Do Red Cherry Shrimp Lay Eggs? (You might be surprised!)

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Red Cherry Shrimp are one of the easiest aquarium inhabitants to breed. Give them good-quality water, lots of places to hide, and a varied diet, and they almost can’t help but reproduce. This ease to breed makes them an ideal choice if you are looking to breed for profit.

One question I am often asked when giving fish and shrimp talks to clubs around the country is ‘Do Red Cherry Shrimps lay eggs?’.

Red Cherry Shrimp do reproduce by producing eggs, although rather than actually laying the eggs on a physical surface, the female Red Cherry Shrimp Carrys the eggs underneath her body until they are ready to hatch. Whilst carrying the eggs the female constantly passes water across the eggs using her swimmerets.

Do Red Cherry Shrimp Lay Eggs?

When Red Cherry Shrimp reproduce, the female produces a small batch of eggs (usually around 20 to 30) inside her body. Once the male has fertilized the eggs, the female will suspend them beneath her body where they remain until they are ready to hatch.

The female constantly passes water over the eggs using her Pleopods, which are sometimes called her swimmerets (small, leg-like extensions beneath her body). Once the eggs hatch they are free-swimming baby shrimp and the female takes no further care of them.

How Do You Know if a Red Cherry Shrimp is Pregnant?

There are two signs to look out for if you are wondering whether or not your Red Cherry Shrimp will have babies.

Firstly, when the female Red Cherry Shrimp starts developing eggs internally, its golden color can often be seen inside her body. This gold-colored patch is referred to as a saddle.

The developing eggs are often easier to see in Red Cherry Shrimp that have less color, as with the shrimp in the image below. With very colorful Red Cherry Shrimp it may not be possible to see the eggs at all.

As the eggs develop, they move further down her body until they reach her tail end. Once the eggs are fully developed the female will molt, and release pheromones into the water which will attract a male.

Eggs developing inside Red Cherry Shrimp
Image Source: The Secret History Living in Your Aquarium – YouTube

Secondly, and often more obviously, when a female Red Cherry Shrimp has eggs that have been fertilized, she will be holding them beneath her body. The female will carry around a cluster of up to 20 or so small, golden eggs below her body.

The female holds the eggs until they are ready to hatch. A female Red Cherry Shrimp carrying eggs is often described as being ‘berried’.

The image below shows a berried female shrimp.

Image Source: Your Tank – YouTube

How Long are Red Cherry Shrimp Pregnant for?

Red Cherry Shrimp eggs take between 2-3 weeks to hatch. The exact length of time the eggs take to hatch depends on the water temperature. The warmer the water, the quicker the eggs develop.

Red Cherry Shrimp eggs start off a bright, golden color. The eggs get darker as they mature. In their final stages before hatching, tiny eyes can actually be seen as the shrimp become almost fully developed.

How Many Babies do Red Cherry Shrimp Have?

Typically, a Red Cherry Shrimp will have between 20 and 30 eggs at any one time. Usually, younger shrimp have fewer eggs, and the number they produce increases as the female shrimp becomes more mature.

Some shrimp keepers say that feeding Red Cherry Shrimp a higher protein diet increases the number of eggs the female produces.

In Conclusion

Red Cherry Shrimp do produce eggs, although they don’t technically lay them. Rather, the female Red Cherry Shrimp holds on to the eggs, keeping them safe beneath her body until they are ready to hatch.

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