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Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda var. red) | Home Fish Aquarium Guide

Home Fish Aquarium Guide

Fishkeeping Information and Resources for the Home Aquarium

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Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda var. red)

These colorful shrimp make excellent algae eaters! Their coloration can be deeper and richer when the shrimp are kept in a tank with a dark substrate (black). The females are also typically more colorful than males. (Sometimes the males are simply transparent or have a faint hint of red coloring.)

Neocaridina heteropoda var. “red” or cherry shrimp is a variety of freshwater shrimp from Taiwan which is commonly kept in aquariums. The natural colouration of the shrimp is green-brown, however the red morph is much more frequently sold. Full-grown cherry shrimp reach about 4 centimetres (1.6 in) long. They prefer clean water, with a pH of 6.5-8, and a temperature of 14–30 °C (57–86 °F) They are most comfortable at 22 °C (72 °F). Cherry shrimp are omnivores that may live 1-2 years.


Red cherry shrimp are easy to care for in the home freshwater aquarium and breed well. They will adapt to a wide range of water conditions, and will thrive in the same conditions as many common aquarium fish. A few cherry shrimp can be kept in a desktop aquarium of 4–8 litres (0.88–1.8 imp gal; 1.1–2.1 US gal) capacity, and a setup of 40 l (8.8 imp gal; 11 US gal) or more will allow for an active colony.

The shrimp spends a great deal of its time sitting on aquatic plants, when available, and hiding in them for protection, especially after moulting. They also eat the film of algae and micro-organisms which forms on plant leaves without harming the leaves in the process. Java moss and Java fern are both excellent plants for the shrimp tank, as they thrive in the same conditions that the cherry shrimp do and provide both the physical benefits of the plants to the shrimp and pleasing visual contrast with the red bodies of the shrimp to the human viewer.

Water plants such as Ceratophyllum (hornwort), water sprite, water hyacinth, and Elodea can serve dual purposes as accent decorations and as a natural water filter that will remove any nitrates from the water.

Red cherry shrimp respond to the colour of their background and substrate. If they are kept in a tank with light-coloured substrate, they will become paler, even transparent. On a darker substrate, they take on their full red colouration. Colour intensity also depends on the types of food available (live foods and those high in protein and fats are more beneficial than flake foods), water pH and temperature.


The red cherry shrimp is a non-aggressive shrimp. They are active throughout the day, and can be seen grazing on algae, aquarium décor or the sides of the tank, hunting detritus among the gravel, and sometimes even mating. Periodically a shrimp will shed its exoskeleton, leaving an empty white ghost of itself caught in the plants or drifting around the tank. This should be left in the tank, as the shrimp will eat it to recover the valuable minerals it contains.

Female pregnant cherry shrimps tend to hide in the dark. If they feel endangered by predators, they will abandon their eggs. They need an environment with wood or plants such as Java moss to hide themselves and their babies in. When they are carrying the eggs under their bodies, they can be witnessed circulating water over the eggs with their legs to ensure good health.


Red cherry shrimp are primarily algae eaters. They will eat any food intended for aquarium use, but some will prefer compressed algae discs. Blanched (boiled until soft) vegetables such as zucchini (courgette), baby carrots,pea and spinach can be used as a supplemental food, but should be fed sparingly. Uneaten vegetables can very quickly decompose and create water quality problems.If feeding commercial fish/shrimp food ensure that there is no copper added although most breeders believe this is only pure/elemental copper as this is dangerous for shrimp. Many breeders think copper sulfates found in most fish food, are okay in low amounts. Copper sulfates found in snail killer are in high amounts and will kill shrimp.


The male is smaller and less colorful than the female. The male’s tail, not being needed to carry eggs, is thinner. The female is larger and displays a much darker and more extensive red color, and often has a “saddle” marking of developing eggs.


Breeding red cherry shrimp is as easy as putting a pair of adult male and female together in an aquarium. You can observe the eggs developing in the female’s ovaries as a white or yellow triangular “saddle” marking on her back. When she is ready to lay the eggs, she releases pheromones into the water to signal her availability to males. The male shrimp in the tank will often become agitated, swimming very actively about as they search for the source of the pheromones. After a brief mating process, the female lays her eggs and affixes them to her swimmerettes.

The eggs turn darker and darker until the young shrimp hatch after about three weeks. When the young hatch, they are tiny (~1 mm) copies of the adults. They have no planktonic larval stage. They spend their first few days of life hiding among plants, where they are almost invisible, nibbling on the biofilm on the plants. They then emerge and graze on algae on tank surfaces and ornaments.

Tank mates

In their natural environment, cherry shrimp are primarily prey animals. When kept in an aquarium, they are easily targeted by fish as potential food. Even fish too small to eat them may harass them and stress them to death, sometimes biting off limbs. For best results breeding should take place in isolation. Small, non-aggressive fish such as dwarf rasabora, neon tetra, cardinal tetra, otocinclus catfish, dwarf gouramis, and some species of killifish can be kept with adult cherry shrimp. However baby shrimp are likely to get eaten by any fish other than the otocinclus & some other herbivorous fish. Most cichlids, including angel fish, will harass and readily eat adults as well. With enough cover and hiding spaces (live plants such as Java moss work well) one can have a colony of cherry shrimp survive in a tank with larger fish preying on them.


The Cherry shrimp has become widely available in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. You can purchase these shrimp from online fish stores, at aquarium stores, and from private breeders; especially through local aquarium societies. There are also many similar Neocaridina species of different color that require the same conditions, these include snowballs, blue pearls, yellow shrimp, and wild type.

Source: Wikipedia

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    April 12, 2011 - 1:01 PM