Red Cherry Shrimp – Beginners Guide

How fascinating will it be to watch an invertebrate, fire red in color, crawling across your tank eating all your aquarium debris?  A Red Cherry Shrimp is one of the most popular breeds of shrimps that you can keep in your aquarium. Red Cherry Shrimp exists in various colors in the wild, but, by far the most popular strains are fire red. The bright red color adds beauty to the tank especially with green aquarium plants and black substrate.

Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) is a breed of shrimp known as Neocardinal Denticulata Sinensis, which are natives of Taiwan. But most of the Cherry Shrimp available in-store today are bred in captivity. In the wild Red Cherry Shrimps are usually brownish green or translucent in color. The bright red color that you see today is a result of years of cross-breeding inside aquariums. Today, red cherry shrimps are widespread across the globe and it shouldn’t be hard for anybody to find them.

Cherry Shrimps are one of the most common freshwater shrimp. Among all the freshwater shrimp, red cherry shrimps are extremely hardy and condition tolerant to various water. Other than that, red cherry shrimps are easy to keep and breed. This is the reason, red cherry shrimp are popular among beginners, just starting out in the hobby because they don’t have to worry about anything.


In the wild, or in their natural habitat, Red Cherry Shrimps are usually brownish-green in color. The shrimp you see today in your pet store are results of years of cross-breeding in captivity. Red Cherry Shrimps are a variety of dwarf shrimp, they stay small all their life. Female is larger than male, growing around an inch to its maximum size. Likewise, talking about the color, the color red, that makes this shrimp popular is brighter and darker in females as compared to males.

As the color red is the outcome of cross-breeding for years, not all red cherry shrimp features the same level of coloration. Some of them might be translucent with a little color, the female might not have a bright red color and so on. To get a perfect offspring you need to choose good grade parents. If you let a colony breed freely, it’s sure that you won’t be getting darker shrimps, their color tends to fade. Due to this reason, there are a variety Red Cherry Shrimp Grades. A higher grade will have darker and bright coloration and costs more. Although they are expensive, they don’t do better than other Red Cherry Shrimps.

Behavioral Characteristics

Red Cherry Shrimp are active and are always engaged in finding and harvesting algae and other food sources in the tank. Incredibly peaceful in nature and is renowned for its capability of eating algae in the tank. Cherry Shrimp are very easy to keep as well, they require less care than other freshwater shrimp.

Cherry Shrimp are hardy and can adapt to a wide range of water conditions but requires stable water parameters. A sudden change in the water parameter could lead to an aquarium disaster. As long as the water parameter is stable within the acceptable range for the shrimp, the cherry shrimp flourish in the tank.

You can expect your red cherry to shrimp to live between one to two years. But they breed like rabbits, you will see young shrimps crawling your tank every time you look at the tank.

Scientific name: Neocardinal Denticulata Sinensis

Origin: Taiwan

Lifespan: Average Lifespan 1 – 2 years.

Care Level: Easy

Diet: Omnivore

Size: 1 inch (2.5 cm) – 1.5 inch (3.81 cm)

Temperature: 19°C/65°F – 27°C/80°F

pH: 6.27.3 range

Tank Mates: Small fish like tetras, guppy, Zebra Danios, etc. that does not harm them.

Tank Setup: Freshwater Tank with Medium to Heavily Planted Tank

Aquarium Size: 2-5 shrimps per gallon of water, 5 Gallon Tank does fine

Gender: Males are clearer, Female are reddish

My experience with red cherry shrimp

I had many varieties of shrimps a year ago, and had their own tank, and used to sell them as well making a profit. I used to keep red cherry shrimp, bee shrimp, crystal red shrimp, ghost shrimp, Amano shrimp, aura blue shrimp, black shrimp, sushi shrimp, yellow shrimp, dream blue shrimp,  red rilli shrimp. Black rilli shrimp, blue rilli shrimp. All of them needed special care except red cherry shrimp. I often had to check the water parameter, ammonia and nitrite level in the tank water. Else, I would see some dead shrimps in the bottom of the tank once in a while. But in the tank of red cherry shrimp, to be honest, I hardly used to check the water parameter. Though, in each batch of new shrimp, I hardly see some dead shrimps.

I have a tank in my fish room which I used to keep plants that I trimmed from all of the tanks I have. I didn’t do any water changes to that tank. Once I threw some of the trimmed plants to that tank from red cherry shrimp’s tank. I had no idea that I transferred young shrimps to that tank. I never look to that tank, since it was just a container for me to throw plants. After several months, my nephew saw some shrimps in that tank and called me to look at them. I was amazed looking at them, there were so many shrimps in that tank I couldn’t even count the population of the shrimp. They literally breed like rabbits in that tank.

I was amazed because never did water changes to that tank, literally for more than 5-6 months, I didn’t even provide then filtration, food to eat or heater. Though they survived the harsh water parameter that most of the other shrimps wouldn’t survive.

Red Cherry Shrimp Habitat and Tank Condition

Red Cherry Shrimp are a breed of shrimp known as Neocardinal Denticulata Sinensis, are natives of Taiwan and other parts of Asia. Their natural habitats are water streams and ponds with little flow and heavily planted surroundings. Therefore, try to emulate their natural habitat closely as possible in your aquarium. You need to add plants to your aquarium, plants like moss, carpeting plants are best. Try to make your tank as natural as possible by adding decorations like driftwood, lava rock, pebbles, etc. This will also help to maintain their diet as plant dribs and algae are great sources of their diet.

Tank Size

The best tank size for Red Cherry shrimp is 5-Gallon Tank, however, tank size depends on the number of shrimp you are planning to keep. A good rule of thumb is 5 Shrimps per gallon of water. If you are planning to keep with other fish, then you need to increase the volume of the tank by one gallon per inch of fish size. A 10 Gallon aquarium can hold about active colony of 100 shrimps. If the tank is overcrowded, shrimp will not have the urge to reproduce. So even if you are a beginner, you still need a medium tank.

Here is a tank you can start with. It’s a 5-Gallon aquarium with all the equipment you need to set up a tank.

Water Quality

There are few elements that are found in tanks water that is very harmful to Cherry Shrimp they are: Ammonia, Nitrite and extreme level of Nitrate.  Before adding any shrimp in your tank, you must check your water condition using test kits, your Nitrite and ammonia should be at 0ppm and nitrate should be less than 20ppm. So, doing a constant water change and adding live plants are excellent ways to reduce these levels. Because a well-maintained filtration system eliminates Ammonia and Nitrite. Whereas, plants use Nitrate as a source of nitrogen fertilizer eliminating Nitrate from your water parameter. In a planted tank, fertilizers with copper are used, which are not recommended for Red Cherry Shrimp. Maintain a good filtration in your shrimp tank and do at least 20% water change adding deionized water every week to create a healthy environment for your shrimp.

Temperature, Lights, and Filtration

The optimum water temperature for Red Cherry Shrimp is 19°C/65°F – 27°C/80°F. Higher temperature will lead to faster growth and decreases the lifespan of shrimp whereas, the cold temperature will lead to shrimp diseases and they are unlikely to breed in such temperature. Therefor maintain the optimum temperature for healthy and colorful Cherry Shrimp.

All living organism needs light for energy. As you have to keep plants in your shrimp tank, they require light for the photosynthesis process. A freshwater aquarium light will do fine in your aquarium for both shrimp and plants. But if you provide 6-8 hours of daylight, aquarium light is not necessary.

The most important piece of equipment for Shrimp is Filters. The most common problem with filter is its power. A power filter with very little capacity might also such shrimp into the filter if not, it will definitely such little shrimplets. So, the best filter I have found for shrimps is a sponge filter that is powered by an air pump. A sponge filter is a great medium to filter your aquarium. They act as a biofilter housing beneficial bacteria that helps in The Nitrogen Cycle.


Red Cherry Shrimp are kept in a tank with their own species or with small fish that do not harm them. It is very important to choose a suitable tank mate for your shrimp. They lack defense to be housed with bigger fish eventually gets eaten. Fish like betta, puffer, and cichlids a focused hunter, they might wipe the entire colony of you Red Cherry Shrimp.

They breed quickly and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. While breeding Cherry Shrimp, Cherry Shrimps are kept with their own species because small offspring can get eaten by small fish like tetra, guppy and so on.

Ideal tank mates are:

  • Tetra Fish: Glowlight tetra, Neon Tetra, Cardinal tetra and so on.
  • Dwarf Catfish: Corydoras Catfish, Otocinclus
  • Freshwater Snails
  • Small Livebearer fish, Guppy, Molly, Swordtail.

Fish to avoid:

  • Betta fish
  • Cichlids
  • Discus
  • Goldfish

Red Cherry Shrimp Diet

Feeding RCS is not difficult at all. Red Cherry Shrimp are algae eaters, however, they will eat anything that you offer. A balanced diet with lots of vegetables and processed food are recommended for RCS. Their diet includes fish pallets, edible plant matters, fish flakes, shrimp pellets, etc. RCS are scavengers that will help you keep your tank clean by eating uneaten food and debris. They will get their 70% of their diet from the aquarium itself in the form of algae, plants matter, and another microfauna. So, you don’t need to provide them with a lot of artificial food. There could be a problem with algae bloom or poor water quality due to uneaten food. I feed them with pallets and flakes once in a week.

Here are some of the best food for your shrimp. These are the food I give to all of my shrimps.

  1. Fluval Shrimp Granules
  2. Shirakura Shrimp Food
  3. Hikari – Shrimp Cuisine
  4. Shrimp King Complete
  5. Hikari – Crab Cuisine

RCS and planted aquarium

Red Cherry Shrimps are the Best for Planted Aquarium. Their bright red color adds beauty to the tank with a green background. The planted aquarium provides a great hiding place for your shrimp. Another advantage of the planted aquarium is that it is never too clean. Plant sheds edible matter that is one of the best food sources for the fish.

Shrimp and planted tanks are a perfect combination for each other in most of the ways, and also disastrous in others. When it comes to disastrous, CO2 injection is probably the biggest killer. When CO2 is dissolved in water, the plant absorbers it for photosynthesis. But when the light goes off, CO2 is not utilized by the plant and forms carbonic acid which is toxic for fish and shrimp. For the shrimp though, they cannot handle pH swing or lack of oxygen killing them all.

Aside from CO2 fertilizers with copper are also poisonous for the shrimp which kills them. So using any fertilizer needs to be checked before adding them into the RCS tank.