Cherry shrimp, scientifically known as Neocaridina davidi, are a species of freshwater dwarf shrimp native to Taiwan. With their bright red coloration, they have become one of the most popular shrimp in the aquarium hobby. Their small size, peaceful nature, and active movements make them an excellent addition to nano tanks and planted aquariums.
However, like all aquatic creatures, cherry shrimp have specific requirements when it comes to water parameters. Maintaining appropriate and stable conditions is crucial for their health, longevity, and vibrant coloration. Even minor fluctuations in parameters like temperature, pH, and hardness can stress the shrimp and make them prone to disease.
This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at the ideal water parameters for cherry shrimp. We will cover:
- Optimal temperature, pH, hardness, and other water chemistry parameters
- How their requirements differ from other popular shrimp like amano shrimp
- Tips on acclimating cherry shrimp to new tank conditions
- Factors that affect breeding and molting
- Tank setup recommendations for a thriving cherry shrimp colony
- Frequently asked questions on cherry shrimp water preferences
By understanding what water conditions cherry shrimp thrive in, you can set up a suitable habitat, prevent common issues like failed molts, and keep your shrimp healthy and vibrant.
Ideal Water Parameters for Cherry Shrimp
Certain water parameters must be maintained consistently to keep cherry shrimp healthy and allow them to express their full coloration. Here are the optimal levels:
Temperature is a critical parameter for aquatic life, including cherry shrimp. Their metabolism and physiological processes function best within this stable range.
Sudden fluctuations in temperature, even by a few degrees, can cause thermal shock. This makes cherry shrimp highly prone to stress, disease, and death.
Rapid heating or cooling should especially be avoided after water changes. Use a submersible heater with a thermostat to maintain a steady temperature in the tank.
pH measures how acidic or basic the water is, on a scale from 0 to 14. A slightly acidic to neutral pH between 6.5-7.5 is ideal for cherry shrimp.
Rapid pH swings will shock the shrimp and interfere with vital processes like molting. Once the desired range is reached, pH should be stable.
Natural substrates like soil and driftwood help buffer pH. Supplements can be used if needed, but slowly adjust over several days.
General Hardness (GH)
General hardness measures the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. A GH between 4-8 degrees German hardness (66.7-133.4 ppm) is recommended for cherry shrimp.
These essential minerals help shrimp molt their exoskeleton successfully. Low GH can lead to molting issues and poor health. At the same time, very hard water makes it tough for shrimp to molt and can affect their lifespan.
Adding shrimp-safe mineral supplements can help maintain an optimal GH. Driftwood, almond leaves, and reverse osmosis water can soften water if needed.
Carbonate Hardness (KH)
Carbonate hardness measures dissolved compounds like calcium carbonate. Cherry shrimp prefer moderately soft water with a KH of 3-5 degrees karbonate hardness (53.7-89.5 ppm).
KH helps stabilize the pH in your aquarium. Low KH can cause pH crashes, while high KH keeps the pH too alkaline. Aim for a level that keeps pH steady within the ideal range.
Substrates like aquarium soil, driftwood, almond leaves, and RO water can help naturally control KH. Baking soda raises KH if needed.
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)
TDS measures the total concentration of dissolved substances like salts and minerals. For cherry shrimp, aim for a TDS between 150-250 ppm.
High TDS water can be stressful and interfere with molting. Pure RO or distilled water is too low in TDS for shrimp, so remineralizing is necessary. Natural substrates and supplements can help achieve the right levels.
Tap water contains disinfectants like chlorine and chloramines that are lethal to aquatic life. Even minute levels of chlorine can kill cherry shrimp rapidly.
Use water conditioners to fully neutralize chlorine and chloramines before adding tap water to your shrimp tank. Alternatively, use filtered or RO water. Never add untreated tap water.
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate
Ammonia, Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: <20 ppm
Ammonia and nitrite, produced by decomposing waste, are highly toxic. Even low concentrations can kill shrimp quickly.
Nitrate is less toxic but should be kept under 20 ppm. Conduct regular partial water changes and test levels often to remove these compounds.
Use filters, live plants, and establish a nitrogen cycle to process these waste chemicals and keep them in check. Avoid overfeeding and overstocking.
Comparison of Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp Parameters
Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata) are another very popular aquarium shrimp species. However, their water preferences differ from that of cherry shrimp in some aspects:
|Parameter||Cherry Shrimp||Amano Shrimp|
|GH||4-8 dGH||6-8 dGH|
|KH||3-5 dKH||1-5 dKH|
|TDS||150-250 ppm||150-250 ppm|
- Amanos tolerate a wider temperature range of 65-80°F.
- They prefer lower KH levels of just 1-5 dKH. This makes them suited for soft, acidic water.
- Amanos need moderately hard water, so GH should be kept at 6-8 dGH or higher.
Due to these differing requirements, cherry and amano shrimp are best kept in separate tanks to provide optimal conditions for each species. Attempting to compromise parameters in the same tank can negatively impact health and breeding.
Acclimating Cherry Shrimp to New Aquarium Conditions
When adding new cherry shrimp to an established tank, acclimation is critical. Even if parameters match the ideal levels, the shrimp need time to adjust to the new water chemistry and environment.
Follow this process:
- Turn off aquarium lights to reduce stress.
- Float the unopened bag of shrimp for 20-30 minutes to equalize temperatures.
- Open the bag and add small amounts of tank water (a few tablespoons) every 5-10 minutes for at least 1 hour.
- Finally, use a small net to transfer the shrimp to the tank.
- Watch shrimp closely for signs of stress over the next few days.
- Avoid major water changes for at least a week after adding new shrimp.
Acclimating shrimp slowly prevents osmotic shock and allows them to adapt to the tank’s different mineral levels, pH, and other parameters. Rushing this process can easily kill sensitive shrimp.
Factors Affecting Breeding and Molting
Water parameters are key in two critical aspects of cherry shrimp biology – successful breeding and molting. Here’s how they impact these processes:
- Stable, ideal water parameters induce cherry shrimp to breed more readily. Drastic fluctuations will inhibit breeding.
- Moderate hardness, especially GH between 4-8 dGH, improves breeding and embryo survival rates.
- Slightly acidic pH close to neutral is optimal for breeding. Low KH supports this.
- Temperatures around 70°F tend to stimulate breeding behavior the most.
- Molting allows shrimp to grow by shedding their exoskeleton. It occurs frequently in juveniles.
- GH and minerals like calcium are essential for forming a new exoskeleton post-molt. Low GH can cause molting issues.
- Stable parameters like pH allow molting to proceed normally. Rapid changes will disrupt the process.
- High KH and alkaline water makes molting difficult. Low KH supports molting.
You can successfully culture cherry shrimp in your aquarium by maintaining breeding and molting-friendly water chemistry.
Tank Setup Tips for Cherry Shrimp
In addition to monitoring water parameters, the tank setup can majorly impact shrimp health. Follow these tips:
- Tank size – Aim for at least 10 gallons to dilute waste and provide adequate space. Smaller nano tanks require more maintenance.
- Plants – Plant heavily with easy, low-light plants like mosses, Anubis, and Java ferns. Plants absorb nitrates and provide food.
- Substrate – Use a fine-grained natural substrate like aquasoil. Sand is also suitable. Soil supports beneficial biofilms.
- Filtration – Sponge filters are ideal as they provide gentle water flow. Heaters and air pumps also aid water circulation.
- Decor – Include rocks, driftwood, clay pots, cholla wood to create hiding spots and surface area for grazing.
- Cover – Cherry shrimp can jump surprisingly high. Use a fitted glass cover to prevent escapes.
- Cycle tank – Fully cycle the tank for 4-6 weeks before adding shrimp to establish the nitrogen cycle and stabilize parameters.
- Quarantine – To observe health before introducing them to the main tank, quarantine new shrimp for a few weeks.
- Test water – Routinely test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, GH, KH. Make adjustments slowly.
- Partial water changes – Change out 10-15% of the water weekly to replenish minerals and remove waste buildup.
- Supplements – Use shrimp supplements like Shrimp Baby and Mineral GH/KH+ to enhance health.
Setting up a suitable habitat goes hand in hand with monitoring water parameters for a healthy, vibrant cherry shrimp colony.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does water hardness affect cherry shrimp?
Cherry shrimp require moderately hard water to thrive. GH between 4-8 dGH provides essential minerals for molting and breeding. At the same time, very hard water shortens their lifespan. KH should also be low, around 3-5 dKH.
Do cherry shrimp prefer alkaline or acidic water?
Cherry shrimp prefer a stable pH of slightly acidic to neutral, between 6.5-7.5. Rapid pH fluctuations will stress them out, so maintaining a steady value is important. Using substrates like aquarium soil and driftwood helps buffer pH within their preferred range.
Can cherry shrimp live in tap water?
Untreated tap water is unsafe for cherry shrimp due to chlorine, chloramines, copper, and drastic parameter changes. Tap water needs to be dechlorinated and remineralized before use. Slowly acclimate shrimp when doing water changes. RO or distilled water also needs remineralization before being added.
How often should I change water for cherry shrimp?
Aim to change out 10-15% of the tank water weekly, using a gravel vacuum to remove waste. This replenishes minerals and prevents buildup of nitrates. Match new water parameters closely and acclimate shrimp whenever changing more than 15-20% of the water.
What temperature do cherry shrimp need?
Cherry shrimp do best at temperatures between 65-75°F. Rapid temperature fluctuations will shock them, so use a heater and thermometer to maintain a steady temperature within this range. Avoid allowing the tank to swing more than a few degrees.
Can cherry shrimp live with fish or other shrimp?
Cherry shrimp are peaceful but can become prey for larger fish. Suitable tank mates include small, peaceful community fish, other dwarf shrimp, snails and aquatic frogs. Avoid housing them with aggressive fish like bettas, cichlids and goldfish that may attack them.
Providing cherry shrimp with appropriate aquarium conditions is the key to their health and vitality. You can successfully keep a cherry shrimp colony by understanding their ideal water chemistry preferences, setting up a suitable habitat, acclimating them slowly, and maintaining stable parameters. Testing water quality routinely and making adjustments gradually is crucial. Cherry shrimp may be hardy, but they still have specific needs regarding temperature, pH, hardness and other aspects of water chemistry. Meeting these requirements will reward you with active, long-living shrimp that display their signature bright red colors.