The Top 12 Tank Mates for Cherry Shrimp
Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) are exceptionally popular in the freshwater aquarium hobby because of their dazzling array of colors, but unfortunately, their petite size makes them irresistibly delicious to other fish. If your goal is to breed as many shrimp as possible, your best course of action is to keep a species-only tank with no other types of animals living in it. If you want to keep cherry shrimp as pets and a few of their offspring, this list will help you choose the right tank mates. These suggestions cannot be guaranteed as every living creature is capable of making its own decisions. We recommend providing plenty of cover, such as piles of rocks and aquarium plants.
Category #1: Small Invertebrates
We first look at other nanoinvertebrates as potential shrimp-safe tank mates. Little snails like the mystery, bladder and nerite are scavengers that don’t eat shrimp. Although they eat the same food as cherry shrimp, you might see fewer shrimp babies if there is a shortage of them. Because they eat small particles in the water, larger filter-feeding shrimp like vampire shrimp and bamboo are a great choice. Thai micro crabs also use their hairy claws or legs to grab small crumbs. They are shy, so they may not be easy to spot.
Vampire or African fan shrimp (Atya gabonensis)
Cherry shrimp can also be grown with other dwarf shrimp like ghost shrimp and amano, which are approximately the same size as cherry shrimp and require similar care. Crystal shrimp and Caridina shrimp can be difficult to grow together, as they have different water requirements than cherry shrimp. Some hobbyists keep them together but we have found that one colony is more happy and produces more shrimp than the other. Finally, avoid bigger crustaceans – such as long-arm shrimp, prawns, crayfish, and lobsters – because they are voracious creatures that will consume any source of protein they can find, including their smaller cousins.
Category 2: Small Algae Eaters
While most aquarium fish are not purely herbivorous, there are several species that like to graze on algae and aufwuchs (e.g., aquatic microflora growing on underwater surfaces). Otocinclus catfish are amazing algae eaters that are both peaceful and small in size. In our experience, they are slower eaters and most likely will not outcompete your shrimp. Stiphodon gobies, another type of nano aufwuchs-grazer, have a suction cup mouth that is designed for scraping microorganisms and biofilm off rocks. Finally, consider dwarf plecos, like the clown pleco (Panaqolus maccus), that are known for eating algae and wood. While any of these fish may opportunistically snack on a baby shrimp, they generally leave the adult shrimp alone.
Category #3: Peaceful Nano Fish with Tiny Mouths
Not all nano fish are shrimp-safe, but some species are so docile and diminutive that they pose little threat to full-grown cherry shrimp. Small tetras – such as the ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) and green neon tetra (Paracheirodon simulans) – are known for their brilliant colors and would look splendid with a group of complementary-colored shrimp. The nano rasboras such as the chili rasbora, Boraras brigitae, and neon green-colored rasbora, Microdevario kubotai – are also stunning additions to a planted shrimp aquarium. As for bottom dwellers, dwarf cory catfish like pygmy catfish (Corydoras pygmaeus) are inclined to leave adult shrimp alone.
If you are looking to breed fish for profit and want to maximize your available space, we have successfully kept small livebearers (e.g., guppies and Endler’s livebearers) and cherry shrimp together with a giant mass of java moss in a 20-gallon tank. Any type of dense foliage, such as Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ or water sprite, will do because they serve as hiding spots for the baby shrimp and fry so that the adult fish have a harder time catching them. If you build a good relationship with your local fish store, they may be willing to buy your plants as well, giving you an aquarium setup with three viable products.
Neon Tetras, Guppies and Nerite Snails living with red cherry shrimp
Tank Mates to Avoid
Since there is no way for us to list every type of animal you can keep with cherry shrimp, let’s go over some general guidelines for fish to avoid. Of course, say no to medium to large-sized fish – like goldfish, cichlids, rainbowfish, and bigger plecos. Also, small fish that are mainly meat eaters like to go after shrimp, so be wary of adding betta fish, dwarf cichlids, dwarf gouramis, and pea puffers. Plus, you may want to steer clear of nano fish that have a reputation for being fast and hungry, such as zebra danios and silver tip tetras. Although they may not eat adult shrimp, they can outcompete them for food. They may also be stressed by constant chases.
Cherry shrimp are loved for their bright colors, easy breeding, and we hope you have as much fun with them as we did. You can find more information about how to care for cherry shrimp in our other articles.