Do Red Cherry Shrimp Eat Fish Poop?

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Now I’m not one for battling people on the internet, but the other day I found myself on a shrimp forum offering some advice to a new shrimp keeper when another forum member hijacks the conversation with the words RED CHERRY SHRIMP DO NOT EAT FISH POOP, written all in caps.

OK, I thought, so I asked him, what makes you say that, where’s your evidence they don’t?  He came back with the epic response, oh I don’t need evidence, I know they don’t!!

Based on the thousands of Red Cherry Shrimp that have passed through my fish room over the years, I would say yes, Red Cherry Shrimp do eat fish poop.  

How do I know this?  I watch them do it!  On an almost daily basis, one of the Red Cherry Shrimp in one of my tanks can be seen eating fish poop.

Now, I am certainly not saying you don’t need to feed your Red Cherry Shrimp because they can sustain themselves on fish poop.  I am merely saying, from my own personal observation, Red cherry Shrimp DO eat fish poop.

Red Cherry Shrimp are opportunistic detravores.  They can and will eat fish poop, dead and decaying plant leaves, leftover fish food, and even other inhabitants of the aquarium that have passed away including fish and other shrimp.

One of the many reasons we add Red Cherry shrimp to our aquariums is because they form part of an effective clean-up crew.

If I shine a flashlight into my Fancy Goldfish tank after lights out, the goldfish will typically be relaxing, some would even say sleeping, and the Red Cherry Shrimp come out to feed on the small sausage-like poops the Fancy Goldfish have passed during the day.

Fish poop contains SOME goodness still, and the Red Cherry Shrimp, along with the Ramshorn Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, and Mystery snails are well aware of this. 

The poop also contains some undigested fish food, and again, this makes perfectly good food for Red Cherry Shrimp.

Nature doesn’t like to let anything go to waste, and Red Cherry Shrimp do not turn their noses up at a good meal.

One of the major advantages of adding Red Cherry Shrimp to our aquariums is the fact that they will break down the fish poop, making it easier for the filter to deal with. 

Red Cherry Shrimp are not the answer to all our aquarium maintenance problems, and having shrimp doesn’t mean you will never have to gravel vac your aquarium or carry out routine water changes, but having them in the aquarium does help reduce the maintenance tasks, and does help keep your aquarium cleaner.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James