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Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

The Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Cherry Shrimp, Fire Shrimp, or Sakura Shrimp is a decorative species of dwarf shrimp that hails from Taiwan.

Red Cherry shrimp are probably the most popular of the dwarf shrimps that are now available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   They are colorful, undemanding, very easy to breed, and do not take up a lot of space to adequately house.

The scientific name for Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) is actually Neocaridina davidi ‘Red’ or Neocaridina denticulata sinensis, depending on where you purchase them.

The Red Cherry shrimp is a result of selective breeding from wild shrimp stock that were originally a brownish color.

Taiwanese breeders have been constantly producing these shrimp in even more intense red colors which has led to the necessity of grading the quality of the shrimp.   The highest grades have much more intense and opaque red colors.   The various grades are listed below from the lowest to the highest:

  • Cherry Grade or Low Grade Red Cherry
    Cherry grade is the lowest grade. Specimens are mostly translucent with some spots of light or pinkish red on the body. They are easy to find and are quite cheap compared to some of the higher grades.
  • Sakura Grade
    Sakura grade Red Cherry shrimp have much more red than Cherry grade shrimp. The red is a bit darker but still blotchy, expecially towards the bottom, and the legs are almost completely translucent.
  • High Sakura Grade/Grade AA Red Cherry Shrimp
    High Sakura grade AA Red Cherry shrimp are more opaque than low Sakura grade specimens. Their colors are much more intence and their legs show some blotchy coloration that the Sakura Grade lacks.
  • Fire Red Grade
    Fire Red Grade shrimp are intensely colored and almost completely opaque with evenly colored legs, with no blotchiness. The eggs and saddle in the females are more difficult to spot because of the intense coloration.
  • Painted Fire Red Grade
    Painted Fire Red Grade Red Cherry shrimp are so intensely colored that the color looks like it is painted onto the shrimp. The eggs and saddle in the females are invisible unless you have a strong back light. The red color is much darker than all of the lower grades with no translucent spots being visible.
    Painted fire red grade shrimp are beautifully colored and are usually quite expensive.
  • Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp
    Bloody Mary Red Cherry shrimp are a relatively new addition to the grading charts.   The Bloody Mary line is a variation bred from a Chocolate Shrimp line.    Their color is similar to the Painted fire red grade shrimp, but even more intense.   Even the males are intensely colored and opaque, which is not the case with the lower shrimp grades.   This grade also has a shorter rostrum than other Red Cherry shrimp.
    Bloody Mary Red Cherry Shrimp are extremely expensive but many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts believe that their extremely vivid colors makes their purchase price more than worth it.
Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

Like all species of dwarf shrimp, you do not need a large aquarium to keep them. A substantial colony can easily be raised in a 5 gallon, or even smaller tank.

Red Cherry shrimp do best in a tank with either a fully cycled, bubble up sponge filtration system or a small outside filter with a sponge prefilter.   A sandy or fine gravel substrate densely planted with some fine leaved plants and a small piece of driftwood for them to hide among is all the aquascaping that is needed.

If the tank is set up in a heated room, no heater is necessary but they do need a stable environment in their tank.

Although Red Cherry Shrimp are not very demanding when it comes to water quality, they are sensitive to nitrite and ammonia spikes.   A fully cycled, aged aquarium is a must for newly introduced specimens.   Regular water changes should be provided to keep the nitrates in check.

Red Cherry Shrimp are extremely peaceful and will never harm or bother their tank mates however, they are easy prey for larger fish species.   For this reason, most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts keep them in a single species biotope setting with other dwarf shrimp, small snails, or small fish species like green neons.

Red Cherry Shrimp are very easy to breed, in fact as long as the water parameters are kept stable, the shrimp will reproduce continuously.

In their natural habitat Red Cherry Shrimp will eat just about anything they can find.   Their diet is comprised of aufwuchs, algae, and other organic micro organisms.

In an aquarium environment, they can be fed a high quality shrimp pellet, frozen foods, and just about any kind of sinking food.   They will also appreciate a treat of blanched vegetables to round out their diet.

Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) are available online and from many specialty fish keeping shops in a variety of grades.   Their prices which can be quite expensive vary greatly according to grade, so keep in mind the following:

  • The more red, the better – Red Cherry shrimp with a greater amount of red and higher color intensity will fall into a higher category.
  • Opacity is an important factor – Higher grades of Red Cherry Shrimp will have more opaque bodies than those with translucent splotches.
  • Males differ significantly from females – Male Red Cherry shrimp are less brightly colored than females and also much smaller.   A female might fall into the highest grade, but her male counterpart could be a much lower grade.
Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)

Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda)










Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Water Conditions: 68-85° F, KH 3-15, gH 4-8, TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)150-250, pH 6.2-8.0
Max. Size: 2″
Color Form: Opaque Red
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Excellent cleaners
Origin: Taiwan
Family: Atyidae
Lifespan: 2 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Invertebrates & Amphibians, Shrimp, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (3)

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