How to Breed Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

The Cherry Shrimp is from the Neocaridina family. This popular aquarium shrimp has a large appetite for all kinds of freshwater algae! They do best in a planted tank as a highly effective member of a clean up crew. So in addition to their vibrant color, they serve a very important role in keeping a planted tank clean of detritus as well as prevent the overgrowth of algae.

Speaking of their vibrant color, the Cherry Shrimp are “graded” based on their color variation. When selecting your broodstock, you’ll need to decide which one you will choose. Here are the most common variants:

Cherry Shrimp

Regular Grade Cherry Shrimp – Emilia Murray from Edinburgh, Scotland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The mostly clear with red patches color variation is the “regular Cherry Shrimp”. These are the lowest grade of the Neocaridina heteropoda.

Sakura Cherry Shrimp

Sakura Cherry Shrimp – DirkBlankenhaus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This color variation has much more red with some clear patches on their body.

Fire Red Shrimp

At this grade the shrimp is completely red.

Painted Fire Red Shrimp

The Painted Fire Red variant is the highest graded and the most expensive Red Cherry Shrimp. As you can see from the picture above, they are a solid, deep red with no transparent areas anywhere on their body – including their legs.

Once you choose the color variant that you would like to breed, you need to purchase your broodstock/breeding pairs – or in this case more specifically – your colony. Regardless of the grade of the shrimp, the females will be more colorful and larger. As they mature, they will develop a saddle on their stomach which can be a orange color. This is where they hold their unfertilized eggs.

If you purchase your shrimp from different vendors and/or different shipments be sure to utilize a quarantine tank to ensure that you do not introduce any diseases into your colony aquarium.

How Many Red Cherry Shrimp Should Be in Your Breeding Colony?

It is recommended that you have 30 Red Cherry Shrimp in your breeding colony at all times. So 15 males and 15 females.

How to Set Up a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Tank

Next we will go over everything that you will need in order to properly set up your breeding tank.

The Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Tank

Because of all of the elements that you will need in your colony tank along with the number of shrimp and waste that they will produce, I recommend no smaller than a 55 to 75 gallon aquarium. This will prevent any overcrowding issues once the babies are born and are growing out as well as provide lots of water volume which will help maintain water quality.

For substrate it is recommended that you use ADA Amazonia aqua soil.

What Type of Water Should You Use in Your Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

Tap water or well water works for this species with a dechlorinator such as AquaSafe for example. If you do use RODI water, you will need to re-mineralize it.

Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium Filtration

The filter should not be able to stuck up anything 1 mm or less. To ensure that your filter does not suck up any baby shrimp, you can use a mesh to cover your filter inputs. Women’s pantyhose or stockings will work just fine. You will need to clean these off as soon as you notice that they are dirty though. The best filtration option that will have you avoid burning out any filter pumps or having to clean the mesh every day or so is to use a 50 PPI (Pores Per Inch) or higher sponge filter. This will give the beneficial bacteria a place to live and multiply so that they can break down the waste from the shrimp.

AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter for up to 60 Gallons – Image Source: AQUANEAT

You can have several depending on the size of your tank. In addition to the biological filtration, you will need something that can increase the amount of oxygen in the water. The Aquael Pat MINI Internal Filter will generate a good amount of air bubbles to agitate the surface of the water while also providing additional biological filtration via the sponge intake.

Aquael Pat MINI Internal Filter – Source: Aquael

Red Cherry Shrimp Water Parameters for Breeding

The optimal water parameters for this species is as follows:

  • Temperature: 69.8 – 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.5 -7.5
  • General Hardness (GH): 6 – 8
  • Carbonate Hardness (KH): 1 – 4
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): 150 – 250

You should also test your water weekly. Aim for 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrite and 20 or less Nitrate. If your Nitrates are at 20 ppm or more, you will need to do a water change on your tank.

Red Cherry Shrimp Additives and Supplements

Due to it’s carapace, the Red Cherry Shrimp needs certain supplemental elements in order to grow, maintain and re-grow it’s carapace after a shed. It is therefore essential to have these elements present in their environment. In order to properly maintain these levels of elements, you can use a product like Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+ which is specifically formulated for Neocaridina shrimp.

Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+ – Source: SaltyShrimp

Do You Need Lighting on a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Tank?

No, in fact too much light is bad for the shrimp. If you do use a light, do not keep it on for more than 6 to 7 hours per day and make sure that you have lots of hiding spots for your shrimp. If you do choose to have lighting, the light that you choose will depend on the plants that you have in your aquarium. If not a simple led light will suffice if you want one.

Should You Have Moss and Plants in a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

Moss and plants give the shrimp a hiding space, a place to house more good bacteria and they will graze on them. As far as which plants you can put in your red cheery shrimp breeding aquarium?

  • Java Fern
  • Anubias Nana Petite
  • Water Wisteria
  • Cryptocoryne
  • Dwarf Lilies
  • Vallisneria
  • Bucephalandra
  • Water Lettuce
  • Rotala Rotundifoila

What Type of Plant Supplements Should You Use in a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

Any plant supplement that contains Iron which can be harmful to the shrimp and should be avoided. Any other supplement should be fine. Do your research on each supplement that you use to ensure that it is not harmful to your shrimp.

Should You Have Driftwood in a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

Driftwood provides hiding areas fort he shrimp as well as more surface area for the beneficial bacteria. However, you should not over do it with the driftwood as over time it will decay and could cause an algae outbreak. Driftwood can also increase the TDS in the water. So a few small pieces should suffice.

What Types of Leaves Should You Have in a Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

You can use any of the following leaves:

  • Indian Almond Leaves
  • Nettle Leaves
  • Guava Leaves
  • Mulberry Leaves
  • Walnut Leaves
  • Peppermint Leaves
  • Spinach Leaves

Out of all of these leaves, the Indian Almond and Spinach seem to be the most recommended. For the Spinach Leave you can boil it for 3 hours and then feed it to your shrimp once per week. Allow the shrimp 24 hours to consume the leave. Remove the remainder, uneaten leaf after the 24 hour period. The Indian Almond leaves should be treated the same as driftwood. These leaves should be fallen leaves and not ones that have been plucked from an almond tree.

Can You Keep Snails in Your Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Aquarium?

Yes! The most commonly recommended species are the Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Ramshorn Snails. They keep the algae in check as well as provide a food source for the shrimp – more specifically the Malaysian Trumpet snails. Just be careful with the Malaysian Trumpet Snails and the ADA Amazonia Soil as they can eat it and make it turn into a mushy mess.

Feeding Your Red Cherry Shrimp Breeding Colony

As a general rule of thumb – the higher the quality of the food the healtheir the shrimp and the higher number of surving babies – which means more profit. High quality food options include:

  • Glasgarten Shrimp Dinner
  • Glasgarten Mineral Junkie
  • Glasgarten Bacter AE
  • Shrimp King Complete
  • Shrimp King Mineral

When figuring out how much food to feed your shrimp, this is going to vary as you will have different amounts of shrimp in your aquarium at a time, plus some will be breeding. Use the same rule of thumb when feeding fish, add a little bit in, see how much the shrimp consume in a few minutes and add more if needed. Using a feeding dish will help you easily see how much food is being consumed by your shrimp during each feeding. This also helps to keep the food from falling into the substrate and decaying in it.


If you get less than 20 baby shrimp surviving upon the eggs hatching, then you need to tweak your water parameters or your feeding schedule. Use that as a guideline to tell if your aquarium conditions and feeding regimens are efficient.

Where and How to Sell Red Cherry Shrimp

I’ll start by saying that I come from the school of thought that the more captive bred species that are available for the aquarium trade – the better. That’s what motivated me to have an aquaculture facility myself for a few years and is my reason for creating this website. Captive breeding allows us to leave the wild populations alone which reduces our impact on the environment. In addition, we learn so much about the species that if they ever need to be re-populated, we’ll be able to do so. With that said, I am also a business owner and entrepreneur, so I understand the need to maximize profits. At the same time, I believe that the price of captive bred species needs to stay affordable or the demand for wild caught specimens will be more attractive and could create a potential environmental issue.

So keeping all of that in mind, as we went over in the beginning of this blog post, there are different grades of Red Cherry Shrimp with the Painted Fire Red Cherry Shrimp being the most expensive. Check the average selling prices for each to determine your shrimp’s prices. Next when you are ready to sell your shrimp, you have 3 mediums:

  • The Hobbyist
  • The Aquarium Stores
  • Start Your Own Niche Species or Aquaculture Business Online Store

I wrote a full blog post on this topic which you can check out here: How to Make a Profit Selling Aquarium Fish

And that’s how your breed Red Cherry Shrimp.

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