7 Reasons Your Cherry Shrimp Are Not Breeding And How To Fix Them!

Cherry shrimp may not breed due to poor water conditions, insufficient cover, or the presence of potential predators. Ensuring optimal water parameters, providing ample hiding spots, and removing threats are crucial for successful breeding.

Many people make common mistakes that hinder cherry shrimp breeding, but these issues are often easy to fix. To help my readers who are interested in breeding cherry shrimp, I decided to publish this article covering as many of these common mistakes as possible.

Why Your Cherry Shrimp Are Not Breeding!

My Shrimp Tank
My Shrimp Tank

Here are the most common reasons cherry shrimp don’t breed:

  1. Male-to-Female Ratio
  2. The Age of Your Shrimp
  3. Problems with Food
  4. Water Temperature
  5. Your Tank’s Filter
  6. Water Parameters
  7. Water Changes
  8. Lack of Cover
  9. Predators in the Tank

In my experience, most people encounter issues with the first four factors: the male-to-female ratio, the age of the shrimp, food problems, and water temperature.

The remaining issues are less common but can still affect cherry shrimp breeding and the survival rates of the shrimplets.

Male To Female Ratio

cherry shrimp not breeding
cherry shrimp not breeding

The most common reason cherry shrimp don’t breed is that many people unknowingly have a tank full of female shrimp.

For effective breeding, tanks typically maintain a small number of males with a larger group of females. This setup works well for hobbyists because female shrimp often display more vibrant colors and are more common in the hobby.

Having a larger number of females also allows for quicker breeding of large numbers of shrimp.

You don’t need to worry about overpopulation, as the food supply in your aquarium will naturally regulate it. Female cherry shrimp require a specific amount of calories and protein in their diet to produce viable eggs.

Most shrimp breeders can accurately distinguish between male and female cherry shrimp, so you can request at least one male in your order.

A single, healthy male cherry shrimp between six and eighteen months old can easily breed with many females. Adding just one male to a tank full of females should resolve your breeding issue.

The Age Of Your Shrimp

A Cherry Shrimp In My Tank
A Cherry Shrimp In My Tank

Cherry shrimp typically reproduce between the ages of three and twenty-four months, but many people mistakenly purchase older shrimp past their breeding prime.

This often happens because breeders sell four different categories of cherry shrimp, as explained in the table below:

Type of Cherry ShrimpPrimary Use CaseAge Range
Breeding ShrimpBreeding3-12 months
Shrimp Over 18 Months of AgeDetritus and Algae EatingOver 18 months
Low-Grade CullsDetritus and Algae EatingVarious ages
Super High-Grade Brightly ColoredDisplay Tanks/BreedingVarious ages

Some breeders do not correctly label their cherry shrimp listings, causing beginners to purchase shrimp that are too old to breed.

Another common issue is buying female cherry shrimp of breeding age, only to discover months later that they lack male shrimp. By the time a male is introduced, the females may be too old to breed.

Depending on the situation, you may have to order a new batch of cherry shrimp to fix this problem.

Problems With Food

Food I Use With My Shrimp
Food I Use With My Shrimp

Female cherry shrimp require a diet rich in natural protein sources for optimal fertility and egg production, with unprocessed plant foods like algae often being a better source of supplementary food than processed pellets.

Many beginners feed their cherry shrimp algae wafers, blanched veggies, and shrimp lollies, or let them feed on the algae and biofilm in the tank.

While female cherry shrimp can produce eggs on a plant-based diet, the quantity and quality are often reduced, making the eggs harder to fertilize.

Bloodworms are a popular high-protein food that some breeders use to increase egg yields in female cherry shrimp.

Both my cherry shrimp and Amano shrimp prefer Bug Bites over shrimp pellets, likely due to the Bug Bites’ high content of natural protein sources.

Another common mistake beginners make is breeding shrimp in tanks that lack sufficient food for the baby shrimp. Using an aged tank with plenty of algae and biofilm ensures ample food for baby cherry shrimp, improving their survival rates and helping them thrive.

Newborn cherry shrimp don’t move much during the first week or two of their lives, so adding a powdered food that spreads throughout the tank can also help improve the survival rates of your shrimplets.

Your Tanks Filter

The Sponge Filter In My Shrimp Tank
The Sponge Filter In My Shrimp Tank

A common mistake in cherry shrimp breeding tanks is using filters that can suck in baby shrimp and crush them in the impeller, reducing breeding yields. Although this issue arises only if your shrimp are already breeding, it’s still a prevalent problem.

To avoid this, I recommend using a cheap sponge filter in cherry shrimp breeding tanks, as they are much safer than most other popular filters on the market. Personally, I prefer a cheap sponge filter paired with a budget USB air pump in my tanks. I find this combination to be ideal.

The pump provides sufficient air to create a low water flow with gentle surface agitation, which helps oxygenate the tank water. The ceramic media bed and sponge on the filter assist with both biological and mechanical filtration, maintaining suitable water parameters for the shrimp.

Quality Of The Sponge
Quality Of The Sponge

The photograph highlights the difference between the sponges in two different sponge filters.

As shown, the Aquael sponge is much coarser than the AQQA sponge, which could allow baby cherry shrimp to slip through and get caught in the filter. In contrast, the AQQA sponge is very fine, significantly reducing the risk of baby cherry shrimp being sucked into the filter and harmed.

Hang-on-back filters have also become more popular in recent years and can be effective in cherry shrimp breeding tanks with a small modification.

Intake Cover On My Hang On Back Filter
Intake Cover On My Hang On Back Filter

In the photograph above, you can see that my hang-on-back filter in the community tank has an intake sponge covering the filter intake. This prevents baby cherry shrimp from being sucked into the filter and crushed.

These intake sponges are inexpensive and easily slip over the filter intake without affecting the filter’s performance. I highly recommend using one if you plan to breed cherry shrimp in a tank with a hang-on-back filter.

Water Parameters

Water Parameters
Water Parameters

Issues with water parameter ranges in your tank can stress cherry shrimp and hinder their breeding. In extreme cases, high levels of ammonia or nitrite can damage the eggs and prevent their development.

A reliable water test kit can provide accurate readings for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. This is my preferred option since cheaper test strips are often inaccurate.

Shrimp are also sensitive to GH, KH, and TDS, so maintaining these within optimal ranges is crucial in a cherry shrimp breeding tank.

Below is the table of water parameters that I strive to maintain in my cherry shrimp breeding tank.

Water Temperature65-80°F (18.5-27°C)
Water FlowStill-Low
pH6.7-8
GH6-10 dGH
KH3-10 dKH
Ammonia0 ppm
Nitrite0 ppm
Nitrate<20ppm
Red Cherry Shrimp Water Parameters

Some of these parameters might be challenging to manage depending on your experience level, but the core ones to focus on are temperature, pH, ammonia, and nitrites.

A simple 20-40% partial water change is usually enough to correct major issues with your tank’s water parameters and can act as a fail-safe.

Just remember to use a tap water conditioner if you’re using tap water for your refill, as chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals in tap water can pose significant problems for shrimp.

Water Changes

Live Plants Reduce The Need For Water Changes
Live Plants Reduce The Need For Water Changes

Excessive water changes can cause problems in your cherry shrimp tank, such as pH shock, temperature shock, and chlorine poisoning.

New aquarium keepers often believe they must do a weekly partial water change to keep their shrimp healthy, but this isn’t always necessary. Partial water changes are important if your water parameters are out of range, but there’s no need to frequently change water if all parameters are safe.

The amount of total dissolved solids (TSD) can build up in your tank overtime and make it difficult for your shrimp to molt but one partial water change every 3 months or so should be able to stop this being an issue.

Cherry shrimp are typically bred in dedicated, species-specific tanks where the low bioload rarely disrupts the nitrogen cycle, reducing the need for frequent water changes.

Ideally, you should have several live plants in your aquarium to aid the breeding process and further reduce the need for water changes. Diana Walstad popularized “the Walstad method,” which uses live plants as the primary filtration system instead of an aquarium filter.

Fast-growing and floating plants can absorb large amounts of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from the water, helping to maintain safe water parameters for your cherry shrimp.

Diana uses the following plants in her planted shrimp jars, which provide cover for the shrimp and help manage the nitrogen cycle.

A Lack Of Cover

Hiding Spots In My Shrimp Tank
Hiding Spots In My Shrimp Tank

A lack of cover in your tank can stress cherry shrimp and prevent them from breeding, especially if larger fish are present.

Your cherry shrimp may perceive any fish as a threat, even if the larger group of corydoras in the tank are only searching for pellets and not interested in the shrimp.

This is why many cherry shrimp breeders move their shrimp to dedicated breeding tanks without any fish.

However, even in breeding tanks, a lack of cover can be problematic. I ensure my shrimp have plenty of hiding spots by including plants, driftwood, and rocks to encourage breeding.

If you’re curious, the photograph at the beginning of this section shows my own cherry shrimp breeding tank, which contains the following live plants:

  • Java Moss
  • Red Root Floater
  • Anubias Nana Petite
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Cryptocoryne Wilisii
  • Cryptocoryne Lutea “Hobbit”
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora

While not all of these plants are essential, I highly recommend adding some java moss to your tank at a minimum.

Java moss grows to about 1-4 inches (3-10 cm) and provides thick coverage, making it an ideal plant for breeding cherry shrimp. It offers excellent hiding spots for both adult shrimp and their babies, promoting a stress-free environment conducive to breeding.

Final Thoughts

Successfully breeding cherry shrimp requires a combination of maintaining ideal water conditions, offering suitable cover, and minimizing potential threats.

Providing appropriate water parameters and incorporating live plants can stabilize the tank environment, while providing hiding spots encourages breeding and offers protection for the young.

For optimal breeding outcomes, keeping the tank free from predators is paramount with a species-specific, shrimp-only tank usually being the best option.