Red Cherry Shrimp are without any question the most popular freshwater shrimp in the world at the moment. Red Cherry Shrimp are sold in their millions each year, and their popularity seems to be growing month after month.
I have been keeping and breeding Red Cherry Shrimp for over 10 years. In my fish room, I have both dedicated Red Cherry Shrimp tanks, (where shrimp live with no other tank mates), and I have them in almost every single community fish tank.
Over the years I have tried pretty much every combination of fish and Red Chery Shrimp. Some have been a great success, others have been miserable failures.
I once tried a group of Red Cherry Shrimp with one of my pufferfish. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I don’t know why I thought it would work!
Be aware, any fish that have a mouth large enough to swallow a Red Cherry Shrimp will do if the opportunity arises. Even the smallest Neon Tetra can eat a baby Red Chery Shrimp. There is no fish that is 100% Red Cherry Shrimp safe.
In my experience, the 17 fish below give you the best chance of setting up a tank that contains both Red Cherry Shrimp and fish.
1. Neon Tetras
I think Neon Tetras are probably one of the most passive, non-aggressive fish in the hobby. I have been keeping Neon Tetras for well over 30 years, and in all that time I don’t think I have witnessed any aggression from them, ever.
Neon Tetras are small fish, maxing out at around 1″ (2.5cm). Neon Tetras have small mouths which have evolved to allow them to eat food mid-water as it floats by. They are not designed to hunt and chase down a Red Cherry Shrimp.
Because Neon Tetras are so small, they work really well in a small, or nano tank, set up, which is where we are most likely to keep our Red Cherry Shrimp.
In my own tanks that contain both Neon Tetras and Red Cherry Shrimps, I find the color contrast between the two fish is stunning, with the Red Cherry Shrimp almost looking brighter against the neon blue of the Neon Tetras.
2. Glowlight Tetras
Glowlight Tetras, much like Neon Tetras, as small, peaceful fish that spend the vast majority of their time swimming midwater.
Glowlight Tetras are essentially silver to light bronze-colored fish with the most striking neon orange line running from their eye to the end of their tails. The Glowlight Tetras’, small, peaceful nature makes it an ideal tank mate for Red Cherry Shrimp.
Glowlight Tetras are happy to be kept in smaller tanks, and a group of 6-10 in a 10-gallon (38 liters) tank with a colony of Red Cherry Shrimp is a winning combination. Glowlight Tetras are also an excellent choice of fish for a child’s first tank.
In my experience, Glowlight Tetras can be shy, so the addition of live (or fake) aquarium plants will help them settle down and the plants will prove beneficial to the Red Cherry Shrimp too.
3. Dwarf Gourami
I love keeping Dwarf Gourami. I have several tanks, each with a different color morph of the Dwarf Gourami, and each of them also has Red Cherry Shrimp.
There are numerous articles and videos online saying Dwarf Gourami are too aggressive and will eat Red Cherry Shrimp, but in my experience, this isn’t the case. Providing the aquarium is set up properly, Dwarf Gourami and Red Cherry Shrimp work well together.
Dwarf Gouramis spend the majority of their time at the surface, or in the top third of the aquarium, whereas the Red Cherry Shrimp spend the majority of their time at the bottom, or in the bottom third of the aquarium.
I keep all my Dwarf Gourami in heavily planted tanks, and the plants provide ample cover for the Red Cherry Shrimp. Live plants also provide lots of growing spaces for the natural biofilm that Red Cherry Shrimp love to eat.
4. Albino Corydoras
In general, Corydoras make excellent tank mates for Red Cherry Shrimp. In fact, I have put three different Corydoras species on this list.
Albino Corydoras (which are the colorless form of the Bronze Corydoras, Corydoras aeneus) is a friendly, peaceful Corydoras that is extremely hardy. The hardiness of this fish makes it an excellent choice, especially for newer fish keepers.
The Albino Corydoras spends almost the whole of its time swimming along the bottom looking for food. Its downward-turned mouth makes it very difficult for the Albino Corydoras to eat all but the smallest of Red Cherry shrimp.
The bright red color of good quality Red Cherry Shrimp contrasts beautifully against the pink hues of the Albino Corydoras.
The only thing to be aware of when keeping Corydoras with Red Cherry Shrimp, is both species of fish want to eat off the bottom of the tank, and the Corydoras may out-compete the Red Cherry Shrimp for food, so make sure everyone gets fed.
5. Bristlenose Pleco
I have probably written over 500 articles in my time that were either about or mentioned Bristlenose Plecos. I genuinely believe EVERY community type aquarium should have at least 1 Bristlenose Pleco living in it.
Bristlenose Plecos are super peaceful toward other inhabitants in the aquarium and they spend almost their entire day in a cave or stuck to the aquarium glass eating algae. The nature of their mouth shape (being a suckermouth) makes it almost impossible for them to catch and eat a live shrimp (although they will quickly devour a dead one).
Over the years I have kept dozens of Bristlenose Plecos in the same tanks as Red Cherry Shrimp, and I don’t think I have ever witnessed a Bristlenose Plecos acting aggressively towards the shrimp or trying to eat them.
Bristlnose Plecos also come in a selection of different colors including albino, orange, red, and even green.
Guppies are one of my all-time favorite fish. They are peaceful, colorful and so easy to keep and breed. For many years I have preached the benefits of breeding guppies to sell for profit.
Guppies are available in a kaleidoscope of colors. If you can imagine a color pallet, there is a good chance someone has made a guppy to match it.
Truth be told if, given the opportunity, guppies will pick off the smaller Red Cherry Shrimp, but I have kept the two together for many years, and my Red Cherry Shrimp colonies continue to grow, even with the odd shrimp being munched.
Guppies are hardy and can live in smaller aquariums. I currently have a 5-gallon aquarium on my desk which houses 4 bright red male guppies, and more Red Cherry Shrimp than I could ever count. The tank is full of color and movement and never gets boring to watch.
7. Harlequin Rasbora
Harlequin Rasbora, or Harlequins as they are often referred to, are another species of small, peaceful fish that will work well with Red Cherry Shrimp.
Harlequins spend all day long swimming back and forth mid-water. They have small mouths which have evolved to eat food in the water column as they swim around. In my experience, Harlequins very rarely bother to try and chase down a Red Cherry Shrimp.
The black and bright orange colors of the Harlequin Rasboras contrasts really well against the reds of the Cherry Shrimp. They also look stunning when kept in the heavily planted tanks that Red Cherry Shrimp also enjoy living in.
I have kept many Harlequins with Red Cherry Shrimp over the years, and it is a winning combination, especially in smaller tanks like 15 or 20-gallons (78 liters).
8. White Cloud Mountain Minnows
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are one of the smallest, most active fish in the hobby. I often feel it is a shame they are so cheap to buy (costing $1 or less per fish at some stores) because it means they are frequently overlooked and considered newbie fish.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows, which are sadly believed to now be extinct in the wild, are available in their regular color form, as well as a gold color form and a long-finned variety.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small, making them ideal for nano tanks, peaceful, making them ideal for Red Cherry Shrimp tanks, and active, meaning they bring lots of life and movement to every tank they live in.
9. Green Neon Tetras
At first glance, the Green Neon Tetra looks just like a regular Neon Tetra. To the untrained eye, there is no difference. However, the Green Neon has a distinctive green color to its body, especially when viewed from above.
Green Neon Tetras are usually a little more expensive than regular Neons and can be harder to track down, but they are a connoisseurs fish. When you know your stuff, Green Neon Tetras are definitely one to try.
Much like their regular Neon cousins, Green Neon Tetras are small, peaceful, and have tiny mouths, making it very difficult for them to eat Red Cherry Shrimp. The green color of these fish definitely stands out more when they are kept in planted tanks, which as discussed above, is exactly where Red Cherry Shrimp thrive.
Green Neon Tetras and Red Cherry Shrimp are a winning combination that works well in both tiny, desktop tanks, or larger display aquariums.
10. Panda Corydoras
Panda Corydoras are probably my favorite member of the Corydoras family. I have been keeping and breeding Panda Corydoras for many years.
This peaceful little fish generally keeps itself to itself, living almost its entire life along the substrate of the tank. I currently keep Panda Corydoras both in small, shrimp tanks, and much larger display tanks. I have 50 of them in one of my 155-gallon (585 liters) heavily planted display tanks.
Panda Corydoras are peaceful and surprisingly colorful for a fish that is essentially black and white.
Panda Corydoras want to eat their food from the bottom of the tank, which unfortunately is also where the Red Cherry Shrimp want to eat, so care should be taken to ensure the Red Cherry Shrimp get enough food.
Panda Corydoras will readily spawn in the home aquarium, so care should be taken to make sure their numbers do not swell out of control. 5 can quickly become 20 with little effort from the aquarist.
11. Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are another example of a small, colorful and active fish that will spend the majority of its time swimming mid-water.
As their common name suggests, Cherry Barbs boast a bright, cherry pink coloration, that is especially intense in the males, and when the barbs want to spawn. Although these fish are part of the Barb family, they do not show any of the aggression that is sometimes reported by keepers of their more boisterous cousins, the Tiger Barbs.
Cherry Barbs can live in smaller tanks. A 10-gallon (38 liters) tank with 5 Cherry Barbs and a group of Red Cherry Shrimp will make for an excellent display of color and movement.
12. Silver Tip Tetras
Many fish keepers might consider the Silver Tip Tetra a little too active and aggressive for Red Cherry Shrimp. In my experience, this isn’t the case.
I currently keep a 20-gallon (78 liters) tank with a small group of Silver Tip Tetras and a small colony of Red Cherry Shrimp. Truth be told, the Silver Tip Tetras take no notice of the shrimp. They are far too bust chasing each other around the tank.
Silver Tip Tetras are extremely active. A large group in a large tank will school back and forth in total unison. It is a sight to behold.
13. Endlers Livebearer
Endlers Livebearer, or simply Endlers, are small, colorful fish that share a lot of the qualities of Guppies. The male Endler is especially colorful, with the females being a plainer, bronze color, often with little to no color.
Male Endlers only reach around 1″ (2.5cm) in length, whereas the females can reach double that size. Females also have much larger mouths, so I would consider keeping only male Endlers with a group of Red Cherry Shrimp.
Endler livebearers are, as their name suggests, a livebearer. This means the females give birth to live, free-swimming baby fish. As such, Endlers are extremely easy to breed and their numbers can swell quickly. This is another reason that keeping males only makes sense, especially in smaller tanks.
I think the Otocinclus might be the world’s most peaceful fish. These tiny algae eaters do nothing all day but search for algae to eat. In my experience, you could keep the tiniest Red Cherry Shrimp with the largest Otocinclus and have no fear of the shrimp ever being eaten.
Otocinclus make excellent tank mates for Red Cherry Shrimp thanks to the Otocinclus’s desire to clean the entire tank of algae. These fish were made famous thanks to the work of the world-renowned aquascaper, Takashi Amano, who used them in many of his displays, thanks to their wish to eat algae without ever eating the plants.
15. Kuhli Loach
Kuhli Loach are another small, super passive fish that almost never eat Red Cherry Shrimp. Kuhli Loach are mainly nocturnal, coming out at night to vacuum up any uneaten food left lying around by the other occupants of the tank.
Kuhli Loach are extremely hardy and will happily live in even the smallest of tanks. I kept one in a 1-gallon (3.78 liter) vase with a group of Red Cherry Shrimp for a long time. Kuhli Loach are very adaptable to temperature, pH, and water hardness. Whatever conditions the Red Cherry Shrimp are happy living in, the Kuhli Loach will thrive in too.
16. Pygmy Corydoras
Pygmy Corydoras are my final member of the Corydoras family on this list. These tiny little catfish don’t find themselves glued to the bottom of the aquarium like other members of their family do, but rather free to swim up in the water column.
The Pygmy Coprydoras’s small, downturned mouth is not adapted to eating Red Cherry Shrimp, and as such they rarely, if ever, bother the shrimp.
In my own fish room, I have a school of 20 Pygmy Corydoras living with some Dwarf Cichlids (not recommended for Red Cherry Shrimp). Pygmy Corydoras are active, fun fish that many aquarists find irresistible.
17. Rummy Nose Tetras
Rummy Nose Tetras are probably my favorite Tetra. These active fish have the most striking red nose, which contrasts beautifully with the bright red color of my Red Cherry Shrimp.
Rummy Nose Tetras are schooling fish, so a slightly larger tank will suit them better. 10 or 15 Rummy Nose Tetras in a 40-gallon (151 liters) tank makes for a stunning display. Add a small group of Red Cherry Shrimp (which in that size tank will quickly become a large group of Red Chery Shrimp) to the mix and you will have a display tank that will impress everyone who looks into it.
One fascinating fact about Rummy Nose Tetras is that their nose actually fades when they are unhappy. They act as the canary in the mine. If the heater breaks and the temperature drops, their nose will drain of color. If the Nitrate levels in the water rise too high, their nose will drain of color. They provide an amazing early warning system that something has gone wrong in the tank.
Whilst almost no fish can be guaranteed 100% shrimp safe, the list above offers 17 species which, in my experience at least, have always proved to be safe enough with my Red Cherry Shrimp.
If I had a prize-winning specimen of Red Cherry Shrimp, would I keep it in a community tank with fish, probably not. But a group of Red Cherry Shrimp will at least reproduce faster than they are eaten, meaning your population grows, even with fish being present.