Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) – Feeding, Mates, And Care

For aquarists seeking a brightly colored, easy to care for addition to their aquarium, the Cherry shrimp makes an excellent alternative to fish.

These active little creatures create a multicolored display that adds interest to any tank. Neocaridina davidi makes an entertaining, multicolored cleanup crew, too, grazing on algae and scavenging leftover food and general detritus.

So, what size tank do you need for Cherry shrimp? What food do Cherry shrimp eat? And, do Cherry shrimp make good tank mates for fish? 

Read this complete guide for the answers to these questions and more.

Cherry Shrimp – Species Profile

Scientific Name

Neocaridina davidi

Common Name (species)

Cherry shrimp, Red Cherry shrimp, Neocaridina shrimp

Family

Origin

Taiwan

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Activity

Active scavenger

Lifespan

1 to 2 years

Temperament

Peaceful

Tank Level

Primarily bottom-dwelling

Minimum Tank Size

5 gallons

Temperature Range

65o to 85o F

Water Hardness

6 to 8 dGH

pH Range

6.5 to 8.0

Filtration/Flow Rate

Well-filtered, slow flow rate

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Egg-layers. Easy to breed.

Compatibility

Snails, other shrimp, peaceful fish

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Yes

Origins And Habitat

Cherry shrimp are a dwarf species of freshwater invertebrates that inhabit ponds and streams in Taiwan, where the water is well-oxygenated, and the flow is slow. There are also populations of introduced Cherry shrimp in parts of Europe, Asia, and even Oahu in Hawaii. 

They typically live in areas where the habitat is heavily vegetated, and the substrate is rocky.

What Do Neocaridina Davidi Look Like?

Wild Cherry shrimp are greenish-brown in color, but selective breeding has created a whole gamut of bright shades. And it’s primarily the Cherry shrimp’s color that makes these busy little creatures so popular with hobbyists.

Did you know that Cherry shrimp are graded according to color?

Grading ranges from the deepest crimson color, right through the spectrum to the palest pink with a red-spotted pattern, as follows:

Cherry Shrimp Grading

Name

Appearance

Grade

Cherry shrimp

Clear in color with red patches.

Lowest

Sakura Cherry shrimp

More red coloration with clear patches.

Next best

Fire Red shrimp

Completely bright red color.

Next best

Painted Fire Red shrimp

Brilliant red with no transparent patches and usually have red legs, too.

Highest grade

Name

Cherry shrimp

Appearance

Clear in color with red patches.

Grade

Lowest

Name

Sakura Cherry shrimp

Appearance

More red coloration with clear patches.

Grade

Next best

Name

Fire Red shrimp

Appearance

Completely bright red color.

Grade

Next best

Name

Painted Fire Red shrimp

Appearance

Brilliant red with no transparent patches and usually have red legs, too.

Grade

Highest grade

Coats Of Many Colors!

Neocaridina davidi comes in a whole range of beautiful, bright colors that can add a real pop to your tank. So, although the most frequently sold color is red, you can also find them in orange, yellow, violet, green, blue, and black.

Gender Differences

If you want to breed your shrimp, you’ll need to make sure you have a mix of males and females.

When they are very young, it’s impossible to tell the boys from the girls. However, once the creatures are older, telling the sexes apart is much easier.

Female Cherry shrimp are usually slightly longer than males and are generally more colorful. Mature female shrimp also develop an orange “saddle” on their underside that’s used to carry unfertilized eggs.

What Size Are Cherry Shrimp?

Female Cherry shrimp grow to around 1.5 inches in length, with males being slightly shorter.

How Long Do Cherry Shrimp Live?

Neocaridina davidi typically lives for one to two years.

Temperament And Activity Level

Cherry shrimp are completely peaceful, non-aggressive creatures that spend most of their time grazing on algae and foraging for food on the tank’s substrate and decorations.

These shrimps are active during the daytime, and at night, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch their entertaining antics.

Molting

Shrimp have a hard exoskeleton that protects their internal organs. 

The exoskeleton doesn’t grow with the shrimp. Instead, to allow for growth, the shrimp sheds the exoskeleton once a month or so in a process called molting. Immediately after molting, the shrimp hide away in safety while the new shell hardens.

It’s important to leave the old shell in the tank, as the shrimp eats it as an important calcium source.

What Species Make Good Tank Mates For Cherry Shrimp?

Although their peaceful nature makes Cherry shrimp a safe companion for any other species, their non-aggressive nature also makes them vulnerable. So, you must choose your tank mates very carefully.

As a general rule, you should keep high-grade shrimp in a single species setup, whereas low-grade specimens can live with a range of tank mates.

Suitable tank mates for Cherry shrimp include:

snail

Other shrimp species, such as Amano, Ghost, and Vampire shrimp, also make suitable tank mates.

Fish To Avoid

As regards fish species to avoid, you don’t want to include any large predatory fish in your setup that might view them as a food source, for example, cichlids, discus, and Oscars.

Can I Keep Groups Of Neocaridina Davidi?

They don’t usually do well if kept in isolation. I recommend that you keep at least ten shrimps to prevent potential squabbles if one shrimp is more dominant than the others.

Since they produce a very small bioload, you can keep up to five shrimps per gallon of water, and it’s almost impossible to overstock. The ideal mix is more males to females, especially if you want to breed them.

What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat?

Brown algae, fucus

In nature, these shrimps are omnivorous scavengers, eating both plant matter and meaty foods, including algae.

The main part of the shrimps’ diet should be high-quality invertebrate pellet food, supplemented with frozen meaty foods and fresh veggies. Vegetables should be blanched and boiled prior to feeding, and you can include things like zucchini, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and spinach.

They eat most forms of algae and can be very helpful in keeping your tank viewing panes clear.

Frequency And The Amount Of Food To Feed

Remember that they are scavengers and algae-eaters, which makes it easy to overfeed them.

Feed the shrimp once a day and remove any uneaten food after two hours so that it doesn’t begin to break down and pollute your tank.

Tank Requirements

Tank size

They are perfect creatures for life in a nano tank as small as 5 gallons, although if you want to establish a colony of shrimp, you’ll need at least a 20-gallon aquarium.

close up image of underwater landscape nature style aquarium tank with a variety of aquatic plants inside.

As a general guideline, you can keep two to five shrimp per gallon of water. Just remember that these critters breed readily in captivity, so bear in mind that a population could occur if you keep a whole gang of them.

Tank Setup

Substrate

A mix of smooth pebbles and coarse gravel can look natural and replicate the shrimps’ wild home.

Decoration

Shrimp do best in heavily planted tanks where there are plenty of hiding places. 

Use moss and plenty of bushy plants to create the perfect environment. Floating plants can also work well. The Shrimp will also scavenge on decaying plant matter, adding to their diet.

Driftwood is also a good addition to your tank decor, providing hiding places for the shrimp and making a platform where algae can grow for the shrimp to graze on.

Water Quality

Filtration

Beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Aquascape.

Although your shrimp tank needs a filtration system, be very careful what kind of filter you choose, as shrimp can easily be sucked into the filter. 

For that reason, I recommend that you use a sponge filter. If you need to use something more powerful for the fish in your setup, use foam to buffer the filter inlets’ flow and prevent the shrimp from getting sucked in.

If you want to add more oxygen to the water, use an air stone or bubbler.

Pro Tip 

Ammonia Sensitivity

Cherry shrimp are highly sensitive to ammonia, so you must maintain stable water quality in your tank to keep the shrimp healthy.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

Shrimp can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures ranging from 65o to 85o F, so if you live in a warm climate, you most likely won’t need a heater for your tank.

Water Hardness And pH Range

The pH level should be in the range of 6.5-8.0, with a water hardness of 6 to 8 dGH.

Lighting

Shrimp don’t have any specific lighting requirements, so just choose what best-suits your plants.

Aquarium Maintenance

When it comes to tank maintenance, it’s crucial to note that they are extremely sensitive to nitrites, so don’t put them in an uncycled tank.

Young man changing water in aquarium using siphon.

Although you should make sure that the tank’s water conditions are good, lower grade shrimps will tolerate poorer conditions than their higher-grade counterparts.

How To Set Up A Shrimp Tank

To set up your shrimp tank, get together everything you’re going to need, including:

  • LED light unit
  • Substrate
  • Sponge filter
  • Heater (if necessary)
  • Driftwood, rocks, pebbles
  • Plants
  • Water conditioner

How To Set Up Your Shrimp Tank

  1. Rinse the gravel to remove any dust. 
  2. Put a few inches of gravel into the aquarium. 
  3. Add the filter and heater (if you’re using one) to the tank. Don’t turn them on yet.
  4. Add dechlorinated tap water to just below the fill line in the tank. To avoid displacing the gravel, put an upside-down plate or bowl in the center of the substrate and slowly tip the water over that.
  5. Before adding your shrimp, it’s crucial that the tank is fully cycled. So, add a pinch of fish food, some gravel from an existing tank, or a few drops of pure ammonia to the water.
  6. Rinse the tank decorations and put them into the tank. 
  7. Add plenty of lush planting, snipping away broken stems and dead leaves before doing so. Make sure that the plants have ample space in which to grow.
  8. Turn on the filter and heater. You’ll need to leave the lights on for eight to ten hours per day so that the plants get the light they need to photosynthesize.
  9. Leave the tank to cycle for at least ten days, testing the water every couple of days.
  10. The levels of ammonia and nitrites in the water must be zero and the nitrates as close to 20ppm as possible. Once those levels have been reached and are stable, it’s safe to add your Cherry shrimp. 

Health And Disease

They are generally pretty healthy creatures, although they can be affected by a few common diseases.

One crucial thing that you must know is that shrimp are extremely sensitive to copper. Many aquarium medications and fish foods contain copper, so always check the product labels very carefully.

Signs Of Health In Cherry Shrimp

Healthy Cherry shrimp are brightly colored, active little creatures that spend much of their time scavenging on the substrate and around the plants.

Signs Of Ill Health

The following behaviors could mean that your shrimp are sick:

  • Not eating
  • Inactivity
  • Fluffy white growths on the head

Common Health Issues And Treatment 

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Vorticella

Vorticella is a common parasite that looks like white mold on the shrimp’s body, head, and the tip of the nose.

Treat water with OTC medication.

Scutariella Japonica

A common shrimp parasite that is a species of parasitic nematode or flatworm. Attacks the mantle and gills of the shrimp.

Treat water with OTC medication.

Bacterial infections

Affects internal organs. Unfortunately not usually detectable until it’s too late to treat the shrimp, so it often ends in mortality.

Treat water with OTC medication.

Ellipsoid, Dinoflagellate, Epibionts parasites

These external parasites can often be seen as greenish, cottony growths between the shrimp’s legs and on its underside. Shrimp are weakened and quickly die.

Treat water with OTC medication.

Health Issue

Vorticella

Symptoms or Causes

Vorticella is a common parasite that looks like white mold on the shrimp’s body, head, and the tip of the nose.

Suggested Action

Treat water with OTC medication.

Health Issue

Scutariella Japonica

Symptoms or Causes

A common shrimp parasite that is a species of parasitic nematode or flatworm. Attacks the mantle and gills of the shrimp.

Suggested Action

Treat water with OTC medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Affects internal organs. Unfortunately not usually detectable until it’s too late to treat the shrimp, so it often ends in mortality.

Suggested Action

Treat water with OTC medication.

Health Issue

Ellipsoid, Dinoflagellate, Epibionts parasites

Symptoms or Causes

These external parasites can often be seen as greenish, cottony growths between the shrimp’s legs and on its underside. Shrimp are weakened and quickly die.

Suggested Action

Treat water with OTC medication.

Breeding

Cherry shrimps are extremely easy to breed.

Simply raise the water temperature to 82o F to simulate the beginning of summer, which is the shrimps’ natural breeding season.

Once the shrimps have mated, you will see that the females are “berried,” that is, carrying clutches of eggs underneath their bodies. The eggs take around 30 days to hatch, the babies emerging as fully-formed tiny shrimp.

The baby shrimp will find plenty to eat in a mature tank, so you don’t need to worry about feeding them. Generally, the adults won’t eat the youngsters.

Mini Graphics for Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

Availability

You can buy low-grade Cherry shrimp in most good fish stores. Higher grade shrimp are more expensive and can usually be found for sale online.

Shrimp Tank Shopping List

I recommend that you pick up a good book on raising shrimp, too.

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our guide to keeping Cherry shrimp.

Do you have graded Cherry shrimp? Tell us in the comments box below.

And please share this guide if you loved it!

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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