Tiny red cherry shrimp are a popular among fish enthusiasts because of their eye-catching bright red “cherry” color, as well as how easy they are to care for. But what do cherry shrimp eat? Find out further on in this article.
Cherry shrimp, or neocardidina davidi, are a color morph of dwarf freshwater shrimp that originate from Taiwan. In the wild, cherry shrimp get their name for being a vibrant red due to selective breeding (although carotenoid in their diet may also enhance this color).
In fact, these shrimp can be found in a wide variety of colors. The most common ones you will see are green, brown, red, yellow, orange and blue. However, the vivid “cherry” red is the most popular among aquarium enthusiasts today.
Did you know that cherry shrimp are great for any home fish tank or aquarium? Let’s explore what these tiny creatures eat and why they’re such a popular addition.
What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat?
Cherry shrimp consume vast quantities of algae—even hair algae! Like brine shrimp, algae forms the basis of a cherry shrimp’s diet. Cherry shrimp feast on most types of algae, in addition to plankton, uneaten fish food, and plant debris.
They will consume anything they come across, as they are both omnivores and scavengers.
Cherry shrimp enjoy eating a variety of foods, including:
- Fish food that has not been eaten
- All algae (excluding blue-green algae, green spot algae and staghorn algae)
- Blanched vegetables
- Bacterial film, or biofilm, is a layer of bacteria that forms on surfaces
- Plant material that is dead or in the process of decomposing
- Their own exoskeletons
- Plankton and phytoplankton
- Dead brine shrimp
Why do People Love Cherry Shrimp as Pets?
Cherry shrimp are becoming more popular among pet-owners because of their miniature size and beautiful color. They only grow up to 1.5 inches, which makes them easy to take care of, and they get along well with other types of shrimp so you can have many living together in one tank.
These creatures are ideal for beginner and experienced aquarium enthusiasts because they require limited care. They are small and scavenge for food, so they won’t bother other animals in the tank. Plus, water temperature isn’t a major concern for them.
Although they are small, their cherry red color makes them easy to spot in a fish tank. They are also quite active as they continually graze for food throughout the day, making them a fun pet to watch.
How Much Food do Cherry Shrimps Need?
Because cherry shrimp are tiny and tend to scavenge, many pet owners worry about them getting enough to eat. However, their diet is easy to maintain since they mostly consume uneaten fish food and plant debris. Cherry shrimp also play an important role in the aquarium as the “cleanup crew.”
Algae forms a large part of their diet, which is why they’re such good cleaners for aquariums. In fact, some fish tank owners encourage algae growth by leaving the light on for an extra hour or two so these little aquatic creatures have more to graze on
What Food Should Cherry Shrimp Avoid?
Although cherry shrimp are known to consume whatever they come across, there are a few exceptions to this rule. They will not eat fish poop or other cherry shrimp (although they don’t mind munching on some shed exoskeletons from time-to-time).
The one thing they are extremely sensitive to, however, is copper. Copper can be very bad for cherry shrimp and other seafood. It is important for pet owners to choose high-quality pellets that do not contain a lot of copper, and to always check the labels of other fish food and medications (as these often contain copper as well)..
What Animals Eat Cherry Shrimp?
As cherry shrimp scavenge for food such as discarded fish food, algae, and plant decay, they don’t face much competition from other animals. Unfortunately, this also means that cherry shrimp are eaten quite frequently by predators since they sit low on the food chain.
Cherry shrimp need lots of hiding places if you want to keep them as pets, using densely packed plants, java moss and java fern, and rocky substrate. Pet owners should also be aware of the other kinds of animals they decide to keep in a tank alongside cherry shrimp when deciding on what kind fish to get.
Here are a few examples aggressive fish that will eat cherry shrimp:
Cherry shrimp thrive best when kept in a tank with less aggressive fish, like:
- Dwarf Corydoras
- Otocinclus catfish
What Do Baby Cherry Shrimp Eat?
Unlike their adult counterparts, baby cherry shrimp are unable to consume many of the same foods. For the first two months of life, they primarily eat biofilm and algae. However, if kept as pets, they can also eat commercial products such as spirulina powder.
Baby cherry shrimp thrive when they nibble on the leaves of anacharis plants, as this provides them with extra nutrients. However, due to their small size, it is best to keep them in their own tank away from larger fish who might see them as a meal.
How to Make Your Cherry Shrimp Vibrantly Colored
The deep red hue of cherry shrimp is achieved through breeding and not diet. However, similar to other animals, a healthier shrimp with a better diet and environment will display brighter colors.
Cherry shrimp are more comfortable in larger groups, with an abundance of plants and hiding spots. By making their habitat feel like home, you can also help them showcase brighter colors.