Maybe you’ve kept an aquarium at home for a while, or perhaps you’re new to the hobby. If you wish to adorn your tank with a peaceful, easy-to-keep species but are looking for something other than fish, consider the red cherry shrimp. These small crustaceans that originate in the tropical waters of Taiwan are a popular beginner-level choice for freshwater aquariums.
Red cherry shrimp care is relatively simple if you follow a few specific guidelines when you’re setting up your tank. Learn more about this species and determine if these shrimp are the right pets for you and your family.
What Should I Know Before Buying Red Cherry Shrimp?
If you’re wondering how to choose between shrimp and other small aquatic pets, consider the information below to help you decide:
- You can keep shrimp in a small aquarium: Unlike most freshwater fish, cherry shrimp have very little “bioload,” which means that they do not produce enough waste to put a large strain on your tank’s ecosystem. It’s possible to keep dozens of them in a 10-gallon aquarium or even hundreds in a 55-gallon tank, as they breed rapidly under the right conditions.
- They’re ideal “first pets” for children: Cherry shrimp are easy to keep when you follow a few important guidelines for their care, and they don't require interaction. A small red cherry shrimp tank could make a perfect pet for a child who is too young to take care of a cat or dog.
- You can buy them from a pet store or a breeder: Pet stores might or might not carry the red cherry shrimp you’re looking for. You can order your shrimp online from a breeder — but do your research first to make sure the breeder is reputable and ships aquatic life ethically and safely.
- Your shrimp might become a snack: Be careful about choosing tankmates for your shrimp! The red cherry shrimp size is typically around 3 to 4 centimeters when they’re fully grown, and some are much smaller. They’re easy food sources for cichlids or even smaller fish like bettas or mollies. Experts recommend keeping a shrimp-only tank or only adding nonthreatening species like snails.
- They enjoy a planted tank: Shrimp love plants — especially aquatic moss! But if you have a densely planted tank that you supplement with fertilizer, be sure to avoid fertilizer that contains copper and other metals. These ingredients are toxic to shrimp and can kill them. It’s a good idea to soak your plants in water for a few hours before introducing them to the tank. Change the water a few times throughout this time period to remove all pesticides that are potentially poisonous to the shrimp.
How Should I Set up a Tank for Red Cherry Shrimp?
These little crustaceans are willing to eat many types of food, and they're not as picky as some species of fish about the decorations in their tank. But it’s important to make sure they’re comfortable in their habitat by sticking to the guidelines below.
Water. You should strive to keep the water clean and free of harmful chemicals like chlorine. Make sure to purchase a heater for your tank, as red cherry shrimp are tropical creatures. Also obtain a filter intake covered in gauze or sponge that’s designed for small, delicate shrimp. Purchase a water testing kit to determine your water’s levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and more for a safe start for your shrimp.
While red cherry shrimp can survive in a wide range of temperatures, they're best kept in water around 65°F to 85°F. They need a pH level of around 6.5 to 8.0 to thrive as well. You should change a portion (around 30%) of your shrimp tank’s water weekly to ensure that contaminants and toxins remain at a low level.
Decorations. Red cherry shrimp do well with a variety of decorations and enjoy climbing on and playing in live aquatic plants. Live plants provide benefits to your tank too. They help keep the water clean and can even provide nutrition for its inhabitants. Shrimp enjoy eating several types of aquatic plants as well as algae.
Be sure to use decorations or plastic plants that are specifically made for aquariums instead of sourcing them from your pond or garden (these might carry parasites or other harmful pests).
Substrate. This term refers to the material covering the bottom of the tank. You could choose to have no substrate — but it does look nice as well as housing beneficial bacteria, which help keep the water clean. Freshwater aquariums can hold several pounds of gravel, sand, or soil.
Shrimp aren’t picky about the type of substrate they walk on, but they do prefer to blend in with darker substrate. Remember to buy your gravel or sand from aquarium-friendly sources to avoid contaminating your tank.
Should I Breed My Red Cherry Shrimp?
Shrimp are easy to breed if you have the right water conditions. If you wish to breed your red cherry shrimp, take the following points into consideration:
- Shrimp breed very quickly and will soon fill your tank with babies. Consider whether you have room for hundreds of shrimp before you start this process. Alternatively, determine whether you want to sell or re-home the future generations of baby shrimp.
- They need a healthy diet — ideally of commercial red cherry shrimp food and fresh vegetables like zucchini — to produce healthy eggs. This is the best red cherry shrimp diet to follow regardless of whether you're trying to breed your pets.
- You should use a water heater to keep the temperature in the ideal breeding range for your shrimp. Experts recommend a red cherry shrimp water temperature of 81°F to 82°F for breeding.
If you don’t want your shrimp to breed, you could try lowering your shrimp tank's temperature to below 77°F, as this signals to your shrimp that it’s not time to breed. However, lower-than-ideal temperatures make your shrimp more prone to disease and health problems.
What Is the Typical Red Cherry Shrimp Lifespan?
Red cherry shrimp are not long-lived creatures, and it’s rare for them to live for more than two years. When they hatch from their eggs, they do not go through a larval stage: They emerge as tiny, fully formed crustaceans. At 30 days, they are sexually mature and can reproduce.
Red cherry shrimp are great low-maintenance pets for beginners as well as more experienced aquarists who wish to try caring for a new species. Remember to ensure proper water quality in your tank before you purchase your shrimp.