As I started my cherry shrimp tank, I was unsure if the fish would be safe to put in with them. As time passed, I learned that some fish would not bother the shrimp. Yet, some species will happily eat your cherry shrimp, so you better avoid those.
Fish that are small and docile will not eat shrimp. That includes Pearl Danios, Otocinclus Catfish, Ember Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, and Endler’s. On the other hand, relatively large and aggressive fish will probably eat cherry shrimp. That is true for most cichlids and male betta fish.
As we move forward, I will share five tips to make your tank safe for your shrimp. I will also list what fish will probably ignore your cherry shrimp and what types will quickly eat them.
Do Fish Eat Cherry Shrimp?
Shrimp are tricky because they are a natural source of food for fish. And fish are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will eat whatever they can fit in their mouths. Some fish will only eat what they stumble across in an aquarium.
Others will deliberately hunt the smaller creatures in their environment. Whether or not your cherry shrimp can survive an aquarium filled with fish will depend on the following factors:
1. The Size Of Your Fish
The size matters. Larger fish have a habit of eating smaller creatures. That includes other fish, shrimp, snails, etc. This is why many aquarists only pair their cherry shrimp with fish of the same or smaller size.
The presence of small fish doesn’t necessarily guarantee the safety of your cherry shrimp. But it will increase their chances of surviving. Large and medium-sized fish will most likely eat the cherry shrimp. But small fish may reconsider their decision to attack the crustaceans.
2. Your Fish’s Diet
Carnivorous fish are more dangerous to cherry shrimp than herbivores. A larger, more aggressive herbivore may bully a cherry shrimp. But the herbivore won’t eat the creature. Meat eaters are challenging because shrimp are a delicious snack in their eyes.
This doesn’t make every single carnivore or omnivore a danger to shrimp. Some carnivorous fish will ignore your cherry shrimp. But you have to realize that a carnivorous fish is a bigger threat to a cherry shrimp than an herbivore.
3. The Fish’s Temperament
The temperament is crucial to your shrimp’s survival. A cherry shrimp will thrive in a tank with peaceful carnivores. It can also survive in aquatic environments with larger fish that have a friendly attitude.
The temperament can make or break an aquarium. Small fish are more than capable of making your cherry shrimp’s life a living hell if they have an aggressive streak. They may not eat the cherry shrimp.
But they can bully the shrimp to death. Once the shrimp dies, the small fish will eat it. If you did not know, fish could eat the remains of dead creatures in the tank. That includes dead fish.
4. The Size Of Your Tank
Fish are more likely to eat cherry shrimp in a crowded tank. Crowded conditions will make aggressive fish even more aggressive. They will also generate aggression in fish with peaceful temperaments.
Keeping cherry shrimp in small, crowded, poorly maintained tanks will increase their chances of getting eaten by their tankmates.
5. Your Feeding Schedule
If your fish don’t have enough food, they will eat the shrimp. It doesn’t matter how peaceful or friendly they are. They will turn against the cherry shrimp population in the aquarium because cherry shrimp are easy targets.
What Fish Will Not Eat Cherry Shrimp?
Any fish can eat cherry shrimp. Even if it is small and peaceful, and even if it lives in a large, well-maintained tank that receives plenty of food, you cannot predict the behavior of your fish.
If a fish is strong enough to overpower a cherry shrimp, it may do so for no apparent reason. That being said, some fish are less dangerous than others. The following species are less likely to eat your cherry shrimp:
1. Celestial Pearl Danio
Celestial pearl danios are not a threat to shrimp. They may eat the shrimp fry, but the adult cherry shrimp are too big for the danios to eat. Additionally, they are peaceful.
Unless you want the cherry shrimp fry to survive, the presence of celestial pearl danios will not disrupt the lives of your cherry shrimp population.
2. Otocinclus Catfish
Otocinclus catfish are small. They have an average size of 1-2 inches. The fish are impressive algae eaters. They have no interest in eating cherry shrimp. That includes both young and adult shrimp.
They require specific care. But if that doesn’t bother you, they will make great companions for your cherry shrimp.
3. Ember Tetras
Ember tetras are not only peaceful and beautiful, but they are less than 1 inch in length. They are too small to pose a threat to cherry shrimp. Even more appealing is the fact that they have tiny mouths. An ember tetra’s mouth is not large enough to eat a cherry shrimp.
4. Kuhli Loach
Kuhli loaches can eat shrimplets, especially the smallest ones. But they will leave the adult shrimp alone. At 4 inches, they are quite large.
Their reputation as bottom dwellers makes things even worse because cherry shrimp spend a significant amount of time scavenging for food at the bottom of the tank. The two creatures are bound to run into one another.
But Kuhli loaches are scavengers. They do not have a reputation for hunting, killing, and eating living creatures. Their peaceful temperament allows them to live alongside smaller tankmates.
5. Endler’s Livebearer
Endler’s livebearers are schooling fish. At 1.8 inches, their size doesn’t make them an immediate threat to adult shrimp. If you can keep them in a large group, they will coexist peacefully with their cherry shrimp neighbors.
What Fish Eat Cherry Shrimp?
You can take certain steps to keep your cherry shrimp safe in a tank full of fish. However, certain fish, the kind that is more likely to eat cherry shrimp, may resist your efforts. They include:
Discus would make poor tankmates for cherry shrimp. They are calm and peaceful. However, they are also categorized as cichlids, which means that they have an aggressive streak.
If that wasn’t troubling enough, they could grow to a size of 9 inches. They will happily eat smaller, slower creatures like cherry shrimp.
Bettas are called fighting fish because they have aggressive, territorial personalities. Their predatory instincts will compel them to attack young and adult shrimp.
Many people have successfully kept bettas and cherry shrimp in the same tank. But it is a risk. Even if the bettas have no interest in eating the shrimp, your cherry shrimp will probably spend their days in hiding, at least until the stress kills them.
However, female bettas are different. They are less territorial and can easily live with other creatures, including shrimp. Here is a complete guide that I wrote on how to make female bettas and shrimp coexist.
You should give cichlids their own tank because they are too aggressive. You can only keep cichlids with fast and equally aggressive tankmates that can hold their own in a fight. Cherry shrimp do not stand a chance. The cichlids will eat them.
Angelfish can grow to a size of six inches. Because they are cichlids, they have an aggressive streak that makes them a danger to creatures that are either the same size or smaller. At 6 inches, they are too big to pair with cherry shrimp.
But if you insist on keeping angelfish with your cherry shrimp, here is an article where I discuss the relationship between the two. I also included a section on how to make them coexist, or at the very least, prevent your angelfish from attacking shrimp.
Gouramis are a bigger threat to young shrimp than they are to adults. But adult gourami can still kill an adult shrimp by repeatedly attacking it. The gourami will eat the shrimp’s dead remains afterward. Keep this in mind before you pair gourami with cherry shrimp.
Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Small Fish?
Cherry shrimp do not eat small fish. Cherry shrimp are peaceful and largely defenseless. Therefore, they have no interest in attacking fish simply because they are small. In fact, they won’t even eat the fish eggs they find in an aquarium, not unless those eggs are rotting.
However, the same cannot be said about fish. When cherry shrimp are young, most fish will eat them, even some herbivores. For that reason, most aquarists who wish to grow the two species together first raise the shrimp in a separated tank.
How To Keep Fish From Eating Cherry Shrimp?
Because fish are unpredictable, even the most peaceful species can decide to attack your cherry shrimp. You can use the following steps to keep your shrimp alive. You cannot guarantee their safety, but you can give them a fighting chance:
1. Scatter Some Decorations
Plants are a great addition to a cherry shrimp tank because they provide hiding places. Cherry shrimp cannot defend themselves against larger fish, but they can hide.
You can complement the plants with decorations like caves and driftwood. But you have to avoid decorations with sharp edges because they will harm the shrimp.
I personally went with the Aquazoo 2 Pieces Stackable Rock Caves (link to Amazon). These are absolutely astonishing. And more importantly, shrimp typically choose to hide in those to stay away from predators.
2. Pick A Large Tank
Cherry shrimp can survive in a tank of just five gallons. It wouldn’t be pleasant for them, but they would survive, more or less. However, most fish cannot share such small tanks, even the docile ones.
For example, you cannot keep cherry shrimp and Kuhli loaches in a 5-gallon tank. Kuhli loaches require a minimum of 15 gallons. If you force them to live in a smaller tank, they will attack their vulnerable neighbors.
The size of the tank has to match the size of the fish. If the tank is large enough to contain the fish, it will accommodate the shrimp; the bigger the tank, the better.
I personally use the Tetra Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank Kit (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here. Obviously, you can go with larger tanks. However, this one features the perfect balance between cost and size.
3. Feed Your Fish Regularly
Make sure your fish are properly fed, especially the carnivores. If you don’t want them to treat the cherry shrimp as food, give them regular meals. Otherwise, you cannot blame them if they start hunting the shrimp.
If you don’t have the time to feed the fish every single day, add an automatic feeder. It will prevent the tank’s inhabitants from starving. I personally chose the Zacro Automatic Fish Feeder (link to Amazon), but any device would work.
Regarding the amount of food, I recommend giving your fish what they can finish within two minutes. That is a general rule of thumb that works in most aquariums. Feeding more than that might corrupt your water chemistry.
4. Keep Your Tank Clean
A dirty tank with the wrong parameters will induce stress in the fish and their cherry shrimp neighbors. The cherry shrimp are too weak to do anything about the stress. The fish, on the other hand, will turn that stress into aggression.
You can keep the peace in the tank by carrying out regular water changes and testing the water routinely to ensure that the parameters are appropriate. I generally recommend adjusting the water parameters to your fish.
Cherry shrimp are quite hardy and usually can tolerate what fish can. Each fish requires different water parameters, so you’ll have to search online for it. Either way, I suggest getting the API Aquarium Water Master Test Kit (link to Amazon).
This bundle will accurately measure your pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites levels. It also lasts for about eight hundred measures, making it extremely cost-effective. Most aquarium creatures will require 0 ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites ppm.
5. Put The Shrimp First
If the fish are territorial, you are encouraged to introduce the shrimp first. Give them a chance to establish their territories before adding the fish. You should also consider introducing the fish when they are still young. This allows them to grow accustomed to the shrimp.
If you found this article helpful, these may also interest you:
- Can Amano Shrimp Live With Cherry Shrimp? (Complete Guide)
- What Shrimp Can Live With Cherry Shrimp? (With 5 Examples)
- Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Algae? (Hair, Green, Brown, Staghorn & More)
- Cherry Shrimp And Ghost Shrimp: Can They Live Together?
- Cherry Shrimp Keep Dying: 5 Practical Solutions
You now have the knowledge you need to raise cherry shrimp in an aquarium properly. You can use everything I’ve discussed so far to create the best shrimp tank of your dreams.
I have just one last piece of advice for you, which is also my favorite part of owning a shrimp tank: enjoy yourself! Don’t take it too seriously. Just try to have fun. Making mistakes is totally fine. They are opportunities for self-improvement.