Red Cherry Shrimp – a complete guide to keeping Neocaridina Heteropoda

Red Cherry Shrimp
The Cherry Shrimp, Neocaridina Heteropoda, also popularly known as Red Cherry Shrimp, is a peaceful and dwarf freshwater crustacean native to Taiwan.
Red Cherry Shrimp is great freshwater shrimp that can add colors to your aquarium. They are not just a brilliant-looking aqua-life, but also functional.
While, its dazzling red color gives an alluring quality to your freshwater aquarium, whereas, their purposeful pursuit for algae and the leftovers make them one of the most sort-out cleaning troupe in the aquarium trade.
This bright-colored, eye-catching crustacean has become popular amongst the aquarists in recent times (the early 1990s) due to its ever pursuing nature for algae and leftovers, for its brilliant look, and low maintenance.
They are without an ounce of doubt peaceful, and they will be a great addition to your Community Tank.

Red Cherry Shrimp – An Overview:

Description Category
Family Atyidae
Scientific name Neocaridina Heteropoda
Origin China (Anhui, Henan, Zhejiang)
Type Fresh Water
Color Form Transparent/Greyish
Difficulty Easy
Breeding Easy
Max. Size 1.5 inches (4 cms)
Life span 1 to 2 years
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size 5 gallon ( liters)
Temperature 18 – 28°C (64 – 80°F), ideal 24°C (76°F)
Acidity 6 to 8 pH
Hardness 4 – 8 dGH
Carbonates & Bicarbonates 3-15 dKH
Nitrate >20 ppm
Ammonia & Nitrite 0 ppm

Species Origin:

Red Cherry Shrimp, its scientific name is Neocaridina heteropoda,

Cherry Shrimps are native to clean mountain streams of China (Anhui, Henan, Zhejiang). 

They are freshwater shrimps from a family of Atyidae, a range of over 20 species, and they are most stately looking amongst the family.

This docile dwarf freshwater crustacean is not red in the wild. In nature, they are transparent with dots and streaks of greenish-brown.

Cherry Shrimps have become popular in the Singapore aquarium trade since the early 1990s. A decade later, in the United States, its popularity grew due to its capacity to graze on algae after only to Amano Shrimp.

The Red Cherry Shrimp, which you see in the aquarium trade, comes from years of selective breeding. They come in different shades of red. They are graded according to the depth of their colors by the aquarists. Deeper the color, the higher the grade.

However, the colors of the shrimp depend on the kind of food they eat. They are primarily algae eaters. As a scavenger, they eat all the dead organic matters.

Cherry Shrimp carefully graze the decomposing organic matter from the leaves, the substrates, woods, etc. without damaging the plants. The reason why they are one of the favorites when it comes to the cleaning crew.

The lifespan of Red Cherry Shrimp:

Cherry Shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp live anywhere from 1 to 2 years in ideal conditions. They might even die within a few days of adding them into your community tank due to stress. If they survive the first couple of weeks, then they will live anywhere between 1 to 2 years.

Appearances and the Physical Characteristics – Neocaridina heteropoda:

The attribution of its bright red color is one of the reasons for its popularity amongst the aquarists. The other reason for its acclamation is its ability to graze over algae and the leftovers in the aquarium tank.

Red Cherry Shrimp grow up to 1.6 inches (4cms). The females are usually longer than the males.

Indeed, the Cherry Shrimps are graded according to their colors by the breeders. Their grades range from Cherry’s grade to Bloody Mary.

Cherry grade or lower grade:

They are the lowest grade of Neocaridina heteropoda. They are translucent with some part of light red in their body. Red Cherry Shrimps are the inexpensive and ideal option for beginners or someone looking for an efficient cleaning crew without any demand for the looks. 

Sakura grade Cherry Shrimp:

They have a lot more red patches than cherry-grade shrimp. The red color patches tend to be darker than the cherry grade, and yet translucent, especially, their legs are completely translucent. 

Grade AA Cherry Shrimp or high-grade Sakura:

They have more intense red color patches than the Sakura grade, and they are more opaque, particularly on the legs tend to have more blotches, which the lower grade Sakura does not have at all.

Both the varieties of Sakura Grade Cherry shrimps provide some good options for those who like to have some splashes of colors in their tank.

Fire Red Grade Cherry Shrimp

They are evenly colored, including their legs with no blotches. However, we can identify them from their saddlebags seen.

Fire Red Grade Cherry Shrimps are better variations for those who want brightly colored fishes in their community tank.

Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp:

They are the result of several years of selective breeding.

Painted Fire Red have earned their name from their intense color that seems painted over their body. The Saddlebags are almost invisible, can be seen only with a certain angle of light shined over them. 

The color is much more intense than Fire Red Grade Cherry Shrimps. They are quite expensive. If you have a good budget for your cleaning crew, this could be your choice.

Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp

They are a rather recent addition to the Red Cherry Shrimp list. Most pet stores may not have them in their chart. Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp color is similar to Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry Shrimp but even more intense.

They have a shorter podium (nose) than the other Red Cherry Shrimp varieties. 

The males of this variety are also intensely colored, which doesn’t apply to the other lower variety of males.
Females are more colorful than males regardless of the grading.  The young are the miniatures of the adults. We cannot see the difference between the male and female when they are young. As they mature, the females will develop the saddlebag, which is slightly lighter in color than the other parts of the body.
In all the grades the females are larger than the males.

Red Cherry Shrimps – Diet and Feeding:

Red Cherry Shrimps are Omnivores. In the wild, they eat a mix of plant and animal matters, that includes algae and other tiny organisms.

Don’t forget that their major portions of nutrients come from bio-film and algae. There will be no need to feed them with a high protein dietary supplement.

It is important not to feed them too much if you want them to live healthily and do their job for which they are housed in the aquarium tank by you.

Most of the time, the red cherry shrimp graze on the surfaces of the glass, substrate, plants, rocks, and decorations. 

If you find them moving around the tank without settling in any one spot, then you might feed them high-quality pellets. 

You can also feed them with blanched vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, spinach, etc. After a few hours, if you still see them in your tank, please remove them, as decomposing will generate ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates in the water, which is fatal to all the aqua life.

Remember, Red Cherry Shrimps are small, they won’t eat as many algae as the large Amano Shrimp or of snails. They alone will not be able to keep off the bio-load of your aquarium tank. It also depends on how many Red Cherry Shrimps you have in your tank.

Nevertheless, they make a fine cleaning crew along with Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snail.

Remember, they are not a replacement for your regular tank cleaning and maintenance.

Red Cherry Shrimp Behavior and Temperament:

They are peaceful invertebrates. They mend their jobs which are nibbling algae from the surface of plants, tank surfaces, substrates, and other decors in the tank. 

Cherry Shrimps are active day and night either grazing over algae or other leftovers in your aquarium tank.

Red Cherry Shrimp Habitat and Tank Conditions:

Habitat-Neocaridina heteropoda

Red Cherry Shrimp originate from the Mountain waterways of China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In the wild, the species is rather dull. 

They live in waterways that have a rocky substrate and are densely packed by plant matters. They prosper in a well-planted habitat with lots of crevices and hiding spots.

While preparing their tank, please do not forget to emulate their natural habitat.

The Filtration:

The tank set-up for the Red Cherry Shrimps depends on how you want to keep them. 

If you want to keep a single species tank, then 5 gallons tank would suffice. Again, it all depends on how many of them do you want to keep. They also breed fast and multiply quickly. 

I would suggest you go for at least a 10-gallon tank to provide them enough room. Also, it is easier to control the water parameters with more volume of water. They need stable water conditions.

While setting up of filtration system for your crustacean, do not forget their size. Filters with a large capacity to process waste for bio media are essential. Most experienced Shrimp keepers recommend sponge filters.

Sponge filters serve a dual purpose apart from circulating and cleaning the water. The sponge media provides plenty of surface for biomass, which the shrimps love to nibble out of the surface of the sponge media. Also, it prevents the small shrimps and babies from sucking in.

If you are adding them to a community tank, you need a minimum of a 10-gallon tank. Remember, always add them to an already established community tank, never the fresh tank. The fresh tanks will not contain the biomass necessary for them to thrive.

Sponge filter media will serve the community tank as well. If you are using a canister filter or hang-on-the-back filter, make sure to keep filtration inlets and outlets in the tank covered with a sponge pre-filter.

Tank Conditions:

Red Cherry Shrimps are hardy and can adapt to varied water parameters. Especially, the lower grade Cherry Shrimps can stand poor water quality. However, it is essential to provide stable water conditions for the higher grade Cherry Shrimps.

They thrive better in a water temperature range from 18 – 28°C (64 – 80°F), ideal 24°C (76°F). You can maintain a pH balance of 6 to 8 pH and carbonates and bi-carbonates levels between 3-15 dKH. The water hardness can be anywhere between 4 – 8 dGH.

Note: If your tank water is too soft your Red Cherry Shrimp will die as they will not be able to molt.

Like with most Shrimps, you should strictly avoid placing anything made of copper in the tank. It is toxic to most invertebrates. 

Many fish foods and medicines contain copper, always read the content labels carefully, although most of them have warnings on the label.

The substrate, plants, and the decorations:

For the substrate, you can use small pebbles and gravel substrate to emulate their natural habitat.

Red Cherry Shrimp thrive well in the densely planted environment. You may think of using Java Moss and Riccia fluitans, otherwise commonly known as floating crystalwort. Both these plants thrive well in a similar environment.

Don’t forget, Cherry Shrimps love the algae and the mosses. These plants will provide plenty of surfaces for the algae. These plants act as a source of food along with sheltering the shrimps.

Like all the Shrimps, Red Cherry Shrimp likes to have plenty of hiding places. You may add some shells and rocks along with the plants.

Remember, the safer they feel, the brighter their colors will be.

Tank Mates for Red Cherry Shrimp:

Red Cherry Shrimps are peaceful and non-aggressive little crustaceans with absolutely no means to defend themselves. Therefore, it is imminent that you choose your tank mates carefully. If not, your brilliant-looking red cherry will become food to their tank mates.

You can keep them in a large or small group with others of their kind.

You can also keep them with Amano Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Wood Shrimp, Vampire Shrimp, Nerite snails, Ramshorn Snails, Gold Inca Snails, Ivory Snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Mystery Snails, etc.

You can also keep them with catfish, such as Cory and Otocinclus. Dwarf Gouramis, Small plecos, and even with some peaceful tetras like Neon Tetras.

You must avoid keeping them with aggressive nature or big fish such as Arowanas, Flowerhorns, Black Wolf Fish, Afer Knife, Gouramis, Pea Puffer, and Cichlids such as Jack Dempsey, Peacock Bass Cichlids, jewel Cichlids, Red Devil, Wolf Cichlids, Jaguar, Oscars, etc.

Sometimes even Tetras can have them for a snack.

Species only tank:

To keep them species only tank is popular amongst the hobbyists.

When you keep them in a species-only tank, it is important to keep them in a large group. 

A minimum of 10 is recommended by experienced hobbyists. It will help restrain dominant behavior and will feel more self-assured and confident. 

You can keep more females than males. They breed pretty easily.

Red Cherry Shrimp Care:

The Red Cherry Shrimp does not demand much of your care and time. They are one of the most undemanding freshwaters invertebrates in the aquarium hobby.

You should know that they are very sensitive to ammonia spikes. So, make sure that your water parameters stay stable at all times. The larger your aquarium the easier it is going to be for you to maintain this.


Copper is fatal to your Red Cherries and other crustaceans. Hence, you must refrain from using anything, which contains copper.

Nowadays, there are many medicines that contain copper in them and much of it has a clear warning that they shouldn’t be used in a tank with Shrimps.


To grow, all the Crustaceans shed their shells periodically. The shells provide support and protection to their body. 

They need to shed their older shells and regrow the new periodically. The new one grows underneath the old shell. 

Once they shed their shells, they are more vulnerable to disease and parasites without their armor and with an existing softshell. They curl up and hide in their hideouts, hence while preparing the tank set up you should take care to provide them enough hiding places, such as bushes, shells, rocks, etc.

Do not take the shells out immediately, because, the Shrimps and other living creatures in the tank ingest nutrients from these shells. You may remove the shell after a few hours before it starts to decompose. The decomposition of organic matter produces ammonia and nitrite.

Unable to Molt:

The only bad news with Red Cherry Shrimp is that when they are unable to molt. If the Shrimp can’t molt, they die.

Sometimes, it can happen that they can’t get their shells cracked and pull off their bodies. It happens when the shell turns too hard. 

When this happens, they get exhausted trying to crack and pull the shells out of their bodies, and eventually, they die. 

Causes of Molting Problems:

Most experienced aquarists say this molting problem has to do with the water parameters of the tank.
If the water hardness is high the shrimp develops shells that are too hard and when the time for molting arrives, they will not be able to crack the shell.
However, when the water hardness is too low, then they will not be able to build their shells hard enough to crack.
Keeping the tank clean is a preeminent part of the aquarium hobby. Whereas, frequent water change can take the water parameters off-balance and cause stress to the aqua lives in the tank.
Particularly, Shrimps’ lives will be affected as they molt when there is a change in the water parameters. Frequent water change may invigorate them to molt even before they are ready to molt.
Some experts argue that it has to do with their diet.
So, they need to get a good amount of calcium from their diet. High-quality Shrimp food is a good source along with some fresh foods.
Some experienced aquarists use the shell of a cuttlefish in the aquarium tank. The Shrimps graze on the bone of cuttlefish and absorbs calcium from the bone, as it is almost entirely made of Calcium Carbonate.

Breeding Red Cherry Shrimps:

They are one of the easiest aqua species to breed. 

They start breeding maturity anywhere between 4 to 6 months old. It normally takes about 3 to 5 months from the time you bought them from a pet store.

When you are preparing them for breeding, make sure they are in a heavily planted environment. They need plenty of grazing and hiding places to make them feel secure. 

Feed them with a high protein diet and increase the temperature to 80 – 82°F (27 – 28°C).

breeding cherry shrimp

Females carry their eggs in their saddles in the ovaries located near the abdomen. They will be ready to fertilize their eggs immediately after she molts. 

Once, it is fertilized you can see the eggs will be moved underneath her tail. You will see a bright yellow patch underneath her tail.

Females that are carrying the fertilized eggs are called “berried”. You will notice that she constantly moves her tail for the eggs to receive oxygen during the whole of the berried period, which is anywhere between 15 to 20 days. 

The babies hatch out of eggs are shrimplets, unlike the other aqua life hatch larvae. These shrimplets are miniatures of their parents. The adult shrimps do not mend their babies once hatched.

Raising shrimplets is pretty straightforward. Their care requirements are exactly like their parents’ requirements. 

You care for them the same way when you bring Red Cherry Shrimp to your tank. Set the parameters and ambiance necessary for the shrimplets to feel safe and grow.

Make sure there is plenty of plants for them to hide and graze. They graze on the biofilm on the plant leaves while hiding. The densely planted environment provides them with high-quality nourishments while sheltering them. You may plant java mass, anacharis, etc.


You should keep the shrimplets in a mature tank. The freshly cycled tank will not have micro-organisms necessary for the shrimplets to nourish. These micro-organisms are the first food for babies.

Is the Red Cherry Shrimp right for your Aquarium Tank:

If you have a freshwater aquarium tank with peaceful community species, with plenty of vegetation and rocks and pebble substrates, then Neocaridina Heteropoda is a great addition to your tank. 

They are attractive while being functional, who will keep your tank clean, by carefully nibbling algae off the substrates and the tanks. Besides, they keep ammonia and nitrite under the check by eating away all the leftovers in the tank. They feed on the dead organic matter without destroying the healthy plants.

Most Aquarium enthusiasts will keep the Red Cherry Shrimp gladly and also they are easy to breed. Just buying a few of them you can breed them into a colony.

Any queries on the Shrimp keeping leave a comment below alternately contact us here.

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