The Easy-to-Keep Cherry Shrimp
In the several years since Takashi Amano (may he rest in peace) introduced the Amano shrimp as the solution to algae problems, many other types of ornamental shrimp have come into the hobby. By far the most popular and readily available is the cherry shrimp, also sometimes called the “red” cherry shrimp, which I find very redundant—almost as much as saying “very” redundant.
The cherry shrimp (genus Neocaridina) reaches a little over 1 inch for large females, while males are much smaller. Females are what we usually see in the hobby, as they are the shrimp that are the deep red; males are smaller and show very little red, if any. Female cherry shrimp are almost always carrying eggs, and if a tank does not have any predators and has dense plantings, with no effort on the part of the aquarist, cherry shrimp soon will become plentiful.
Cherry shrimp will adapt to almost any water conditions, and they will eat anything they can find. Their ability to clear a tank of any algae is incredible, and within a few weeks all algae on any surfaces will be gone. Once the algae is gone, it is important to provide the shrimp with vegetables. Squash, cucumber and other vegetables need to be blanched in hot water for a minute or two before feeding. Algae wafers/tablets are an excellent food for cherry shrimp, and cherry shrimp very quickly learn what these are and will gather on them, nibbling away to their heart’s content.
The only drawback, from a store owner’s point of view, is that cherry shrimp breed so easily and quickly that hobbyists will soon want to sell their excess cherry shrimp back to you. They might not understand why you charge money for cherry shrimp that are so plentiful that you often get them for free. One store I was in recently kept a tank of cherry shrimp on its checkout counter and offered a couple of shrimp to anyone who bought $10 of small fish; the only proviso was that the hobbyist’s tank they were going into had to a) have some live plants and b) not have anything that might eat the shrimp.
The interest in ornamental shrimp for aquariums has really taken off in the past few years. There are many “designer shrimp” available. The only drawbacks to these are that they usually start off with a very high price tag, and the market for them on the Internet is very active.
David A. Lass has been keeping tropical fish since he was 12 years old. He has been involved in most aspects of the hobby, including owning his own aquatic retail store, and currently wholesales fish to retail stores in New England. In addition to the tanks for his business, David keeps a number of large planted tanks, including a 300 gallon with altum angels, discus, rummy noses and many catfish. David is a regular contributor to Pet Product News.