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The Complete Guide to Caring for Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp, scientifically known as Neocaridina heteropoda, have become a staple in freshwater aquariums thanks to their bright coloration and peaceful nature. Their vibrant red coloration and low maintenance needs make them an excellent choice for beginner aquarists looking to add some life to their tanks. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about keeping healthy and vibrant cherry shrimp.

An Overview of Cherry Shrimp

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Cherry shrimp are a dwarf freshwater shrimp native to Taiwan. They have an average adult size of around 1-2 inches, making them perfect for nano aquariums.

These little crustaceans get their name from their striking cherry red coloration. Selectively bred varieties have even deeper, more vibrant reds. Their translucent bodies also make it easy to view their internal organs and get a sense of their overall health.

In terms of behavior, cherry shrimp are very peaceful and can be kept with other docile fish. They spend much of their time grazing on algae and scavenging the tank for leftover food. It’s mesmerizing to watch their little fans flutter as they actively forage around the tank.

By nature, cherry shrimp enjoy densely planted tanks and appreciate having hiding spots provided by plants, rocks, and wood. This gives them security and places to duck away if threatened.

When keeping cherry shrimp, it’s important to provide good water quality and suitable tank mates. We’ll go over both of these topics in detail later in this guide. First, let’s walk through ideal tank conditions for these dwarf freshwater shrimp.

Setting Up the Right Aquarium Environment

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Cherry shrimp do best in established aquariums that have been cycled through the nitrogen cycle. This allows beneficial bacteria to accumulate in the filter media and substrate to prevent ammonia and nitrite spikes.

Here are some general guidelines for setting up the ideal cherry shrimp tank:

Tank Size

A 10 gallon aquarium is sufficient for a cherry shrimp colony numbering in the dozens. For larger colonies, a 20 gallon long provides plenty of horizontal swimming space. Keep in mind that cherry shrimp have a very low bioload and their actual minimum tank size can be as little as 2.5 gallons.

Regardless of tank size, be sure to avoid overcrowding by providing around 2 gallons of water per average-sized adult cherry shrimp. Overcrowding stresses shrimp and makes them more vulnerable to disease.

Substrate

Cherry shrimp appreciate fine-grained sandy substrates like pool filter sand, as it allows them to sift through and forage naturally. Small granules also won’t obstruct their tiny fans while feeding.

Just be sure to rinse the sand thoroughly until the water runs clear before adding it to the tank. This removes dust and debris that can cloud water conditions.

Filtration

A high-quality hang-on-back or canister filter designed for tanks up to twice your aquarium’s actual volume is recommended. Additional filtration helps keep water pristine for sensitive shrimp.

Aim for lower flow rates and prevent strong outputs that could blow shrimp around the tank. Use filter media like foam or sponges that won’t suck up baby shrimp.

Heaters & Thermometers

Maintain water temperature between 65-85°F. Fluctuations in temperature stress shrimp and can even kill them. The optimal temperature range is 70-80°F.

Use a submersible aquarium heater with external thermostat. This allows better temperature control. Always pair the heater with a thermometer to monitor tank conditions.

Plants & Hardscapes

Cherry shrimp thrive in heavily planted aquariums. Try low-light plants like java moss, java fern, anubias, floating plants, and carpeting plants like dwarf hairgrass. The vegetation and biofilm on plants provide food sources.

You can also incorporate rocks, driftwood, and resin ornaments to break up lines of sight. This allows shrimp to explore and find refuge when needed. Cholla wood, Mopani wood, and spiderwood work well.

Now that we’ve covered ideal aquarium setups, let’s go over some critical water parameters for maintaining cherry shrimp health.

Providing Optimal Water Conditions

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Monitoring and maintaining proper water conditions is arguably the most important aspect of cherry shrimp care. Here are the main water parameters to track:

Temperature

As mentioned earlier, optimal water temperature for cherry shrimp is 70-80°F. Rapid temperature fluctuations can shock their sensitive systems, so always acclimate shrimp slowly when introducing them to a new tank.

pH Levels

Cherry shrimp prefer a pH between 6.5-7.5, with the ideal range being 6.8-7.2. Use natural substrates like ADA Aqua Soil to help buffer pH for long-term stability.

GH & KH

General hardness (GH) measures the concentration of magnesium and calcium ions in the water. It impacts molting and helps shrimp build strong exoskeletons. Ideal GH is 4-8 dGH.

Carbonate hardness (KH) indicates carbonate and bicarbonate levels. These compounds buffer against pH swings. Aim for a KH of 3-6 dKH.

TDS & Conductivity

Measuring total dissolved solids (TDS) and conductivity can help monitor the quality of dissolved matter in the tank. Ideal TDS range is 150-250 ppm, while conductivity should be between 200-400 μS/cm.

Nitrates & Ammonia

Cherry shrimp are sensitive to nitrate and ammonia spikes. Nitrates should always be kept under 20 ppm. Any ammonia over .25 ppm can be toxic. Use live plants and regular water changes to keep levels low.

Feeding Cherry Shrimp

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Cherry shrimp are omnivorous scavengers by nature. In established aquariums, they will find plenty to eat by grazing on algae, biofilm, plant matter, microscopic organisms, and organic debris.

That said, providing supplemental foods helps ensure shrimp stay colorful and thrive:

  • Bacteria growths, algae wafers, shrimp pellets to graze on
  • Blanched vegetables like zucchini, spinach, kale
  • Foods high in calcium to aid molting such as spinach and kale
  • Protein-rich foods a few times a week like boiled egg shells or shrimp pellets

Feed only as much as shrimp can consume within a few hours, usually 1-2 times daily is sufficient. Overfeeding fouls water conditions and should be avoided.

Compatible Tank Mates

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When stocking tank mates, smaller is better. Large, aggressive fish may prey on adult shrimp or shrimp babies called shrimplets. Recommended tank mates include:

  • Small freshwater fish like guppies, neon tetras, rasboras
  • Peaceful community fish like dwarf cory catfish, pygmy corydoras, otocinclus catfish
  • Snails like nerite snails and mystery snails
  • Other dwarf shrimp like Blue Velvet Shrimp and Bee Shrimp

Avoid these predatory fish species: bettas, cichlids, goldfish, rainbow sharks, bichirs, ropefish, and loaches. Generally, any fish that can fit adult shrimp in their mouths pose a risk.

Breeding Cherry Shrimp

The good news about cherry shrimp is that they readily breed in captivity without intervention. Females can store sperm and have multiple clutches of eggs from a single mating.

To encourage breeding:

  • Provide plenty of hiding spots for mating and shelter for shrimplets
  • Maintain pristine water conditions with stable parameters
  • Offer protein-rich foods before breeding to promote egg production
  • Keep tank temperatures in the upper range around 78°F

Females carry eggs for around 21-35 days before they hatch. Shrimplets are tiny transparent versions of adults. They hide extensively until they grow large enough to not be seen as prey.

Adding natural moss like java moss or christmas moss provides essential infusoria and microorganisms for shrimplets to feed on as they grow.

Within 2-3 months, young shrimp will reach sexual maturity and continue breeding. With ideal conditions, cherry shrimp populations can exploded exponentially in just a few generations.

Conclusion

Cherry shrimp make an excellent freshwater shrimp species for planted nano tanks and beginner aquarists. Following the guidelines above for tank setup, water parameters, compatible tank mates, and diet will set you up for shrimp keeping success.

The bright pops of red from actively foraging cherry shrimp bring energy and beauty to any aquascape. Their behaviors are intriguing to observe, especially when spotting tiny newborn shrimp emerge.

If you’re looking for an easy, low maintenance shrimp species, cherry shrimp are a perfect option. Be sure to purchase captive-bred shrimp from a reputable retailer or local hobbyist to start your thriving colony off strong. Follow the best practices outlined here, and you’ll be rewarded with vigorous shrimp and endless hours of viewing enjoyment.

Let us know if you have any other questions about successfully keeping and breeding cherry shrimp!

Cherry Shrimp Care and Breeding Essentials

  1. Aquarium Tanks:
    • Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon: A compact and stylish tank suitable for cherry shrimp. Provides ample space for breeding and movement.
  2. Water Filtration Systems:
    • AquaClear Power Filter – 110 V: A reliable filter that maintains pristine water conditions while being shrimp-safe.
  3. Substrates:
    • CaribSea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand: Fine-grained sandy substrate ideal for cherry shrimp environments. Supports beneficial bacterial growth and plant health.
  4. Aquarium Heaters and Thermometers:
    • Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater: Ensures a stable temperature range (around 72-78°F) for optimal shrimp health and breeding.
  5. Aquarium Test Kits:
    • API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Comprehensive water testing kit to monitor pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. Essential for maintaining water quality.
  6. Shrimp Foods:
    • Hikari Tropical Shrimp Cuisine: Nutrient-rich food that enhances health and color vibrancy in cherry shrimp.
  7. Aquarium Plants:
  8. Decorations and Hiding Places:
  9. Breeding Supplies:
  10. Aquarium Maintenance Tools:

Happy shrimp keeping! 🦐🌿

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