Neocaridina davidi: Keeping and Breeding Cherry Shrimp
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. Like their saltwater cousins, they have a curved body, small legs, and spend most of their time seeking shelter in tank plant life and eating. In this article, we’ll talk about the basics of both keeping and breeding cherry shrimp.
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. Because they are constantly changing and losing their exoskeletons, it is important to ensure that your shrimp have calcium. To do this, add small amounts of crushed coral or a filter to the substrate.
Shrimp are, well, shrimp! So, they’ll be preyed upon by other fish. According to our rule of thumb, a predator is one that can fit inside its mouth. If you want to ensure they won’t get eaten make sure you don’t have anything in the tank that’ll go after them. However, when provided with enough hiding spaces shrimp can co-exist with larger fish, but there will always be a risk. Cholla wood and moss make great hiding spots. When it comes to fish they’re best with more docile species.
Bettas are notorious for going after shrimp.
Cherry Shrimp Color Grades
Cherry shrimp should be a 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. Normaly, male cherry shrimp are brighter than females. This is reflected in their thick, round tails and “saddle backs”.
Blue cherry shrimp (AKA blue velvet shrimp)
To make things easier and to make it easier for shrimp lovers, we have separated them into two groups: high grade and low grade. The high grade is extremely red while the low grade is less red. You’ll know what to look for when you’re shopping for these little guys – pick the ones that have the best color, not necessarily have the same name to go with them.
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. It can become confusing and misleading for customers. We believe that you should “buy what is seen, not what is written.”
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 or Fire Taiwan or Painted Fire Red. Each of them are classified under the same Latin name of Neocaridina heteropoda, including the blue and yellow color varieties.
However, there are exceptions to this guideline. We’ll discuss them below in relation to breeding.
Cherry Shrimp Breeding
All colors of cherry shrimp are capable of giving birth to live shrimplets. You’ll notice that the females get ‘berried’ up with shrimplet eggs under their bellies. The males are slightly brighter than the females, but they have a less vibrant color. Unless you purchase a female that is already pregnant with eggs, you will need to buy at least one male in order to establish your breeding population.
Macro shot from a shrimplet. Shrimplets usually have no color until they reach adulthood.
So, now that you’ve chosen the highest grade cherry shrimp with the best color, how do you keep up that high grade from one shrimp generation to the next?
You do that through selective breeding. After your female has given birth, you can successfully cull out the shrimplets that have a lesser color. You remove the shrimplets that are not as brightly colored, so you can preserve the good genes. 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.
The good news is, is that cherry shrimp are easy to breed! 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. This will allow you to breed cherry shrimps with beautiful red populations.
You want a more technical article about breeding these shrimps? My blog is more in-depth on breeding these shrimp.