Cherry shrimp are super popular because they’re so colorful, so cute, and unfortunately, so delicious to many kinds of creatures. It seems impossible to find a fish that’s not going to eat them, right? Not to worry, I’m going to cover three different categories of tank mates that will be safe to add to your cherry shrimp tank.
Best of tank mates include:
- Amano shrimp, ghost shrimp.
- Thai micro crabs.
- Vampire shrimp, bamboo shrimp.
- Nerite snails, Mystery snails, Malaysian trumpet snails
- Otocinclus catfish
- Blue neon goby or other Stiphodon gobies.
- Clown pleco.
- Ember tetra, green neon tetras
- Micro rasboras
- Kuhli loach
- Pygmy corydoras
If you are looking to breed cherry shrimp, especially for profit, you want to keep a species-only tank with only other Neocaridina shrimp in it. However, if the red cherry shrimp are more like display pets, where a few babies here and there would be nice, then this list is for you. Just make sure to add a pile of rocks, or lots of dense aquarium moss and plants so that the babies have tons of cover.
A final caveat before I get into the list is that all of these suggestions are try-at-your-own-risk, meaning that for every 10 people that say, “Yeah, this fish is totally fine,” there’s always at least one person going, “No, don’t do it.”
Invertebrates – shrimp, snails, and crabs
Category number one of tank mates that are safe for cherry shrimp is other small invertebrates. Things like Amano shrimp and ghost shrimp, they’re pretty much the same size as cherry shrimp, so they’re going to get along just fine. You also have larger shrimp-like filter shrimp, so which includes vampire or bamboo shrimp. They’re not even scavengers. They’re mostly focused on filtering any yummy particles from the water.
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I would say Thai micro crabs, super small, very cute, and shy. I actually think I still have some in my main display tank, but I’ve honestly never seen them except for the molts on the ground here and there.
Then finally we have snails there are many popular varieties. We’ve got Nerite snails, mystery snails, Malaysian trumpet snails. All those are going to be perfectly fine with your shrimp. The only caveat is that they may out-compete your cherry shrimp so that if your cherry shrimp don’t get enough food, they’re probably going to not make as many babies.
The invertebrates I wouldn’t include with your cherry shrimp include things like crystal or Caridina shrimp. They live in very different water parameters than cherry shrimps, so inevitably you’re probably going to make one colony happier than the other, and that other colony is going to end up suffering.
You also don’t want to go with any kind of larger invertebrate, things like long-arm shrimp, crayfish, lobsters. They are more than happy to shove any source of protein they can catch into their mouths.
Algae eater fish
Category number two is vegetarian fish. Not that there are many fish that wouldn’t turn down a free protein meal here and there, but things like algae eaters and Aufwuchs grazers. The number one fish that often gets mentioned as perfectly safe for cherry shrimp is otocinclus catfish, which are an amazing nano algae eater that you can find a care guide for over here.
They’re super peaceful and they are slower eaters in my experience, so even though they eat similar things as cherry shrimp, I don’t feel like it will have any problems with them out-competing your cherry shrimp for food.
Another Aufwuchs grazer that’s starting to become more popular in the aquarium hobby is the blue neon goby or other stiphodon gobies. They’re really small, eel-like, brilliant blue creatures, but also have a mouth that is meant for scraping off algae off of rocks and plants. Very beautiful, very peaceful, should do well with your cherry shrimp.
Finally, I would take a look at any small plecos that are primarily algae eaters, or even the type that like to rasp on wood. Things like the clown pleco stay very small, very peaceful, should do fine with your cherry shrimp.
Peaceful nano fish
Category number three is a mishmash of peaceful nano fish, really tiny mouths, things like small tetras. The ember tetra is a great one, green neon tetras. Both of them are very brilliantly colored, I think would look absolutely gorgeous if you pair it with a complementary colored cherry shrimp.
Another great species would be micro rasboras. You often hear of people putting them with chili rasboras, or the green neon Kubotai rasbora. Again, very colorful, very tiny, very peaceful.
A lot of people say that corydoras are safe with cherry shrimp, but I guess if you really want to play it safe, you could go with some of the smaller species of Cory catfish, like the pygmy corydoras. Just remember that all the fish I’ve just mentioned are schooling fish, so they’ll feel a lot more comfortable and be a lot more lively if you get a big old group of them, at least six to 10 of them.
As for livebearers, you definitely want to stay on the smaller side, so things like Endler’s livebearers. I definitely know some people who keep a 10 or 20-gallon tank, where they call their breeding for profit projects. They’ve got guppies on the top making babies, cherry shrimp on the bottom that are breeding, and then a giant mass of Java fern that they can also sell for profit.
Finally, I want to mention kuhli loach. They’re this really cool, eel-like oddball fish that usually has zebra stripes. Very peaceful. They tend to hide a lot during the daytime because they’re nocturnal. I personally love them, but again, there are people who are like, “No way Jose, a loach is a loach.”
Fish you should avoid
As for fish you should never put with your cherry shrimp, definitely avoid larger species, so things like goldfish, large plecos, rainbow fish, definitely no cichlids. You’re basically feeding them the world’s most expensive meal ever.
But I would also avoid small fish that are big meat eaters, so definitely no to that betta fish of yours in the corner, no to dwarf cichlids, to dwarf gouramis, and even pea puffers. I’m not saying it could never happen with the right conditions and the right personality, but it’s like a 50/50 chance. You’re basically flipping a coin here.
I mentioned a lot of peaceful nano fish previously, but if they are really fast and voracious, I would still avoid them. Things like a school of hungry, hungry zebra danios or silver tip tetras. I know they’re a tetra, but I still wouldn’t put them with cherry shrimp.
Then I tried looking into small surface-dwelling fish, thinking, “Well, if they’re living more at this strata and then the cherry shrimp are down below, maybe they won’t bother them,” but didn’t find any such fish that would be okay.
Things like pencil fish, they said no. Dwarf blue-eyed pseudomugil, rainbow fish they said no, and then clown killifish. A lot of people were like, “A killifish is a killifish. You’re not going to want them anywhere near your precious cherry shrimp.”