Red Cherry Shrimp Grading (with pictures)

Red Cherry Shrimp Grading

Today I would like to talk about Red Cherry shrimp grading.  As a matter of fact but most aquarists do not even know what kind of Cherry shrimp they have in their aquariums. I have studied this subject thoroughly, so I do believe that this information should help any aquarists to identify what kind of Red Cherry shrimp they have. This is how they are graded from lowest to highest.

Red Cherry shrimp description refers to the lowest grade of the shrimp. Next, Sakura Red Cherry shrimp have a more intense red color. Then, we have Fire Red Cherry shrimp, these shrimp are absolutely red. Painted Fire Red shrimp are completely solid in color and have no transparent patches. The last one is Blood Mary shrimp with extremely deep, intense, crimson red coloration.

When aquarists started breeding Neocaridina davidi shrimp, it became obvious that this species had a large number of color genes in their makeup. A number of colors have been successfully isolated since this selective breeding of the species began, with Red color being the first in this line.

Note: However, there are also Yellows, Greens, Oranges, Chocolates, Blues and even Snow-white (Snowball shrimp), with all imaginable different variations of these types. 

Red Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) Grades

Without any doubt, the most important part of the shrimp is their color and Red Cherry shrimp is still the most popular of the color morphs. 

 Red Cherry Shrimp Grading

Regular Red Cherry Shrimp Grade

Ordinary Red Cherry shrimp vary greatly in color density. They are also known as regular Сherry shrimp and are the lowest grade of Neocaridina davidi. Which means that they will not be solid red like the higher grade Sakura Red Cherry Shrimp and the Painted Fire Red Cherry Shrimp.

In general, Red cherry shrimp tend to be mainly transparent (not white) in color with some red spots.

Ordinary Red Cherry shrimp Description:

  1. Red color has a weak density (reddish-transparent). It looks like shrimp is covered with red dots. In some cases, when the dots are close enough together, the color looks reasonably solid. However, if we take a close-up digital photo, we will see the “pixilation”.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments are mostly transparent with spots of light red.
  3. Legs are generally colorless as well.
  4. Males are almost totally colorless but some will have scarce spots of red.
  5. Females can have a light-colored, well-defined back line. The females are, as in all Neocaridina, more intensively colored than the males.

Sakura Red Cherry Shrimp Grade

The Sakura Red Cherry Shrimp is a higher quality variant of the common Red Cherry Shrimp. 

Sakura Red Cherry ShrimpDescription:

  1. Red color has more density. However, there are still transparent patches Pixilation effect is not present anymore.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments are mostly red except the lower body.
  3. Legs can usually have transparent patches, which are very spotted or striped.
  4. Males can range from regular colorless Red Cherry grade to Sakura Red grade.
  5. It is still very easy to see ovarian development (a saddle) in female shrimp.

Low-grade Red Fire /High-grade Sakura Cherry Shrimp

At this grade, the Cherry shrimp is almost completely red.  

Low-grade Red Fire - High-grade Sakura Cherry ShrimpDescription:

  1. The intensity of red color is relatively deep. Nonetheless, there may be a small translucent or orange tint to the shell.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments are red with some small cracks and holes in the carapace and between the segments.
  3. Legs are mostly red with some slight spotting in color.
  4. Males are generally lighter in color than females and exhibit lower color grades. They can range from Sakura to almost the same as females.
  5. Saddles and eggs are still visible. There may be some translucence to the carapace such that the saddle may still be visible under regular lighting.

Note: Sexing Fire Red Shrimp becomes difficult at the higher grades, as both males and females have the potential to be completely red.

Red Fire Cherry Shrimp Grade

At this grade, the Cherry shrimp is completely red.  Red Fire shrimp has a highly intensive red color variant. The females are of a better color quality than the males.

Red Fire Cherry Shrimp Grade Description:

  1. The intensity of red color is very deep. The coloration is very vibrant.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments are red without any cracks and holes in the body.
  3. Legs are mostly red in color as well.
  4. Males are generally lighter in color than females and exhibit lower color grades. They can range from Sakura to almost the same as females.
  5. Saddles and eggs are still visible. However, it becomes difficult to see under regular lighting.

Note: Sexing Fire Red Shrimp becomes difficult at the higher grades, as both males and females have the potential to be completely red.

Painted Fire Red Cherry Shrimp Grade

These are one of the most expensive and highest grades of Red cherry shrimp available. They have a beautiful, deep red coloration, which helps this little shrimp stand out sharply against any background, plants, or substrate in any aquarium.  Painted Fire Red Cherry shrimp have a solid deep red in color with no transparent areas.

Painted Fire Red Cherry Shrimp Description:

  1. Color density. The most opaque and full coverage of red colorations.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments have a highly deep red coloration with no clear spots at all.
  3. Legs are completely red.
  4. Males can range from Sakura Grade to Painted Fire Grade as male Neocaridina shrimp are just less colorful than their female counterparts.
  5. Saddles and eggs are visible through the shell only under special lighting conditions.

Note: In some cases, the Painted Fire Red females can be closer to a dark maroon shade. Thus, they might mimic Bloody Mary shrimp. However, the color coverage usually does not include the legs, which can be a less vivid red. 

Bloody Mary Shrimp Grade

Bloody Mary is one of the most recent grades that has come to market from Taiwan. Although it is still the same type of Red Neocaridina, these shrimp have a very clear distinction. Unlike all Red Cherry shrimp (which carry their red pigment on the shells), Bloody Mary shrimp have semi-transparent shells with deep red color in their tissue.

Bloody Mary ShrimpDescription:

  1. Color density. Extremely deep, intense, crimson red.
  2. Carapace and abdominal segments have an extremely deep red coloration with no clear spots at all.
  3. Legs are completely red
  4. Males are very nearly as red as the females and a few females are really dark red, nearly maroon.
  5. Saddles and eggs are only visible through the shell only under special lighting conditions.

Note: Information on the origin of Bloody Mary shrimp is contradictory with some breeders claiming they are simply Cherry shrimp with red tissue, while other breeders claim true Bloody Mary shrimp are bred from dwarf Chocolate Sakura shrimp.  

Difference between Bloody Mary and Painted Fire Red shrimp Grade

Unfortunately, we have a lot of confusion regarding Red Cherry Grades. Sometimes shrimp breeders intentionally or not are selling Painted Fire Red shrimp as Blood Mary. Basically, you never know what you are going to get from a supplier.

In order to differentiate Bloody Mary and Painted Fire Red you will have to use a macro lens. Ideally, shrimp should be placed against something white with a lot of light shined on top of the shrimp. It will show the transparency of their shell.

I have seen on the Internet that some shrimp breeders use the shape of rostrum as a guide to tell the difference between Bloody Mary and Painted Fire Red shrimp.

Difference between Bloody Mary and Painted Fire Red shrimp

Well, let me tell you that this is an interesting but very unreliable way because:

  1. Both versions belong to the same species.
  2. If we look at other pictures, we can find Bloody Mary shrimp with long rostrum as well.

Bloody Mary shrimp

My theory regarding these photos will be that it may be due to mutations (Inbreeding is mating of closely related (genetically) shrimp) of this particular line of shrimp. However, we need more information about it anyway.

Kanoko Sakura Red Cherry Shrimp Grade

 Kanoko Red Cherry ShrimpThe word Kanoko, meaning “Baby deer”, comes from the resemblance to the spots on the back of a baby deer. This shrimp has the darkest color of all the red variations. There are round black spots all over the shrimp body. When females are pregnant, their eggs are painted black.

The main problem seems to be that there are no established populations of them yet. As far as I know,  there are only a few shrimp breeders in the world who are breeding them.

However, this color morph has all chances to become a new favorite in this race. Although, I think that it should be a Pattern grading.

Red Rili Shrimp (Pattern Grade)

Rili Red Cherry Shrimp Grading Red Rili shrimp is a color morph of the Cherry shrimp. It was developed around 2010 and was highly sought after for its novel coloration, and a combination of intense colors and clear parts.  

The Red Rili shrimp is a highly intensive red color variant of the standard Red Cherry shrimp, with pigmented and (deliberately) unpigmented parts of the body. Their basic body color is transparent to slightly whitish, and they have patches of intensive, solid red in different parts of their body. All in all, the females are of a better color quality than the males.

However, unlike Red color grading, the more transparency, the higher the grade of the shrimp.

Note: That is why some aquarists consider it as a Pattern grading. Actually, it makes sense in my opinion (the same as Kanoko Sakura Red Cherry shrimp).

Note #2: Although Red Rili shrimp were bred from Cherry shrimp, due to strict selective inbreeding these shrimp are a little more sensitive to tank parameters and fluctuations. However, they are still a beginner shrimp and easy to care for.  

Can I keep different Cherry grades together?

It depends on your goal. Keep in mind that they are all (ordinary Cherry, Sakura, Fire Red, Painted Fire Red, and Bloody Mary shrimp, etc.) belong to Neocaridina. Therefore, they will breed and those beautiful vibrant colors that you like, and paid for, and that breeders worked hard to achieve, will go away after some time.

Eventually, you will end up with wild colored shrimp after a few generations.

You can read more about “Culling Shrimp. Selective Breeding” right here.

Conclusion

There are various grades of Red Cherry Shrimp, from deep dark red to paler colors and they are all a product of the selective breeding of the Cherry Shrimp.

Regardless of their grading, the females are the most colorful and are particularly sensitive to the color of the substrate and background.

The higher is the grade, the better is the color. However, the name itself has little to do with the actual grade. It is best to compare these different shrimp colors in an aquarium pet store because it is very difficult to compare them online. In person, you can see the differences in color. 

2 thoughts on “Red Cherry Shrimp Grading (with pictures)

  1. The bloody mary is not a grade of cherry shrimp but rather a red variant of the chocolate shrimp. Their colouration comes from their flesh and not from the carapace. Unlike most shrimp these have a transparent carapace that let you see their deep red coloured tissue underneath.

    1. SGX hi,

      Thank you for your reply.
      Actually, everything you said about Bloody Mary I also had written in the article. Including the problem of identification (Bloody Mary vs Painted Fire Red Shrimp) and how this line was (supposedly) created.
      Unfortunately, I will repeat it once again, there are no standards in shrimp breeding. Every time I write an article I do my research. Let me tell you, nobody made any records about the family tree. There are no documented results at all! Only theories. All we have – pictures of their family/coloration tree without any reliable background.
      As a result, we have a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.
      Nonetheless, Bloody Mary and PFRS are a close match when it comes to pricing. In addition, most people have a hard time differentiating them at all.

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