Cherry Shrimp Guide 2020

I cracked the neocaridian code to breed millions of shrimp…Read More

Neocaridina are a group of small dwarf freshwater shrimp and they comes in a large variety of types with the most common being the Cherry Shrimp.

Cherry shrimp are very hardy, this makes them a great choice of shrimp for someone just starting out in the hobby as they are so forgiving, this is whats probably made cherry the most popular small dwarf freshwater shrimp in the world today.


Where do Cherry Shrimp come from ?

They originally came from Taiwan but are now very widespread across the world and should not be hard for anyone to find. they are extremely easy to breed and maintain and are often known as a bomb proof shrimp because they can live in conditions that would be considered too extreme for other shrimp.

I have as an example unknowingly transferred young Cherry Shrimp into tanks that have never been cycled and done almost 90% water changes in them which for most shrimp would be too much, they also have another huge bonus they literally breed like rabbits.

As a starting brood, I’d recommend buying a minimum of ten shrimp to start with.When buying shrimp always ask other people for recommendations on sellers, look across forums and groups and ask around about seller reputation you can of course always buy locally which in many cases will end up being cheaper for you and safer.

The bigger the Aquarium the better but you get what you can afford, the benefits of larger tanks are water stability which is key with shrimp but they can cost so much more to buy.

Most people tend to have smaller planted nano tanks which are ideal for cherry shrimp.

My own rule of thumb is to never buy a smaller tank than say a 20 Gallon but this is just for personal preference.


What is the best substrate for them ?

My personal favorite substrate for Neocaridina and certain types of Tiger shrimp is plain old sand or gravel which the shrimp love to sift through and forage for food.

I prefer river sand because of its nice balanced color which suits aquariums.

To wash it all you have to do is place it in a bucket of water and stir it up with your hand, repeat this process and empty out the dirty water.

You can also use pre-washed gravels like pea gravel but don’t ever pre-wash an active substrate it is not required.

You should also use a minimal depth of 3cm in all of your shrimp tanks this is because different bacteria have different needs and some of them are light sensitive, take aerobic bacteria, for example, they require little to no water movement and some species require complete darkness.

Substrate choice is of pure preference so do your research and ask questions in forums.

Use Crushed Coral

Having a cups worth of crushed coral in a 60 liter tank as an example can be very very beneficial for a tank in a number of ways which I will list.

  • Tank Stability : Crushed coral can set the ph as high as 8.2
  • Calcium : Shrimp, plants and snails all need calcium to function.
  • Neutralizes acids in tanks.
  • Stops snail shell erosion.
  • Does away with the infamous ring of death on shrimp.
  • Becomes part of a natural filter as it gets colonized by micro fauna which shrimp also feed on.


All living things need energy from the sun to create a food source so unless you live near a thermal vent four miles down in the depths of the ocean you are going to have to provide your shrimp with some type of light. 

Getting the lighting right can play a very important part in keeping and breeding shrimp in general, shrimp by nature are algae eaters and nothing grows algae and a good healthy biofilm like good lighting in a tank, so I cannot emphasis this enough, get yourself a good light source that will illuminate every part of the tank. The more biofilm you have the more shrimp you can keep.

I recommend anything from 8-10 hours a day. The light needs to be in the 6000k daylight range for two reasons, you can use a lower 4000k light but this will make the tank and the shrimp look orange, lights like this will often be marked as warm so you want to avoid these ..

..on the opposite end of the spectrum you could also use 10,000k lights but in a freshwater setting they don’t look natural, people think of the sea as being blue so this is where marine tanks look great under a higher kelvin of light.

The other reason is I think most plants do well in the 6000k range, it also looks natural.

Male Cherry Shrimp
Male Cherry Shrimp

Water Preparation

This will be the single most important thing in deciding whether or not you will be successful at keeping Shrimp.

Water Is the giver of all life and it is important that you understand that what is safe for you might not necessarily be safe for Shrimp.

Typically our drinking water can contain elements such as chlorine and fluoride which are deadly to Shrimp so we have to remove them. By far the easiest way to do this is to use a water conditioner like Seachem Prime 

If you choose the reverse osmosis route then please check out this guide here and also this recommended gear page.

It is also very important that you age the water you are going to use for at least 24hrs, this is to let the water heat up and also allow the pH to stabilize. Tap water under pressure in your pipes contain millions of tiny air bubbles this increases the Ph of the water. As an example, the pH of the water straight from my tap is 8 if I leave it to age and degas it drops down to 6.5 after 24hrs.



Add the substrate of your choice and add your filter I recommend a small sponge filter with a small powerhead for small tanks but you can also use other filtration methods like hang on back filter and canister filter  

In an ideal world, I would use 2-3 canister filters in a chain with a  double sponge filter on the intakes of all my tanks.

You might also want to build in redundancies into your filtration setup, I typically have one power head on a sponge pat mini style and I have one air driven sponge, this is so if one fails I have a back up.

Both types of filtration has pros and cons, the powerheads as an example can become death traps if you do not see you have a power cut, shrimp can climb into this type of filter and be liquidated if they get past the impeller and the power comes back on.

Another con would be that they actually do head up the water a tiny bit, they also require a plug, which doesn’t sound like anything bad but it can be once you get a higher number of tanks.

Sponge filters can be noisy especially when you have a room full of them and often they will be driven by a single singular central airpump, if this fails your entire rooms filtration fails.

One positive you can say is at least when the shrimp climb inside a sponge filter after a power cut that no harm can come to them because there are no moving parts in a sponge filter.

Another thing to note is water flow, I like a circular type flow with all types of filtration helping each other keep the water moving in a certain direction, I used to aim the flow along the longest edge of the tank but I think this actually creates dead spots which you want to avoid.

Now I do circular flow and I try and get the flow of the water so that its traveling an inch or a few centimetres a second.

You also want the water to be well oxygenated so add bubblers, airstones sponge filters etc.

You may also consider adding a sotching oxydater which supplies pure oxygen to the tank, these devices are a god send when you start to hit the summer months and warmer water conditions.


Tank Setup

I want to keep this part as simple as possible so we shall do bullet points.

  1. add your substrate + a cup of crushed coral per 60 liters of water.
  2. fill with conditioned water
  3. add filtration
  4. If you have other tanks, squeeze the filtration out in your new tank.
  5. Add a plant (not 100% necessary but I like plants)
  6. ghost feed the tank
  7. do regular water changes
  8. Add large snails

Ghost feeding is just you pretending there were shrimp in the tank so you feed the tank as if there was.

I like to use things like fish flakes for this and dont go overboard you only need a pinch.

After 6 weeks your tank should be cycled.

Now is a good time for you to break out ammonia test kit   and see what you have, I personally don’t do this anymore because the tanks are always ready but it is good practice for you to see it for yourself.

Let me touch briefly on why the cycle process is important.

A shrimp tank needs a stable nitrogen cycle to function properly and in the early stages, it is anything but stable…

…bacterial colony’s will thrive and die off as they compete with each other for the resources your tanks hold, this is why I recommend starting with a bacterial powder so that you choose the type of bacteria.

Bacterial colonies can also take a little while to get going and some anaerobic bacteria can take a longer time than normal.



The best temperature for Cherry Shrimp IMO is 22-24c, they can live in higher temperatures but you will see a higher mortality rate and shorter life span, breeding shrimp can be a balancing act of what is best for the shrimp and how to get the optimal growth breeding rates without it having detrimental effects.

A research paper done on cherry shrimp temperature

A great example of this is egg hatching, the warmer the water is the faster the eggs grow but the percentage of surviving young shrimplets will be less, you also have to remember things like oxygen levels decrease as water gets hotter and also bacteria counts get higher which also effects mortality rates.

I have no concrete evidence on this either way just my observations but I do know that this is true in crayfish so here are my thoughts on this matter.

In nature during a wet season the fresh water will flow into the waterways lowering the water temperature, this effect signals the optimum conditions for all creatures living in the water to reproduce and breed.

If there is lots of food and an influx of freshwater the population will grow faster, hence why the female shrimp are favored on the lower side of the optimal scale, think of it this way lots of females produce lots of baby shrimp and conditions like oxygen demands will be more suitable for young animals.

When the water is warmer the shrimp will still need to breed but they have to do so at an equal ratio probably a 1-1 this ensure both sexes will always be available to mate.

Another interesting concept would be do temperature changes during egg gestation affect the shrimp in any way? Can it change color like it does in many reptiles like Python’s and Alligators as an example?

This just depends on where the tank will be situated, if your home is roughly above 20c most of the time you will not need a heater in the tank. If you live in hotter areas you will need to figure out a way to keep the tank cooler.

A very common method is to have a fan blowing across the surface of the tank, that can lower the temperature by a few degrees..if you still can’t get the water cold enough you may consider buying an aquarium chiller 

Let’s start by identifying what the abbreviation pH means.

pH stands for potential hydrogen.(lots of people also state this as potential hardness) so pH is a measurement of the hydrogen in the water, the more you have the harder your water will be.

Shrimp Tank pH is measured on a scale between 0-14, 0 would be very acidic while 14 would be very alkaline, while a ph of 7 would be neutral. The pH scale for Red Cherry shrimp ought to be slightly on the hard scale and range from 6.8 and up This variable can maximize health, color and egg hatching rates.


I note that they do well in tanks that have large rocks and plain gravel this could be from mineral content leeching out from both ..things like lava rock are ideal. As with nitrite, ammonia must always be as close to zero as possible after the cycle period which should be two months.

This is to give your shrimp tank time to build up a proper nitrogen cycle.All shrimp in general like most aquatic life are highly prone to toxic poisoning if ammonia is present in a tank.

Large breeding female red cherry shrimp

A female Cherry Shrimp

Aquarium Nitrate < 5ppm

Adding plants to the fish tank and doing constant water changes are great ways to reduce nitrate levels. higher than 20ppm shrimp are vulnerable to nitrate poisoning. I like to keep mines under 5ppm and adjust this through water changes and adding a very small amount of fertilizer as required

Nitrate test kit

Cherry Shrimp Gh

General Hardness :This is a measurement of Calcium and Magnesium. The more you have of these two the harder the water will be. I recommend between 6-10 for all Neocaridina types.

Gh test kit

Aquarium kH

kH means Carbonate Hardness from the German Karbonathärte

This is a measurement of the buffering capacity of the water.

With an active substrate you don’t need to worry about kH but if you are on sand or gravel you should have some kH value as this will stop your talk from having pH swings which could kill your shrimp. For Cherry Shrimp, I recommend a kH of between 2-4.

There are many buffers on that market that would be suitable for cherry shrimp and any good standard aquarium buffer will do, you can also use things like crushed coral or oyster shell and egg shells and even cuttlebone from cuttlefish

They will slowly dissolve allowing some kH to stabilize the aquarium. Whatever you do choose just remember to give the items a good wash and rinse If you use eggshells wash them under warm water and removal all of the protein layers from the inside.

kh test kit

Cherry Shrimp Water Changes

Basic 10% once a  week with tap-water and dechlorinator.

Advanced 5% daily with reverse osmosis water (max breeding setup, 100 liters plus tank size and crushed coral used)

Solution to pollution is dilution (STPID) stupid

Think of your tank as a living thing it needs pollution from organics and other elements removed but it also needs other materials replaced and replenished. The first step is to ask yourself about your water source is it tap water is it Reverse Osmosis water is it well water?

Basic If it is tap water it is in your interest to use some type of dechlorinator  to bind harmful elements together until your tank has time to deal with them ..Prime is my go to but there are other. Aging your water also helps reduce the shock of doing a water change this is because fresh water straight from the tap has a very high PH this is because its under mains pressure and full of oxygen. all aging water is, in a nutshell, are you letting the water sit in an open container for 24hrs before using it, I like to use a small powerhead in my container to give the water movement.

I personally notice an increase in vigor and growth while doing larger more frequent water changes why I can’t say for sure but to hypothesize the less an organism has to do the more energy it has to put into growth If your shrimp’s immune system as an example is not fighting off large excessive bacterial counts in the tank then it can concentrate all its efforts on say reproduction.

When using tap water please find a way to drip the new water back into the tank, this is because tapwater can greatly differ from whats actually in your tank, so take it slow, drip water back in at a rate of a few drips a second.

The way I like to think of this is how do you feel about jumping straight into a hot bath .. take your time or jump straight in ?

Advanced Follow the same rules as above for general aging, set your reverse osmosis water to roughly 200ppm using a a tds pen and buffer,

IMPORTANT Use a cup of crushed coral in tanks in both types of water, this will help regulate your ph and resulting water parameters in general.

In a nutshell

  • Dechlorinate tap water
  • Age all water to let the water settle
  • New water must match tank temperature
  • Use crushed coral in tank to stabilize tank parameters (max breeding)

Acclimating the Red Cherry Shrimp to the Shrimp Tank

The best thing to do is place your new shrimp into a large bowl and then take an appropriate length of silicon tube to make a siphon from the tank to the bowl, flow restrictors can be used here to adjust the water flow to 1-3 drips per second.

Remember you are in no rush to do this and it’s in your shrimp’s interests to take your time. Once 1.5 hours have passed your shrimp will be ready to go straight into the tank. Basic

Advanced Match tds of water in the shipping bag to the tank water.

Also, remember to use a timer so you can keep an eye on the acclimation progress because it is very easy to forget.

How often do Cherry Shrimp Molt?

From my observations, adult cherry shrimp in good condition molt every 3-4 weeks which coincides with the gestation period of the young shrimp. Younger shrimp molt much more frequently and very young shrimp can molt almost every other day.

Why do Cherry Shrimp Molt?

Shrimp are invertebrates meaning they don’t have a skeletal structure like we do on the inside, a shrimp skeletal structure if you will call it that is on the outside of its body, for it to grow it has to shed its old shell and replace it with a new one, a good way to think of this is like your fingernail growing, as you cut the old nail away a new one is ready to grow into its place.

What is very important in a shrimps life is that it always has enough minerals and vitamins from good fresh foods so that it has everything it needs to complete the molting process. Poor diet can lead to failed molts and underdeveloped eggs that take a much longer to hatch.

Why does that matter ? as I mentioned before female adult Cherry Shrimp will want to molt every 3-4 weeks so it is very important for them that the eggs are ready to hatch at the best times..a delaying in molting will cause stress and you will notice this as her color starts to fade.Which will eventually lead to the female shrimp’s death? I hope you are now starting to see the coloration between good food temperature and reproduction.

If you do have a dead female you can save the eggs if you find her soon enough, you are required to remove the eggs with a toothpick and place them in a net near moving water. Check the net every other day and remove any eggs that have started to fungus up, also make sure the net is high enough that snails cant climb into it or they will eat the eggs.

Feeding Red Cherry Shrimp

Shrimp are what I would call detrivores, this mean that they eat decaying plant and animal matter, they sift through detritus with their little hair cover claws which I think look like eyelashes, in essence, what they are doing is sweeping food into their mouths, this is very evident on large fan species of shrimp.

Feeding Cherry shrimp in the correct tank setup is very simple, they typically will consume 70% of food from the tank itself (This is why macronutrients dosing can be of help) in the form of biofilm, algae and other microfauna.

The Rule I have always used is to add a small amount of food to the tank and watch the shrimps reaction ..if they all rush to it and eat the food you are doing well however if they sit back and hide then there could be a problem with overfeeding and poor water quality.

The solution as always would be to cut back on the food, Once a week you should also feed a bacterial product to the tank to keep the bacteria number up which the shrimp also benefit from in the form of food and clean water.

Best foods are spinach kale and nettles but you can also give them other green foods, I will leave a video below on feeding shrimp but shrimp should be fed no more than they will eat in 2 hours and then remove the rest.

Below is my own brand of shrimp food that I have tailor-made for Shrimp


Nettle Mix Shrimp Food 20g

You can buy It here

This shrimp food is designed for all aquarium shrimp including the adults and the young.It’s also suitable for all species of shrimp and crayfish including the very common Cherry Shrimp and Crystal Red Shrimp.

As the name suggests this shrimp foods main ingredient is Nettle which is absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals which are essential for health shrimp to grow.

Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates?

Can you keep shrimp and fish together? Shrimp, in general, are best kept in individual tanks where the owner can look after there needs properly, Tanks, where fish are present, are a problem because all fish will predate on Shrimp of all sizes, as a rule, I say the two do not go together but if you must then please make sure you provide plenty of coverage for shrimp and young alike.

Good Ideas for this are plants tied to wood, caves and leaf litter as an example.

Fish that should be avoided at all costs are chichlids and fish like goldfish, these will hunt down shrimp and turn your tank inside out hunting for them.

If I had to keep fish with shrimp I would probably go for some otto cats and maybe some very small tetra species.

Fish like betas are very dependent on the actual fish itself, some are very peaceful while others are very aggressive.

Large Snails

I like to also use very large snails in my tanks to help with stuff like over feeding, the byproduct of this is shrimp eat snail poop which seems to be very good for them.

Snails I have or would recomend are as follows marisa snails, apple snails , spixi snail , mystrery snails.

Just be aware that these larger snail types do tend to eat lots of plants and can make a mess, If your only goal is to max breed shrimp stick with the larger snails, If you wish to have a planted tank stick to smaller snails like ramshorns snail and trumpet snails.

Breeding Cherry Shrimp

Breeding Cherry Shrimp is very simple if you follow the guidelines show above and is more of a collection of a lot of conditions being good for them than any one thing I could write down here..clean water at the correct temperature and good food go along way to helping shrimp breed.As a conditioner to get my shrimp producing more baby shrimp you can once a week feed them a high protein food.

If you have to feed them properly and give them a well-balanced diet they should be ready to breed at the 3-month-old stage, female cherry shrimp will have a bright green or yellow saddle in the back this is where the eggs are stored after being passed down from the ovaries

after a female has molted a male will mate with her, after approximately 3 weeks at 23c the young should be ready to hatch out, the females at this time will often go and find a nice dark spot to hide while she releases the young.

The young after being born are very small and tend to be stationary for the first few days but they will move to find food.. shrimp at this age molt a lot as I mentioned in the above section until they are adults which takes roughly 2 months.

How many cherry shrimp should I buy?

Typically you should give yourself the best chance of success by buying a good number of numbers to start with ..10 is a very good number for a few reasons, The first is shrimp do like to hide in the beginning so its better for your viewing pleasure to start with more than less.

Another common statement I see a lot is people declaring is that they have all the same sex !! 99% of the time the shrimp are just to young to see any real difference. A secondary problem can arise from buying to little shrimp and overfeeding, In my opinion, tanks with a good number of shrimp start out better than those with just a few in it.This is because the more mouths you have to feed the less chance there is of you polluting the tank by putting too much food in.

So how do you sex Cherry Shrimp?

Cherry Shrimp are very easy to sex a ripe female will be large and ether have a saddle (think like a horses saddle) in its back that can range from bright green to bright yellow or be berried, berried is a term we use to describe the female holding the eggs in the belly region.

Males, on the other hand, can be very clear in comparison, smaller and be more streamlined, I like to think they are made this way be able to swim faster. This is evident when a female has molted because you will see the shrimp dance as the males search the entire aquarium for that female that just molted.

There is a chemical called chitin that is released as a female starts the molting process that drives the males into a frenzy, after the female has molted a male will seek her out to mate with ..its not uncommon for females to be harassed to death at this point as they are very vulnerable so please provide them with some hiding places and a few floating plants.

Depending on the temperature you should be able to see baby Cherry Shrimp in 3-4 week. Do not worry if you see nothing because they are very good at hiding and more often than not you will have lots and lots of tiny Red Cherry Shrimp In the tank.After being born cherry shrimp will often be tiny see-through versions of their parents. do not worry if you don’t see a lot of them in the beginning, they start out life at just under 1mm in size.

Young shrimp at this age tend to molt a lot so it is important that you feed them a powdered food such as Bio Mix or BacterAE, If these are not available, you can also use organic pollen.

Pro Tips

To get max breeding in a tank its a good idea that you do not let the male population in a tank get out of controls as they can harass a freshly molted female to death.

I used to use a ratio of 5 females to 1 male in my tank, which results in you having an awfuly full tank of berried shrimp and young.

Happy Shrimp Keeping

Marks Shrimp Tanks

Categories: Neocaridina