Red Cherry shrimps (Neocaridina denticulata sinensis) are freshwater shrimps that can be easily bred and maintained in an aquarium. Ranging in various shades of red, these shrimps make beautiful ornamental additions to any aquarium. They are also preferred by owners of aquariums for their immense appetite for organic detritus and algae, which make them useful cleaning agents for the aquarium and a credit to any clean up crew. These shrimps are also highly adaptive and can be adept at socializing with other shrimp species housed in the same aquarium. (Although mixing different species of shrimp is not recommended)
Having a mix of male and female shrimps ensures that breeding will take place within the span of one month. Nevertheless, it is essential to keep an eye on the temperature and composition of the water in the aquarium, since fluctuations in the same can prove to be quite fatal for these miniature inhabitants.
Preparing the Environment of the Aquarium
The optimum temperature for breeding Red Cherry Shrimps is 80⁰F (a little above 26⁰C). Lower temperatures negatively affect the health, behaviour and breeding of these shrimps. Higher temperatures tend to improve the breeding, but it is advisable not to go beyond 81⁰F, as this leads to a reduction in the dissolved oxygen in the water – the essential component for sustaining life in a thriving aquarium.
Copper, ammonia, and nitrite can be fatal to Red Cherry shrimps. These shrimps are adept at cleaning up organic detritus, but any of these chemicals – if accumulated in the water owing to the over-accumulation of organic waste – can be fatal. The water must be tested even for traces of such chemical agents before attempting to breed Red Cherry Shrimps in it.
It is also advisable to maintain nitrate concentrations at very low levels, as well. If it is not possible to nullify the concentration, the concentration should not be allowed to exceed 20ppm.
Since shrimps are very much sensitive to metals and chlorine, it is advisable to use a dechlorinate solution for treating the water prior to adding it. Also, the temperature of the water being added should be brought as close to the temperature of the water in the aquarium as possible.
pH of the water:
The optimum pH of the water in a tank containing Red Cherry Shrimps is 6.8. Anything below 6.2 or above 7.3 can be quite harmful to the shrimps. If the pH is higher, one might consider adding a chemical additive such as peat to lower it. This needs to be done in case the water in the tank is filled from taps carrying water at a higher pH.
Red Cherry shrimps and plants are known for building up the perfect ecosystem in an aquarium. Shrimps thrive on algae and plant detritus. The green of the plants also stands in sharp contrast against the red of the shrimps, complementing the ornamental beauty of the aquarium. However, care should be taken while adding fertilizers, since too much of fertilizer often interferes with the pH of the water and becomes fatal for the shrimps.
Maintaining plants often requires the administration of CO2 injections on a periodic basis. However, this needs to be performed with extra care, since an excess of carbon dioxide can bond with the water molecules to form carbonic acid, which affects the pH of the water.
Housing, Feeding and Breeding the Shrimps
Adding the shrimps to the aquarium is a lot trickier than adding new fish. Since shrimps are extremely sensitive to the environment of the tank, it is important to acclimatize them to the water prior to adding it. Therefore, the first thing to remember is – never transport the shrimps to a new source of water straight away.
A good practice is to gradually add the water (if necessary, through slow decantation) from the new environment to the bag or bowl containing the shrimps in their old environment. It is important to observe the behavior of the shrimps for at least half an hour in order to be certain that they are able to adapt to the new environment. It is advisable to move the shrimps to the tank only after ensuring that the shrimps do not show any signs of stress, such as becoming agitated and swimming upwards.
While feeding the Red Cherry shrimps, there are two considerations to be made. Firstly, these shrimps can feed on algae as well as organic matter accumulating in the tank. Secondly, the food must be in such a condition that the nutrients gradually dissolve in the water, or the solid food sinks to the bottom. The organic matter will be present aplenty if there are fish and aquatic plants in the tank. Vegetables like spinach can also drop into the tank, but these must be boiled and shredded. That way, the vegetables would sink to the bed of the tank and the shrimps would be able to feed. Processed foods can also be purchased from stores. These provide balanced nutrition to the shrimps and do not interfere with the pH of the tank.
Housing Red Cherry shrimps in a tank containing large predatory fishes like the Oscars and Angel Fish would only result in the obliteration of the shrimp population. They can, however, be kept alongside other species of shrimp. However, as the population grows for all the species, it is quite probable that territorial disputes might occur during breeding.
Red Cherry shrimps generally breed during the summer. Raising the temperature of the aquarium by a couple of degrees Farenheit induces their mating behavior. Since the eggs require minerals and calcium to mature, the hardness of the water can also be raised slightly using limestone chips to induce mating.
One of the first mistakes that newbie shrimp breeders make is not replacing the filter with an aerator. The filter can suck out the eggs from the tank, resulting in a completely futile breeding cycle.
It would take at least a month for the eggs to hatch. It is essential to maintain the temperature of the water at one or two degrees over 80⁰F.