Throughout this period, the female carefully protects them, tries to ensure the flow of oxygenand clean water.

During the maturation of the eggs, the females are very timid, as far as possible they hide from unnecessary glances and attention. At times, due to stress or inexperience, females drop eggs, so do not disturb them once again when the eggs mature. This is the answer to the question of why shrimp sometimes does not breed.

Small crustaceans are born fully formed and independent. They are distinguished from adult shrimps only by their small body size, and the final puberty and color occur in young individuals at 3 months.


Cherry shrimps are absolutely peaceful creatures, they spend most of their time in search of food, "graze" on plants, soil, stones and glass of the aquarium, quickly touching their paws. They must be kept in a group. You can put shrimp in a species aquarium, where they will feel as comfortable as possible. However, these crustaceans get along well with small, calm, and non-aggressive fish, such as guppies, mollies, neons, zebrafish, otocinclus, and microscopic galaxies. But they are still quite vulnerable, so even small fish can harm them, moreover, in the vicinity of active and mobile fish, cherry shrimps experience constant stress, often hide and may turn pale.

It is not recommended to keep them with any, even dwarf, cichlids, and predatory fish. For example, angelfish or siamese fighting fish can quickly destroy all cherries. Helena's predatory snails can also catch and eat the small cherry shrimp. Young individuals are more likely to be eaten in the general aquarium, which is partly compensated by the high fertility of the shrimp, as well as their ability to hide in the ground and plants. Therefore, for the comfortable life of these arthropods, dense vegetation is extremely necessary.

Typically, the life span of cherry shrimp in an aquarium is a year and a half, but they multiply quickly and maintain their population.

Maintenance and care

Shrimps are extremely unpretentious to living conditions, so they quickly adapt to life in aquariums. Keep in mind that cherry shrimps belong to schooling creatures, therefore they feel best in a rather large flock with "brothers in mind". If the shrimp lives alone, then it will constantly hide among the thickets of aquatic plants, and you will not be able to enjoy its appearance. Aquariums of 20 liters or more are required to keep cherry, the water must meet the following requirements:

  • temperature - in the range from 15 to 30 degrees or 59 to 86°F;
  • acidity - 7-8 units.
  • hardness - 3-10.

Once every 7-10 days, the water must be changed by 15-20%, topping up with excessively soft water is undesirable, since in such conditions the quality of the chitinous shell deteriorates in shrimp. There are several taboos when caring for cherries:

  • it is forbidden to change the conditions of keeping shrimps too dramatically;
  • you cannot change the water by more than 20% of the total volume of the liquid;
  • do not feed the shrimp too abundantly;
  • it is not recommended to populate many new inhabitants at once, the shrimp should have free space.
  • It is very important to constantly keep under control the level of carbon dioxide in the aquarium, and it should also be remembered that shrimp very poorly tolerate overestimated concentrations of nitrites, nitrates, copper, and ammonia in the water.

Cherries prefer an aquarium with live vegetation, it is advisable to plant cladophora algae, Ceratopteris thalictroides, Java moss, as well as any plants floating on the water surface.


In artificial conditions, cherry shrimps are able to eat any type of food, they are omnivorous and can even eat the corpses of their family and other neighbors, although by their nature they are peaceful creatures. If the cherry lives with the fish, then you should not feed them separately, since they will eat up everything they see nearby. If cherry shrimps live in a separate tank, then they can be offered:

  • frozen bloodworm;
  • leaves of fruit trees;
  • seaweed;
  • vegetables;
  • fish food and much more.

However, remember - if you feed the shrimp only frozen food, the shade of the shell will become more saturated, and with frequent use of flakes, on the contrary, the shrimp turns pale. If the shrimps feed by the whole flock, therefore, they liked the food, since with the bad food they usually hide. Cherry shrimps are ready to eat 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, however, they need to be fed only once a day, while the batch size is determined based on the fact that all the proposed feed should be eaten in a couple of hours.

We already answered question on how often you should feen you cherry shrimp here:

When overfeeding, food leftovers adversely affect the quality of the water, therefore, the health of the shrimp, which may even die.

Shrimp brightness

To prevent discoloration of shrimp in the aquarium, it is recommended to observe the following rules:

  • Carrying out the selection of individuals. Cherry shrimp have been hatched artificially, therefore, when there is no selection, they tend to return to their usual form with dull shades of the shell. To preserve their coloration, juveniles should be caught and sorted by color.
  • It is recommended to periodically introduce new individuals into the aquarium population that is not relatives. Several times a month, you can buy several pieces of crustaceans from different sellers, at least once every three to four months you should ennoble your cherries with someone else's blood.
  • Diet plays an important role in maintaining the bright color of the shrimp. The color is brighter in those cherries that eat special food with carotenoids in the composition.
  • The color of the shrimp will be brighter if you use dark soil in the aquarium.

It reflects well on the color of shrimp if they eat aquarium algae. Healthy plants shrimps practically do not eat, but they eat algae that have died after treatment with algicide with pleasure.

Under natural conditions, crustaceans are very vulnerable, the same applies to the aquarium. Their size is small, they completely lack protection, except for the possibility of camouflage, but even after selection in an aquarium, it turns out to be impossible. Therefore, even small fish can eat shrimp or bite off its leg. It is ideal to keep cherries in separate containers without fish.

bright shrimp

Even small fish like the apistogramma can peck and eat them. Therefore, neighbors should be chosen with extreme caution. Small, non-aggressive fish such as rasbora, neons, other small characidae, cory catfish, otocinclus, dwarf gourami, and some types of killi fish can become good neighbors for cherry shrimp.

However, baby shrimp are more likely to be eaten by any fish. The abundance of mosses, shelter, grass-ants levels this problem. The larger the fish, the greater the risk of shrimp being food for it.


Aquarium "cherries" often encounter diseases, however, they are not curable, so the affected individuals usually die. The most common cherry problems are:

  • Attack of the chitinous cover by pests. This leads to damage to the gills, muscles, and heart, which inevitably leads to the death of the animal.
  • Fungal infections occur when infected "newbies" move in. To avoid such an outcome, newly purchased shrimp must be kept in quarantine for at least a month.
  • Poisoning with copper or nitrates occurs due to the use of untreated and untreated water, as well as uncontrolled breeding of the inhabitants of an artificial reservoir. Under these conditions, overpopulation often occurs, and accordingly, the volume of waste products containing nitrogen increases.

Transport and adaptation to a new aquarium

Moving to a new tank is a big stress for these animals. Therefore, if you have purchased cherries, you need to transfer them into the water of your aquarium very gradually, for at least an hour, first by lowering the bag with them into the aquarium and equalizing the temperature and then gradually adding water from their new home to the bag with their own water.

When transporting a bag with cherries, it is imperative to place a bunch of moss or a branch of a small-leaved plant so that the shrimps can cling to them and do not suffer from shaking.

We already have a video about acclimation of freshwater shrimp:


In the first minutes after the cherries are in the new aquarium, they usually behave very actively, swimming in all layers of water. But this is more of a panic than a housewarming joy. After half an hour, they all hide in the thickets of plants, behind pebbles and under shells, where they will sit for the next 2-3 days.

The fact is that after stress and changes in conditions, shrimps molt and, until their new shell hardens, they try to stay in safe shelters. But very little time will pass, and they will again creep out into the light and begin to swarm busily around the entire aquarium.

Do cherry shrimps need quarantine?

If shrimps already live in the aquarium, then, of course, new individuals should be populated into it after quarantine.

However, the difficulty of keeping shrimp in temporary isolation is that they will not be suitable for an ordinary empty sanitary container.

In a quarantine aquarium (from 10 l volume) there must be a substrate, shelters, live plants, it must be quite "old", with established water parameters, with an installed filter and aeration.

In addition, it should be noted that at the end of the quarantine, when the cherries are transferred to a permanent aquarium, they will again be stressed, they will begin to shed, the females will lose their eggs. Even if you transplanted them perfectly, it’s still a new home - for shrimps, this is new water with new indicators.

Therefore, if there are no other types of shrimp in a permanent aquarium, and new specimens are purchased from a reliable seller, quarantine can sometimes be neglected.

If you have a question and want to read more information about aquariums I recommend you check this website!

Amanda Lupton
Amanda Lupton

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