The Cherry Shrimp is a freshwater shrimp that belongs to the family of Atyidae. Endemic to the waters of Taiwan, it is very popular among aquarists and enthusiasts due to its coloration density. The question is: how many cherry shrimp per gallon should you keep in your aquarium?
We’ll go on to answer this question as well as help you with a few tips on how to care for cherry shrimps and ensure they thrive in your aquarium.
The Neocaridina davidi, as the cherry shrimps are known scientifically, are relatively easy to care for. They breed well and can adapt to a wide variety of water conditions.
They are also famous for producing little to no bio-load in the tank. So, technically, you could add a lot of cherry shrimp in a tank. A lot, like a whole colony in a 20-gallon tank!
However, feeding them would pose a problem to the ammonia levels in the aquarium. A lot of cherry shrimp means a lot of food. You would have to carefully remove large uneaten portions of it after almost every feeding. So, it is wise to keep it down to 2-5 cherry shrimps per gallon.
Here’s a breakdown of how many cherry shrimp per gallon you should keep:
|Aquarium capacity in gallons||Ideal shrimp count|
|5 gallons||10-25 cherry shrimps|
|10 gallons||20 – 50 cherry shrimps|
|20 gallons||40-100 cherry shrimps|
|30 gallons||60-150 cherry shrimps|
|40 gallons||80 – 200 cherry shrimps|
|50 gallons||100-250 cherry shrimps|
|+55 gallons||+275 cherry shrimps|
So, a 5-gallon tank could be just enough, but you should also keep in mind that they breed very fast, and you might wake up one day and realize their numbers have doubled overnight. Just kidding…sort of.
Anyways, keep an eye on their breeding!
What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat?
Cherry Shrimps are omnivorous bottom feeders. They like microalgae, but in a water tank, they can eat a wide variety of foods. However, if you want them to thrive, try to increase their vegetable intake.
You could feed them with veggies from your kitchen even. Cucumbers, boiled squash, carrots, spinach, or even dandelion leaves – they will adore them.
You can also feed them with specialized food. They will pick it up from the bottom of the tank, frozen or not, and devour it.
Feeding them once a day is desirable. Careful not to overfeed them. It could prove deadly. Remember that they are omnivorous with a taste for veggies, but they would eat pretty much any waste or leftovers found on the bottom of the tank. And they could do it 24/7 if they find enough.
They’re tiny, and they don’t eat much, so overfeeding them is dangerous, both to their lives and the water parameters in the tank. While they could do a great job keeping your tank clean of algae, giving them a lot of food could alter the water conditions.
They are so tiny, and they are so cute and adorable that it will break your heart when they perish. With the proper care, the cherry shrimp’s lifespan is about 2 years.
Unfortunately, they can die after being taken from one tank to another. The transition period is very stressful for them. So if they survived after you’ve added them to the aquarium, do not change their newly-habitat again.
They are quite hardy and will survive in a lot of water conditions but changing their environment quickly can prove fatal to these little invertebrates.
Difference Between Male and Female Cherry Shrimp
The difference between male and female Cherry Shrimp are pretty obvious when they’re adults. They reach maturity at 4-6 months.
The female is larger and usually more colorful than the male. Male cherry shrimps are thinner and slender than females. They have smaller abdomens.
Female cherry shrimps curved thick abdomens, and when they are ready to breed, they will form a yellow patch on their stomach where they will saddle the unfertilized eggs.
Breeding Cherry Shrimp
Cherry Shrimps are easy to breed. You don’t need much preparation for this. As long as the Cherry Shrimps have good living conditions, they’ll breed.
If you follow it closely, you will find there are 3 breeding stages:
- The prep stage (water temperature, adult shrimps, comfortable in their new aquarium)
- The breeding stage
- The hatching stage
In the first stage, you should try to raise the temperature in the aquarium to about 82°F to replicate the start of summer, their “favorite” breeding season.
Please take note that cherry shrimps need about 3 to 5 months to get used to a new aquarium and habitat before they start mating. Once they’re comfortable, the females will start carrying eggs in their saddles. She will be ready to fertilize after her first molt.
Once she molts, her body will start to produce pheromones that will attract the males in the tank. The mating process is very fast. The males dash into the females, and they’ll land on their back for a few moments to fertilize the eggs.
Once they have mated, you will notice the female carrying the eggs underneath her tail. When developing, the eggs are bright yellow, like a bunch of grapes. This is why the female cherry shrimp carrying fertilized eggs are called “berried”. She will also fan her tail often to ensure that the eggs receive enough oxygen to develop.
The third stage, the hatching, will occur about 30 days after the mating. Make sure that you have a fine sponge pre-filter so the tiny baby shrimps won’t be sucked up into the main power filter after they hatch.
Do not place the baby shrimps in a newly-cycled aquarium, for they rely heavily on the minute organisms that matured aquariums contain. The baby cherry shrimps are miniature versions of their parents; they’re not larvae. They’re even more adorable.
Baby shrimps need a lot of nutrients to grow up. You could amp up their food intake by planting some more leaves in the aquarium.
Appearance and Behavior
The Cherry Shrimp appearance resembles a lot the one of its much bigger relative, the Gulf Shrimp.
Cherry Shrimp have four antennae in front of their heads. They have a rostrum kind of body shape associated with many shrimps, lobsters, or crayfish.
Their eyes are placed on either side of their pointy little heads, nested in eyestalks. They can move these eyestalks to scan the environment without moving their heads.
Both their head and chest are shielded inside a carapace. This kind of shell is also called a Cephalothorax, a “head chest”.
This head chest nests their most important organs, from the brain to the bladder, stomach, heart, and reproductive organs. They grab the food using three pairs of short legs placed just below their mouth.
They also have another four pairs of legs they use for walking. These are placed at the bottom of their cephalothorax.
Between the cephalothorax and the tail, we find the abdomen, which is mostly made of muscles that help the shrimp move its tail, and consequently, its body. The abdomen is protected by six segments of the shell; they are overlapping so the little being can move around.
Cherry shrimps have another pair of legs that grow out of the abdomen. They use these to swim.
As for the tail, in the center, you find the telson. On the sides, you find another set of small fins called uropods, which also makes our little buddy here look like a little fan.
As for the cherry shrimp behavior, they are known to be extremely peaceful and non-aggressive. All-day long, they munch on whatever they find in the aquarium, from plants, moss, substrate, and so on.
Preferred Habitat and Tank Conditions
The Cherry Shrimp natural habitat is Taiwan. They live in densely-packed-with-plants ponds and streams. Wild Cherry Shrimps are not as colorful and bright as the ones bred and grown in captivity. This is hardly a surprise. They wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to themselves in the wild, would they?
The Cherry Shrimp is a small creature that rarely grows longer than 1.5 inches (4 cm). Their main color is cherry red, as the name would imply.
Cherry Shrimps are schooling species. They feel they are most safe in a school of ten or more. The tank should be at least 5 gallons large to be able to keep a generous and thriving colony in there. Knowing how many cherry shrimp per gallon really helps with maintaining the ideal tank conditions.
Cherry Shrimps are perfect for beginners as long as you remember not to place them together with larger fish. Other than that, they will adapt to most tank conditions and water parameters.
Water Parameters (pH, temperature, etc)
The best water temperature for them is about 20-29 °C, and a little acidic (pH 6.5-8). The main condition here is to keep the ammonia and nitrates level at their lowest to none. For substrate, you can go for small pebbles to simulate their natural rocky substrate habitat.
You can keep a small number of cherry shrimp in a nano tank of less than 5-gallons if you want, but we recommend you start with a 5-gallon one to offer your shrimp the safety of a small colony.
Add Plants To Your Tank
To thrive, they also need a lot of plants. Moss is the most viable solution. Java moss can be both a source of food and shelter for the little shrimps. On the one hand, it offers the shelter they need when they are shedding. On the other hand, it captures food particles from the water, and the cherry shrimps are used to eating this phytoplankton that forms on moss twigs.
So, throw some moss into the tank to offer them a beautiful “garden”. If the aesthetics of the tank is a very important aspect to you, consider choosing a darker kind of aquarium with a dark bottom and plants. This will make the shrimps look brighter.
An important aspect of their color: the Cherry Shrimps’ color intensity depends very much on the food they eat. Live and frozen food will make them shine, while flakes make them grow pale. If you want them to be always bright and shiny, look for specialized shrimp food.
Beware Of Copper
Be aware of the presence of copper in the tank water. This is a chemical that could prove deadly to the cherry shrimp. Carefully read the labels on all of the food and decorations you might want to add to the aquarium! See that they don’t contain any copper at all.
If you feel the tank with tap water, it would be a good idea to install conditioners to clean the water of any dangerous metals such as copper.
Actually, filters could pose quite an issue with shrimp. They are mostly too powerful and can easily suck the poor creatures into them. So, make sure you buy a sponge filter to avoid any unfortunate accidents, especially if you plan on breeding them!
Cherry Shrimp Tank Mates
Cherry Shrimps will not hurt anyone, but they can be easily hurt by other fish. This is why you should be mindful of what tank mates you choose for them. Avoid Oscars, Arowanas, Cichlids, Discus, or any predatory fish or large species.
Some ideal cherry shrimp tank mates are small Tetras, the dwarf Gouramis, small Plecos, Cory and Otocinclus catfish, or freshwater snails such as Nerite, Mystery, Ivory, Malaysian Trumpet, or Gold Inca.
Even with these tank mates, cherry shrimp might end up as dinner. That’s why is important to provide them with enough hiding places and plants.
Cherry Shrimp Care
See the video below on how to take care of Cherry Shrimp.
We actually have an entire post dedicated to Red Cherry Shrimp care. Feel free to check it out!
Caring for Cherry Shrimps is very easy. As long as you keep them away from large fish, avoid copper, offer them lots of plants and hiding places, and also your love and attention, they’ll thrive.
However, there are a few common diseases that Cherry Shrimps might suffer from, and it is good to know about them.
- External bacterial infections
If you notice some strange brown pits in the shrimp’s shell, it might indicate a bacterial infection. To prevent this, you can place almond leaves in the tank, which helps keep the bacteria levels down.
- Internal bacterial infections
If you see the shrimp turn pale, or their flesh turns white and begin to rot, then they probably have an internal bacterial infection. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do in this situation. You could try some medicated fish food flakes for invertebrates.
- Fungal infections
If you observe some white tufts like cotton on their bodies, then you should consider using an anti-fungal. Molting might also solve this problem if the shrimp is within a few days of it.
When a white crust forms around the Cherry Shrimp’s mouth, it means it has vorticella. This spreads and will eventually cause the shrimp’s death.
Salt baths might help in the case of these infections. Fresh vegetables and plankton are recommended. Antibiotics are not a good idea as most of them contain copper.
For salt baths, you simply take a cup of water from the tank, add 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt to it, and put the shrimp in the cup. Keep it there for 30 seconds and then place it back in the water tank or a separate hospital tank if you’ve got one.
Conclusion – How Many Cherry Shrimp Per Gallon?
In conclusion, cherry shrimps are quite easy to care for, they breed well, and you can grow beautiful colonies in small aquariums. How many cherry shrimp per gallon? Try not to get over 5 per gallon, and all will be well.
May your little cherry shrimps thrive and enjoy a happy life!