Are you looking to add a pop of color to your fish tank? Do you want to bring variety and range to your aquarium? Look no further because we have a solution that is sweet to the eye and easy to maintain: The Red Cherry Shrimp.
This fantastic creature makes for the perfect addition to any tank community for a number of reasons. From its friendly and docile demeanor to its sturdy nature, which allows it to thrive in many environments, the red cherry shrimp is perfect. If you are new to aquatic pets and don’t know your way around shrimps, then the red cherry shrimp is the perfect start.
Cherry Shrimp: Overview
The red cherry shrimp also goes by Neocaridina davidi, its scientific name. While they are trendy in the US, red cherry shrimps are native to Taiwan. Their rise to fame started not too long ago, back in the mid-’90s. Not only did people adore the cherry shrimps for their color, but they also get value out of them because cherry shrimp feed on algae.
Cherry shrimp are a pretty good starter option for anyone new to keeping sea creatures as pets. But things can still go wrong if you don’t do your research on cherry shrimp care. From tank size to temperature control, you can take several steps to ensure that your cherry shrimps grow healthy and happy. What’s the point of having a vibrant shrimp if it’s not active and swimming about!
Cherry Shrimp Care & Tank Requirements
Cherry shrimp care begins with choosing the right tank. What air is to humans, water is to shrimps. It’s important to not only have enough water for the number of shrimps you are keeping but also have water composed of the right nutrients. Getting this part right is the first step in keeping your shrimp active and fresh. Otherwise, the water could potentially stress your shrimp, which can then lead to reduced activity and laziness. One plus point for having red cherry shrimp, though, is that they don’t produce nearly as much waster as other aquatic pets. So you won’t have a tough time with things like deep tank cleans and water spills.
What Tank Size for Cherry Shrimp?
Red cherry shrimp make for great roommates. In fact, they prefer having other shrimps around over solitude. But even these outgoing and congenial souls have a limit to how populated their living space could be. Much like fishes, shrimps love to have a lot of swim room. This is especially true for healthy cherry shrimps, who stay happy as they zoom around in the tank.
So what’s the right size of tank for your cherry shrimp? Well, it depends. One thing’s for sure: there is a minimum limit. Generally speaking, there have to be at least 5 gallons of water in your tank. But since red cherry shrimp like to have other companions of their kind, you will probably have more than a few shrimps to house. A general rule of thumb when deciding the water quantity for your shrimps is as follows:
Add a gallon of water to your tank for every three shrimps you pop in.
Cherry shrimps live communally, so you should expect to have around ten shrimps living in the same tank environment. This means that a safe tank size you can opt for is a 20-gallon tank.
Filtration for Cherry Shrimp
As we mentioned earlier, Cherry shrimp aren’t ones to pollute the tank with their waste. Owing to their size and metabolism, there’s significantly little defecation compared to many fish.
This is another reason why red cherry shrimp care is much easier for newbies. Cleaning water properly and punctually is something a lot of people struggle with. They often forget or get lazy about this task, and that can be fatal for many fishes. But cherry shrimps fare better and have a greater room for error or forgetfulness.
While the bioload is minimal, you still need to take the right precautions when filtering the water. The main risk to cherry shrimps here is a powerful suction pump engulfing them. Because cherry shrimp are dwarf species, it’s quite possible for them to get sucked up by the filter pump. One way to avoid this is to use a sponge filter. This type of filter partially blocks and reduces the water flow to keep the cherry shrimp safe.
What Temperature Should the Water be?
If it’s too sunny outside, humans can get a heatstroke; if it’s too cold outside, we have to face other issues like hypothermia and frostbite. Similarly, the temperature of the water your shrimp are in can have a great effect on their health and overall mood.
If you want your shrimp to be scurrying around in your tank instead of just sitting idly in some corner, then the perfect temperature range is 67 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e., 19 to 29 degrees Celsius).
Interestingly, if the temperature of your water tank is on the higher end of the range we mentioned, let’s say 83 degrees Fahrenheit, then your shrimps are more likely to reproduce -but more on that later!
Do Cherry Shrimp Have Lighting Requirements?
Lighting is usually a very important consideration with aquatic life. It determines things like behavior and color and can affect the biological sleep cycles as well. Additionally, the type of plants you keep in your tank for shelter, Oxygen, and nutrition purposes also needs a certain light to thrive in.
However, when it comes to cherry shrimp care, lighting isn’t as big of a consideration. Red cherry shrimps aren’t too picky about how dark or bright it is. This makes them great companions to any other fish you might have because you only need to factor in your fish’s light requirements. What a great roommate, right!
Plants and Decorations
When it comes to cherry shrimps, they often act more as helpers than pets. This is because a lot of their requirements are complementary to other aquatic life.
Cherry shrimps love to play hide and seek. They thrive in a tank that has many shelter spaces and hiding corners to scurry into. An ideal tank for a cherry shrimp is one that is loaded with plants.
Cherry shrimp are also fond of pebbles in their tank because it’s a familiar setting found in their natural habitat.
Another thing you could do to make everybody win is throw in some driftwood in the tank. Any moss or algae formed on this driftwood is basically food for the shrimps, and in the process, the water is also cleaned of toxins. So the shrimp gets food, and the tank gets cleaned; everybody’s happy.
Water Parameters for Cherry Shrimp Tank
At this point, it’s clear that cherry shrimp are very adaptable and actually pretty useful (and adorable) creatures to have in your fish tank; They are friendly with other residents, they clean up the mess, they don’t have light preferences -the list goes on.
While cherry shrimp care is easy and convenient, there are some parameters you have to set. These are basic needs that must be met in a cherry shrimp tank.
First off, there’s water temperature. Cherry shrimp may be sturdier than most aquatic life, but the temperature range is uncompromisable. 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is an easy range to maintain, but it’s important that you don’t get careless.
Secondly, the pH levels of the water demand your attention. Cherry shrimp thrive in fairly neutral water climates, which means some alkalinity can be forgiven. The ideal range of pH that cherry shrimp are suited to be 6.5 to 8. If your water tank is getting too alkaline, let’s say it hits 9 or 10, then peat can help bring the pH back down.
Diet & Feeding
Staying true to their adaptable nature, cherry shrimp aren’t very picky eaters either. That isn’t to say that you can just toss your leftover McDonald’s meal into the aquarium, though. Cherry shrimps are known to be omnivores, i.e., they can feed on both plants and organisms smaller than themselves. If you’ve owned an aquarium for a long time, you would know that small organisms start growing at the water surface over time. Cherry shrimps can feed on these as well!
Besides the smaller organisms, algae, and moss that naturally sprout up in the tank, you have to provide food regularly as well. There are two wide categories of foods you can use to feed your cherry shrimps: High-quality pellet mixes and vegetables.
Red cherry shrimps love their greens, so you can feed them veggies like cucumbers, spinach, and lettuce.
Breeding Cherry Shrimp
If you are looking to populate your tank with more colorful baby cherry shrimps, then you should read on to understand the breeding process. The one thing cherry shrimps are picky about are the conditions in which they breed. You can’t just expect your troupe of shrimps to multiply every month. Think of it as a chemical reaction: the temperature must be controlled, the diet must be adjusted, and the setting must be just right.
Preparing for Breeding and Sexing Cherry Shrimp
Setting the stage is important in getting your shrimps to breed. There are quite a few things you will have to get right before your shrimps get the heat. The first thing to keep in mind is timing. Shrimps are very cautious about their mating practices -particularly where they do it. For the first few months, don’t expect them to mate. A cherry shrimp will inspect and get comfortable with its environment before it decides to mate.
The second thing to keep in mind is temperature—naturally, shrimp mate in the summer season. So a higher temperature should set the mood. A good benchmark is 83 degrees Fahrenheit.
The third thing you will have to adjust is the diet. Shrimp don’t mate until they have reached maturity- which usually sets in between the age of 4 and 6 months. If you’re raising the shrimps to breed them, a high-protein diet can help with the process.
Finally, you need to place a lot of plants so that your shrimps have privacy.
The Breeding Process
The breeding process itself is likely to happen if you took all the measures we talked about earlier. There are a few ways to tell if the process has begun by looking at the female. A female is said to be ‘berried’ once the breeding has happened. This term refers to the eggs that can be seen beneath its tail. Another way to tell if the breeding has begun is by observing the females for any change in behavior. The characteristic behavior of females after breeding is fanning their tails. This motion is to expose the eggs underneath the tail to the maximum amount of Oxygen.
The amount of time it takes for cherry shrimp eggs to hatch is 30 days. After this period, the baby shrimps will hatch themselves and feed off of the small organisms in the tank.
Therefore, it can help if the tank you are breeding and hatching your shrimps in has been recycled several times. Like we mentioned before, the process of recycling a tank several times stimulates the growth of small organisms.
You might think that the freshly hatched shrimplets would need extra protocol; there’s actually not much of a difference between how you raise a shrimp and a shrimplet. Both of the shrimps, irrespective of age, have similar diets and eat similar foods. So you don’t need to make any adjustments to what you are already feeding your shrimps. Although, of course, you should expect to place more feed than usual because there are more mouths for it.
Similarly, even when it comes to conditions of growth, shrimplets can pretty much thrive in the same waters as their parents or older counterparts. Stick to the basics: 67-85 degrees Fahrenheit and 6.5 to 8 pH.
There is one question you might be wondering: “Don’t shrimplets need greater protection?” And you’d be absolutely right in having that concern. Because shrimplets are even tinier than shrimps, they are threatened by big and small fish that feed off of smaller organisms. It also takes the shrimplets time to develop strong escape mechanisms, which leaves them vulnerable to attack. If not other fish, you’re shrimplet at a greater risk of being sucked into a filtration pump if you’re cleaning the tank. You can avoid these by using a sponge filter which causes less water flow and having plenty of plants where the shrimplets can find safety.
Cherry Shrimp Anatomy, Appearance, & Varieties
Like all things touched by capitalism, shrimps come in countless varieties and forms to keep things interesting. A deeper look at your crustacean companion can help you understand it better and appreciate its beauty even more. Getting acquainted with its anatomy and structures can also train your eye to check for abnormalities and take better cherry shrimp care.
From color variations and breeding practices, read on to learn more about the world of shrimps.
The first division of the shrimp anatomy is the Cephalothorax, and its structure is essential to cherry shrimp care. As part of this division, we have four antennae (2 pairs) stemming from the head. These have the rostrum, which is a pointy projection.
The Cephalothorax is a pretty appropriate word to describe this part of the shrimp because Cephalo means head and thorax means chest. I.e., this part refers to the head-chest area of the shrimp and the associated organs. These are discussed as one because they are contained by the same single piece of outer shell called the carapace.
The abdomen of the shrimp is composed mainly of muscles, unlike the Cephalothorax. But these muscles are what have carried the shrimps through the churning wheels of evolution. The abdomen gives the shrimps a defense mechanism against predators. These are pretty strong muscles considering it’s a tiny shrimp in the water, and they allow for rapid side-changing movements.
To further supplement rapid movement as well as offer a layer of protection, the muscles are layered by six segments of the overlapping shell.
To finish things off, the shrimp is equipped with a staggering five pairs of legs that run from the center of the abdomen muscles and out the back. These legs are what the shrimp uses to propel itself forward. These pairs of legs are called pleopods.
Shrimps have a characteristic fan-like tail as the final component of their anatomy. Other crustaceans which share this staple fan-like shape are lobsters and crayfish.
The tail comes out of the abdomen and the shells. It is composed of two units. Firstly, there is the telson. It is the central fin of the tail. Secondly, there are the uropods. These are the smaller fins that propagate from the tail and cause it to fan out.
Varieties of Neocaridina davidi
Although trade and breeding of red cherry shrimp (i.e., the Neocaridina davidi) has only been widespread for the last 3-4 decades (which is much longer than some other organisms), there are many different varieties you can get today. This is largely owing to the short hatching periods of the shrimps, which allow for rapid breeding. Because these shrimp are so cheap and quick to multiply, breeders can get “ideal” batches of their desired shrimp quite easily.
Some of the results of these breeding practices are truly stunning! They are looking for anything that will cause the shrimp breed to become more exotic and hence desirable and pricey. Mostly, breeders are on the lookout for more vibrant colors, interesting patterns, and even new colors.
While they are known for their iconic red color, not all shrimps are the same shade or intensity of red. Grades are divisions made based on the differences in color intensity and opaqueness of the shell. A higher grade would mean the shrimp has a relatively intense red color and that the shell of the shrimp lies more on the opaque side. As you can guess, a higher grade and more intense color palette of the shrimp makes it more expensive.
Fun fact about the colors of shrimp: Females have much brighter and intense colors than their male counterparts.
First up on our list is none other than the classic Cherry shrimp. Generally speaking, this type of shrimp falls low on the grade scale, and as a consequence, also the price scale. They are characterized by a transparent shell with faded spots of pink/light red.
A deeper inspection of the cherry shrimp shows that the females have characteristic differences in their appearance than males. Firstly, the females almost always have a stronger shade of red. On the flipside, males have a more transparent body and a few pink/red clusters. Females in the cherry shrimp family are also largely transparent (though not as much as the males) but often have much larger and brighter red spots.
Sakura Cherry Shrimp
The Sakura shrimp is an upgrade in terms of redness compared to the previous type. However, they fall pretty low on the grade scale owing to the large transparent spots on their shell.
Fire Red Shrimp
Moving towards the upper side of the grade scale, we have the fire red shrimp. This shrimp is clearly more popular than the cherry shrimp varieties because, as the name suggests, it is hella red! In fact, the red color on the shell is so opaque that you can’t see the internal organs of the shrimp, unlike the previous types where you could!
Painted Fire Red Shrimp
These are truly a sight to behold. The Painted fire red shrimp is noted for its high-grade metallic red color. This shrimp breed is so opaque, you can’t tell if the female is bearing eggs by looking at it.
Other Color Varieties
Red may be the classic color for shrimps, but like any good branding technique, a rare change of color has its own exotic demand for the ones who like collectibles. Some eye-catching color varieties of shrimp are the Blue velvet shrimp, Green jade, and Yellow and Orange sakura.
Exoskeleton: Cherry Shrimp Molting
Cherry Shrimp have one main line of defense: their shell. This shell serves as its exoskeleton, offering both protection and support.
Molting is an important part of the process of shell growth.
What is Molting?
Molting is essentially the replacement of the old shell with a new, bigger shell. The shrimp shell doesn’t grow in size and is instead replaced through molting.
What Happens When Shrimp Molt?
When it’s time to molt their shells, the shrimps look for an object to get a strong grip on. Usually, it’s something like a moss ball. What they basically need is a surface to cling onto with their legs.
The next step to the molting process is vigorous swimming. With its swimming legs gripping the object, there is a lot of force applied to the shell to remove it. Eventually, the old shell splits along the top, making room for the softer new shell beneath.
After the Molt
As mentioned above, the new shell is much softer than the one the shrimp just got rid of. This shell will harden over time after the molt.
As you can imagine, the shrimp is much more vulnerable during this time period than it would normally be. In order to avoid predators, the shrimp usually finds a hiding spot in a plant in this stage.
Can There be Problems with Molting?
Molting is caused by the shrimp using a lot of force to break a part of itself off. Which means there’s a good chance things don’t go smoothly.
Problems with molting aren’t uncommon, and unfortunately, they are fatal. If the shrimp can’t get the shell off, it needs to keep trying. At some point, it will exhaust its energy and die. On the flip side, if it breaks the shell too much or in the wrong way, it meets its terrible fate.
The wrong-sided break of the shell causes the “white ring of death” phenomenon.
What Causes Molting Problems?
Molting is certainly something to avoid. And to you and your shrimp’s luck, it’s not entirely unavoidable. While it is partly up to chance and nature, there are ways that you use can minimize the chances of molting problems.
While there is no one way of ensuring a seamless replacement of the shell, there are some strong theories that blame it on things like diet, water parameters, and frequent water changes.
The one that makes the most intuitive sense is regarding the diet. Calcium is an integral part of a cherry shrimp’s diet. It’s the building block for the all important shell. But everything in excess is bad, and that rule applies to Calcium as well.
Calcium levels are directly proportional to the “General Hardness” (GH) of the shrimp as more Calcium means more shell buildup. If there is too much Calcium, the GH of the shell is too high, making the shell too thick to break off. Conversely, too little Calcium creates a very bendy shell that refuses to break off.
Is Cherry Shrimp Right for You?
So what did you figure out from our guide on cherry shrimp care? Are you fascinated by their beauty? Are you in awe of their anatomy? We personally love cherry shrimps as an addition to the aquarium. There’s no better combination of utility, convenience, and aesthetic beauty than cherry shrimps. We also love the different varieties that these shrimps have. The different colors complement the aquatic setting beautifully.
So are you ready to welcome a cherry shrimp into your aquatic family? Because we are!