If you’re thinking of shrimp for your tank, cherries are the way to go in most cases. They’re one of the easiest species to care for, they come in a ton of colors, and you can get them pretty much anywhere now. Not to mention they’re small, easy to care for, easy to feed, and easy to breed – what more could you want?
Entertaining antics to watch for hours on end, maybe?
Cherry shrimp are naturally a green-brown. It’s only through line breeding that we have developed so many morphs that we know and love today. When you mix color morphs of different variants, you will likely end up with the original green-brown wild-looking shrimp. While this article will reference cherry shrimp (neocaridina var. cherry), the care requirements will apply to all neocaridina davidii – red or otherwise.
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Table of contents
Will my fish eat my shrimp?
Since these guys are dwarf shrimp, unless you have incredibly small fish, otocinclus, or some plecos, the answer is yeah, probably. Some smaller options such as pencilfish, guppies, and ember and neon tetras can only predate on shrimplets, but will leave your adults alone. If you have enough plants in your tank, this won’t be an issue as some baby shrimp will survive. In general, otocinclus is the only 100% shrimp-safe fish.
How many shrimp can you have per gallon?
Shrimp have, basically, a 0 bioload. You can keep as many shrimp as you want in a tank – within reason. However, you will need good filtration, and some plant structure if you expect your shrimp to thrive. Similarly, swimming space will go a long way in ensuring their happiness. Additional water changes or an auto water change system can also help keep water quality high. Many people keep colonies of hundreds of shrimp in a 10 gallon tank, but care needs to be taken to make sure there’s enough food to go around.
Do cherry shrimp eat their babies?
No, shrimp will not predate on their babies, and they’ll live just fine alongside them – which makes them a great breeding project. It’s often thought when shrimp are seen eating shrimplets, that they’re predating on their babies – but this isn’t the case.
Usually, if you see a shrimp eating another shrimp, it’s because it already died before being eaten. Shrimp are also known to eat exoskeletons (their molts) since it’s a good source of calcium. This habit can also be confused with cannibalism if you don’t look closely.
Cherry Shrimp Classification
IUCN Status: Not listed
Class: Malacostraca is the largest of the six classes of crustaceans, containing about 40,000 living species. This class arguably contains a greater diversity of body forms than any other class in the animal kingdom.
Order: Caridea, are an infraorder of shrimp within the order Decapoda or decapods (literally meaning “ten-footed”), which includes groups such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns, and shrimp.
Family: Atyidae is a family of shrimp, present in all tropical and most temperate waters of the world, Atyidae is the only family in the superfamily Atyoidea.
Genus: Neocaridina genus encompasses nearly two dozen freshwater shrimp species – and even more subspecies, though little information is available on what dictates the confines of the genus, it does appear all of them are dwarf shrimp.
Scientific name: Neocaridina davidi
What Does Neocaridina davidi Mean?
Neo- comes from the Greek prefix νεο-, meaning “new” whereas Caridina is an already established genus of shrimp that includes crystal red shrimp. So Neocaridina would translate to new Caridina, but the origin of Caridina itself seems to be lost.
Similarly, the origin of davidii is also lost but is presumably pseudo-Latin for David – which would likely be someone this species was named after. Who this was, however, remains elusive.
On a related note, Neocaridina davidi were once classified as Neocaridina heteropoda and Neocaridina denticulata sinensis, though it’s rare to find any shrimp for sale under these bygone names.
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Distribution & Natural Habitat
Cherry shrimp originate from Taiwan where they live in densely planted streams and ponds with a rocky or sandy substrate, surrounded by forests. In the wild, the water is slow-moving, and there is often little tannins or staining in the water. If you want to replicate these conditions in your tank, Brightwell Aquatics has a line of aquarium additives that should get the job done.
Size: 1.6″ (4 cm)
Lifespan: 2 years
Tank Size: 10 gallons (40 liters)
Diet: Omnivore – opportunistic
Temperature: 65– 80F (18 – 26C)
The Tank Specs
I suggest a minimum tank of 5 gallons, though a 10-gallon is a better choice. Anything less and you run the risk of having an overpopulated tank, as six shrimp can quickly become a 100. I suggest twenty longs as the maximum tank size, anything over that and your population will slowly decline as they won’t be able to find mates.
That is unless you have the cash to spend on 100+ shrimp for a starter colony – which I’m guessing you don’t. Even if you did, it would probably be easier to breed your way up to a population large enough to move to a larger tank. And, again, with shrimp having almost a zero bioload, it’s easy to run into cycling issues with larger tanks.
You’ll also likely want a heater if you want your shrimp to breed. If you’re not super into the idea of breeding shrimp (which is super easy, low maintenance, and a delight, by the way!) you probably won’t need to worry about temperature much so long as your house is a comfortable temp.
Suggested Tanks & Heaters
I’m a fan of the Petco $1 gallon sale if you can hold out for it. The problem is the tanks don’t come with anything – not even a lid. I use polycarbonate for my lids, it’s super cheap to buy a sheet and easy to customize the lids however you want them. If you want to go for a little more of a polished approach, here are some tank kits I’d suggest:
Fluval Spec 5-Gallon Starter Kit
Rating: 4.5 stars
Best for: Planted
I know you saw that price and I know you’re thinking that’s not a lot of tank for your dollar – and I agree. But there are two big reasons it’s not a rip-off. One, it has a built-in HMF, which is an awesome and shrimp safe filter. The second being that it has a bad A lighting system (it is Fluval, after all.) If you plan on growing some high light plants, this is prob the kit for you. If not, move on because this would just give you algae issues.
Aqueon 10-Gallon Starter Kit
Rating: 4.5 stars
Best for: All around value
I own one of these and, to be honest, I hate everything about it. Okay. So why am I suggesting it then? If you’re not super into aquariums, you’ll probably be fine with this for a starter tank. My other half loved it. My biggest gripes were the size of lid opening, the lighting, and the filter – which is the whole reason for a kit, right? With that said, this kit does come with a heater, a thermometer, and a net, among a few other bits and bobbles – which makes it impossible to beat on price. You will need to buy a different filter for shrimp or get a sponge intake filter. But the filter sucks, so I suggest a sponge anyway.
Marina 20-Gallon Aquarium Kit
Rating: 4.3 stars
Best for: Low price point
A 20-gallon with a lid and light is going to run you about $80 anyway. This kit also comes with a shrimp safe filter, a thermometer, and a net – among other bits and bobbles. My biggest concern with this tank is that the sponge over the intake may not be shrimplet safe and it doesn’t come with a heater But, honestly, at this price point I wouldn’t expect it to.
Okay, now onto heaters. Honestly, I’m brutal on my heaters. I do all the things I’m not supposed to do and here are the ones that put up with my particular brand of abuse year after year:
Aqueon Pro Heater
Ratings: 4 stars
Best for: Price
This isn’t the best heater – but it’s definitely the best in its price range. I’ve never gotten one that I didn’t have to recalibrate and you do have to buy them in the 5 – 7 watts per gallon range for tropical temperatures. After three years of abuse, mine are still going strong.
Fluval LCD Heater
Ratings: 5 stars
Best for: Reliability
These heaters are expensive, but they come with a 5-year warranty and the reviews speak for themselves. These are amazing heaters with a great life expectancy and reliability.
Those are the only two heaters I can recommend at this time. Colbat and Eheim both scare me beyond belief – lost some well-loved fish to both. And the big disclaimer here is that this is my experience with all four of the heaters I’ve mentioned so far. I absolutely recommend you do some additional research into heaters because it is so important that they have a pristine track record.
The dwarfs prefer to be kept in groups of six or more, in smaller numbers they become shy and struggle to find mates. Most, however, people seem to be concerned with the maximum number of shrimp they can keep. The answer isn’t definitive, more like whatever you and your filtration can handle (which is usually more than you think.)
Since these guys don’t eat their young, your colony could grow exponentially – and fast – under the right conditions. Which, like most things shrimp-related, seems to be hit or miss with most people.
Cherry shrimp thrive in densely planted aquariums that have hiding spots, driftwood, and plant debris (like leaf litter) which they can graze on. They’ll appreciate any structures they can graze, cling to, or hide in when they’re molting as well. My favorite place for natural finds like this is Tannin Aquatics. It’s literally always a treat to use anything I order from them.
They have a curated section just for shrimp that I absolutely adore. It’s got some cool finds like jackfruit and magnolia leaves. It’s also got dregea pods that I love!
I’ve found that HTH pool filter sand works well as their substrate – and it’s insanely cheap from your local hardware store. If you try to order it online you’ll end up paying insane markup for shipping, I only linked it so you can see what it looks like and if it’s in a store near you. There are plenty of people who keep their shrimp without substrate or with special shrimp substrates, but I’ve never found a need. If your water leans outside of their ideal conditions or you want to add some plants, special substrates make more sense.
If that sounds like you, I did a ton of research on the top substrates people use for shrimp and included the best suggestions below. Again, I’ve never used them myself – I’ve always used the HTH pool filter sand.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: $42.88 for 17lb
Price per lb: $2.43
The only bad reviews I found on this were against Fluval itself. There were a few people who had opened bags that were taped back up when they purchased this off Amazon from Fluval directly. Buyers from Chewy (linked above) didn’t have that issue. This one seems to be the – almost – undisputed winner among aquarium plant lovers.
Rating: 4.3 stars
Price: $20.99 for 20lb
Price per lb: $1.05
There are plenty – and I do mean plenty – of reports of ammonia spikes killing off shrimp and fish when this stuff is first put in. Given that you’ll need to replace this stuff yearly – or every two years max – this is something that I would stay away from. I’ve heard amazing, glowing reviews of this stuff though despite the mess and the potential spike. I would say just proceed with caution. And maybe keep some Prime handy.
Rating: 4.8 stars
Price: $26.99 for 7lb
Price per lb: $3.85
The Amazonia Light is supposedly easier to handle, cleaner, and less prone to ammonia spikes it’s original Amazonia counterpart. But, with all that said, everything I read says it’s just as good as the Fluval Stratum and it comes with a much heftier price tag. If you’re not married to ADA, I would suggest Fluval Stratum over ADA just based on the price.
Best Plants For Cherry Shrimp
There aren’t any terrible choices for plants, but there are a few I would recommend above others for a shrimp tank. When I think of plant options to add to a tank, I want to see natural behaviors and a relationship that benefits both the plant and the animal. For shrimp that means that ability to graze off, cling to, and clean the plants. With that in mind, here are my favorite recommendations:
Dwarf hairgrass is one of the easiest carpeting plants to grow, but this doesn’t make it an easy plant by most standards. It’s worth the time, money, and effort to create a lush green lawn-like carpet, but if that already sounds like too much for you, you might want to look at other options.
Temperature: 50 – 83F (10 – 20C)
Java moss is an almost bulletproof plant that requires almost no care. It doesn’t grow nearly as slowly as it’s java fern cousin, and can create lush moss beds that blow and billow in the current. They’re a great option for grazers, fry, or those of you with the blackest of thumbs.
Temperature: 59 – 86F (15 – 30C)
Guppy grass is a great floating plant that adds depth, structure, and cover to any tank. It’s a super easy plant to grow and takes up tons of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, but – beware – it grows fast and can easily overrun your tank. Overall, it’s an amazing plant to have if water quality is your top concern.
Temperature: 50 – 86F (10 – 30C)
Lighting & Filtration
Since shrimp come from calmer waters, they don’t deal with heavy water flow. It’s best to keep water movement minimal and ensure that you have a filter that won’t suck up shrimp. You can either put a sponge intake over a filter – although you may still find shrimp in your filter – or use a sponge filter. It’s simplest, and probably safest, to use a sponge filter.
Plus they seem to love grazing off them.
That’s not to say you don’t have to worry about a shrimp getting stuck in the airlift tube of your sponge filter. No, seriously. I’ve had it happen. You can prevent this by slipping a mesh stocking over the airlift tube, but it doesn’t look pretty. I’ve included my favorite picks for intake sponges, sponge filters, and air pumps below as well.
I love sponge filters so – fortunately for you – I’ve tried a ton of them. Truth be told, unless you’re super into sponge filters you’re probably not going to see a huge difference. If you are super into sponge filters, this HMF kit from Swiss Tropicals is amazing. I can’t find a kit like it anywhere else and I would redo every filter I have with this if I could. Since I can’t, here are the other sponge filters I run:
Rating: 4.8 stars
Price: $7 – $12 *size dependent
Theses things have been around forever, and it’s because people love them. Most of the people who leave bad reviews on them are upset that they didn’t know they needed an air pump or hose and the directions suck – because there are none – which is fair enough.
Otherwise, I’ve heard complaints about these filters very rarely.
Rating: 4.4 stars
Price: $5 – $7
I want to give you a name for these, really, I do. But the problem is that they change the name of these things every few weeks – which is insane and annoying.
Nonetheless, these name-swapping off-brand filters are super cheap and work amazingly.
Rating: 4.8 stars
Though not a sponge filter, this is a great filter that works well for tanks that need low flow. Cleaning them is slightly more involved, but they do make less of a mess coming out of the tank than normal sponge filters. They are, like HMFs, hard to find in the states and I’m not sure how long they’ll be at the place linked. (Great place to buy plants, by the way.)
Rating: 4.4 stars
Price: $5 – $24 *size dependent
These air pumps are super quiet and last forever – plus the price isn’t bad. I will say I haven’t been able to find them this cheap in person though.
When doing water changes, it’s essential to add de-chlorinator, mix it well, and let it sit before adding new water into the tank. If you set up your tank on and auto water change system, you need to consider dechlorination. Fresh water can go through several filters, or it can sit in a holding tank where conditioners are added before the water is changed.
Co2, copper, and other heavy metals pose lethal dangers to shrimp, so if you think you can skip the above step, think again. I’ve almost killed off colonies with this slip up. Another thing to keep in mind is when Co2 dissolves into the water, it can impact pH and the dissolved oxygen levels. Similarly, many aquarium fertilizers can mess with pH, dissolved oxygen (ionic binding,) as well as add copper to the tank.
Since these are dwarf shrimp, provided you set up and cycle your tank properly, you can probably get away with a monthly water change so long as your tank is lightly stocked. Ideally, though, you want to be changing 10% of your water weekly.
Water Care & Meds
One thing I always look for when looking to keep any animal is what I should gather for a first aid kit. I’ve always struggled to find this info readily available, so if you’re into it, let me know in the comments! Here are some products I would advise you stock up on before embarking on your cherry keeping journey:
My all time favorite is Prime, but it is on the expensive side. It can be a serious life saver in an emergency situations though, which is why I keep it handy. If you’re not into the price, I also use Stress Coat and API’s Tap Water Condition and they work just as well for most situations. If you have issues with your tap containing ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate, I highly suggest Prime.
Rating: 4.9 stars
Price: $3 – $7 *size dependent
I’ve never noticed a major difference between one aquarium salt to another, to be honest, but I use API Aquarium Salt because it’s the most readily available. Aquarium salt is useful for a wide variety of situations and I always suggest you keep this on hand – especially if you’re skeptical of using medications.
Rating: 4.4 stars
Price: $5 – $24 *size dependent
This stuff is a little hard to find and, I’ll be honest, I’ve never used it. Which I find to be fortunate because this stuff sounds like it’s no joke. Here’s what I found on Ultraclear’s website: “… effective against external fish infections from fungi, bacteria & parasites, Trichodinia, Costia, Chilodonella & Flukes. It is also an effective solution for improving water quality & clarity by clearing cloudy water of organics. The Potassium Permanganate Solution is a strong oxidizer.”
Cherries are scavengers that will scarf down just about anything if the opportunity presents itself. In aquariums, their diet includes plant matter, algae, debris, infusoria, dead or dying animals, and plenty of other unsavory morsels. Shrimp are not particularly picky with what they eat, mostly because they eat constantly.
Still, let’s give them a healthy and varied diet!
When feeding them vegetables, be sure to peel and blanch them before adding them to your tank. Not only does this allow it to sink faster, but it also softens up the “flesh” of the veg. Soft veggies are easier for the shrimp to pick apart. You can also feed them spinach and other leafy greens so long as you’ve boiled them for a few minutes.
It’s important to remember that they need calcium and copper in their diet. Although copper is deadly to shrimp, it’s a vital nutrient for all life – but they need it in smaller amounts. If you’re questioning the safety of the level of copper in the food that you currently feed, it’s safer to switch to a shrimp-specific food. That way, you’ll know it has the correct levels of copper and calcium versus guessing. Prepared diets also tend to be more convenient.
Some of my favorite shrimp foods to recommend are Shrimp King Complete (though most of their products I would recommend), Shirakura Shrimp Food, or Hikari Shrimp Cuisine. Each one has it’s pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide what’s a deal-breaker and what your shrimp like.
Cherry Shrimp Diseases
While not necessarily disease-related, cherry shrimp can die for several reasons. Cherry shrimp don’t live long, so they die of old age at a (relatively) young age. They can also die due to:
- Copper poisoning
- They failed to molt due to a lack of calcium or iodine in their diet
- Co2 levels are too high, and the dissolved oxygen levels are too low
- Poor water quality
These diseases are the most common for cherry shrimp, but they’re still pretty rare.
Is a protozoan – one of 16 known species – although it looks like a fungus. It usually grows on this shell of the shrimp nearer the tip of the “nose.” They prey on bacteria and use their cilia to create a current of water to direct food towards their mouth. Typically it reproduces by binary fission where new organism split off from the parent and swim until it can find something to attach to. If left untreated, it has been known to cause death.
Bacterial infections are difficult to diagnose in shrimp. In some transparent shrimp species, you can observe the internal infection. The inner body appears dark when healthy and pink in infected shrimp, as though it’s inflamed. In non-transparent shrimp, it’s almost impossible to diagnose. Treatment is not yet possible.
Leeches, of course, are not a disease – but they are a parasite. They have been known to affect shrimp with a relative frequency. They’re not the typical leechers that you’d find and rivers, streams, or ponds that would often become stuck to you, they’re little white leeches.
Cherry Shrimp Tankmates
Cherry shrimp are dwarfs, they’re peaceful, and they’re tasty – which make an ideal snack for most roommates. Infamous shrimp eaters include bettas, silvertip tetras, and all dwarf cichlids.
It’s also best to avoid housing them with anything that lives predominantly at the bottom of the aquarium as one will almost always disturb the other. Bottom-dwelling choices (to avoid) would include corydoras, African dwarf frogs, and kuhli loaches. Similarly, it’s best to avoid highly predatory tank mates – even if they’re small! A good example of a bad roommate would be pea puffers, who will no doubt harass your shrimp to death and slowly pick them to pieces.
Good tankmates would be fish that don’t want to eat shrimp. Fish like algae eaters, fish that are too small to fit them in their mouth, and fish that aren’t highly predatory are good. In short, look for small fish with little mouths and – usually – fish that are easily distracted or slow work well.
Pencilfish (Nannostomus sp.)
Pencilfish is a genus containing 19 currently recognized species. Some popular options are diptails, Beckford’s, and coral. Although it’s a large genus, the care is similar for all of them and you should aim for a shoal of at least six.
Research into a specific species and their requirements is strongly recommended.
pH: 5.0 – 7.0
dKH: 4 – 12
Temp: 74 – 82F (23 – 27C)
Size: 2″ (5 cm) species dependent
Swimming: Mid to top
Ember tetras are bright, fun, tiny, shoaling fish that occur in South American black waters. They’re hardy, peaceful fish that are often described as active, bold, and playful. They also enjoy a planted tank, but be mindful that they do like to swim in open space, so be sure to include that in your layout. They enjoy their numbers a little higher than most shoaling species, 8 is recommended.
pH: 5.5 – 7
dKH: 1 – 10
Temp: 68 – 82 F (20 – 27 C)
Size: 3/4″ (2 cm)
Temperament: Peaceful and active
Swimming: Top to midwater shoaling
Little known fact about sparkling gouramis; they’re quite social and gregarious creatures! Although they don’t school or shoal, they do enjoy social interactions with their own kind – in fact, most gourami do! – and we suggest a four minimum to make sure they’re comfortable.
pH: 6 – 8
dKH: 5 – 18
Temp: 72 – 81 F (22 – 27 C)
Size: 1.5″ (4 cm)
Temperament: Peaceful, can be aggressive when spawning
Swimming: All water
Guppies, despite commonly-held opinion, can be quite fragile when settling. They’re prone to spinal issues and often will miscarry even under ideal circumstances. Many newcomers often report their guppies die within the first week they bring them home. With that said, they’re beautiful, colorful, fun and rewarding fish once they get settled in your tank!
pH: 7.0 – 8.5
dKH: 8 – 30
Temp: 76 – 82F (24 – 27C)
Size: 2.5″ (6 cm)
Temperament: Most are nippy
Swimming: Everywhere they can
Bristlenose Plecos (Ancistrus sp.)
Most plecos aren’t suited for the average aquarium, some growing up to two feet long – not the bristlenose pleco. They’ll happily munch on algae, green beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, sinking algae wafers, and of course leftovers and fish poo – although leftovers and poo make for a literally shitty diet.
pH: 6.0 – 7.5
dKH: 6 – 10
Temp: 60 – 80 F (15 – 27 C)
Size: 4 – 5″ (10 – 12 cm)
Temperament: Peaceful, can be territorial
Swimming: Everywhere that has structure
Otocinculus (Otocinclus sp.)
Otocinclus, like most peaceful fish, enjoy company of their own kind – four or more is a good start. They enjoy cleaning algae and debris off glass, decor, and plants – but will always clean plants first if they have the choice. It’s important to add these guys to a well-established tank not only because it needs to have enough food for them to munch, but also because they’re highly sensitive fish. You’ll also need to feed them sinking wafers in addition to what they can find in your tank.
pH: 6.0 – 7.5
dKH: 6 – 15
Temp: 72 – 82F (22 – 28C)
Size: 1 – 2″ (3 – 5 cm)
Temperament: Peaceful, social fish, usually shy
Swimming: On surfaces
Nerite Snails (Neritina natalensis)
The most common complaint about snails is that they can reproduce like crazy, this is especially true for tanks with tons of leftovers! Nerite snails, however, can’t reproduce in freshwater so this isn’t a concern for the average aquarium. A simple remedy to keeping shrimp in soft water or water with little calcium is to add Tums to the tank for them to munch on to get their calcium fill.
pH: 7.0 – 8.9
dKH: 6 – 12
Temp: 70 – 80 F (21 – 27 C)
Size: 1″ (2 cm) although somewhat species dependent
Swimming: Everywhere there’s food
Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis)
Crystal red shrimp, not unlike cherry shrimp, come in more colors than just red. They’re a similar size to cherry shrimp and make a great alternative if you’re looking for a little bit more of a challenge. They’re incredibly popular – although more expensive.
pH: 5.8 – 7.4
dKH: 0 – 4
Temp: 62 – 76F (16 – 24C)
Size: 1.25″ (3 cm)
Breeding Cherry Shrimp
Breeding cherry shrimp requires no additional effort on your part so long as parameters are in check. The biggest problem with breeding cherry shrimp is that there are no males present. Female shrimp are larger and more colorful than male shrimp, so they tend to be purchased more frequently than male shrimp.
Although cherry shrimp will breed at any temperature within their range, they will be most prolific around 81 to 82ﾟF 27ﾟC. Be sure to include plenty of live plants in your tank’s layout. Plants allow shrimplets to graze on infusoria in other small foody bits. Additional plant cover also gives adults peace of mind and the feeling of safety that they need to breed.
Higher levels of calcium and minerals are also beneficial for breeding as they’re necessary for the maturation of eggs. Adding calcium can be as simple as adding crushed coral, crushed limestone, or adding Tums for the shrimp to eat.
You may notice that some points it looks as though the female is carrying eggs inside her back (called “saddled.” Seeing a saddle is a signal that she will be ready – or is ready – to breed. The females often hide and release pheromones into the water to notify the male she is ready and where to find her. These pheromones cause the males to search out the female and, once the male finds the female, he will deposit his sperm. Once collected, the female passes her eggs through the sperm on the way to the underside of her tail.
At this point, you will see the female carrying eggs underneath her tail, also called “berried.” You will see her fanning the eggs with her tail and her legs during this time to ensure the eggs receive adequate water movement and oxygen to prevent fungus. She’ll carry them until they hatch, about 30 days or so, at which point they will receive no care from the mother.
Baby shrimp don’t need special care, so long as you’ve set your tank up correctly. They will eat microscopic organisms such as infusoria, small particulate matter, and pick off food that you feed to the adults. A word of warning, however, is that you might not even know they’re there, they’re so small!
In about four to six months, they should be fully grown and start breeding.
There are probably too many variants for me to list out in one article, but I will list out a few the most common that you’ll come across. Often the most confusing thing to newcomers are the different grades of shrimp, which can also go by different names. For example, red cherry sakura shrimp are just a higher grade version of the red cherry shrimp. Grading of shrimp can often be confusing, but I’ll go into that more in a second.
Cherry shrimp are probably the most common neocaridina shrimp that you’ll see. They are usually the cheapest as well – around $3 – $4 per, even painted fire red cherry shrimp don’t usually go for more than $6. They have the coloration of, what I can only describe as, a cherry tomato.
Be careful not to confuse Bloody Marys with cherries – or any grade of cherry shrimp. This variant has a deep red color – almost burgundy – versus the bright red color of the cherry shrimp. They’re also slightly transparent whereas cherry shrimp are more opaque. They also have a bright white eyespot in most cases that cherry shrimp don’t have.
Blue velvet shrimp are a light, almost sky blue, (they’re also called sky blue shrimp,) and are often translucent. They’re not to be confused with blue dream shrimp which are much darker and less opaque. They’re not as common, or usually as popular, due to their relatively mundane coloration.
Blue dream shrimp are a dark, vivid blue. Though often have black or very dark patches across the top of their body and head. The genetics behind these guys can be pretty confusing. The coloration and intensity depend heavily on which line your dreams came out of – usually chocolate, but they can come from a handful of other lines as well.
Orange or Pumpkin Spice
Orange/Pumpkin spice shrimp are exactly what they sound like. They’re a bright orange that is semi-opaque. They’re not the easiest shrimp to source, but not incredibly difficult, either.
They can be somewhat opaque depending on the gradation of the shrimp. There can be a variety of tones and hues within a single grade of yellow shrimp – from bright yellow to a pastel – this makes no difference in the grade of the shrimp. The grade is almost entirely dependent on opacity.
Green Jade shrimp are a medium army greenish to a neon green depending on the line they come from. They’re not as easy to come by as many other variants such as black, red, or yellow. They are easy enough to find if you want to go online or orders from a specialty retailer.
Purple neocaridina shrimp are incredibly challenging to find and, if you do find them, expect to pay a little more than a few pennies for them. Again, if you can source them at all. Their purple coloration often leans more heavily towards blue dreams and chocolates than the bright purple you’d hope for.
Black roses are an entirely black shrimp. If you look at them under the right light, they may range from my dark brownish blue coloration to jet black depending on their grading. One of my favorite variants! Although, issue being, you may never see them in your tank unless you have a light-colored tank which will wash them out.
Snowball shrimp are an off-white opaque and are sometimes confused with ghost shrimp – which are an entirely different species. They have a milky white appearance and are somewhat see-through, more so depending on grading.
Rili shrimp come, even more confusingly, in a variety of colors. Black, also known as carbon rili; red, also known as red rili; orange, also known as orange rili; and several other variants are commonly available. The rili variant has a patch in the shrimp that breaks up the color line. Adding to the confusion, regardless of the color of the rili, they’re all known as var. rili.
Grading Cherry Shrimp
Shrimp grading can be confusing, especially when you get into the color variants. The basic concept is the same for most colors – although some of the “rules” and names will differ. Since it’s such an extensive topic, I’m only going to cover cherry shrimp grading.
Each grade takes into account two main factors:
- Color intensity: redder is better
- Opacity: less opaque is better. This is particularly true for the legs of the shrimp. Higher grade cherries should have few opaque spots on the body.
That’s it. For some variants, like yellows, color intensity isn’t a consideration at all. It’s also important to remember that males will rarely score as high as their female counterparts since they, again in general, have less intense coloration.
The lowest grade specimens are mostly translucent but have light pinkish-red spots.
Low Sakura Grade
Sakura grade cherry shrimp have more red than and the red should also be darker. They have less opacity, though their color is still quite blotchy. Their legs are still almost entirely translucent.
High sakura grade (or AA) are more opaque than low Sakura grade specimens, and the color is more intense. The legs show some blotchy coloration the lower grades don’t have.
Fire Red Grade
Fire red grade are almost entirely opaque and have evenly colored legs with no blotches.
Painted Fire Red Grade
Eggs and saddle are invisible unless under a strong backlight. The color is darker than that of all the lower grades, and absolutely no translucent spots are visible.
Further Reading & Sources
The Shrimp Farm – Grading Red Cherry Shrimp
TFH Magazine – Red Cherry Shrimp