Why Is My Cherry Shrimp Losing Color?

Cherry Shrimp Losing Color

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Many shrimp keepers often experience that their cherry shrimps are losing color. Why does this happen? I did some digging to find out the reasons.

Cherry shrimp can lose color if the tank has a lighter substrate. Some other probable causes can be: poor water parameters, poor diet, stress, lower grade, etc.

Cherry shrimps can lose color because of many reasons. If you want to pinpoint the exact reason why your cherry shrimp is losing color, you’ll have to know about all these reasons in detail.

Let’s start with the most common reason:

Lighter Substrate

The most common reason for cherry shrimp’s color loss is using a lighter substrate. If your shrimp tank has a lighter color substrate, then the shrimps will try to blend with the substrate. As a result, they’ll gradually lose color and become more transparent.

Shrimps do this in order to make them hard to spot. In nature, this tactic come in handy. If the shrimps are hard to detect, then big fishes and other prey will not be able to hunt them down easily.

So, if you see your cherry shrimps are losing color, the first thing you need to do is check the substrate. I always recommend using a dark color substrate for a shrimp tank. Dark substrate enhances the color of the shrimp. Also, it looks better.

Poor Water Parameters

Poor water parameters can lead to many problems in cherry shrimps. Losing color is one of them.

Shrimps are very delicate creatures. They need their water-friendly. Otherwise, they won’t be able to thrive in the tank.

Poor water parameters can lead to various diseases in the shrimp, poor life quality, poor offspring, and early death. So, not only for enhancing color, you need to ensure proper water parameters to make sure your cherry shrimps can thrive in the tank.

Each type of shrimp requires a specific range of water parameters. For cherry shrimps, the ideal water parameter range is mentioned below:

Temperature70 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
pH6.5 to 7.5
GH6-8 ppm
KH1-4 ppm
TDS150-250 ppm

Before even releasing the cherry shrimps to the tank, ensure each of these parameters is in the right range. This will solve hundreds of problems in the future.

So, if your cherry shrimps are losing color, check the water parameters. If any of the parameters is off the range, take necessary steps.

If you need a test kit for measuring the water parameters, I’ll recommend API Master Test Kit. With this master test kit, you can measure ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and many other water parameters. It is certainly a worthwhile investment for any shrimp keeper!

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Poor Diet

Another reason for light color is poor diet. If your shrimps are only living on algae and biofilm, then they won’t get the necessary vitamin and minerals for proper growth.

Shrimps don’t need to be fed every day. You can feed them every other day or even after every 2 days. However, the thing they need is a balanced diet. The diet should consist of every nutrient your shrimp requires for proper growth and health.

Cherry shrimps mainly require 3 things in their diet:

  • Algae & Biofilm
  • Commercial Shrimp Food
  • Blanched Vegetable

Algae & Biofilm

This is the main source of food for cherry shrimps. There is no need to provide additional algae or biofilm to the tank. Every aquarium grows algae and biofilm naturally.

Your cherry shrimps will graze on these naturally. Though algae and biofilm is the main food source for cherry shrimps, they require something more for proper color and growth.

And this ‘something more’ is a reliable commercial shrimp food.

Commercial Shrimp Food

The purpose of feeding commercial food to shrimps is to give them all the minerals and vitamins that they need. You don’t need to offer this to your cherry shrimps every day.

Just give a pinch of the food every other day or after every 2 days. There are many commercial foods available for shrimps. However, if your shrimps are losing color, I’ll recommend the Bacter AE.

If you ask any experienced shrimp keeper, he’ll instantly recognize this food. Bacter AE is one of the most popular and reliable shrimp foods in the market.

Bacter AE consists of the following ingredients:

  • Polysaccharides
  • Amino Acid
  • glucanase
  • xylanase
  • protease
  • hemicellulase etc.

All of these ingredients ensure proper growth and color of your cherry shrimps. Though it can be a bit pricey, one pot will last you a long time if you have a normally stocked tank.

Click here to find out the latest price of Bacter AE on Amazon.

Blanched Vegetable

You can offer blanched vegetables to your shrimps more as a treat. Give a piece of vegetable once a week. Cherry shrimps will absolutely love this twist to the diet.

Cucumber is a great choice for this. You can also try with other vegetables.

Don’t give too much. Overfeeding cherry shrimps can be deadly. Not only it detoriates the water quality, overfeeding can also lead to various problems in cherry shrimps.


Stress is another factor for color loss. Cherry shrimps can get stressed for many reasons. The most common two are: poor water quality and bad tank mates.

I have already talked about water parameters. Let’s focus on tank mates now.

Choosing appropriate tank mates is extremely important for cherry shrimps. As they are very small in size, if you don’t choose the right tank mate, your shrimps will always be in pursuit.

Any fish that has a big enough mouth to fit the shrimp will be a bad choice as a tank mate. Needless to say, you can’t choose fishes that are aggressive, territorial and temperamental.

Personally, I don’t like to keep any fish in my shrimp tank. I just keep a few snails and that’s it. Bad tank mates can create many problems to your shrimp’s life. So, you need to be very careful about this.

Good Tank Mates Bad Tank Mates
Other shrimp speciesAny fish that are aggressive such as Barbs, Mollies, Serpea Tetra, Betta, etc.
Dwarf suckersCichlids
Small rasborasDiscus
Small TetrasAngelfish
SnailsFishes with a large mouth to gulp the shrimp in a single instance

Lower Grade Cherry Shrimps

There are various grades of cherry shrimps available in the market. If your cherry shrimps are not that red, that means they are of lower grade. The higher the grade, the redder the shrimp will be. Also, higher grade cost much more.

The main grades of cherry shrimp are:

  • Normal Cherry Shrimp
  • Sakura
  • Higher Quality Sakura
  • Fire Red
  • Painted Fire Red
  • Bloody Mary
  • Kanoko

Normal cherry shrimps are mostly transparent with only a few patches of red dots here and there. On the other hand, Painted Fire Reds have a solid intense red color.

If you are doing everything the right way and your shrimps are still losing color, then they might be of a lower grade.

Molting Time

Molting is a very natural process in shrimp’s life. They grow in size by molting.

Molting simply means leaving the old exoskeleton and growing a new one. Every time your shrimp molts, it passes a very hard time. During this time, it is natural for your shrimps to lose a bit of color.

How To Enhance The Color Of Cherry Shrimps?

Now that we know what causes color loss in cherry shrimps, let’s find out what can you do to enhance the color of your cherry shrimps:

Great Environment

The first thing you need to do is provide a great environment for your cherry shrimps. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Ensure proper water parameters. This is by far the first thing you need to do.
  • Planted tanks are ideal for shrimps. The tank doesn’t need to be heavily planted. Just a few plants will be a great addition to your shrimp tank.
  • Keep moss in your shrimp tank. Shrimps absolutely go crazy for moss.
  • Put a darker substrate in the tank. The darker the substrate, the better it will be for enhancing the color of your cherry shrimps.
  • Run a good filter in the tank. The filter should be able to cope up with the bioload of the tank. For a shrimp only tank, there won’t be heavy bioload. For shrimp tanks, I love large sponge filters or HOBs. If you are using an HOB, make sure to cover the intake tube of the filter with a filter media or sponge. This will prevent your shrimp from getting sucked up by the filter.
  • Do regular water changes. This is absolutely necessary for any aquarium. For shrimp tanks, I like to do a partial water change every week. This also helps to stabilize water parameters.


No matter how great the environment is, your cherry shrimps won’t get redder than the genetics allow. One way to can ensure higher genetics is by selective breeding.

Selective breeding is a pretty advanced topic and only experienced breeders should try it. If you are new to shrimp keeping, don’t think about it too much.

Just know that cherry shrimps can get red coloration only up to a certain value. You can’t do anything to increase that threshold.


So, if your cherry shrimps are losing color, I hope this article will help you to pinpoint the exact reason. After you find out the reason, try to take the necessary steps as quickly as you can.

About Muntaseer Rahman

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