Do you have a freshwater aquarium? Cherry shrimps are one of the best species to keep in such tanks. They are beautiful and quite fascinating to just look at them. In the guide below, you will get to know everything you need to become an expert on cherry shrimp.
History and Habitat
The cherry shrimps came to the aquarium business in the 1990s in Native Asia. In 2003 the popularity grew more when they were introduced in the US. People love their red color and other shades of red available due to breeding.
The Taiwan streams are the native waters of cherry shrimp. In the wild, they tend to be transparent with tiny dots of red on the body. The bright red shrimps are a result of selective breeding. Being omnivorous, they feed on biofilm, leaf litter, algae, and any dead fish on the gentle freshwater streams.
How to Identify a Cherry Shrimp
The cherry shrimps exist in variations of shades of red color. Typically, a female cherry shrimp will grow to about 1.5 inches. Males are slightly shorter. The following are grades of cherry shrimp depending on the red spots;
- Cherry shrimp; They are considered the original and lowest grade of cherry shrimp. Most parts of the body are clear with red patches.
- Sakura Cherry Shrimp; These are slightly dark red but still most of the body is clear.
- Fire Red Shrimp; Their whole body is red.
- Painted Fire Red Shrimp; They are considered the highest grade and quite expensive. They are solid red completely without any transparent patches. The legs are also red.
The environment can also affect the color of the cherry shrimp. If stressed, the shrimp’s color becomes dull.
It is a hard task to differentiate the males and females until they mature. Females will always be more colorful and larger compared to males. The adult females can be picked out by having an orange saddle in the stomach area. It is used to hold the eggs before fertilization.
Tank Requirements and Conditions
Cherry shrimps require low maintenance levels thus it will not be a hard task caring for them. This can be done by strictly following this care guide.
What tank size do I need?
Cherry shrimps are small species thus 5 gallons will be enough. You should not go below 5 gallons as the more the water volume the easier it is to control water parameters. For every shrimp you add to the tank, add one more gallon.
Composition of The Tank
You should try as much as possible to imitate the natural habitat of cherry shrimps as much as possible. First, you should have enough space for all the equipment to avoid congestion.
Aquatic plants are generous to cherry shrimps. They produce organic materials which cherry shrimps can feed on. The plants also provide good hiding places which cherry shrimps like. Examples of plants include Java Moss and Algae.
Plants also help keep water cleaner and healthier. They take up toxic wastes in water like nitrates which can cause problems to Cherry shrimps. Shrimps have cover from the plants during molting.
For the substrates, use small rock pebbles to give a feeling of the natural environment. They are used with hardy substrates to help collect the debris eaten by shrimps. Driftwood provides hiding spots and grooming areas, as well as the surface for the growth of moss and algae.
There are no special lighting requirements for the cherry shrimps. Standard aquarium lighting is enough for shrimps to see their way around the tank. You can use the plants in the tank as the base of your lighting.
Filters are essential parts of an aquarium. The filter should not be too powerful so that it sucks the shrimps out. A solution is using a sponge filter. If you prefer powerful filters like a canister, make sure the inlets have foams to reduce the water speed.
An air stone will help in water oxygenation and at the same time proper water filtration. Yes, keep your cherry shrimp stress-free and safe and you will have the brightest colors on your shrimp.
What are the ideal water conditions for these invertebrates? Low-grade shrimps tend to be hardier than high-grade shrimps. However, you should provide the best water conditions all the time.
The water temperature range is 65 to 85 Degrees Fahrenheit. This is the room temperature and a heater may not be that important. Also, most of the rooms with aquariums have heaters. If you keep the temperatures on the higher end of the range, it will accelerate the growth of cherry shrimps.
The best pH levels are between 6.5 to 8. If the levels are too high, you can add peat to lower them.
Cherry shrimps seem comfortable in hard aquarium water. The flowing current should be moderate like in their habitats. Avoid uncycled tanks that may contain nitrates. When using a medication, avoid those with copper content which is poisonous to cherry shrimps.
A dechlorinator a few days before the cherry shrimps’ arrival, will help reduce the levels of chlorine. It is easier to control the level of wastes with larger volumes of water.
Diet and Feeding in Cherry Shrimps
In the wild, cherry shrimps will gobble almost any plant or animal. You have to control the diet of the shrimps as the owner. Biofilm and algae will provide the majority of the diet. So, do not overfeed them with high-protein foods.
Cherry shrimps spend the majority of their time grazing over the plants, décor, glass, rocks, and substrate for food. Make sure the space is abundant enough for them to graze, especially the ones producing biofilm. Shrimps will make you know if they lack food by gazing at you and not settling anywhere in the tank.
What can I feed them? High-quality pellets should make up the core of the diet. Look out for the ones specifically made for the shrimps or invertebrates. An example is algae wafers.
Vegetables fed should be boiled and blanched before being given to the cherry shrimps. Do not overfeed them as they are tiny creatures. It may lead to tank water pollution. Vegetable examples include;
- Collard greens
They will eat any type of algae in the aquarium. Check out the must-have algae types in your aquarium available in the shops. They may not eat as much but will help clean up the tank.
If you give them excess food, make sure you clean up to maintain the ideal water chemistry. This should happen 2 hours after feeding them.
Breeding in Cherry Shrimps
Cherry shrimps are one of the easiest species to breed. You are in luck.
This is the preparatory stage for fish breeding. It involves providing the ideal aquarium conditions for breeding. First, start by providing more security and comfort. Add more plants and driftwood to provide hiding spots as they try to breed.
Water temperatures should be raised to the higher end of the temperature range (83 degrees Fahrenheit). This will mimic the natural environment of the breeding season in the wild.
If your shrimps are not fully sexually mature, provide more high-protein food. Do it frequently to accelerate the maturing stage. It takes 4 to 6 months for a cherry shrimp to be ready for breeding.
Cherry shrimps will not breed immediately after being placed in a new tank. Give them time to get used to the new environment. This is about six months before you initiate the breeding process.
Females will develop a saddle filled with unfertilized eggs. It is orange in color, thus easy to identify. The eggs will be ready to be fertilized during her next molt.
After molting, the female’s body will release pheromones that attract the males in the tank. Males rush to her and within a second the eggs will be fertilized. After fertilization, the eggs are passed to the underside of the abdomen. The female is said to be ‘berried’.
The eggs will be visible under her tail. To provide enough oxygen for the eggs, she will fan the tail frequently. She will do this for 2-3 weeks until the eggs hatch.
Shrimp eggs hatch on their own after 30 days. The baby cherry shrimps will feed on the small organisms available in the tank. This is the reason why it is important to cycle the tank a few times before breeding.
The cherry shrimps are high-order shrimps. So, you should note that the babies will come out as shrimplets, smaller adult shrimps, instead of larvae.
The baby shrimps feeding is quite like the adults. You only need to provide more protection by making sure you have sponges at the filter ends. They will prevent the shrimplets from being sucked. Also, provide more plants to provide more hiding spots and food.
Potential Tank Mates For Shrimps
Cherry shrimps are calm, peaceful, and non-aggressive creatures. When it comes to defending themselves, they do not have much. This is the reason for you to choose your tank mates wisely. They do the best when placed in communities of their kind.
Other potential tank mates include;
- Amano shrimp
- Ghost shrimp
- Freshwater snails like Gold Inca Snails, Ramshorn Snails, Ivory Snails, Mystery Snails, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails
- Cory Catfish
- Otocinclus Catfish
- Bamboo shrimp
- Small Plecos
- Vampire shrimp
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Small Tetras
Molting in Shrimps
The exoskeleton in cherry shrimps does not grow while the underneath grows. This forces the outer shell to be molten or cast off so that a bigger shell replaces it. This is referred to as molting.
The new shell is usually soft during the first days. It takes a few days before it starts hardening up to provide the needed protection. When the shell is soft, they are vulnerable and therefore hides until it firms up.
- Are there any problems with molting?
If your cherry shrimp cannot molt, it will end up dying. It may happen when the shrimp does not get enough crack on the shell to remove it. They get stressed while struggling and in the end die.
Also, the shell should not break too much. If it breaks all through then the shrimp will have no traction for pulling the body out of the shell. It will end up struggling before it dies.
Reason for Molting Problems
Water parameters and diet play a huge role in the molting process. Calcium is an important component of the General Hardness (GH) of water. The cherry shrimps use dissolved calcium to aid build their exoskeletons.
Be careful to not keep the GH too high as it will result in thick and rigid shells. This will cause problems during molting. Low levels of GH will result in very soft shells that will bend instead of cracking during molting.
The best commercial foods are good sources of calcium for your shrimp. You can supplement them with calcium-rich fresh foods like;
- Collard greens
Remember to boil and blanch the vegetables.
Avoid big water changes in the tank as it stimulates molting in cherry shrimps. The shrimps will think that a new season is approaching causing the water changes. They will have to molt again even if they are not ready.
Cherry shrimps are fantastic freshwater creatures to rear. Take good care of them and give them compatible tank mates, you will be stress-free about them. Their beautiful appearance is fun to watch. Go to the nearest professional aquarium or online store and get yourself one.