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If this is your first experience with Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda), you’re in for a treat. These dwarf freshwater shrimp are fascinating, colorful and hardy.
Adult females are only about one-inch long and males even smaller, making them popular pets for nano tanks that hold as little as one gallon of water.
Even beginner aquarists have success with cherry shrimp because these little invertebrates don’t need much upkeep.
- About Cherry Shrimp
- What Size Tank Do Cherry Shrimp Need?
- What Are the Optimum Water Conditions?
- Cycling Your Shrimp Tank
- Plants and Hiding Spots for Your Shrimp Tank
- Which Substrate to Use for Red Cherry Shrimp
- Time to Add Your Cherry Shrimp
- What to Feed Your Cherry Shrimp
- How Often to Change the Water
- Give a Warm Welcome to Your Red Cherry Shrimp
About Cherry Shrimp
Female cherry shrimp feature deeper colors than males. If you want to breed your shrimp, make sure you buy both. The fish shop owner will be able to help you tell the difference between males and females.
When it comes time to buy your shrimp, you’ll notice differences in price. This is because the shrimp are graded according to color.
Here are several types of graded cherry shrimp:
- Cherry Shrimp – These are the basic cherry shrimp. Their color is mostly clear, but you will see a few red patches. These have the lowest grade for color.
- Sakura Cherry Shrimp – Graded slightly higher, you’ll see more red on these shrimp with a few clear patches.
- Fire Red Shrimp – These shrimp are a grade above Sakura. Their bodies are all red.
- Painted Fire Red Shrimp – These shrimp are vivid red with no clear patches. Most of them also have red legs. These are the most expensive of the graded shrimp.
No matter which grade you choose, remember that males will always have a paler color than females. You won’t be able to tell the difference between the shrimp genders when they’re young.
But, older females have an orange saddle on their undersides. They use it to store their eggs.
What Size Tank Do Cherry Shrimp Need?
The size of the tank depends on how many shrimp you want to keep. For every one gallon of water, you can have two to five shrimp.
Keep in mind that cherry shrimp breed quickly. Before you know it, you’ll have a lot more shrimp. You can upgrade your tank then, or start out with a larger tank to accommodate baby shrimp.
Some aquarists breed a colony of shrimp, which requires at least a 20-gallon tank.
What Are the Optimum Water Conditions?
Although cherry shrimp are hardy, they still need good water conditions. You don’t have to be as concerned about the water gallons added to your tank for lower grade shrimp. They adapt well to even poor conditions.
If you have higher graded shrimp, you’ll need optimum conditions.
Keep the water temperature between 77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets higher, it causes the shrimp to grow and breed faster. This leads to overstocking your tank.
If that happens, you would need a larger aquarium and an aerator. Red Cherry shrimp don’t tolerate temperatures higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the water is colder than 77 degrees, your shrimp won’t breed and are at risk of disease.
Optimum pH Levels
Cherry shrimp thrive in slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.2 to 7.3. If you can keep the pH at those levels, your shrimp will stay healthy, colorful and continue to hatch eggs.
If your tap water is higher than the optimum pH range, you can add a substrate such as ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia to lower the pH. It’s also a soft, dark color so it highlights your shrimp’s color.
Cycling Your Shrimp Tank
Before you add any shrimp or other live organisms to your tank, the nitrite level should be zero. You can use a nitrite test kit like API Freshwater Master Test Kit to check the nitrite for as long as you have the tank.
Reasons that nitrite levels rise can be overstocking, decaying plants and waste products. Cherry shrimp don’t tolerate nitrite so make sure it’s always zero.
Just like nitrite, ammonia levels should also be zero. Use your test kit to check ammonia levels. Continue to test your water after adding shrimp. High ammonia levels are fatal for shrimp.
Adding enough live plants to your tank and doing regular water changes will help keep nitrites, ammonia and nitrate levels down.
Plants and Hiding Spots for Your Shrimp Tank
You want to make sure you set up your tank to imitate your cherry shrimp’s natural habitat. They originally come from Taiwan where they live in ponds of streams.
Cherry shrimp prefer a habitat of a rocky substrate and dense plants.
Before you buy your shrimp, set up the tank with lots of real plants, moss and places for them to hide, such as driftwood, moss and artificial caves. They also need real plants because they eat the debris.
Moss has a twofold purpose. Your shrimp clean themselves on the moss and hide in it. Shrimp need hiding places to feel safe. If your shrimp don’t feel threatened, they’ll have brighter colors.
Which Substrate to Use for Red Cherry Shrimp
Shrimp naturally try to blend in with their environment so predators can’t see them. So, using dark substrates enhance the color of your shrimp when they deepen their color for hiding.
If you use a light-colored substrate, your shrimp will become dull trying to stay hidden. Choose a substrate of small pebbles similar to what they find in nature.
Time to Add Your Cherry Shrimp
Once you’re sure the water conditions are right, follow these steps to add your Red Cherry shrimp to the tank:
- Transfer the plastic bag of shrimp and the water into a bowl.
- Use a piece of air-line tubing to create a siphon from your cycled tank to the bowl of shrimp.
- Slowly allow water to drip from the tank to the bowl for about 30 minutes to acclimate your shrimp to the change in water. It should only be about one drop per second.
- Use a mesh strainer to transfer your shrimp to the tank after the 30 minutes.
Keep your hand over the net because your shrimp will try to jump out.
What to Feed Your Cherry Shrimp
Red cherry shrimp love boiled vegetables like spinach and zucchini. Also, supplement the vegetables with store-bought shrimp food like pellets and flakes. This will give your shrimp a balanced diet and colorful body.
How Often to Change the Water
Changing 30 percent of the water in your shrimp tank every week will give your shrimp a healthy environment. If you use chlorinated tap water, let the water gallon sit a few days to dissipate any chlorine before adding it to your tank.
If you want to do the water change right away, you can buy a tap water conditioner to remove the chlorine and heavy metals.
Give a Warm Welcome to Your Red Cherry Shrimp
Now that you know all about keeping Red Cherry shrimp, start cycling water and prepare yourself for the exciting world of a shrimp keeper. You’ll be fascinated with their antics and their striking red colors. Let us know how we can help.
Contact us if you’d like more information on setting up a Red Cherry Shrimp tank. We’d love to help you have the best experience with your new aquarium.