Red Cherry Shrimp – Ultimate care guide for shrimp keepers everywhere!

Red Cherry Shrimp have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last 15 to 20 years. When I first started fish keeping back in the 1990s, the only shrimp we ever came across was food for our Oscars.

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

Red Cherry Shrimp are now ubiquitous in the hobby and the chances are nearly every local fish store around the world will carry Red Cherry Shrimp in stock.

Overview of Red Cherry Shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp (which have the scientific name Neocaridina davidi) are small, peaceful shrimp that originate from the rivers and streams of the Far East. Although not naturally bright red in color, selective breeding by dedicated breeders and hobbyists has given rise to a shrimp that can vary in color from slightly pink to bright, fire red.

1,000,000’s of Red Cherry Shrimp are sold every year around the world. A recent study suggests they are now by far the most popular species of freshwater shrimp in the hobby.

Red Cherry Shrimp are also commonly sold in green, blue, yellow, orange, and black as well as a few other colors (see more below)

Red Cherry Shrimp Characteristics

Common Name:Red Cherry Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp
Scientific Name:Neocaridina davidi
Family:Atyidae
Origin:Taiwan
Tank Distribution:Bottom and lower regions
Adult Size:1.5″ (3.8cm)
Life Expectancy:12 to 18 months
Care Level:Beginner
Minimum Tank Size:5-gallon (19 liters)
Breeding Method:Egg carrier
Temperature:72°F to 84°F (22°C to 29°C)
pH:6.5 – 8.0
Hardness:4-12 dGH

Red Cherry Shrimp Origins

Red Cherry Shrimp Origins Map

Red Cherry Shrimp Habitat

The Red Cherry Shrimps’ natural habitat tends to be slower flowing, shallow rivers, and streams across the island of Taiwan. Although in the wild they lack the red coloration (in fact they are more of a greenish-grey in the wild), they live in habitats that aren’t that dissimilar to the planted aquariums we keep in our homes.

Their natural streams tend to be rocky, with plenty of places to both hide and get out of the main flow of the water. Usually, the streams have some vegetation growing in them as well as ample bushes and branches overhanging the water.

Their streams are warm with an abundance of both naturally occurring algae and biofilm which they pick at and feed from constantly.



Are Red Cherry Shrimp Wild Caught or Captive Bred?

Almost without exception, the Red Cherry Shrimp we see for sale in local fish stores are captive bred. Wild Red Cherry Shrimp have almost no coloration and would not sell if they were placed in stores.

Red Cherry Shrimp are imported into the United States in their millions each year, but there are also a number of very successful breeders in the US who produce vast quantities of top-quality Red Cherry Shrimp.

The Shrimp Farm, which is based in Bloomington, Illinois, is one such example.



Red Cherry Shrimp General Description

Red Cherry Shrimp are small, active invertebrates that are constantly on the go. If it weren’t for their bright coloration, no one would give them a second glance. As their name very much suggests, Red Cherry Shrimp boast a bright, red color across the majority of their bodies.

The average Red Cherry Shrimp will grow to around 1.5″ (3.8cm) long. The antennae at the front of their heads move around the whole time, feeling the world in front of them. At the other end, they have a tail that is used for swimming and steering as they move through the water.

Red Cherry Shrimp have 6 legs that are used for walking around on either the substrate or plants. They also have 5 pairs of pleopods (sometimes referred to as swimmerets) which they use for swimming and, in the case of female Red Cherry Shrimp, for holding and fanning water over their developing eggs, which they suspend under their bodies.

A Red Cherry Shrimps main body is divided into 6 sections, which provide the shrimp great flexibility. At the front of their heads, they have two large eyes.

A Red Cherry Shrimp has an exoskeleton, which is essentially a hard, outer body providing protection to their softer, internal bodies. To grow, a Red Cherry Shrimp has to molt this exoskeleton (see more below).


Image Courtesy Aquariumbreeder.com

Red Cherry Shrimp Water Parameters

Red Cherry Shrimp are considered to be a hardy species of shrimp, which means they can withstand less than perfect water conditions. With that said, however, they have a set of parameters that we should strive to achieve if we want our Red Cherry Shrimp colony to thrive and grow.

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: 65°F – 80°F (18°C – 26.5°C)
  • pH: 6.5 – 8.0
  • GH: 4-12
  • KH: 1-8
  • Ammonia: 0ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm
  • Nitrate: 40ppm or lower

Temperature:

Red Cherry Shrimp are really very hardy and they can survive temperatures much lower than people realize.

As a general, for a Red Cherry Shrimp colony to thrive, it is recommended that their water is kept at between 65°F – 80°F (18°C – 26.5°C). Red Cherry Shrimp are however known to be able to survive as low 50°F (10°C).

The most important factor when it comes to Red Cherry Shrimp aquarium temperature is actually stability. Whilst the shrimp can cope with fairly high and fairly low temperatures, what they struggle to cope with is temperature fluctuations.

If the temperature in a Red Cherry Shrimp tank fluctuates over a short period of time, it can lead to the colony of shrimp dying very quickly.

pH:

pH is the measure of how acidic or alkaline water, in our case the aquarium water, is. The lower the pH number, the more acidic the water is, and the higher the number, the more alkaline the water is. The pH scale runs from 0 (which is essentially battery acid) to 14 (which is where drain cleaner sits on the scale)

Image courtesy of Aquarium Co-op

Red Cherry Shrimp can tolerate a wide range on the pH scale. In my experience, they are happy anywhere between 6.5 and 8.0. Some aquarists have reported them doing well on either side of this range too.

For the majority of aquarists, the pH of our aquarium water is dictated by the pH of our tap or well water. If you are unsure of the pH of your water, try using a test kit. I have had great success over the years using the API Master Test Kit (which I usually just order from Amazon.com).

If your tap water is acidic (low on the scale) it is fairly easy to raise the pH by adding crushed coral. On the other hand, however, making your water more acidic is a lot harder and requires the use of some fairly harsh chemicals.

GH (or General Hardness)

GH is a measure of how much calcium and magnesium ions are present in the aquarium water. This is often described as how hard your water is. The higher the GH, the more calcium or magnesium is present, therefore the harder the water.

GH is a measure of the levels of essential salts and minerals that are present in your shrimp tank. These salts and minerals are crucial for shrimp molting. Red Cherry Shrimp kept in tanks that have too few salts and minerals (the GH is too low) often have difficulty successfully molting, which can lead to the shrimp dying.

Red Cherry Shrimp can tolerate a fairly wide range of GH, and it is generally accepted that somewhere between 4 and 12 dGH (degrees of hardness) which is the equivalent of 70 to 210 ppm, is the ideal GH for Red Cherry Shrimp.

KH (or Carbonate Hardness)

KH is the measure of the levels of carbonates and bicarbonates that are present in the aquarium water. These are often referred to as the buffering capacity of the aquarium. Buffering capacity helps prevent pH swings, and pH swings can be fatal to Red Cherry Shrimp.

The lower the KH level in an aquarium, the greater the risk the pH can quickly rise or fall. The greater the KH level, the less like it is the pH will move at all.

KH is measured in both degrees of hardness and ppm (parts per million). A KH of between 1 and 8 works well for Red Cherry Shrimp, which is the equivalent of about 17 to 145ppm.



Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate:

When fish (or shrimp) go to the bathroom, their waste is very high in ammonia. Ammonia, even in very low levels, is extremely toxic to Red Cherry Shrimp.

Fortunately, the bacteria that live in our aquariums literally feed off ammonia. When we add filters to our fish or shrimp tanks we are providing an ideal environment for this bacteria to live in. The bacteria consume ammonia and convert it to nitrites. Nitrites are also toxic to fish and shrimp, but not as toxic as ammonia.

As luck would have it, there is a different strain of bacteria that live in our fish tanks, and in our filters, which consume nitrites. This bacteria in turn converts the nitrite to nitrate. Nitrate is far less toxic to Red Cherry Shrimp, and the shrimp can withstand fairly high levels of nitrates before they become affected.

In an ideal world, our Red Cherry Shrimp tanks should have 0ppm of ammonia, 0ppm of nitrite, and 40ppm or less of nitrates. A good quality test kit, like the API Master Test Kit mentioned above, is an essential tool for regularly measuring the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.



Red Cherry Shrimp Tank Set Up

Red Cherry Shrimp are hardy and adaptable. They will thrive in countless different aquarium setups. I myself keep Red Cherry Shrimp in almost every aquarium I own. I keep them in planted community tanks, dedicated shrimp tanks, and even with my Fantail Goldfish.

Red Cherry Shrimp tank size

Red Cherry Shrimp are small and create very little bioload. As such, they can be kept in almost any size aquarium you have. I have kept them in a 1-gallon vase before (although I would recommend something a little larger).

Whilst there is strictly no minimum tank size for a group of Red Cherry Shrimp, a 5-gallon (19 liters) aquarium is the minimum most keepers should consider using. As a general rule, you can keep 2-5 Red Cherry Shrimp per gallon meaning a colony of up to 25 Red Cherry Shrimp can live in a 5-gallon aquarium.

Remember, as with any aquarium, the larger the volume of water, the easier it is to keep the water parameters stable.

Red Cherry Shrimp tank substrate

Although Red Cherry Shrimp spend almost their entire lives living on the bottom of the aquarium, they don’t really care what substrate you use. Over the years I have kept Red Cherry Shrimp in tanks with sand as a substrate and tanks with regular aquarium gravel. I have also kept breeding colonies of Red Cherry Shrimp in bare bottom tanks.

The best substrate I have used for my Red Cherry Shrimp was Fluval Stratum. Stratum is made from volcanic soil that comes in a compressed ball form and has a very porous structure. Fluval Stratum was specially developed for both aquatic plants and shrimp.

My tank in the image below uses Fluval Stratum as the substrate, and I have a large quantity of both plants and Red Cherry Shrimp

My 155-gallon planted aquarium with Fluval Stratum

Decorations in a Red Cherry Shrimp tank

Red Cherry Shrimp don’t really show a preference for one type of decoration over another. In many of my tanks, I use either rocks, aquarium-safe wood, or both. I like the natural look this gives my tanks.

The most important role decorations play in a Red Cherry Shrimp tank is places for the shrimp to hide, especially in tanks where fish are also kept. Providing hiding places for the shrimp reduces the chances the Red Cherry Shrimp will be eaten.

If you want to use a ceramic castle or a SpongeBob Pineapple house, the shrimp won’t care providing they have somewhere to hide.

Best live plants for Red Cherry Shrimp

In my experience, live plants are an essential addition to a Red Cherry Shrimp tank. Not only do the plants help create a more natural feel, but they also provide places for the shrimp to hide, especially when it comes to molting.

Live plants also absorb much of the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates created when the fish or shrimp go to the bathroom. Finally, live plants also provide the ideal growing spaces for the natural biofilm Red Cherry Shrimp love to eat.

Some of the best plants for a Red Cherry Shrimp tank include;

All of these plants are easy to grow and they will thrive in similar water conditions as the Red Cherry Shrimp. I have found WetPlants.com to be a great source of aquarium plants.

Best filter for a Red Cherry Shrimp tank

Red Cherry Shrimp need good quality, clean tank water. A filter is the best way to achieve this.

The most important factor to consider when deciding which filter to use in a Red Cherry Shrimp tank is flow rate. Some filters, especially canister filters, have such a high flow that they will blow the Red Cherry shrimp all around the tank.

I have always found sponge filters to be the best choice of filter for smaller tanks. I like to use the AQQA Aquarium Sponge Filter because they don’t need a separate air pump.

Sponge filters are great at keeping the water clear and keeping the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels low.

For larger tanks, Fluval offers a great range of filters including hang-on-back filters. I have written extensively about Fluval hang-on-back filters here.

Lighting a Red Cherry Shrimp tank

Red Cherry Shrimp themselves do not require any special lighting. On my own Red Cherry Shrimp tanks, I like to use low-power LED light fittings. The Fluval Aquasky has always proved a good light fitting for me. I use it on many of my shrimp tanks.


Red Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates

Whilst there is no doubt the popularity of small, dedicated Red Cherry Shrimp tanks has grown massively recently. Most of us however want to keep our Red Cherry Shrimp in aquariums with fish. Below I have listed some of the fish I have had success keeping with my Red Cherry Shrimp.

Please note: ANY fish that has a mouth large enough may eat a Red Cherry Shrimp. None of the fish listed below should be considered 100% shrimp safe.

  • Guppies
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Endlers Livebearer
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Mystery Snails
  • Other Shrimp

1. Guppies

Guppies

Guppies make great tank mates for Red Cherry Shrimp. Although a full-grown female could easily eat all but the largest Red Cherry Shrimp, they don’t tend to.

Guppies are generally peaceful and live harmoniously with other tank mates. Guppies are also extremely colorful. I keep a 20-gallon (78 liters) tank which contains a large colony of Red Cherry Shrimp and 10, bright red male Guppies. It is a tank full of color and movement that looks superb.

2. Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs are peaceful members of the Barb family. Their bright, cherry pink coloration looks stunning in a heavily planted aquarium and compliments the bright color of the Red Cherry Shrimp beautifully.

Cherry Barbs are very active swimmers that spend their entire day swimming around the tank, usually looking for something to eat.

Cherry Barbs only grow to around 2″ (5cm) long, and although they may snack on the occasional baby Red Cherry Shrimp, they won’t really bother the adult shrimp at all.

3. Endlers Livebearer

Endlers Livebearer

Much like guppies, Endler Livebearers are small, colorful peaceful fish that work really well in a Red Cherry Shrimp tank.

Male Endlers are generally smaller and a lot more colorful than females, so keeping a male-only colony with a group of Red Cherry Shrimp is a winning combination. Endler Livebearers may pick off some of the very smallest Red Cherry Shrimp, but they won’t trouble the adults.

4. Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

If there is one fish on this list that will almost never eat a Red Cherry Shrimp, it is the Bristlenose Pleco. Bristlenose Plecos spend almost the whole of their day scraping algae off rocks, decorations, and the aquarium glass.

Due to the mouth shape of the Bristlenose Pleco, it is almost impossible for them to catch and eat a live Red Cherry Shrimp.

Bristlenose Plecos are generally peaceful and work in just about every community tank setup.

5. Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras and tiny members of the Corydoras family. These stripped little fish don’t really both any of their tanks mates. The more Pygmy Corydoras you keep in a tank, the greater the schooling effect you get as they swim from one side of the tank and back again.

Unlike other Corydoras, Pygmy Corydoras don’t spend their entire day stuck to the bottom of the tank. They are just as likely to be swimming higher up in the water column.

6. Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gouramis are another species of fish that I currently keep with Red Cherry Shrimp. Dwarf Gouramis are small, colorful fish that spend much of their day up and around the surface of the aquarium. They rarely venture down to parts of the tank where the Red Cherry Shrimp live.

In my own 40-gallon (151 liters) tank, I keep 6 Dwarf Gouramis with a very large colony of maybe 300 Red Cherry Shrimp. It is a combination that works very well.

7. Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras, or Harlequins as they are often referred to, are small, active fish that spend their lives swimming back and forth, mid-water.

The black and bright orange coloration of Harlequins compliments the bright red of the Red Cherry Shrimp. Harlequin Rasboras have small, slightly upturned mouths, making it awkward for them to eat Red Cherry Shrimp.

8. Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are one of the most peaceful species of fish we keep in our aquariums. These little, bright blue and red fish add movement and color to any aquarium. I don’t think I have ever witnessed any aggression from a Neon Tetra and their tiny mouths would only allow them to eat the very smallest of Red Cherry Shrimp.

A small, heavily planted aquarium with a school of Neon Tetras and a group of Red Cherry Shrimp will bring almost endless interest and entertainment to the fish keeper.

9. Mystery Snails

Mystery Snails

If you are looking for a non-fish tank mate, Mystery Snails might be the answer to your search. Mystery Snails make excellent tank mates for Red Cherry Shrimp. They are happy in small tanks, they are completely plant safe, and due to the way they reproduce, they are unlikely to take over your aquarium as a Ramshorn Snail might.

Mystery Snails come in a wide range of colors and they can grow as large as 2″ (5cm) across.

10. Other Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

Naturally, other shrimp make great companions for Red Cherry Shrimp. There are many, many other species and colors of shrimp available.

Amano Shrimp have little to no color and provide an interesting contrast to the bright red of the Red Cherry Shrimp. Amano Shrimp will not crossbreed with your Red Cherry Shrimp.

Other members of the Neocardinia family such as yellow shrimp, orange pumpkin shrimp, and snowball shrimp can all be kept with Red Cherry Shrimp, creating a kaleidoscope of colors within your aquarium.



Tank Mates to Avoid

To be fair, the list of tank mates to avoid is almost endless. Any fish with a mouth large enough will happily eat Red Cherry Shrimp. However, some common fish to avoid include Angelfish, German Blue Rams, Discus, and almost all the South American Cichlids.

As I say, if a fish’s mouth is large enough to consume a Red Cherry Shrimp, there is a good chance they will.


Are Red Cherry Shrimp A Good Clean-up Crew?

Often, Red Cherry Shrimp are referred to as clean-up crew. Red Cherry Shrimp have earned this name due to their willingness to eat the tiniest pieces of uneaten food left behind by larger aquarium inhabitants. Red Cherry Shrimp will also break down fish poop, making it easier for the filter to remove the poop from the water.

Red Cherry Shrimp do make a great clean-up crew, and they are an important component that turns a fish tank into an ecosystem.

However, even though Red Cherry Shrimp will eat leftover food, doesn’t mean they don’t also need to be fed their own food. For a Red Cherry Shrimp colony to thrive and grow, they need to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet.


What do Red Cherry Shrimp Eat?

Red Cherry Shrimp are omnivores, which means they need a diet made up of both meat and vegetable matter, all be it at an almost microscopic level. Red Cherry Shrimp eat both algae and the natural biofilm that builds up over time on our aquariums. They also eat many commercially available foods.

What is the best food for Red Cherry Shrimp?

Over the years I have fed countless different foods to my Red Cherry Shrimp colonies. Below I have listed some of the best foods.

1. Shrimp Cuisine

Shrimp Cuisine is a dedicated shrimp food that is made by Hikari. In my experience, Red Cherry Shrimp love Shrimp Cuisine.

Shrimp Cuisine is essentially a sinking pellet that has ingredients that promote Red Cherry Shrimp color and also ensure shrimp can molt properly.

2. Shrimp King Complete

My Red Cherry Shrimp also really enjoy eating Shrimp King Complete sinking sticks. This food was developed by Chris Lukhaup who is probably the world’s foremost expert on the freshwater shrimp keeping hobby.

Shrimp King Complete is made from natural ingredients and has been developed to give the shrimp all the nutrients they need.

In my experience, Shrimp King Complete boosts the Red Cherry Shrimps colors.

3. Fluval Bug Bites – Shrimp Formula

I am a massive fan of Fluval Bug Bites. I feed the tropical formula to my tropical fish and the goldfish formula to all my fancy goldfish. The Shrimp Formula has been specially developed for freshwater shrimp.

The primary ingredient in Fluval Bug Bites is Black Soldier Fly Larvae, which are really high in protein. This food also gives your Red Cherry Shrimp all the vitamins and minerals they need to grow, molt and reproduce.

4. Hikari Algae Wafers

A Red Cherry Shrimps natural diet is high in algae, so feeding them algae wafers is a no-brainer.

My own Red Cherry Shrimp are fed algae wafers at least a couple of times a week. Typically, dozens of Red Cherry Shrimp will swarm each wafer, slowly picking them to pieces.

I use algae wafers as part of a balanced diet. I wouldn’t recommend only feeding Red Cherry Shrimp algae wafers.



How much do Red Cherry Shrimp eat?

Red Cherry Shrimp are really small, and their stomachs are even smaller. It can be extremely easy to overfeed Red Cherry Shrimp. They have essentially evolved as scavengers and they can get by on very little food.

In my experience, Red Cherry Shrimp only need to be fed 3 or 4 times a week, and then only as much as they will eat within 4 or 5 hours.


Breeding Red Cherry Shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp will breed readily in the home aquarium. They require very little intervention from the aquarist. Providing you have at least one male and one female, there is a very high chance your Red Cherry Shrimp colony will quickly grow. It is one reason Red Cherry Shrimp are so often bred for profit.

How do Red Cherry Shrimp Breed?

Naturally, for Red Cherry Shrimp to breed you will need at least one male and one female shrimp.

The female begins by producing a clutch of eggs inside her body. These eggs initially start developing quite high up in her body, almost behind her head, and as the eggs mature they travel through her body until they are ready to be fertilized by the male. Often these eggs can be seen inside the body of female Red Cherry Shrimp, especially those females who are less brightly colored.

Image Source: The Secret History Living in Your Aquarium – YouTube

Once the eggs are ready, the female attracts a male who will fertilize the eggs as the female passes the eggs from inside her body, to underneath it, where she holds onto the eggs as they develop into shrimplets.

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 to sex Red Cherry Shrimp?

Sexing Red Cherry Shrimp is relatively straightforward. The main differences between male and female Red Cherry Shrimp are as follows.

Male Red Cherry Shrimp

  • Not as colorful as the females
  • Slimmer than the fmeales
  • Shorter than the females
  • Won’t be carrying eggs

Female Red Cherry Shrimp

  • More brightly colored than the males
  • Generally larger than the males
  • Plumper than the males, especially in the abdomen
  • Often carrying eggs beneath their bodies

How long are Red Cherry Shrimp pregnant for?

Red Cherry Shrimp eggs start off bright golden color, and as they develop become darker. It usually takes between 2 and 3 weeks for the babies to fully develop and become free-swimming shrimps. Typically, the warmer the aquarium water is, the faster the eggs develop.

How Many Babies do Red Cherry Shrimp Have?

On average, a female Red Cherry Shrimp will have between 20 and 30 babies at a time. Younger, smaller shrimp may have fewer and the older, more mature females may have more.

There are reports by some Red Cherry Shrimp breeders that feeding the shrimp a diet high in protein leads to a greater number of babies being produced in each batch. However, in my own experience, providing the shrimp are fed a balanced diet, they always have good size broods.



Raising baby Red Cherry Shrimp

Baby Red Cherry Shrimp do not need any special help from the aquarist. Once they hatch they are fully independent. The only essential criterion is that they are living in a mature tank.

Baby Red Cherry Shrimp feed on both algae and the naturally occurring biofilm that covers almost every surface in the mature aquarium. Baby Red Cherry Shrimp raised in the sterile environment of a brand new tank rarely survive long.

One word of caution, if you are using any type of filter other than a sponge filter, make sure all intakes are covered with a suitable intake sponge, otherwise, the baby shrimp will quickly be sucked into the filter, never to be seen again.


Grades of Red Cherry Shrimp

As mentioned earlier, Red Cherry Shrimp are not bright red in the wild. Their bright coloration is the result of many years of selective breeding. This same selective breeding has helped developed different qualities or grades of Red Cherry Shrimp.

When it comes to working out what grade a Red Cherry Shrimp is, there are a few basic rules to follow.

  • The more colorful the better – essentially the more red the shrimp is, the higher grade it is considered to be.
  • The darker the color the better – opacity is important. The more opaque the color, the higher grade the shrimp is.
  • Females are naturally more colorful – Females are almost always considered to be a higher grade than their less colorful male siblings.
Image courtesy The Shrimp Farm

There are currently 6 different grades of Red Cherry Shrimp.

Cherry Grade/Low Grade

Image courtesy The Shrimp Farm

Cherry or low-grade Red Cherry Shrimp are the lightest colored shrimp. They have little to no solid color and may only have patches of red or light pink. Cherry grade shrimp tend to be the cheapest Red Cherry Shrimp and are often easier to come by.

Cherry grade Red Cherry Shrimp are often just sold as a clean-up crew. Due to their low cost, cherry-grade shrimp are a great place for beginners to start. It is better to make newbie mistakes with a $1 shrimp than with a $10 shrimp!

Sakura Grade Red Cherry Shrimp

Sakura grade Red Cherry Shrimp have a lot more color than low-grade cherry shrimp, although their color is far from solid or bright. In fact, their color can be fairly patchy across their body and their legs tend to be translucent.

Sakura Red Cherry Shrimp are great for those who are looking for a pop of color in their tank, without the high price tag that some of the higher grade shrimp come with.

High Sakura Grade/Grade AA Red Cherry Shrimp

High Sakura Grade or AA Grade Red Cherry Shrimp boast a lot more red color with a high opacity than regular Sakura Shrimp. High Sakura Grade Red Cherry Shrimp also have some red coloration in the legs.

High Sakura Grade Red Cherry Shrimp cost a little more than regular Sakura grade, but in my opinion, the extra cost is worth it.

Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp

Fire Red Grade are the first grade of Red Cherry Shrimp where the shrimp has uniform red color across the whole of its body. Fire Red Grade shrimp even have red legs. The opacity of the color across their body is so great that the saddle and developing eggs inside the female Red Cherry Shrimp can no longer be seen.

Fire Red Grade Cherry Shrimp tend to cost around twice that of High Saura Grade. Fire Red Grade Cherry Shrimp are for those who have some experience in shrimp keeping and want to add the impact of some brightly colored shrimp.

Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp

These shrimp earn their name thanks to the deep, intense red color that covers their entire body. The red color of the Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp is so intense it is completely opaque and there is no way to see saddles on the females or the eggs developing internally.

Due to the nature of the way colors in Red Cherry Shrimp work, Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp are always female as the males are not colorful enough.

Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp can cost up to around $6 per shrimp, so they are more suited to experienced shrimp keepers, otherwise learning to become a successful Red Chery Shrimp keeper can become costly.

Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp

Image Courtesy – RW Aquatic Pages (YouTube)

Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp are currently the deepest color Red Cherry shrimp available. Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp can cost up to $10 per shrimp, so are not for the faint-hearted.

Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp were partially developed from the Chocolate Shrimp line, which is where the deep coloration comes from. Unusually, even the male Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp have a deep red color.

Important side note about Red Cherry Shrimp grades:

There is one important note everyone should be aware of before investing in high-grade Red Cherry Shrimp. Even the highest grade Red Cherry Shrimp will produce mixed offspring. This means a female Bloody Mary Shrimp, which may have cost you $10, can give birth to some $1 regular Red Cherry Shrimp.

This means, to keep a colony true and of high quality, the aquarist will have to relentlessly cull offspring that are of a lesser grade to the parents.



Other Neocaridina davidi Colors Available

Through selective breeding, other color forms of Neocaridina davidi Shrimp have been developed. The care for these different color forms is essentially the same as for Red Cherry Shrimp.

Blue Velvet Shrimp

Image Courtesy: The Shrimp Farm

Yellow Shrimp

Image Courtesy: The Shrimp Farm

Green Jade Shrimp

Image Courtesy: The Shrimp Farm

Orange Pumpkin Spice Shrimp

Image Courtesy: The Shrimp Farm

Red Cherry Shrimp Lifespan

On average, a Red Cherry Shrimp will live for between 12 and 18 months. Keeping stress levels to a minimum as well as feeding them a well-balanced diet and taking the time to ensure water parameters are correct will increase a Red Cherry Shrimps lifespan.

It can be tricky to know exactly how long an individual Red Cherry Shrimp has been alive unless it is kept as a solo specimen.



Red Cherry Shrimp Molting

Red Cherry Shrimp don’t have an internal skeleton as we do, rather they have an exoskeleton. An exoskeleton gives the shrimp’s soft body form and structure, much like our own internal skeleton does.

In order to grow, Red Cherry Shrimp have to drag themselves out of their exoskeleton. This process is known as molting.

When Red Cherry Shrimp molt, they are at their most vulnerable. It can take them up to a couple of minutes to pull themselves out of the old exoskeleton, then they can take a few days for their new exoskeleton to fully harden up.

What happens when Red Cherry Shrimp molt?

When Red Cherry Shrimp grow, their new exoskeleton forms underneath their old one. Once they are ready, the old exoskeleton comes apart just behind their head. The shrimp has to literally pull itself out of its old skin.

To pull itself out of the old skin, the shrimp needs to use something within the tank to grip hold of. Rocks, pieces of wood, or aquarium plants all give the Red Cherry Shrimp some leverage.

Once the Red Cherry Shrimp has pulled itself clear of its old skin, it will try and hide for a day or two so its new exoskeleton can harden up.


https://youtu.be/iM3EcGbZ_8g

Red Cherry Shrimp molting problems

Sometimes, Red Cherry Shrimp can have problems molting. These issues almost always result in the Red Cherry Shrimp dying.

The most common problem with molting is when the old skin fails to split properly. This leaves the Red Cherry Shrimp unable to escape from the old skin. The first sign this has happened is usually a white ring that develops behind the Red Cherry Shrimps head. This ring is known as the white ring of death.

What causes Red Cherry Shrimp to have molting problems?

The most common reason Red Cherry Shrimp have molting issues is due to incorrect water parameters. When the pH is wrong or there is insufficient calcium in the water, the Red Cherry Shrimps old skin may fail to split correctly.

Paradoxically, if there is too much calcium present in the water, the Red Cherry Shrimps exoskeleton may become too thick, which again can make it difficult for the Red Cherry Shrimp to molt.


In Conclusion

In my opinion, Red Cherry Shrimp are awesome. They not only bring fresh color, movement, and character to an aquarium, but they also act as an efficient clean-up crew, eating leftover and uneaten food, as well as breaking down fish poop.

Whether you are thinking of adding some Red Cherry Shrimp to your existing aquarium or considering setting up a dedicated shrimp tank, I can almost guarantee you won’t regret starting to keep Red Cherry Shrimp.


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
Editor

Article Sources

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/IN/IN130100.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocaridina_davidi

https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/cherry_shrimp.html

https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/ph-scale-0