Cherry Shrimp Not Breeding: 5 Proven Ways to Fix it

Disclosure: When you purchase something through my affiliate links, I earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I remember how frustrated I was when I first started keeping shrimp. It didn’t matter how hard I tried; they did not breed. Luckily, over the years, I’ve come across a few tips that may help you out.

Cherry shrimp will usually not breed due to inappropriate water conditions, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and temperature. It will also be challenging to breed cherry shrimp in overstock tanks with low amounts of oxygen or when there are too few females for each male.

This article will discuss why cherry shrimp do not breed and how to fix it. Hopefully, you’ll be successful in breeding these beautiful creatures. For those of you who hurry, I will say that it is recommended to check the water using the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon).

Why Won’t my Cherry Shrimp Breed?

If your cherry shrimp do not breed, follow the information below and make sure to fix the problem before continuing:

1. Inadequate Water Parameters

The first thing you should verify is that the water parameters are within acceptable ranges. The pH, hardness, and total alkalinity should all be within comfortable ranges in order to keep the shrimp healthy and thriving. 

The specific numbers will vary from one aquarium to another, but you should generally aim for a pH of 7.5 and water hardness of from 100 to 200 ppm.[1]  The temperature should be about 80 to 82 degrees, and the total alkalinity should be in the range of 30 to 90 meq/L.

Shrimp eggs are sensitive to temperature as well. They will die if they are kept in temperatures below 54 degrees or above 86 degrees. Simply keeping your temperature at a consistent level of 80-82 degrees F is recommended.

2. The Wrong Male/Female Ratio

The right dose is essential for shrimp to have successful breeding. In order for them to breed, it is best to keep three females for each male.[2] This will enable the females to develop eggs properly and have an excess for you to harvest. 

If you only keep too many males, they will fight each other and injure themselves, thus preventing them from breeding. Also, females paired with too few males will be stressed and not produce as many eggs.

3. Wrong Feeding Schedule

As in many other invertebrate species, the wrong feeding schedule can prevent shrimp from breeding. It is best to feed your cherry shrimp 4-5 times per week rather than feeding them once a day. 

Inadequate food availability can reduce shrimp weight and lead to malnutrition. Additionally, if your shrimp are not getting enough food, you run the risk of stimulating predatory behavior. This can compromise the safety of your shrimp and should be avoided at all costs. 

It is also vital that the cherry shrimp’ diet is varied so that they get the right amount of nutrients. Shrimp in captivity do not eat a wide range of different foods, so it is recommended to feed them various flakes and pellets. 

In addition to their regular diet, shrimp also eat some algae in order to store up for the breeding season. Algae wafers and fresh vegetables such as lettuce are perfect for this purpose. 

4. The Wrong Aquarium Design

The fish tank size is the most critical factor when it comes to breeding shrimp. Smaller tanks generally mean a lower oxygen level, which could lead to reduced egg production among your shrimp. Also, smaller tanks tend to mean that the water will be more acidic. 

The height of your aquarium is also something to consider when breeding shrimp, as they like to have someplace high in the tank where they can build their nests and breed. You can provide them with this by simply placing some rocks covered in algae on the bottom of your aquarium. This will give them a place to start breeding.

5. Not Enough Oxygen

A lack of oxygen can lead to problems with breeding and cause stress and other health issues among the shrimp. In order to prevent this, you will need to ensure that your filter is functioning correctly. 

The lack of oxygen can be caused by the wrong type of filter, blocked air vents, and even just dirt in the water. And if your shrimp don’t have enough oxygen, then they can’t breathe properly, which is why this is a top priority for breeding shrimp. 

6. You Haven’t Waited Long Enough

Shrimp need time to produce eggs, so the longer you wait before breeding, the better the chances of having successful breeding. However, this is not always going to happen. Some shrimp will not breed even after several months, which can be very disheartening. 

Cherry shrimp typically breed within 3-5 months of being introduced to the aquarium.[3] However, they may not lay eggs within that time, so patience is key. It usually takes longer for them to breed if they have just been introduced to the tank.

What to do if Your Cherry Shrimp Refuse to Breed?

If you’ve been waiting for a couple of months and your cherry shrimp are still not breeding, following the steps below should fix that issue:

1. Adjusting the Water Parameters

As was mentioned earlier, the water pH should be 7.5, the hardness should range between 100 to 200ppm, and the temperature should be about 80 to 82 degrees F.

To measure the water parameters, I personally use the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). That bundle accurately measures the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in my tank. Within five minutes, I know if something went wrong.

If the pH is too low, you can fix this by performing more frequent water changes. That will eliminate ammonia, which will help stabilize the pH. It is best to replace 25% of the water weekly. 

In order to keep the temperature stable, I personally use the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here. I like that device since it can be easily attached to the aquarium, can be set to some predetermined temperatures, and is ideal for use with planted tanks.

2. Oxygenating the Water

The lack of oxygen is the number one reason why your shrimp won’t breed. The easiest way to fix this would be to buy a powerhead, which will add oxygen and circulate the water. 

You can also perform regular water changes, which will eliminate bacteria and other chemicals that deplete the oxygen. In addition, you can add an air stone to your filter or buy a small portable air pump for this purpose. 

I use the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone Kit (link to Amazon) in my tank. All you have to do is to place the device in the middle of your tank. Then, it will create bubbles, which will add oxygen to the water. It’s straightforward to use, and it works great for my setup.

3. Adding More Plants

This is the least effective way, but adding more plants may help solve the problem if your tank is not already well-planted. Cherry shrimp usually thrive in planted tanks, and they don’t breed well in setups dominated by gravel or stones. 

Remember not to overstock your aquarium, though – this will only result in even fewer oxygen levels in the tank. The best types of plants for cherry shrimp are Anubias, Java Fern, and Cryptocoryne.[4]

4. Feeding the Cherry Shrimp Properly

Cherry Shrimp are omnivores, and they like to eat algae, grasses, and anything else that’s available. Unfortunately, they can be problem feeders, especially if you’re not feeding them properly. 

When you feed them, it’s best to use a bit of chicken bloodworm (which is easier for them to get than live worms), frozen shrimp pellets, or dried shrimp. It would help if you also tried making your own fish food for cherry shrimp, as in the following Youtube video:

Regarding the feeding schedule, try not to feed your shrimp more than once a day. As mentioned above, the right frequency is 4-5 times a week. Too frequent feeding will result in pollution, waste, and ammonia spikes.

5. Choosing the Right Aquarium Dimensions

When choosing the correct aquarium dimensions for cherry shrimp, you want to make sure they can comfortably live in it. The minimum size is 10 gallons (38 liters), but the better option is to get something larger. Twenty gallons (75 liters) or more will be even better.

The size of the shrimp will also be a factor. For adult cherry shrimp, the minimum size of the tank should be 18″ (46 cm) long. You can put more than one shrimp in a tank if you have enough space.

Generally, for each gallon of water, is it best to keep 2-5 cherry shrimp.[5] However, if you want to keep a larger number (5 or more) in your tank, you will have to make sure that there is enough space for them to move because overcrowding can lead to aggression.

How Long Does it Take for Cherry Shrimp to Breed?

It usually takes about six months for cherry shrimp to breed. However, it is not always obvious when the shrimp have started breeding. It can take several weeks or even months of nothing happening before you notice any signs of breeding.

Again, this is not something you should stress about, but rather be patient and wait. The good news is that it is possible to tell precisely when the breeding has started.

How to Tell When Cherry Shrimp Have Started Breeding?

The best way is by looking for signs of breeding in your aquarium. Generally, when the shrimp start producing eggs, they will start building nests out of their waste material and displaying behaviors like rubbing their bodies against each other or on the plants. 

This is called courting, and it can take several weeks before the actual breeding takes place. During this time, your female shrimp will start producing eggs, and they will lay them in the bottom of the tank. 

You will notice a black line that runs across their bodies when they are ready to lay eggs. Female shrimp usually produce one or two batches of eggs per year, and it can be up to hundreds of eggs each time.

How Many Babies do Cherry Shrimp Have at a Time?

Each female cherry shrimp can lay up to 1,000 eggs at once, and it usually takes around 24 hours to lay them all. This is why it can take several days before you notice the offspring. However, only a small number of eggs will actually survive and grow into adults.

The exact numbers vary from aquarium to aquarium, but you can expect anywhere from 10% to 30% of them to hatch. Simply put, around 20-40 newborns are produced per female during each breeding session.

Some females will lay eggs all at once, and others will lay them over a period of time – so if you see eggs that have been laying for several days, it is likely that the shrimp have started breeding already.

Is it Hard to Breed Cherry Shrimp?

While it can be difficult to breed cherry shrimp, most people will have no problem doing it. You do not need to take any special care of them since they are mostly very easy-going. However, it can be a challenge to breed cherry shrimp when the water parameters are wrong.

They will breed well in most tanks with proper care, and the process should not take longer than six months. If you have been keeping them in a setup for a while, and they still haven’t begun breeding, then you should follow the steps above.

If you found this article useful, these may also interest you:


Breeding Cherry Shrimp is easy as long as you follow the steps mentioned above. Remember to be patient and be persistent. After all, it often takes a couple of months before the male shrimp will start courting their female counterparts.

Hopefully, the good news that you read in this article will give you all the motivation and encouragement you need to get your shrimp breeding. I personally love cherry shrimp, and I hope that you will too.