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Can Cherry Shrimp Smell Food?

Have you noticed how your cherry shrimp starts acting active when you put food there? It’s as if they’ve got a message that told them – the food is here! That makes me wonder – can they really smell food?

Cherry shrimp come with an exceptional sense of smell. They can detect food quite easily because of chemical receptors. Plus, they stay aware of their surroundings. This awareness helps them to bridge between taste and smell.

But how exactly do they find out the food? Is it just their sense of smell or something more? Well, it’s time to find that out.

Key Takeaways

  • Cherry shrimp can smell food, and their chemical receptors help to detect it.
  • Different sensory appendages help them to detect food particles in the water.
  • Along with their sense of smell, they use antennae, chemoreception, eyesight, and mechanoreception to detect food.

4 Sensories That Help Cherry Shrimp To Find Food

Like any other animals, cherry shrimp depend a lot on their range of sensory adaptations. But which sensories exactly help them the most when it comes to locating or procuring food? Well, the list starts with –

1. Antennae

The antennae, the primary sensory of cherry shrimp, come in pairs. One of the pairs is longer, and the other is shorter – both are covered in sensory cells.

Thanks to these cells, cherry shrimp can detect any changes in the water’s chemistry, including the presence of food.

To pick up the chemical signals, or let’s call them odors, cherry shrimp wave their antennae while foraging. They do it over the surface and trace food materials this way. These antennae help them differentiate between different types of food materials as well.

See also  Why Is My Cherry Shrimp Jumping Out Of Tank?

Read More: How Much Food To Provide Cherry Shrimps? [Feeding Schedule]

2. Chemoreception

This one involves sensory cells that respond to chemical cues. Cherry shrimp come with chemoreceptors on their mouthparts and bodies. These allow them to taste the water while swimming through it. Once they feel specific chemicals dissolved in the water, they start moving towards higher concentrations of those chemicals. This practice often leads to a food source.

3. Eyesight

Yes, it’s true that they don’t have great eyesight, but it surely can pick up the changes in light and movement. It also helps them to receive alerts of potential food, especially the ones moving the water column. Plus, their eyesight comes in handy while evading predators.

4. Mechanoreception

Regardless of their size, cherry shrimp, too, can sense vibrations in the water.

The credit goes to their mechanoreceptors. At times, vibrations come from the presence of a food source. Yes, we’re talking about movement from microorganisms or plant matter.

How Does Cherry Shirmp Find Food?

“For cherry shrimp, finding food is not just a skill; it’s a way of life in the aquatic realm.”

Cherry shrimp are amazingly good at finding their food, whether in an aquarium or the wild. But how do they pull this off so easily? Well, to do that, they usually use –

1. Chemical Detection

Cherry can easily sense dissolved substances in the water. Thanks to the chemoreceptors they have on their antennae. And yes, other sensory appendages assist with that as well. So, they can detect and approach it whenever there’s a presence of food particles or the scent of any decaying organic matter.

2. Tasting And Touch

You, too, probably have noticed the major sensitive appendages of cherry shrimp. Yes, I’m talking about their antennae and those small bristle-like structures on their legs. These are what they use to explore the surroundings.

So, whenever there’s any potential food around, they use their sense of taste and touch to determine whether the food is edible.

Read More: Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Plants?

3. Grazing

Cherry shrimp being natural grazers is nothing new. Thanks to this habit, they can easily feed on small organic particles such as biofilm and algae that grow on hard surfaces such as rocks, plants, and substrates.

See also  Blue Cherry Shrimp Care Guide For Beginners [Updated]

What they do in the process is use their mouthpart and scrape to consume these food sources. And yes, they also make small food particles suspended in the water column useful.

4. Foraging Behavior

One of the secret sauces of cherry shrimp’s survival is their foraging behavior. They constantly explore their surroundings to find food. They keep moving around, using their sensory organs and detecting or locating potential food sources.

This search can be pretty much active, especially when they detect chemical cues of food, thanks to their sense of smell again. 

Shrimp Feeding & Diet: Infographic

If you want a printable version of this infographic, click here!

Do shrimp have a sense of smell?

Yes, shrimp have a sense of smell, although it is not as well developed as other senses like vision. Shrimp use their sense of smell primarily to detect food, pheromones, and potential threats.

Some key points about a shrimp’s sense of smell:

Shrimp have chemical receptors on their antennae that allow them to detect various odor molecules in the water. This gives them a basic sense of smell.

  • Studies have shown shrimp can distinguish between different odors and are attracted to the smells of potential food sources. They use smell to locate food from a distance.
  • Shrimp also use smell to detect pheromones released by other shrimp. This helps with communication, reproduction, and schooling behavior.
  • The sense of smell plays a role in avoiding predators as well. Shrimp may be able to smell threats and dangerous chemicals in the water.
  • Vision is believed to be a more dominant sense for many shrimp compared to smell. But smell provides additional sensory input about their environment.

Read More: What Do Red Cherry Shrimp Eat In The Wild?

Comparing Cherry Shrimp Sensory Capabilities With Other Aquatic Animals


Cherry shrimp have good vision that allows them to see movement, detect predators, and find food sources. However, their vision is not as strong as many fish which have more advanced eyes. Fish generally have better visual acuity to spot small details from farther distances.

See also  20 Cherry Shrimp Tank Setup Ideas For Absolute Beginners


As discussed earlier, cherry shrimp can smell using chemical receptors on their antennae. However, their sense of smell is not as well-developed as some other crustaceans. Lobsters and crabs for example have a stronger sense of smell and use odor more actively in tasks like finding food and mates over long distances.


Shrimp have sensitive antennae that allow them to feel water currents and vibrations. This helps them detect movement around them. However, they do not have the same level of tactile sensitivity as octopuses which can discriminate between fine textures and shapes using specialized suckers.


Like many crustaceans, cherry shrimp have taste receptors located on the tips of their legs and mouthparts to taste food. But their taste capabilities are not as nuanced as fish which can distinguish between a wider variety of flavors and concentrations.

Scientific Research on Cherry Shrimp Sensory Abilities

Study Title: Changes in activity rates in the cherry shrimp Neocaridina davidi in response to concentrations of neuropeptides and glucose.

Published in: Journal of Crustacean Biology, Volume 39, Issue 6, November 2019.

Authors: Carla L Granda, Molly L Mancuso, Department of Biological Sciences, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ, USA.

Abstract: This study explores the food-seeking behavior of cherry shrimp in response to various chemical stimuli. It was observed that glutamate (MSG) increased the shrimp’s seeking behavior, similar to their reaction to food pellet filtrate. Additionally, glucose stimulated their seeking behavior, though it reduced over time. The study offers insights into how different chemical substances impact the activity and behavior of cherry shrimp, highlighting their sensitive chemoreceptive abilities.

Click here to learn more about this study.

Before We Go…

Clearly, cherry shrimp are good at finding food. But getting them the right food with the right amount of nutrition might make this search easier. I’d suggest trying algae wafers. But how is that going to help exactly? Well, I’ve said it all in my blog – Do Cherry Shrimps Eat Algae Wafers? So, you’re just a click away from that information.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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