Cherry Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp: Can They Live Together?

Since shrimp are quite exciting to grow, there were times when I tried to mix different species. To my disappointment, different combinations often failed. There were even times when I couldn’t peacefully raise Cherry and Ghost Shrimp in the same tank. To understand whether these species can actually live together, I started to investigate pretty extensively.

Cherry and Ghost Shrimp can live together since both creatures share similar characteristics, including water requirements, temperament, and size. However, hostility may occur between Ghost and Cherry Shrimp when they are stressed. This typically happens during ammonia spikes and temperature changes.

As we move forward, I will share six steps you should take to make sure that your Cherry and Ghost Shrimp live along peacefully. I will also mention what products I use to ensure proper water parameters, including the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon).

Can Cherry Shrimp Live With Ghost Shrimp?

Cherry Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp can live in the same tank. Some aquarists will tell you that their attempts to keep these two species together ended in disaster. However, while you shouldn’t ignore those anecdotes, most people that have kept Cherry and Ghost Shrimp in the same tank will tell you that the creatures can coexist peacefully. 

Their individual attributes support this conclusion, for instance:

1. Both Species are About the Same Size

Aquatic creatures of drastically varying sizes tend to complicate matters because it doesn’t take much to compel the larger creature to harass and bully the smaller ones. But that isn’t an issue here because both Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are roughly 1.5 inches in size.[1]

Neither species has a significant size-related advantage over the other. For that reason, even if your Ghost Shrimp are aggressive, Cherry Shrimp are not necessarily the easiest and most obvious target.

2. They Require Similar Water Conditions

Cherry and Ghost Shrimp can survive and even thrive within the same tank conditions. For their part, Cherry Shrimp require temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees F, a pH of 6.2 to 8.0, a gH of 4 to 8, and a KH of 3 to 15.[2]

Ghost Shrimp prefer tanks with a pH of 7 to 8, temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees F, GH of 3 to 10, and KH of 3 to 15.[3] As you can see, there is plenty of room to maneuver within the pH, temperature, GH, and KH range that both species require.

You don’t have to worry about distressing one species because you have altered the parameters to accommodate the other.

3. They Share the Same Food

Both creatures are omnivorous. They are also scavengers, which means that they will eat the debris they find in the aquarium, including leftovers. You can trust them to graze on algae and the matter your aquatic plants shed.

When it comes to supplementing their diets, they can eat fish flakes and pellets, not to mention algae wagers. They can survive on minimal amounts of food in tanks with sufficient quantities of algae. You can get away with feeding them every other day. Ultimately, neither species will present a challenge where food is concerned.

4. Both Species are Easy to Rear

Because they are both so small, you don’t have to worry about either species creating a large bioload. You can keep Cherry and Ghost Shrimp in large numbers within aquariums of 5 to 10 gallons. Naturally, proper filtration systems are required. However, you can get by with some basic sponge filters.[4]

You don’t have to spend money on expensive filters. The presence of Cherry or Ghost Shrimp won’t make the maintenance process any more challenging. Individually, Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are relatively easy to rear. This won’t change even when you have both species in the same environment.

It is also worth mentioning that both species appreciate planted tanks. Neither species requires any unusual plants or decorations. The same is true for the lighting. None of them has special lighting requirements.

5. Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are Quite Docile

Of all the factors to consider before placing aquatic creatures in the same tank, temperament is one of the most important. Invertebrates with the same parameter requirements can fail to coexist in the same tank because one of them is too aggressive.

Fortunately, Cherry Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp have peaceful temperaments. They do not have a reputation for manifesting hostile and aggressive behavior towards their tankmates.[5] Nevertheless, some aquarists have disputed this.

They argue that Ghost Shrimp are aggressive invertebrates that will attack Cherry Shrimp if the opportunity ever arises. There is no tangible evidence to prove this claim. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. 

That being said, you have to keep a few things in mind:

  • Some people think that their Ghost Shrimp killed and ate the Cherries in the tank simply because the Cherry Shrimp went missing. But if you haven’t seen the Ghosts eating the Cherries, you cannot conclude that the Ghost Shrimp are to blame for the cherries’ disappearance. 

Some Cherry Shrimp spend a lot of time hiding. They can also die for any number of reasons, including stress, disease, and shock. Some aquarists are too quick to assume that a Ghost Shrimp is responsible for the death or disappearance of a Cherry Shrimp.

  • When a shrimp dies, it is quite common for the other shrimp in the tank to eat it. Just because a Ghost Shrimp is eating the remains of a Cherry Shrimp doesn’t mean the Ghost Shrimp killed the Cherry. As was noted above, shrimp in a tank may die for any number of reasons. Try to look for other culprits before you lay the blame for your Cherry’s death on the Ghost Shrimp.
  • Ghost Shrimp won’t eat healthy adult Cherry Shrimp since they do not have the tools to do this. But adult Ghost Shrimp are a threat to baby Cherry Shrimp.

You have to keep the type of Ghost Shrimp in mind. ‘Ghost Shrimp’ is a broad term that can refer to various species. Shrimp in the Palaemonetes genus, for instance, are entirely peaceful. These are the so-called American Ghost Shrimp.

The Thailand Ghost Shrimp (Macrobrachium Lanchesteri), on the other hand, have an aggressive streak.[6] Stories of aggression among aquarists with Thailand Ghost Shrimp are more plausible. The creatures can hunt other creatures down, including Cherry Shrimp.

How to Make Cherry and Ghost Shrimp Coexist?

If your Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are misbehaving, the following steps will ensure that they coexist peacefully:

1. Adjust the Aquatic Environment

Peaceful aquatic species can become erratic and violent if you force them to inhabit tanks with the wrong parameters. This is just as true for Cherry and Ghost Shrimp. Yes, they are hardy. However, while they can survive in aquariums with the wrong parameters, the stress and discomfort they will suffer could ruin their peaceful coexistence.

This is why aquarists are encouraged to regularly test their water to ensure that the pH, temperature, and hardness are accurate. I personally use the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon) for that purpose. That affordable bundle quickly and accurately measures your pH, nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia.

If you notice that one of these parameters is out of range, it is time to perform more frequent water changes, as I will elaborate later on. Generally, the pH shouldn’t go below 6.0 or above 8.0. The nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia should be around zero.

A Cherry or Ghost Shrimp tank can survive without a heater, especially if your region’s climate conditions are favorable. However, the only way to guarantee the stable conditions your shrimp desires is to use a heater. Otherwise, fluctuations will occur, making a bad situation far worse.

Out of the countless heaters I tested, the only one that did an excellent job for me was the Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater (link to Amazon). As you can see in my review, that heater incredibly keeps the temperature stable, with minimal fluctuations. In the long haul, it benefits your aquatic creatures tremendously.

2. Pick the Right Shrimp Type

While this was mentioned before, it bears repeating. The type of Ghost Shrimp matters. Because Thailand Ghost Shrimp have a reputation for being aggressive, the easiest way to maintain a peaceful tank is to purchase friendly Ghost Shrimp such as those found in the Palaemonetes genus.

It would help if you relied on an expert to make these distinctions. Many of these types look similar to the untrained eye. Unless you have the relevant experience, it is relatively easy for an aquarist to add aggressive Ghost Shrimp to their tank accidentally.

3. Perform Regular Water Changes

I highly suggest keeping your tank clean by performing regular water changes. Smaller water changes are preferable since larger ones might cause stress. If you know anything about shrimp, then you understand that they hate sudden fluctuations. Smaller water changes will remove everything from waste and leftovers to ammonia and copper. 

Generally, I suggest replacing 10 to 15 percent of the water each week. That will work in most tanks regardless of their size. However, if your aquarium is considerably overstocked, you should replace more significant amounts. In that case, 20 percent will get the job done. 

If the toxins in the tank have spiked, but you don’t want to perform the large water change required to bring the situation in the tank under control, you can always rely on conditioners, such as the API Stress Coat Water Conditioner (link to Amazon).

They will neutralize toxins like ammonia in minutes. They are also essential after a water change to ensure that the tank is free of elements like chloramine. Ghost and Cherry Shrimp in a clean tank with the right parameters tend to behave.

4. Avoid Overstocking Your Tank

Please avoid overcrowding at all costs. Ghost and Cherry Shrimp are happiest when you keep them with other shrimp. They don’t want to live alone. That being said, you have to ensure that your tank is large enough to house all your shrimp.

They need all the room you can give them. If you can’t get a large enough tank to give your shrimp the room to maneuver freely, take some of the shrimp away. Shrimps in a small, overcrowded tank are more likely to turn against one another, regardless of their peaceful temperament.

5. Scatter a Few Plants

Cherry and Ghost Shrimp require plants and decorations to live peacefully with their neighbors. Because they molt every few weeks, they need the plants and decorations to hide during this vulnerable period. The absence of hiding places induces stress, and stressed Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are less likely to coexist in peace.

6. Feed Your Shrimp Properly

As was mentioned before, Cherry and Ghost Shrimp can live on the debris and algae in a tank, but you have to complement their diet with algae wafers, fish pellets, and the like. If your tank has little or no algae, you have to make more of an effort to satisfy these creatures’ appetites. Otherwise, they will misbehave.

Can Ghost Shrimp and Cherry Shrimp Breed?

Ghost and Cherry Shrimp cannot breed. Shrimps from the same genus may interbreed to form a hybrid. However, Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes) and Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina Heteropoda) are not from the same genus and species.

Conclusions

Generally, there is no reason to worry about mixing your Ghost Shrimp with Cherries. Both species are docile and are expected to get along. However, in some cases, they might show hostility towards one another. That typically happens when they are stressed.

For that reason, it is better to test the water before mixing the two species. Ensure that the pH falls within the desired range and that the ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites are not too high. You should also avoid overstocking by any means.

References

  1. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/cherry-shrimp/
  2. https://modestfish.com/cherry-shrimp/
  3. https://modestfish.com/ghost-shrimp/
  4. https://www.aquariumcarebasics.com/freshwater-shrimp/red-cherry-shrimp/
  5. https://www.theaquariumguide.com/articles/ghost-shrimp-care
  6. https://aquariumbreeder.com/ghost-shrimp-detailed-guide-care-diet-and-breeding/

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