Step By Step Guide To Setting Up A Red Cherry Shrimp Aquarium

baby red cherry shrimp

So, you’ve decided you want to keep a Red Cherry Shrimp aquarium – Awesome! Red Cherry Shrimp make great pets because of their lovely color, feisty personality, and cleanup crew status. While Red Cherry Shrimp are great for community tanks, they are a ton of fun to keep all by themselves. This article will focus on setting up a home solely for these lovely creatures. If you’d like to learn more about keeping and raising Red Cherry Shrimp, be sure to check out our Ultimate Care Guide.


planted aquarium

There are several things you will need to set up a proper home for your Red Cherry Shrimp.  Some of the following items are optional, but you will need at least a tank, filter, light, and substrate. While these are the bare minimum, you will also need plants or other decorations to keep them happiest. Adding a heater, thermometer, and a way to check your water quality will give you the best chance for success.

Red Cherry Shrimp are most active and show their best red coloring when they are happy and healthy. Giving them everything on this list will be sure to make that a fact! Making a great home for these beautiful freshwater shrimp does not have to be expensive. Check out our guide on how to set up a Red Cherry Shrimp for $50.


The size of the tank you will need for your Red Cherry Shrimp will depend on how many you intend to keep. While they can be kept in smaller enclosures, we suggest no smaller than a long, five-gallon tank. You can generally keep around two to five shrimp per gallon, so with this size, you should only keep about ten to twenty shrimp. Going for a larger tank will allow you to give a home to a more significant number of shrimp. Ten to twenty gallons is perfect for a mid to large size colony.

It is always better to have a little extra room when it comes to Red Cherry Shrimp aquariums. They breed easily, and quickly, so it is a good idea to have space to incorporate new tank members when they are hatched. So, keep this in mind when you pick out your new aquarium and selecting your number of shrimp. We also recommend having a tank with a hood or lid, as Red Cherries can and do occasionally escape their homes.


Just like any other freshwater aquarium inhabitants, a filter to keep the water clean and circulated is a must. There are all kinds to choose from, but keep two things in mind. One, Red Cherry Shrimp are rather small creatures. They can easily be swept around in strong currents. So, be sure to choose a filter with adjustable water flow to keep them safe and happy. Two, a filter with a sponge intake is best.

A sponge filter will keep the little shrimp from being sucked up into the mechanics. The shrimp fry are exceptionally tiny, so a sponge filter is essential if you plan on raising the babies.


Red Cherry Shrimp are scavengers and spend most of their time foraging through the substrate to find food. Therefore, the substrate you choose is important to their health. Shrimp prefer substrate that is easy for them to graze through, such as sand, fine-grained gravel, or small pebbles. There is even some substrate that is specifically designed just for shrimp.

Having large gravel or rocks make it difficult for them to reach the cracks and crevices to keep your tank bottom free from debris.


Red Cherry Shrimp can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, so a heater is not strictly necessary for their home. However, heaters can help to keep your water temperature steady. While the range they can live in is broad, they are still sensitive to sudden swings. So, it is a good idea to have a heater on hand, especially if you live in an area with significant seasonal changes in weather.


Speaking of temperature, it is a good idea to have a thermometer in any home aquarium. As stated above, Red Cherry Shrimp are sensitive to changes in heat levels, so it is important to have a way to monitor the temperature. Aquarium thermometers are inexpensive and easy to find, so make sure to pick one up when gathering your supplies.

Water Test Kit

Red Cherry Shrimp are some of the hardiest shrimp in the aquarium hobby, but that is no excuse for poor water quality. Make sure you have a way to test your water to make sure it is suitable for habitation. Test strips are readily available and easy to use. Strips are sufficient for water tests in a Red Cherry Shrimp Tank, but you may want to purchase a water test kit for more accurate results. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is popular among fishkeepers and will last for hundreds of tests.


Many aquarium hoods you can buy come with lights affixed to their underside. These are just fine for a Red Cherry Shrimp tank. They love to have a planted tank, so if you will be using them in your set up, make sure they are strong enough for the plants to grow and thrive. If your tank lid does not have a built-in light or doesn’t have a cover at all, you can easily find one that fits most standard-sized aquariums online, at a retail pet store, or a local fish store.

You can find freestanding lights that easily attach to the back of your tank, or you can affix strips of waterproof LEDs to the one you already have.


As stated above, Red Cherry Shrimp love a densely planted tank, but it is not strictly required. But, whether live or artificial, you should have at least a few decorations for your shrimp to explore and hide. Having plenty of places to hide will make them feel safe and show their best colors. They love rocks, caves, and other decorations on which to explore and forage.

They particularly enjoy a nice piece of driftwood as they are excellent for grazing. Put a piece or two of driftwood in your tank, and your shrimp will flock to it! Just make sure you choose the right kind and treat it properly before adding it to your aquarium.


aquarium setup

Tank placement

Make sure to find a place for your tank that is steady enough to hold your set up. Even small aquariums can be very heavy when filled with water and decorations, so choose a stable stand or table. You should also choose a place in your home that is not too close to heating or cooling vents, electronics, or windows. Any of these things can cause water temperature fluctuations, which can be harmful to your shrimp.

If you have an active household, such as one with energetic children or pets, make sure your aquarium is in a place that is not prone to be bumped or bothered. 

Filling the tank

After placing your new aquarium in a suitable spot, it is time to start setting everything up! First, put the substrate in your tank. Make sure you have enough for at least a one to two-inch layer. Many aquarists like to have a thicker layer towards the back of the tank than the front because it creates dimension and gives a better anchor for plants. Next, add any hardscape items, such as rocks, driftwood, and any heavy decorations. Then, fill the tank to the halfway point.

Now it is time to assemble and place any equipment you have, such as a filter, bubbler, thermometer, and heater. Make sure NOT to turn anything on just yet though! Before turning your equipment on, add live plants (if you have them), and fill the rest of the tank with water. Now you’re ready to test your equipment.


Now that you have everything up and running, it is time to wait. We know it is no fun looking at an empty tank, but if you want your Red Cherry Shrimp to survive and have the best home, this step cannot be skipped. Allowing your tank to cycle properly gives it time to grow beneficial bacteria that are crucial to the survival of aquarium inhabitants. Another good reason to have live aquarium plants is to provide you with something to look at while the tank cycles and clues to when it is ready to buy your shrimp.

Once your plants have new growth, it is a good indication that it is ready to go! If you’re not sure how to cycle a tank properly, check out our guide for valuable tips.

Buying Red Cherry Shrimp

freshwater aquarium store

Where to Buy

Red Cherry Shrimp can be found in many retail and local fish stores, so availability should not be a problem. However, many aquarists find it easier to buy them online. When going to a brick and mortar store, most sellers have many grades of Red Cherries in the same tank. The term ‘grade’ refers to their color distribution. Higher graded Red Cherry Shrimp have more red, whereas lower grades have less or are lighter in color.

When buying online, retailers generally offer different prices for different grades but take the guesswork out of picking your desired grade out of hundreds of specimens in retail stores. This option is usually more expensive due to shipping costs and because higher grades sell for higher prices. However, it will save you time, a trip to the store, and ensure you get your desired grade.

Red Cherry Shrimp Grades

Cherry Shrimp or Regular Cherry Shrimp: The regular version is the lowest grade on the market. Their bodies are mostly clear or pink and may have darker red splotches. While they don’t have the reddest color, that does not mean they do not make great pets! They are just as lively, active, and hardy as their redder counterparts.

Sakura Cherry Shrimp: While Sakura is a low grade, they can be very interesting to look at. They still have a fair amount of clear or pink, but with more dark red patches than the regular cherries. Their splotches and spots create fascinating patterns that are a blast to watch.

Fire Red Shrimp: These shrimp is entirely red, but it’s a lighter shade of red than higher grades and may vary in hue, with lighter and darker gradients. Their legs may be transparent or a variety of reddish colors. This is one of the most popular Red Cherry Shrimp grades because of its mix of value and quality. It is more common to breed higher grades of shrimp with Red Fires than with regular or Sakura varieties.  

Painted Fire Red Shrimp: This version is a lovely, solid red and is one of the few grades that also have red legs. They tend to be brighter than the Bloody Mary (see below), which makes them stand out brilliantly against green plants and dark substrates. Their name comes from the matte-like finish of their exoskeletons, appearing to be painted on.

Bloody Mary Shrimp: If you are not a fan of matte finishes, then the Bloody Mary Shrimp is for you. These are the most expensive of the Red Cherry Shrimp but are well worth the cost for their beautiful deep, blood-red coloration. Unlike most Red Cherry Shrimp, there is little to no differentiation in coloring between males and females. Whereas the Painted Fire has a matte-like finish, Bloody Marys look like they have been finished with a clear coat, making them shine like the darkest rubies.


red cherry shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp are fantastic pets. As a foraging species, they are always on the move to find and consume food. They come in several lovely shades of red that look striking against a dark substrate. They are simple to care for and perfect pets for both beginners and experts alike.

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