Red_Cherry Shrimp

Guide: How to Breed Shrimp

by Michael

Keeping and breeding dwarf shrimp has become very popular around the world and nowadays is becoming increasingly attractive. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to understand how to breed and keep freshwater shrimp. This guide will give you basically everything you need to know: lights, water parameters, filters, substrate, mineral stones, plants and etc. Even if you are an experienced shrimp breeder, you may find it useful for you as well.

I will try my best to give you everything you need to know about shrimps so you could get optimal results.

Types of Shrimp

First things first, let’s start from types of freshwater shrimp. You need to decide what type of shrimp you would like to have. Do not think that it does not matter that much. Some types of shrimp need special conditions in order to breed. So, if you want to achieve the best possible result, everything must be in the right place.

There are 3 main types of shrimp:
1. Neo-Caridina shrimp.
2. Caridina shrimp.
3. Sulawesi shrimp. 

Note: Of course, there are more types of shrimp such as Palaemonetes (for example, Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus)), Atyopsis (for example, Bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis  moluccensis)). I will talk about them in other articles.

All main types have so many variations that it can be a little overwhelming to choose your first shrimp. That is why if you are a complete beginner, the best choice will be Neocaridina davidi or the more common name – Cherry Shrimp. It is easy to breed, very unpretentious and looks very nice.

Neocaridina Davidi Common Name: Cherry Shrimp
Scientific name Neocaridina davidi
Origin Taiwan
Maximum Size: 2 – 2.5 cm or 0.8 – 1 inch
Temperament: Omnivore/Non-aggressive
Breeding: Extremely Easy
Keeping: Extremely Easy

You can read more about “3 Most Hardy Dwarf Shrimp For Beginners” right here.

Set Up Your Aquarium for Shrimps

There are a lot of things you need to know about it. Nevertheless, all of them can be divided into two categories:
1. Primal requirements:
– Filter.
– Water parameters.
– Temperature
Primal requirements will allow you to start keeping shrimps in the first place.

2. Secondary requirements:
– Tank size.
– Plants.
– Driftwood, Chola wood, and Beeramid.
– Leaves and cones.
– Snails.
– Water changes.
– Food and food supplements.
– Lights.
– Mineral stones.
– Plant supplements.
– Fish presence.
– Substrates.

Secondary requirements are not that mandatory but with them, you can create optimal conditions in your tank. As a result, the survival rate will be higher and your shrimp will thrive. Always remember that secondary requirements will never replace or compensate for the main ones. With that being said, let’s start with equipment.

Primal Requirements

Heaters. Temperature Requirements for Shrimps

It is usually advised to have temperature 21-24C (70-75F), except Sulawesi shrimp, they need 26-29C (79-84F).
In case your room temperature has these numbers (day and night), you do not need it. If fluctuation is big enough it would be better to install one.

Consistency is the most important factor when we are talking about temperature. There should not be any sudden changes and the bigger your tank the slower it happens. So, if you are about to start shrimp breeding take a closer look at a 2ft aquarium (60 cm). Unfortunately, this is the biggest downside of small aquariums. Everything can go wrong very quickly in small tanks. You simply need to have some space for mistakes.

Tips: If you need the heater, you need to keep in mind that most heaters are not accurate. For example, if you set them to 72F it can be actually 68F or 76F in reality. The only way to get accurate readings is by keeping a thermostat in the tank just to make sure you are keeping an accurate measurement of the temperature.

What will happen if you keep shrimp outside of recommended temperature?

Actually, it is a common mistake by the way. When it happens, this is what you can expect.

In case of higher temperatures: In case of lower temperatures:
1. shorter lifespan 1. longer lifespan
2. quicker breeding cycle 2. longer breeding cycle
3. more eating 3. less eating

Of course, it will not hurt your shrimp that bad if you deviate from recommended parameters, like 2-3 degrees. Anyway, it is better to follow the requirements.

You can read more about “How Temperature Affects Breeding of Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

You can read more about “How Temperature Affects Sex Ration of Red Cherry Shrimp” and “Breeding and Life Cycle of Red Cherry shrimp” right here.

Filter for Shrimp

Lots of different filters will do really well, so you need to pick what works best for your situation (with the space and size of aquarium given). Some people claim that the canister filter is definitely a favorite (quiet and powerful). While overs are satisfied with sponge filters (or Matten filters).

I would like to mention that overfiltering the aquarium can be also bad. On shrimp forums, some people said that they were using canister filters for years and their water was as pure as possible. Eventually, shrimps became over sensitive and would die very easily. Since they needed almost sterile conditions. Nevertheless, it should not worry you that much because under normal circumstances you will never have such pure water for so long.

You can read more about “The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp” right here.

Baby Shrimplets and Filter

The most important thing with the filter is that it must not be able to suck up your baby shrimps. They are tiny creatures (1-3mm long) and you need to make sure of their safety. In order to prevent them to enter the filter, you can use stockings to cover an intake. In this case, do not forget to clear it of debris every 3-4 days. So it will not block the intake or burn out your pump.

There is also an easier way. You can choose a good filter with high PPI (pores per inch) right from the beginning. For example, 25-30 PPI will be sufficient.

Filter and Ammonia

Filter plays a vital role in an aquarium eco-system. Besides clearing water in the tank it also breaks down ammonia (NH3 – toxic for shrimp) into nitrite (NO2 – toxic for shrimp) and then into nitrates (NO3). That is extremely crucial for the survival of your shrimps. You can read more about “Step-by-Step Cycling your Shrimp Aquarium Fishless” right here.

Formula

Water Parameters for the Shrimp

I cannot stress enough how it is important to have required water parameters. It will define the line between life and death of your shrimp colony. That is why the most important thing here is to keep your water parameters correct as well as constant. 

pH Requirements for the Shrimps

pH scale

pH is an abbreviation for a potential of hydrogen which will tell you if the water is considered acidic, neutral or alkaline.

On a scale from 0 to 14:
– pH of 7 is considered “neutral”,
– under 7 is considered “acidic”
– over 7 is considered “alkaline”.

In order to know pH of your water, you need a pH test kit. They are cheap and can be found almost in any pet shop.

Optimal pH 
Tiger Caridina shrimp Bee Caridina shrimp Neo-Caridina shrimp Sulawesi shrimp
between 6 and 7 between 6.2 and 6.8  between 6.5 and 7.5 between 7.5 and 8.5

You can read more about “Water Parameters: Everything about pH in Shrimp Tank” right here.

GH Requirements for the Shrimp 

GH – is an abbreviation for General Hardness. This is a measurement for the total amount of dissolved minerals (calcium and magnesium) in your tank. You will need to buy a test kit for this too.

Optimal gH
Tiger Caridina shrimp Bee Caridina shrimp Neo-Caridina shrimp Sulawesi shrimp
between 4 and 8 between 4 and 6 between 6 and 8 between 4 and 6

You can read more about “Water Parameters: Everything about GH in Shrimp Tank” right here.

KH Requirements for the Shrimp

KH stands for carbonate hardness. It is the waters buffering capacity (ability to neutralize acids). In simple words – how flexible your pH is. For example, if your kH is 0, it means that your pH can go from 5 to 10 overnight.

 Optimal kH 
Tiger Caridina shrimp Bee Caridina shrimp Neo-Caridina shrimp Sulawesi shrimp
between 2 and 6 between 0 and 1 between 1 and 4 between 2 and 4

You can read more about “Water Parameters: Everything about KH in Shrimp Tank” right here.

TDS Requirements for the Shrimp

TDS is an abbreviation for Total Dissolved Solids.  It tells us everything that is not H2O molecules. It can be minerals, ammonia, nitrites, and etc. There are special tools to measure it also. TDS will help you to decide when it is a time for water change.

 Optimal TDS
Tiger Caridina shrimp Bee Caridina shrimp Neo-Caridina shrimp Sulawesi shrimp
between 100 and 200 between 100 and 200 between 100 and 300 between 150 and 250

You can read more about “Water Parameters: Everything about TDS in Shrimp Tank” right here.

Water Sources for the Shrimp

We have several water source options. These are:
1. tap water
2. well water
3. rainwater
4. RO/RODI (filtered water) 

Tiger Caridina shrimp Bee Caridina shrimp Neo-Caridina shrimp Sulawesi shrimp
RO/RODI (filtered) water.

rainwater

RO/RODI (filtered) water.

rainwater

tap water

borehole or well water

RO/RODI (filtered) water.

 

Important: absolutely pure water (as was mentioned before) is not enough. They need magnesium, calcium and other minerals in order to survive.  So, if you are using rainwater or RO water, you will have to remineralize it. There are special products on the market for that.

They can live for some time on tap water but eventually, they will die out.

They are easier to keep because they can survive and reproduce under harsh circumstances.  Sulawesi shrimp might survive in your tap water for some time but it is absolutely no good for them.

Another way, the hard way, to understand that your shrimp are not happy is the number of babies. If you get 10-15 (or less) babies a few times in a row, it is a warning sign! You need to check all parameters and find the flaw.

Secondary Requirements

Let’s talk about things that will increase the survival rate of your shrimp and give you more babies.

Tank size for the Shrimp

It all depends on the goals in the first place. If you want to breed shrimp seriously, then the best size can be about 40 feet. If it is not possible to have a room for such a big tank, choose 20 Longs. The biggest reason why 20 Long tank is better for shrimp is that they have more surface area compared to something like a 20 high. The last one has more water volume that is better for fish. When it comes to shrimp it is better to have the actual surface.

In case, if you just want to keep shrimp, you can work even with 10-gallon tank.

Tank size also limits the amount of shrimp in it. If you want them to feel comfortable, it is better to have 1-3 shrimp per 1 liter of water (5-10 per gallon). As you can see, even in a small 10-gallon tank it is possible to have at least 50 shrimp. That is a lot!

For more information, you can read more about “How Density Affects Cherry Shrimp” right here.

Plants for the Shrimp

In nature, shrimp usually spend their time hiding out from predators. Moss and other plants give them such places. It makes them feel more comfortable.

Plants also give an extra surface area for biofilm to grow. In terms of aquarium keeping, the biofilm is a collection of multi-cellular organisms, like bacteria, diatoms, algae, fungi and other. Biofilm forms a layer on any surface submerged in water. It happens because macro-molecules (e.g. Sugars, proteins) attach to surfaces since surfaces (at the molecular level) are polar (i.e. have positive and negatively charged areas).  As a result, bacteria are the first to attach to these surfaces to get use of these molecules. In its turn, the bacteria make the surfaces attractive for other organisms.

Each surface also has a unique biofilm. The main thing shrimp breeders should know is that biofilm is food for shrimp and it plays an important part in their menu.

Another benefit of the planted tank is that plants break down ammonia as well. Do not worry, shrimp do not eat healthy plants. They are scavengers and do not have any interest in it unless the plant is dying or decaying. Nevertheless, it is also a good thing for you. You will spend less time cleaning your tank.

All in all, plants are extremely beneficial to any shrimp tank.

Tip: Do not underestimate the importance of the plant quarantine before adding them in the tank. They can have pesticides.
Also there people who believe that some of the plants can be poisonous. But it is very debatable and controversial. 

Driftwood, Chola wood and Beeramid for the Shrimp

Once again it provides hiding places and extra area for biofilm to grow. Anyway, there must be some reasonable limits for that. Eventually, driftwood will start decomposing and it will promote algae growth.

Another thing you need to know is that driftwood:Driftwood in aquarium

  • will lower the pH of the water as it releases tenants
  • can change (increase) the TDS of your water

If you have a very high TDS parameter, there can be several reasons for that.

  1. Test your RO. If it is not good, it is a signal to replace the membrane.
  2. If the RO is not a problem, in this case, in order to lower the TDS you need to do more frequent and larger water changes. Again. Be careful and watch shrimp reaction. This would start to get rid of the excess fertilizer that has been building up.

Chola wood is actually a dead cactus. It has similar functions with driftwood. Chola wood is a great place for the plants. In addition, it is a super good anchor as well as. Also, it grows a lot of biofilm for the shrimp themselves and also releases tannins. You can read more in my article “Driftwood in Shrimp Tank”.

Small beeramid

As modern technology evolves and pushes out the old ones you can use the multifunction beeramid. It is basically a porous ceramic shelter. The beeramid provides a place for shelter, breeding, nesting and just living. However, being so porous it actually houses a lot of beneficial bacteria for your tanks. In addition, it will be another source of filtration for your aquarium.

Leaves for the Shrimp

It is not a secret that in natural environment shrimps are surrounded by plants, litter, and leaves. As a part of the natural decaying process, micro-organisms or biofilm will cover all of it. That in its turn will become food for shrimp. This diet plays a very important role in shrimp life because it provides a lot of proteins and vitamins and improves their immune system.

The leaves that we most commonly use in the shrimp hobby:

– Indian almond leavesShrimp on almond leaves
– Indian Almond Bark / Catappa Bark
– Banana Leaves
– Guava Leaves
– Mulberry Leaves etc
For more information, you can read more about “Indian Almond Leaves and Alder Cones in a Shrimp Tank” right here.

Snails and Shrimp

I believe that this is the biggest misconception in the aquatic community that snails are bad. On the contrary, I strongly believe that they should be in all shrimp aquariums. They eat algae (Nerite snail are one of the best algae eaters), they eat dead plants and they poop a lot. Shrimp eat the snail’s poop, which gives them another source of food.

Tip: I would like to warn anybody who has Aquasoil as a substrate. Be careful with Malaysian trumpet snails. They tend to break it down to mush after some time.

For more information, you can read more about “Benefits of Snails for a Shrimp Aquarium” right here.

Food  for the Shrimp

Personally, I believe that the more expensive food works out much better and technically cheaper compared to cheap ones. The point is that you will have less random deaths, healthier molts and just better-looking shrimp overall. Some favorites product to start with:

  • Shrimp king complete.
  • Shrimp king mineral.
  • Bacter AE.
  • Mineral junkie.
  • Hikari Shrimp Cuisine

For more information, you can read more about “How and What to Feed your Shrimp” right here.

At the same time, you need to remember one thing, do not overfeed shrimps. Almost all products will tell you the recommended amount of ration. The point is that they are playing too safe. So, even if you give shrimps reasonably less food, you will not have any problems. And to help you with that matter, you can use feeding dishes.

They will show you how much food left. It will help to prevent overfeeding. For more information, you can read more about “Everything about Feeding Dishes for Shrimp” right here. They also make it cleaner in the aquarium, as the leftover food will not go into the substrate but rather spread across the dish. 

Water Changes in Shrimp Tank

There are two extreme opposing points of view. Water changes are not necessary and you need to do them every week (like fish care).

I would like to start off by saying that you should not ever believe the myth that water changes are not necessary. If you feed your shrimp they poop. It gets broken down by the bacteria in your filter and ends up as nitrites in the water. And a large amount of nitrites can be toxic to your shrimp.

If your nitrates level is more than 20 you should do a water change. By doing monthly water changes you can at least smooth some of those nitrates so that they do not cause harm to your shrimp.

Regarding the second opinion. Shrimp are not that messy like fish. After all, they are scavengers and will help you to clean the aquarium. So, if you do more water changes the more things come into effect and the higher chance to make a mistake. Because shrimp are very sensitive, you do not want to spoil anything!

If you measure a TDS as well as your nitrates and find that it falls within the acceptable parameters then it is okay not to do water changes for that week or month.

Not doing water changes over extended periods can lead to stressed shrimp and just random shrimp deaths. So please check your TDs and nitrate levels if you are not doing water changes and just doing both top-ups.
For more information, you can read more about “How to do and how often to do water changes” right here.

Light in Shrimp Tank

Some people think that shrimp do not really need light. This is not completely true. Light influences the survival and growth rate of shrimp. Experiments show us that growth rate is significantly greater in full and partial light periods. However, constant light will stress the shrimp.

When you have a light just make sure that it is not on for 24 hours of the day. Your shrimp will try to go away from the light so also just make sure you give them enough hiding places. It is recommended to have the light on for 6-8 hours. It will be enough for your shrimp and plants.

For more information, you can read more about “How light affects Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

Pile of mineral stonesMineral Stones in Shrimp Tank

You can use mineral stones as it is beneficial but they only lost a short time and they are quite expensive. Frankly saying, I would rather use mineralized RO water with some good quality food at least once a week. In this case, the mineral stones will not really be necessary.

Nevertheless, some shrimp breeders believe that mineral stones have a great advantage. They can help the shrimp with molting issues.

Plant Supplements in Shrimp Tank

A lot of people keep planted aquariums. The plants need nutrients and some of us feed plants with supplements. As for the most shrimp keepers, the health of the shrimp is more important than the health of the plants.

All I want to say is that some of these supplements especially the liquid supplements have trace elements of copper that can be potentially harmful to your shrimp.

Tips: I would recommend to start at 1/2 dose and not as often just for safety sake. If everything is OK in 1 or 2 months, you can increase it to ¾ dose. Wait some time more and then go ahead and use the prescribed dosage.

You can read more about “How Copper Affects Dwarf Shrimp” right here.

Substrates for Shrimp

ADA Amazonia aqua Soil.

As was said before we need to keep our pH constant and a proper substrate can help us. A lot of people claim that ADA Amazonia soil is proven to be the best substrate in this category. It has a crazy amount of nutrients, and it will keep your pH relatively constant if using from 2 to 4 cm (1-2 inches) layer of the substrate.

ADA Amazonia leaches ammonia so you will have to prepare your tank before putting shrimps in it. At the same time, if you are just started using ADA Amazonia soil, be ready for cloudy water. Some shrimps (for example, like Red Bee or Caridina Japonica) peck on Amazonia granule, if the substrate soil is exposed. This problem will go away once foreground plants cover the substrate. Another downside of this substrate is that it is also pricey.

If you are not ready to pay for Aqua soil, there is a second option – Eco-Complete or some other alternative variants of the substrate, such as:

  • Aqua Aquarium Soil
  • Seachem Fluorite
  • Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum
  • Akadama
  • Shrimp king soil
  • Prodibio
  • Dennerle Scapers Soil
  • Langa
  • Aqua Help Advanced soil

You can read more about “Top 5 Substrates For Planted Aquariums” right here.

What Fish can I Keep With theShrimp

The answer depends on the questions. Are you a shrimp keeper or a shrimp breeder? What are your goals? If you are a shrimp keeper, in this case, be careful not to choose the wrong type of fish. Otherwise, you may unleash an Armageddon upon your shrimp.

For example, as a cherry shrimp keeper, you can have some types of fish, like:

  • Otocinclus
  • Cory fishSmall tetra fish and shrimp
  • Glow-light Tetras
  • White Clouds
  • Borneo Sucker
  • Forktail Rainbowfish
  • etc

Do you see the pattern here? These fish are small and peaceful. They will be satisfied with other food and will leave your cherry shrimp alone in most cases.

Nevertheless, they will still eat shrimp babies from time to time. So, yes, it is possible to have small fish and shrimps at the same time. But, you must understand that you will lose some babies and even adult ones (rarely). So, in order to minimize your loses, you need to provide your shrimp with enough hiding places to survive.

If you are a shrimp breeder the answer is No.

As a breeder, you cannot allow yourself to lose any shrimp or baby shrimp in the aquarium. There is a simple rule about fish. If it fits their mouths they will eat. So if you are serious about breeding shrimp then this question should not even be on your mind.

You can read more about “Сherry Shrimp in a Community Tank. Tips to Make it Successful” right here.

Cherry Shrimp Breeding Process

Once a female a male is sexually mature (about four to six months old). They will breed. Breeding occurs right after the female molts.  Molting is the process of shedding an exoskeleton of a shrimp. It allows the shrimp to grow in size and regrow under the exoskeleton. During this period the female shrimp is very vulnerable and she will hide in whatever space she can find that makes her feel safe.

After that she will hide and release pheromones, so the male could find her and breed with her. After the breeding occurs the female will carry the fertilized eggs under her tail until they hatch. They usually have 20–50 eggs.

Eggs will be constantly fanned by the females’ pleopods (these are swimming legs which keep the eggs oxygenated and clean). The fertilized eggs will remain under the tail until they hatch (it takes about 3-5 weeks). Once the eggs hatch the juvenile young is a tiny replica of their adult counterparts. Cherry shrimp are very prolific. However, successive mating can lead to high female mortality because of physical exhaustion in females.

Red Cherry Shrimp have no larval stages like most saltwater and many freshwater shrimp have. The young shrimp will eat the same foods as adults.

You can read more about “Breeding and Life Cycle of Red Cherry shrimp” right here.

Tips:

1. If you are new to the shrimp hobby and want to get into the hobby please do not buy expensive shrimp. Unfortunately, most novice shrimp breeders will kill their first batch or two of shrimp that is just a fact. Get normal cherry shrimp, get them breeding. Once you have raised the babies and they have had babies then you can go for more expensive shrimps. Get some experience. You can always sell the cherry shrimp or the less expensive shrimp at a later stage. If you really do not want them or want to go for more expensive ones. 

2. When you are buying shrimp, ask the source you are buying them from about water parameters where shrimp were kept. It will be less stressful for the shrimp when you give them the same parameters of the water.

3. Do not mix all different species of shrimp if you want to breed them. Different species of Neocaridina and Caridina can interbreed themselves. As a result, you will get some dodgy, unstable and weird colors and over a long period of time, they will revert to their wild color (a light, dark, brown). Therefore, stick to a specific species or a line specific shrimp that you want to breed. You can read more about “Culling Shrimp. Selective Breeding” right here.

4. Temperature affects sex ration of shrimp.

5. Male and female ratio plays a very important role in shrimp breeding. 

6. Do not forget to acclimate your shrimp before putting into the tank.

7. The most important thing for shrimp is consistency. Try to keep everything as stable as possible temperature, KH, GH, pH. 

In addition, you can read more about “Hints for survival and how do not kill your shrimp” right here

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