Cherry Shrimp and Angelfish – Compatibility, Care, and Breeding

Cherry shrimp and angelfish are two popular freshwater aquarium inhabitants. However, their compatibility is a complex issue. On one hand, angelfish are predatory fish that may view small shrimp as food. On the other hand, cherry shrimp are highly adaptable and good at hiding when threatened. With proper precautions, these two species can coexist in an aquarium.

This article will dive deeply into the biology, care needs, compatibility factors, breeding considerations, and tank setup recommendations for housing cherry shrimp with angelfish. Key questions like “Can I put shrimp with angelfish?” and “Will angelfish eat cherry shrimp?” will be addressed in detail. Read on to make an informed decision about keeping this mixed species tank.

Cherry Shrimp and Angelfish

Understanding Cherry Shrimp

Cherry, red cherry, or fire shrimp, are a striking freshwater dwarf shrimp species. Their vibrant red coloration makes them stand out in planted aquariums. Here’s an overview of their biology and habitat:


  • Scientific Name: Neocaridina davidi
  • Average Size: 1-2 inches
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Peaceful omnivores that feed on algae, biofilm, debris
  • Active scavengers with a high bioload tolerance
  • Breed readily in captivity

Natural Habitat

  • Originate in Taiwan
  • Inhabit shallow, slow-moving fresh water streams and rice paddies
  • Thrive in densely planted areas with nutrient-rich substrate
  • Prefer water temps between 65-75°F, pH 6.5-7.5

Care Requirements

  • Minimum 5-gallon tank, heavily planted
  • Substrate with mosses, ferns, floating plants
  • Stable water parameters in their preferred range
  • Low bioload, frequent partial water changes
  • No tankmates that may prey on them

Cherry shrimp are easy to care for if provided with good water quality, hiding spots, and an omnivorous diet. Their small size makes them suitable for nano planted tanks.

Understanding Angelfish

In contrast to the diminutive cherry shrimp, angelfish have an elegant, commanding presence thanks to their large fins and discus-shaped bodies. Here are the key facts about angelfish:


  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare
  • Average Size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Omnivorous cichlid
  • Prefer to stay in pairs or groups
  • Make bubble nests for breeding

Natural Habitat

  • Found in Amazon river basin of South America
  • Inhabit slow-moving streams, flooded forests
  • Live in dense vegetation close to the water surface
  • Prefer water temps of 78-84°F, soft acidic water

Care Requirements

  • Minimum 30 gallon tank
  • Driftwood, rock caves, plants for hiding spots
  • Water parameters close to their natural habitat
  • Omnivorous diet with live, frozen, pelleted foods
  • Peaceful medium-sized tankmates recommended

Angelfish need room to swim and plenty of hiding spots. They prefer subdued lighting. Pristine water conditions are essential to their health.

Compatibility Concerns

Now that we understand the profiles of both species, let’s examine the common myths and facts regarding their compatibility:


  • Angelfish will hunt down and eat any shrimp in the tank
  • Keeping shrimp with angelfish is impossible
  • Shrimp will get stressed and die from angelfish aggression


  • Adult angelfish may ignore or avoid eating adult cherry shrimp
  • With precautions, shrimp and angelfish can coexist peacefully
  • Shrimp may breed successfully in a well-planned angelfish tank

The common myths don’t tell the full story. With some care and planning, housing shrimp and angelfish together can work.

Angelfish Behavior Towards Shrimp

Angelfish are omnivorous cichlids. In the wild, they eat small fish, insects, crustaceans. Their predatory instinct is to hunt smaller tank inhabitants. However, adult cherry shrimp are often too large for angelfish to swallow.

Initially, angelfish may chase and nip at the shrimp. But most lose interest after the shrimp learn to avoid them. Both species can settle into a peaceful coexistence with time.

Will Angelfish Eat Cherry Shrimp?

Juvenile and newborn cherry shrimp are vulnerable and may get eaten if angelfish catch them. But larger adults have a hard shell that deters predation.

Plenty of moss, plants, rocks and driftwood in the tank gives the shrimp ample hiding spots. This allows them to evade angelfish if chased.

So while angelfish may eat baby shrimp, adults are often too big to be seen as prey. This makes cohabitation possible.

Real-world Experiments and Observations

Numerous aquarists have tried housing cherry shrimp with angelfish. Here are some first-hand experiences from forum discussions:

“I introduced 6 adult cherry shrimp to my planted 29 gallon with two juvenile angelfish. The angelfish chased them initially but soon lost interest. After a few days the shrimp were back to grazing happily around the tank. No casualties so far.”

“I added a dozen cherry shrimp to my established 55 gallon angelfish tank. They immediately hid in the dense foliage but eventually emerged to feed. The angelfish largely ignore them. I do see the shrimp numbers slowly dropping though.”

“My adult angelfish pair spawned in a community tank with cherry shrimp. They were not aggressive towards the shrimp even while guarding their eggs. However I did find a few shrimp bodies in the next days. The babies were likely eaten.”

“I kept cherry shrimp with angelfish in a heavily planted tank. The shrimp survived and bred well initially. But after the angelfish pair spawned, they killed off all the shrimps within days. Keeping angelfish adults alone with shrimp seems to work better.”

The experiences show mixed results – while some shrimp survived and thrived, others gradually got picked off. The presence of dense plants and hiding spaces is critical. Angelfish spawning behavior poses a particular threat to shrimp.

Overall, cohabitation is risky but possible. Loss of shrimp should be expected, especially newborns and after angelfish spawn. Adult shrimp have better chances of survival with precautions.

Breeding Considerations

Cherry shrimp are prolific breeders given the right conditions. But attempting to breed them in an angelfish tank has complications:

  • Angelfish may eat all newborn shrimp before they can hide
  • Egg-laden female shrimp are especially vulnerable
  • Aggressive angelfish spawning behavior can wipe out shrimp
  • Shrimp population growth will be limited by predation

Here are some tips to breed cherry shrimp safely with angelfish:

  • Have a heavily planted tank with moss beds and hiding spots
  • Introduce angelfish first so shrimp can acclimate to them
  • Remove shrimp or angelfish when eggs are spotted
  • Use a breeding box to protect pregnant shrimp and babies
  • Have backup tanks ready to isolate shrimp or angelfish

While tricky, planning makes breeding cherry shrimp in an angelfish tank possible. However, expect lower shrimp survival rates. Removing the fry is the safest option.

Alternative Shrimp Options

Cherry shrimp are not the only shrimp species suitable for angelfish tanks. Here are some alternative shrimp that have better compatibility:

Amano Shrimp

  • Larger size (2 inches) deters predation
  • Excellent algae eaters, boost tank health
  • Transparent bodies blend into planted tanks

Ghost Shrimp

  • Very low cost and easy to replace
  • Tolerate a wide range of water parameters
  • Pale, ghost-like appearance is less visible

Bamboo Shrimp

  • Grow over 3 inches, too large to eat
  • Unique filtering fans catch food particles
  • Peaceful nature, unlikely to provoke angelfish

Vampire Shrimp

  • Unusual looks, grow to 5 inches size
  • Powerful claws can defend against fish
  • Mostly active at night, avoiding angelfish

The above shrimp have traits like size, camouflage or defensive abilities that improve their chances with predatory fish. They make safer options than cherry shrimp.

Creating a Safe Environment

The tank environment plays a huge role in the cohabitation of angelfish and shrimp. Here are some tips for creating a safe habitat:

Importance of Hiding Spots

Plenty of shelters are essential to reduce angelfish aggression and give shrimp hiding places. Here are some good options:

  • Dense planted areas with mosses, ferns and stem plants
  • Thickets of floating plants like hornwort, frogbit
  • Rock crevices and caves made from slate or piles of pebbles
  • Intricate driftwood with tunnels and overhangs
  • Aquarium safe decor like ceramic pipes, resin ornaments

The more hiding places, the higher the chances of shrimp surviving and thriving.

Plants and Decorations

Live aquarium plants offer the best hiding opportunities since they create naturalistic shelters. Some recommended plant species are:

  • Java moss – Provides thickets for small shrimp to disappear into
  • Amazon sword – Long leaves offer shade and cover
  • Java fern – Lacy leaves give anchorage spots
  • Marimo moss balls – Shrimp love grazing on these soft algae balls
  • Anubias – Broad leaves give ample surface area for shrimp to cling to

Design a complex layout using aquascaping techniques like dense planting, terraces, and tunnels. Place decor strategically to block line of sight between shrimp and angelfish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common queries when keeping cherry shrimp with angelfish:

Can angel fish live with ghost shrimp?

Yes, ghost shrimp generally fare better than cherry shrimp with angelfish. Their pale bodies blend into planted tanks. Their low cost makes replacing any losses affordable.

What fish are OK with cherry shrimp?
Small, peaceful community fish like tetras, rasboras, corydoras catfish, and dwarf gouramis are safe tankmates for cherry shrimp. Avoid all predatory fish.

Will angelfish eat shrimp?

Angelfish may eat baby and juvenile shrimp. Adult cherry shrimp have a better chance of survival. Use plenty of hiding places and plants to reduce predation.

What shrimp can live with angelfish?

Good options are amano, bamboo, vampire, and ghost shrimp. Their larger size and defensive abilities make them less prone to getting eaten.

Successfully housing red cherry shrimp with angelfish?

It’s challenging but possible. Have a densely planted tank, add the angelfish first, monitor while shrimp acclimate. Be prepared to remove shrimp or fry if aggression arises.


Keeping cherry shrimp with angelfish requires care and planning. While risky, they can coexist peacefully if given proper environmental conditions. The shrimps’ survival depends heavily on having ample vegetation and hiding spots.

Adult cherry shrimp can thrive and breed in an angelfish tank with precautions. However, population growth will be limited due to the inevitable loss of juveniles. Target a larger planted tank and use alternative shrimp species for the best results.

Overall, mixing the two species takes work but can be rewarding. Being prepared for shrimp losses and having backup tanks or space is advised. Focus on giving the shrimp the best chances to follow their natural behaviors. Both species can showcase their colors and activity in a shared habitat.