Aquarium advice

How to Breed Cherry Shrimp in a Planted Tank

Cherry Shrimp in Planted Aquarium

Buying cherry shrimp

Firstly, this article is about Cherry shrimp (neocaridina davidi) which can be kept in dechlorinated tap water. Cherry shrimp are usually sold in a variety of colours although red is by far the most popular. I believe this is because the red shrimp really contrasts well against the green background in a planted tank. When sourcing your cherry shrimp, buy these from a reputable supplier. Hobbyist shrimp breeders are your best bet for healthy stock. Start of with around 10 or more cherry shrimp. This will give you enough males and females to start breeding them.

Please note: If you plan to keep crystal shrimp (caridina cf. cantonensis) please research their care requirements as this species will require a different setup and generally cannot be kept in tap water.  


Male or female?

Generally female cherry shrimp are bigger, and you will see them holding eggs under their abdomen. Male cherry shrimp are generally slimmer than females. However, most of the time when purchasing cherry shrimp from a breeder you will get them at juvenile size, it can be hard to tell the sex of your shrimp before they mature. Three females to one male would be the ideal ratio to aim for.


The tank setup

A 5 – 10 gallon aquarium is a great place to start breeding cherry shrimp. A tank of this size will be relatively stable and allow you to cope with an increase in shrimp population. Please remember that a bigger tank is always better, larger water volumes will dilute any water quality issues. Although cherry shrimp are small and do not create much waste, they are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, because of this you will need to properly cycle your aquarium to ensure there is enough beneficial bacteria. Please research this process if you have not yet cycled your aquarium. We always recommend keeping cherry shrimp in a planted aquarium with lots of live plants. Live plants look great and absorb nitrate which helps keep your water quality in check. If your primary goal is to breed cherry shrimp, then easy low demand plants such as cryptocoryne, anubias and microsorum are a great option. You will need an aquarium light to grow aquatic plants.

To keep cherry shrimp, you will need a cycled filter, we recommend using a sponge filter as these have a gentle flow and there is no risk of baby shrimp (shrimplets) getting sucked into the filter. Although cherry shrimp can be kept at room temperature, if you want to promote breeding add a adequately sized heater into the shrimp to keep the water around 25 degrees Celsius. Once you have chosen your tank, filter, heater and light, add a thin layer of your chosen substrate to act as a base and start to add in your main pieces of rock and wood. Then add the rest off your substrate in around your wood and rocks. From here you can begin planting up your cherry shrimp tank, generally a layout which is not too symmetrical and has taller plants toward the back will look the best. Keep in mind your plants will grow over time. Now your tank is planted, slowly fill it with dechlorinated tap water ensuring you do not disturb your new scape. Now it is time to cycle your tank which normally takes around 4 weeks. Once cycled add your first shrimp, start off with around 10 shrimp and buy a decent shrimp food which you can feed daily or every other day. Regularly monitor your water quality to ensure ammonia and nitrite remain zero. When doing water changes remember that cherry shrimp prefer stable water parameters, it may be best to do smaller water changes to avoid shocking your shrimp.


Shrimp breeding

Once your planted tank is setup, cycled and stocked you have done your bit! If your shrimp are healthy, and the water quality is good, give your shrimp a few months and you will certainly find babies in the tank. Female shrimp will carry the eggs in their abdomen before releasing the baby shrimp. Keep your eyes peeled as baby shrimp (shrimplets) are tiny! After 6 months your cherry shrimp population will start to expand exponentially! Some shrimp keepers like to remove shrimp which are not as colourful, these can be great candidates to sell to other beginner shrimp keepers. Something which has crossed almost every new shrimp keeper’s mind is mixing colours. In general mixing colours will not have the affect you think it will. The colours will not blend, you will most likely end up getting a lot of ‘wild’ colour shrimp which are brown in colour as a result. For beginners we recommend choosing one colour of shrimp to breed as this will give you the best results when you first start out breeding shrimp.


Cherry Shrimp Tankmates

We recommend keeping cherry shrimp alone if your sole aim is to breed them as most fish will happily eat shrimplets. That said some shrimp keepers keep their cherry shrimp with bristlenose plecos as these will not eat shrimplets. Snails are also another possibility as they will leave your shrimp alone and help with algae control.


For the money, the passion or the community?

If you are reading this as a fishkeeper having never kept shrimp before you will be amazed to find out that there is a large blooming community of shrimp keepers out there who specialise in shrimp only setups. Experienced shrimp keepers are generally happy to help beginners out. Forums and groups can be a great place for information and help. Most shrimp breeders will have a number of ‘cull’ shrimp which are not as colourful as the keeper would like so they have removed them from the main breeding tank, breeders are normally happy to give these away for a lower price if colour is not a deal breaker for you.

For some shrimp keepers it’s simple, they enjoy shrimp more than fish. Shrimp can be kept in higher population densities than fish and they are very interesting to watch. Shrimp are also in general lower maintenance as they do not produce much waste meaning you will have to do smaller water changes.

Some shrimp keepers setup multiple shrimp tanks which allows them to separately breed different colour varieties of cherry shrimp. More tanks equals more breeding which means more shrimp and shrimp equal money. Some shrimp keepers breed shrimp purely for the enjoyment of keeping them and some shrimp keepers sell the shrimp they breed to supplement their hobby. Some varieties of shrimp are much more expensive than your typical red cherry shrimp meaning if you breed 100 shrimp a month you could earn a decent amount of income from them!



We wish you the best of luck setting up your planted shrimp tank. If you have any questions our expert team are happy to help. AQUAnatur stock a wide range of aquascaping products.

By Alasdair McPhail

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