Top 12 Tank Mates to Keep With Cherry Shrimp
Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) are exceptionally popular in the freshwater aquarium hobby because of their dazzling array of colors, but unfortunately, their petite size makes them irresistibly delicious to other fish. If your goal is to breed as many shrimp as possible, your best course of action is to keep a species-only tank with no other types of animals living in it. However, if you primarily want to keep adult cherry shrimp as pets with a few surviving offspring, then keep reading this list of potential tank mates. None of these suggestions are 100% guaranteed since every living creature has a mind of its own, so we recommend adding lots of cover (e.g., piles of rocks, aquarium plants, and shrimp caves) to give the shrimp places to hide if needed.
Category #1: Small Invertebrates
Our first idea for shrimp-safe tank mates is to look at other nano invertebrates. For example, little snails — like nerite, mystery, bladder, and Malaysian trumpet snails — are mostly scavengers and detritivores that won’t eat living shrimp. They do like to eat the same types of foods as cherry shrimp though, so you may see fewer shrimp babies if the snail population outbreeds them. Larger filter-feeding shrimp, such as bamboo and vampire shrimp, are also a good choice because they predominantly eat tiny particles floating in the water. Similarly, Thai micro crabs use their hairy claws and legs to grab little crumbs, but they are quite shy and may be hard to spot in your aquarium.
Vampire or African fan shrimp (Atya gabonensis)
Other dwarf shrimp, like amano and ghost shrimp, can do well with cherry shrimp because they are roughly the same size and have similar care requirements. However, crystal shrimp and other Caridina shrimp may not be a good fit because they often prefer drastically different water parameters than cherry shrimp. While some hobbyists have kept them together, we often find that one shrimp colony tends to be happier and reproduce more than the other colony. Finally, avoid bigger crustaceans — such as long-arm shrimp, prawns, crayfish, and lobsters — because they are voracious creatures that will consume any source of protein they can find, including their smaller cousins.
Category #2: Small Algae Eaters
While most aquarium fish are not purely herbivorous, there are several species that like to graze on algae and aufwuchs (e.g., aquatic microflora growing on underwater surfaces). Otocinclus catfish are amazing algae eaters that are both peaceful and small in size. In our experience, they are slower eaters and most likely will not outcompete your shrimp. Stiphodon gobies are another type of nano aufwuchs grazer with a suction cup-like mouth built for scraping biofilm and microorganisms off rocks. Finally, consider dwarf plecos, like the clown pleco (Panaqolus maccus), that are known for eating algae and wood. While any of these fish may opportunistically snack on a baby shrimp, they generally leave the adult shrimp alone.
Category #3: Peaceful Nano Fish with Tiny Mouths
Not all nano fish are shrimp-safe, but some species are so docile and diminutive that they pose little threat to full-grown cherry shrimp. Small tetras — such as the ember tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) and green neon tetra (Paracheirodon simulans) — are known for their brilliant colors and would look splendid with a group of complementary-colored shrimp. Nano rasboras — like the chili rasbora (Boraras brigittae) and neon green rasbora (Microdevario kubotai) — would also be stunning additions to a planted shrimp tank. As for bottom dwellers, dwarf cory catfish like pygmy catfish (Corydoras pygmaeus) are inclined to leave adult shrimp alone.
If you are looking to breed fish for profit and want to maximize your available space, we have successfully kept small livebearers (e.g., guppies and Endler’s livebearers) and cherry shrimp together with a giant mass of java moss in a 20-gallon tank. Any type of dense foliage, such as Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ or water sprite, will do because they serve as hiding spots for the baby shrimp and fry so that the adult fish have a harder time catching them. If you build a good relationship with your local fish store, they may be willing to buy your plants as well, giving you an aquarium setup with three viable products.
Neon tetras, guppies, and nerite snails living with red cherry shrimp
Tank Mates to Avoid
Since there is no way for us to list every type of animal you can keep with cherry shrimp, let’s go over some general guidelines for fish to avoid. Of course, say no to medium to large-sized fish — like goldfish, cichlids, rainbowfish, and bigger plecos. Also, small fish that are mainly meat eaters like to go after shrimp, so be wary of adding betta fish, dwarf cichlids, dwarf gouramis, and pea puffers. Plus, you may want to steer clear of nano fish that have a reputation for being fast and hungry, such as zebra danios and silver tip tetras. They may not eat the adult shrimp outright, but they have the tendency to outcompete them for food and may cause stress by chasing them relentlessly.
Cherry shrimp are well-loved for their bright colors and ease of breeding, so we hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as we have. For more information on how to best care for them, see other our cherry shrimp articles.