Sunday, October 08, 2006
Cherry Shrimp - Neocaridina denticulata sinensis
Common Name: Cherry Shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp, RCS
Scientific Name: Neocaridina denticulata sinensis var. red
Geographic Location: Taiwan
Size: Up to 3cm (1 inch)
Conditions: 60-82F (ideally 72-78F), pH 6.5-7.5
Skill Level: Intermediate
Minimum Tank Size: 2.5 gallons
Cherry shrimp are some of the easiest shrimp to keep and breed in the aquarium. Often called Red Cherry Shrimp or RCS, these shrimp thrive in planted aquariums, where they eat algae. Juveniles should be purchased, as they adapt better to new aquarium conditions, and at least 10 should be purchased to ensure a mix of males and females. Males are often mostly clear with just a few red stripes and are smaller than females. Juvenile females are similar to males, but as they reach 2-3 months old they develop a solid red color. Around the same time, they should become pregnant with yellow-ish eggs. They carry these eggs around with them in their swimmerettes for roughly 30 days. Unlike other shrimp, the eggs hatch into miniature versions of the adults (there is no intermediate plankton stage). The baby shrimp are very small and are easily eaten by other fish or sucked up into filters. Therefore, if you want to breed these shrimp in any significant numbers, keeping them in a tank of their own with a sponge filter is the best option. Most smaller fish should leave them alone, but do not mix them with fish that have mouths large enough to eat the Cherries, otherwise they may become a snack. Shrimp are also a favorite snack of loaches and puffer fish. Other dangers include ammonia and nitrite. These shrimp are highly sensitive to these two, and will be the first to die if there is a spike in either.
I've kept Cherry shrimp on and off for about a year now, and they are definitely worth having a tank of their own. They eat algae (and are therefore a handy cleaning squad for any algae covered plants you put in their tank), they are colorful, easy to breed, and are entertaining to watch. They are vulnerable to larger fish and chemicals though, so be careful what you put into your water (copper can also prove lethal to these invertebrates) and if you want to expand your flock, keep them in a tank without other fish to snap up the babies.
The best place to buy Cherry shrimp is online through other hobbyists. They are readily available on Aquabid and through various aquarium forums, often for less than $2 a shrimp. They ship very well too, and can tolerate temperatures as low as 60F. Keep them well fed with algae or algae wafers and keep the water quality high and you will be rewarded with more Cherries than you can give away (or sell)!
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