Keeping and Breeding Cherry Shrimp – Neocaridina davidi
Cherry shrimp are becoming increasingly popular as a simple addition to your community aquarium that is also easy to maintain. These little freshwater crustaceans grow to be about 1.5″ in length. Similar to their saltwater counterparts, they are characterized by a small body with curved legs and a long life span. This article will cover the basics of keeping and breeding cherry shrimp.
The Cherry Shrimp Diet
A great diet of high-quality shrimp food and algae will keep your shrimp healthy. These shrimp also are natural tank cleaners, searching for tiny bits of bacteria and fish food that has not been eaten in the substrate, mosses, and on plant life. Since they’re continuously molting and shedding their exoskeleton, you also want to make sure to include calcium in their diet. To do this, add small amounts of crushed coral or a filter to the substrate.
Shrimp are shrimp! So, they’ll be preyed upon by other fish. Our rule of thumb is if it can fit in its mouth then it’s a predator. You want them to be safe and not get eaten so make sure they have nothing that could harm them. However, when provided with enough hiding spaces shrimp can co-exist with larger fish, but there will always be a risk. Cholla wood, moss and other hiding places are excellent. When it comes to fish they’re best with more docile species.
Bettas are known for their love of shrimp.
Cherry Shrimp Color Grades
When it comes to cherry shrimp, you want the most beautiful deep red color. It’s really what makes these a striking addition to your tank. There are many names available for these fish, depending on the color. These include Sakura, Fire Taiwan and Painted Fire Red. You can also find blue, yellow, and blue versions. The painted color scheme is a bright, shiny red with nail polish, while the other colors are deeper and more vibrant. Normally, the female cherry shrimp (identified by her thick rounded tail and “saddle” back) will be brighter in color than male cherry shrimp.
Blue cherry shrimp (AKA blue velvet shrimp)
To simplify things and make it easier on you to select the shrimp you want, we split them into two categories: high grade or low grade. The high grade is extremely red while the low grade is less red. This will let you know what to search for when you shop for these little guys. Choose the one that has the best color and not necessarily the same name.
The color will be more vibrant if it is of a higher grade. However, the name itself has little to do with the actual grade. It’s best to compare these different shrimp colors in an aquarium pet store because it’s difficult to compare them online. In person, you can see the differences in color.
Our high-grade cherry shrimp at Aquarium Co-op
You might see a Sakura cherry shrimp that has a better color than a Fire Taiwan, which should be of a higher grade. This can be confusing for customers and misleading. Our mantra is to “buy what you see, not what you read.”
So, regardless of the name, buy the shrimp that have the best color. You’ll find a wide range of colors even in one batch, even from the same breeder. They could be called Sakura, Fire Taiwan, or Painted Fire Red. They are all classified under the same Latin Neocaridina heteropoda Latin name, which includes the blue and yellow color variations.
There are however some exceptions to the guideline. This is discussed below with regard to breeding.
Cherry Shrimp Breeding
All colors of cherry shrimp are capable of giving birth to live shrimplets. It’s easy to see that the shrimplet eggs are placed under the bellies of the females. The males are slightly brighter than the females, but they have a less vibrant color. You will need at least one male to begin your breeding population unless you buy an already-breeding female.
Macro shot of a shrimplet; babies normally lack color until they mature
Now that you have chosen the best cherry shrimp grade with the best color, what can you do to keep that grade going from one generation to the next.
Selective breeding is a way to do this. You can successfully remove shrimplets with a lower color after your female gives birth. You take out the ones that are less red, thus preserving those good bright red genes for the next generation to pass on. For each new batch, you will need to repeat this process. In this way, you could effectively start with a lower grade shrimp and breed for a higher grade.
Cherry shrimp can be easily bred. As long as you have both males and females in the tank (without any other fish preying on them), they will readily produce more offspring for you. Cull out the lower grade colors and maintain the health of your population with plenty of food and calcium. You will be a successful cherry shrimp breeder and have a large red population.
Want a more advanced and technical article on breeding these shrimp? You can check out my blog for more information about breeding these shrimp.