Growing shrimp in my aquarium is among my favorite things. However, sometimes they behave in ways that raise questions. For example, quite frequently, I notice that my Cherry Shrimp chooses to hide. Over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with that issue and what makes them behave this way. Now, I am willing to share what I learned.
Cherry Shrimp usually hide when they are molting. Getting behind objects allows them to shed their exoskeleton without being exposed to predators. However, hiding in Cherry Shrimp could also be secondary to stress factors, such as low water condition, inappropriate cycling, and elevated toxins.
Later in this article, I will show you a few more reasons that might force your Cherry Shrimp to hide. Also, I will share seven practical solutions for that issue. These will ensure that your tank is in the right condition to inhabit shrimp.
Why is my Cherry Shrimp Hiding?
Cherry Shrimp are beautiful. However, their beauty won’t do you any good if they are always in hiding. While hiding shrimp are not always a cause for concern, you are still encouraged to identify the factors compelling them to act this way, just in case the situation is serious.
Some potential causes include:
1. Your Shrimp Gets Out at Night
Cherry Shrimp are not nocturnal. They do not have any particular preferences with regards to daytime or nighttime. They will remain active during any portion of the day or night that suits them. There is plenty of Cherry Shrimp that are inactive during the day and active during the night.
If you keep regular hours, you are unlikely to see them, not unless you have chosen to stay up long enough to watch them as they emerge from their hiding places. Unless you have noticed additional signs of trouble, such as spikes in ammonia (which may point to a dead and rotting shrimp), you have no reason to worry.
2. The Shrimp is Molting
Shrimp have exoskeletons that they shed every few weeks. Like most creatures in the tank, their size tends to grow with their age. Once their exoskeleton becomes too small to contain them, they will abandon it.
This isn’t a problem because they eventually grow new ones. However, this doesn’t happen immediately. And because shrimp are vulnerable without their skeletons, they will go into hiding for a few days. They will remain out of sight until the skeleton hardens, at which point they will emerge.
If you can’t see your Cherry Shrimp, look for the molts. They remain in the water until the tank’s inhabitants eat them. If you can see the exoskeleton in the water, you can conclude that the shrimp is hiding because it just molted.
3. The Shrimp did not Get Used to its Tank
Is your shrimp new to the tank? That is a valid question since Cherry Shrimp are quite sensitive to change. It takes them a long time to grow accustomed to a new environment. Cherry Shrimp that haven’t been acclimated are even worse because you haven’t allowed them to grow accustomed to the transition.
Cherry Shrimp that are new will spend days or even weeks hiding. This response is expected because they don’t feel secure. This won’t change until they grow comfortable with the new tank and its conditions.
4. Your Tank is not Properly Cycled
Is your tank cycled? If not, you cannot blame your Cherry Shrimp for going into hiding. It takes weeks to cycle a tank fully. If your shrimp were introduced to the tank mere days after you got the tank, the creature’s aquatic environment could not support them.
They will respond erratically, hiding in some cases, becoming inactive in others, and possibly even leaving the aquarium if the opportunity presents itself. If they cannot escape the aquarium, they could die.
Death among hiding shrimp is a problem because you may never find them. If they rot before the other shrimp eat them, they will ruin the tank’s chemistry, putting the other creatures in the aquarium at risk.
5. The Water is not Suitable for Shrimp
It isn’t enough for you to fully cycle your tank. You must also maintain the right parameters. Cherry Shrimp can withstand the wrong pH, temperature, kH, and gH. But the conditions will eventually overwhelm them, and the stress will force them into hiding. If their parameters are not improved, they may die.
If you have tested your water and your parameters fall within the appropriate range, but your shrimp are still hiding, consider the stability. Cherry Shrimp cannot stand fluctuations in their parameters. Rapidly and frequently changing pH and temperature will induce stress, and stressed Cherry Shrimp tend to hide.
6. Your Shrimp is Exposed to Toxins
Some aquarists are so focused on maintaining the right parameters that they forget to test for toxins. Cherry Shrimp cannot live in dirty water. The presence of ammonia, nitrites, copper, lead, chlorine, and chloramine, to mention but a few, causes stress in the creatures.
Hiding is just one of the responses you see among stressed shrimp. You can introduce toxins to your tank via the water you use during water changes, new plants, decorations like rocks and pots, and even the medicine you use to treat your fish.
Some drugs have copper, which Cherry Shrimp dislike. Another known copper source is water pipes. Pouring relatively hot tap water could raise copper concentrations dramatically. These toxins may kill your hiding Cherry Shrimp if you fail to remove them.
7. Your Shrimp is Carrying a Disease
Cherry Shrimp are vulnerable to various illnesses, including fungal infections, parasites, and bacterial infections. Sick shrimp do not feel safe out in the open. They are weaker, and they cannot swim as quickly. This compels them to stay out of sight because they do not want the wrong aquatic creatures’ attention.
8. The Shrimp’s Tankmates are Aggressive
Plenty of fish eat Cherry Shrimp. Some fish do not perceive Cherry Shrimp as food, but they are so large and aggressive that they cannot help but bully the creatures. Some species are relatively small, but that doesn’t stop them from attacking Cherry Shrimp.
Cherry Shrimp are vulnerable because they are helpless. They have no effective means of fighting back against bullies. For that reason, if your fish are constantly harassing them, they will go into hiding. They will remain in hiding until their bullies are eliminated.
9. Your Tank is Too Small
Cherry Shrimp are not fond of overcrowding. Like fish, they do not thrive in small tanks because they don’t feel safe. They struggle with stress as a result, which, in turn, pushes them to go into hiding.
If you have a bare tank and your Cherry Shrimp have nowhere to hide, the stress may kill them. In other words, you cannot solve the hiding issue in this case by eliminating the hiding places. The consequences of such a response are far worse.
10. The Shrimp is Breeding
Female shrimp tend to breed just after they molt. As was noted before, molting makes the shrimp vulnerable, which is why it goes into hiding. However, the female shrimp doesn’t emerge from hiding to breed.
Instead, it produces pheromones, which draw the male shrimp to its hiding location. Then, mating eventually occurs. If the female is hiding and it is ready to breed, you may see the male shrimp swimming all over the tank as it searches for her.
How to Treat Cherry Shrimp that Always Hide?
If your Cherry Shrimp are hiding because of external factors, there are ways to help them, including:
1. Adjust the Shrimp’s Environment
I highly suggest that you test your water to ensure that the parameters are correct. Aim for a pH of 6.3 to 8.0, a kH of 2 to 5, gH of 6 to 8, and a temperature of 65 to 82 degrees F. The water shouldn’t be too hard. Pay close attention to the ammonia and nitrites. Keep them at zero at all times.
To get a better idea of your tank’s condition, I genuinely recommend getting the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). With that affordable bundle, you’ll be able to measure the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites within minutes.
2. Perform Routine Maintenance
Continue by performing regular but small water changes. More extensive water changes are just as likely to send your shrimp into hiding because of the stress they induce. The size of the tank matters. Smaller tanks are harder to maintain, especially if they have fish, because toxins spike quickly and easily.
As a rule of thumb, try to replace 20% of the water each week. The frequency and amount mainly depend on the tank’s condition. In overstocked tanks, it is better to make more frequent replacements. The opposite is true for relatively larger and roomier aquariums.
A larger tank allows you to do fewer water changes. Also, don’t forget to add the relevant conditioners whenever you perform a water change. Conditioners remove elements like chloramine and copper that might be present in the new water you have added to the tank.
I personally use the Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer (link to Amazon). That efficient product stabilizes the growth of bacteria. Over time, it will balance the ammonia, pH, and nitrates that the microorganisms produce.
You cannot do anything to help a Cherry Shrimp that is hiding because it just molted. But you can take steps to ensure that it molts successfully. That includes maintaining high-quality water and providing a nutritional diet.
3. Adjust the Tank’s Size
Cherry Shrimp can live in tanks of a minimum of 5 gallons. Naturally, if you want to keep more Cherry Shrimp, you should get a bigger tank. Give your shrimp as much room to maneuver as possible. On that matter, feel free to check my aquarium kit recommendations.
Where necessary, you should also consider reducing the number of inhabitants in the tank. A large tank is useless if you keep overstocking it. The more room your shrimp have, the safer they will feel, the more time they will spend out in the open.
4. Choose the Right Tankmates
Find peaceful fish that can safely co-exist with Cherry Shrimp. That includes Pygmy Cory Catfish, Bristle Nose Pleco, and Borneo Suckers. Avoid species like goldfish, gourami, and discus that are more likely to attack or outrightly eat your shrimp. They won’t come out of hiding unless they feel completely safe.
If you have aggressive fish, you should consider removing them. As was mentioned above, Cherry Shrimp are helpless. They can’t protect themselves against assaults from large fish. In some cases, it is better to keep a shrimp-only tank.
5. Keep Your Shrimp in Groups
If your Cherry Shrimp is alone, add other shrimp. Cherry Shrimp thrive in groups. The more of their kind they have in a tank, the safer they feel, the easier it becomes for them to overcome stress. Generally, I suggest keeping two to five shrimp per gallon.
6. Add a Few Hiding Pots
Give the shrimp hiding spots. Add stones, driftwood, plants, basically anything they can use to stay out of sight. A Cherry Shrimp that has ample hiding spots feels more secure. Yes, it may hide for a while, but it will eventually emerge. A shrimp that has fewer hiding places feels less secure. It is more likely to spend more time hiding.
7. Allow Gradual Acclimation
When you buy new shrimp, please place them in a bowl filled with the water they were transported. Acclimate them to their new tank conditions by using a tube to siphon water from your tank to the bowl slowly. This can be done in less than an hour. Acclimation won’t help you unless your tank is fully cycled.
If you found this article useful, these may also interest you:
- Cherry Shrimp Keep Dying: 5 Practical Solutions
- Cherry Shrimp Laying Upside Down: 7 Essential Solutions
- Cherry Shrimp Turning White: 4 Effective Solutions
- Do Angelfish Eat Shrimp? (Ghost, Cherry & More)
If your shrimp keep hiding and it worries you, start by checking if it is active at night. You can tell by its position in the morning. If it is different than the one it was at night, it could be that your shrimp is nocturnal. However, there are more reasons for this behavior.
Inadequate water conditions may also stress your Cherry Shrimp and force it to hide. Check the water parameters, including the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. If the toxins are too high, or the pH is too low, conduct more frequent water changes.