Cherry Shrimp Care

Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina denticulata sinensis), also known as Sakura shrimp and Fire shrimp, are considered some of the most beautiful in the shrimp hobby. Cherry shrimp are small, growing to about 1.25 inches (3 cm) at maturity.

Cherry Shrimp

In its original form, Cherry shrimp are greenish-brown color. By selective breeding, brightly colored shrimp varieties have been developed for the aquarium hobby.

The shrimp’s coloration is due to light-reflecting pigments called chromatophores. Here’s a list of Cherry shrimp colors you can choose from.

  • Red – red color is caused by erythrophores.
  • Blue – iridophores reflect blue light.
  • Yellow – created by xanthophores.
  • White – white is created by leucophores.
  • Violet – a combination of blue and red.
  • Green – a blend of blue and yellow.
  • Black – melanophores create black coloration.
  • Chocolate – brownish melanophores.
Cherry Shrimp Colors

Cherry Shrimp Natural Habitat

Cherry shrimp are native to China and Taiwan. Their natural habitats are slow-moving streams. The shrimp stay close to cover provided by plants, rock formations and roots.

Aquarium Requirements

Experience shows Cherry shrimp are happiest when kept in a single-species shrimp tank. Neocaridina denticulata sinensis are gentle shrimp and will not fight with fish. But the shrimp are very small and easily eaten or harmed by curious tropical fish.

A 5-gallon aquarium is recommended for keeping a group of 8 to 10 Cherry shrimp. The benefit of keeping a dedicated shrimp-only aquarium is the shrimp will always be active and visible. There’s no reason for them to hide from predators, so they remain “front and center” for easy viewing. Live plants are especially beneficial for the shrimp to explore and graze on.

Water Conditions

Cherry shrimp are great for beginners because they don’t need special water parameters. However, there are certain conditions the shrimp need to stay healthy. Cherry shrimp can be kept in a wide pH range of 6.5 to 7.6. Some shrimp experts like the pH to be slightly alkaline, at pH 7.2 to 7.6.

Water hardness and alkalinity (carbonate hardness) are not critical. A range of 4 to 10 degrees is acceptable for Cherry shrimp. Some aquarists use distilled or reverse osmosis water in their aquarium. These types of water have little or no carbonates to stabilize the pH. pH can drop due to natural acids building up in the water. Maintain at least 3 degrees of KH to prevent the pH from dropping below pH 6.5.

Nitrite and ammonia should be monitored and kept at zero ppm at all times. Cherry shrimp are very sensitive to these waste products. Poor water quality suppresses the shrimp’s immune system, making it susceptible to disease problems.

Partial water changes, made every three to four weeks, will also dilute nitrate and dissolved organics. Make sure the replacement water is about the same temperature as the aquarium to avoid temperature shock.

Red Cherry Shrimp

Tap Water and Cherry Shrimp

Chlorine and chloramine disinfectants are added to most municipal water sources. Chlorine is toxic to all aquatic life. Use a water conditioner that neutralizes chlorine and chloramine.

Cherry shrimp are very sensitive to metals. It’s common for tap water to contain traces of copper and lead. That’s because metals in the pipes dissolve into the water. Certain tap water supplies, naturally low in minerals and pH, make it easier for metals to leach into the water.

If you’re using tap water in your aquarium, let the faucet run for one minute before using the water. This “first flush” gets rid of the metals that dissolved while the water was idle in the pipes. Some tap water conditioners also detoxify metals, making it safe for aquarium use.

Cherry Shrimp and Water Temperature

Cherry shrimp can live at water temperatures up to 85°F (29°C). But high water temperature can shorten the shrimp’s lifespan by increasing metabolism. Shrimp enthusiasts recommend keeping the temperature in the 70-75°F (21- 24°C) range to prolong the shrimp’s 2-year lifespan. An aquarium heater will prevent the water from getting too cool.

Cherry Shrimp photo

Cherry Shrimp Water Chemistry Conditions

pH:6.5 – 7.5
General or Total hardness:4 – 10 degrees
Alkalinity or carbonate hardness:4 – 10 degrees
Water temperature:70 – 85°F (21 – 29°C)
Ammonia & Nitrite:0.0

Water Filtration

Cherry shrimp prefer mild water currents. If you’re keeping them in a small aquarium, select a filter designed for a small tank.

A miniature Hang-On-Back power filter will purify the water and create adequate water movement. If the filter’s intake screen is too coarse, put a piece of netting on the intake, to prevent shrimp from getting sucked into the filter.

If you plan on breeding Cherry shrimp, use a sponge filter and air pump. The air pump provides a gentle water flow through the sponge filter. Power filters will suck the baby shrimp into the impeller and filter media!

Aquarium Lighting for Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp are a great addition to a planted tank. Live plants need full-spectrum lighting to thrive. Fortunately, small-sized LED aquarium lights are available for 5 to 10-gallon aquariums. LED aquarium lights are energy efficient and won’t heat up the aquarium water.

Good lighting will also bring out the bright colors of your shrimp. A poorly-lit aquarium will make the shrimp look dull. It can also inhibit the algae so much the shrimp won’t have enough to feed on.

Blue Velvet Cherry Shrimp

Aquascaping for Cherry Shrimp

Chery shrimp like to explore plants, rocks and driftwood. These also provide a sense of security. Some shrimp experts believe Cherry shrimp color-up best when they have an aquarium to their liking, especially with live plants.

If you don’t want to grow live plants, consider adding a clump of java moss to the tank. It’s easy to grow and the shrimp will enjoy exploring the mossy fronds.

Aquascaping for Cherry shrimp include:

  • Small-sized gravel for easy sifting by the shrimp.
  • Live plants or moss
  • Plastic plants
  • Driftwood
  • Aquarium-safe rocks, stones or resin ornaments for climbing and shelter

Feeding

Cherry Shrimp Feeding

Cherry shrimp are omnivores. They’ll eat algae, tiny plant fragments, microscopic worms and other crustaceans they discover as the sweep across the aquarium. Much of their climbing and exploration is feeding behavior.

The shrimp scrape away at biofilms growing on the gravel, plants and driftwood. But most shrimp-keepers feed several times a week with a shrimp pellet or finely-ground flake food. However, over-feeding can pollute the aquarium, stimulate excess algae growth and shorten the shrimp’s lifespan.

Cherry shrimp Compatibility

Cherry shrimp are compatible with other dwarf shrimp including:

Cherry shrimp can be kept with smaller species of gentle tropical fish. Fish with small mouths won’t be able to swallow adult Cherry shrimp. Fish that eat plant-based foods are especially friendly toward small shrimp.

Neon tetras, glass fish, harlequin rasboras and white clouds are known to get along with Cherry shrimp. It’s normal for a curious fish to nip once in a while but it won’t hurt the shrimp. Cichlids and other aggressive fish are attracted to the brightly-colored shrimp. The fish will try to eat them, even if the shrimp is too large to swallow!

Cherry Shrimp Breeding

Breeding Cherry Shrimp

Young Cherry shrimp can’t breed if they’re too young. They reach sexual maturity when they’re about 75 days old. Keeping five or six shrimp will be enough to find a breeding pair. You’ll notice female Cherries are more brightly colored than the males. When the female develops unfertilized eggs, you’ll see a greenish-yellow “saddle” pattern on her back. This pattern is caused by the eggs.

The female molts when the eggs are ready for fertilization. When she releases pheromones into the water, males will actively search for her. The male will become very active right before mating with the female Cherry. He’ll climb on top and fertilize the eggs. The female carries them under her tail, fanning the eggs to keep them oxygenated.

Healthy, fertilized eggs turn darker as they mature. Be aware first-time breeding sometimes fails. It can be caused immature shrimp or poor water conditions.

Caring for the Baby Cherry Shrimp

The eggs will hatch in about three weeks. The baby shrimp are very small and delicate. If fish are sharing the same aquarium, they’ll eat the shrimp. The young shrimp are fully developed and immediately begin feeding on bacteria and plankton. Adding Java or Christmas moss will give them a place to hide and provide plenty of biofilm to eat.

Eventually they’ll grow to maturity and begin mating. Cherry shrimp have a short lifespan, breeding will keep the population stable in your tank.

Final Thoughts

Cherry shrimp are beautiful and interesting to care for. They’re great for desktop aquariums and don’t require a lot of specialized care. Breeding is easy, even for a beginner. Some aquarists say Cherry shrimp eat more algae than Amano shrimp, making them perfect for the planted aquarium!