I know many fish keepers who want to keep cherry shrimps for controlling algae in their tank. But the thing is, can cherry shrimps really eat and control algae in the tank? I wanted to find that out. So, I did some research.
Yes, cherry shrimps eat algae. In fact, they eat many types of algae without harming any plants in the tank.
If you want to control algae in your tank with cherry shrimps, there are many more things you need to know. I’ll dive into these topics in detail so that your algae control mission gets successful.
How Do Cherry Shrimps Eat Algae?
Cherry shrimps are extremely effective grazers. They spend hours and hours grazing on the tank wall, filter inlet, decorations, etc. Cherry shrimps mainly love soft algae that grow on the aquarium walls or from other objects inside the aquarium.
Another thing cherry shrimps love is biofilm. It is the greenish, slimy stuff that grows on the aquarium wall, over the decorations, substrate, etc. This is one of the major food sources for cherry shrimps.
When cherry shrimps find a good spot filled with algae, they get really close to it. By close, I mean they can practically attach themselves with the algae. It is one of the advantages of being so tiny and light.
Here is more of a step by step process on how cherry shrimps eat algae:
- At first, the shrimps get really close to the algae and hold their position. The front legs are used for mainly picking off the algae and putting it into the mouth.
- When devouring algae, the front legs move pretty fast. In fact, the movement is so fast that it is almost impossible to separate out the legs with naked eyes.
- Though one shrimp can alone handle a spot of algae pretty well, they usually graze on algae in a group. The group eats algae targeting a larger and wider area. Most of the time, the group acts peacefully and no conflict occurs between the shrimps.
- Once the group finishes eating off algae from a particular spot, they’ll look for new spots with algae and start the feeding process all over.
Cherry Shrimp Algae Eating Experiment
There is an interesting cherry shrimp algae eating experiment done by TheShrimpFarm.com. Let’s see what the experiment was about.
What they did is, first they took a 5″ PVC pipe. The pipe was initially used in a DIY sponge filter and later left unused in a tank for about several months. Consequently, a good amount of algae grew from the pipe’s surface.
The pipe was taken from the unused tank and placed into a cherry shrimp tank. You can see the below pics for further clarification (I got the pics from TheShrimpFarm and organized them here.)
Day 1: Just 5 minutes after leaving the pipe into the cherry shrimp tank, shrimps started to come near it into groups. Soon, the pipe got almost covered with cherry shrimps. They started grazing on the algae right away.
Day 3: You can see on the picture above, how clean the pipe looks just after 48 hours. Really, it seems amazing how quickly these little creatures can devour such a vast amount of algae!
Not only cherry shrimps, in fact, most aquarium shrimps do a pretty good job eating algae from the aquarium. Some just do better than the others.
What Type Of Algae Do Cherry Shrimps Eat?
|Type Of Algae||Do cherry shrimps eat it?|
|Soft Algae||Yes, they love to graze on soft algae.|
|Biofilm||Definitely. Biofilm is one of the major natural food sources for cherry shrimps.|
|Spot Algae (ex green spot algae)||No.|
|Hair Algae||Mostly No.|
|Thread Algae||Mostly No.|
Be Cautious When Adding Cherry Shrimps To Your Tank
Cherry shrimps are extremely well algae eaters. However, when adding them to a tank, you need to be careful.
- The first thing you need to consider before adding cherry shrimps to your tank is, are the fishes in the tank “ideal tank mates” for cherry shrimps? If the fishes are aggressive, territorial or temperamental, then I’ll really not recommend adding cherry shrimps. They will get eaten by the fishes on a wimp.
- Does the tank have enough algae? If there isn’t, the shrimps will starve. So, you’ll have to provide additional shrimp foods to them.
- Cherry shrimps are not that much low maintenance. They do need care and love. Also, cherry shrimps require the water parameters in a specific range. Otherwise, they may not thrive in the aquarium. Only add the shrimps if you can ensure these water parameters.
- Cherry shrimps are pretty delicate creatures. If you don’t follow these tips, it won’t be surprising if you find all your cherry shrimps dead within a week.
Ideal Tank Mates For Cherry Shrimp
|Good Tank Mates||Bad Tank Mates|
|Other shrimp species||Any fish that are aggressive such as Barbs, Mollies, Serpea Tetra, Betta, etc.|
|Snails||Fishes with a large mouth to gulp the shrimp in a single instance|
Ideal Water Parameters For Cherry Shrimp
|Temperature||70 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit|
|pH||6.5 to 7.5|
These 3 Are The Best Algae Eating Shrimps
I think the 3 best algae eating shrimps are:
- Ghost Shrimp
- Amano Shrimp (also known as Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp)
- Red Cherry Shrimp
Ghost shrimps are one of the best algae eaters in the aquascaping world. Not only they eat algae, they are also famous for scavenging uneaten foods from the substrate. Ghost shrimps also eat dead animal parts, poop, etc.
All in all, ghost shrimps do an awesome job as a cleanup crew for your aquarium. Also, this is one of the easiest shrimps to breed in an aquarium. So, practically within a few months, you can have a large crew of algae eaters devouring algae in your tank.
Amano Shrimps are also known as Japanese Algae Eating Shrimp. As the name dictates, these shrimps are practically named for their algae-eating ability. Also, you can guess from the name that originally, these shrimps are from Japan.
However, these shrimps are now quite common in the United States too.
Amano shrimps eat almost every type of algae there can be. They are ferocious algae eaters. If your tank needs a very hard clean up, your best bet will be the Amano Shrimps.
Amano shrimps also devour decaying animal matters, plants, and other stuff. The problem with Amano shrimps is, it can get pretty difficult to breed them in an aquarium.
Red Cherry Shrimp
As I have already mentioned, cherry shrimps are great for controlling the amount of algae in the tank. They eat almost all types of algae in general. Though not as effective as ghost shrimps, cherry shrimps do a pretty good job at cleaning your aquarium too.
One thing to be noted is, cherry shrimps eat soft algae types. They don’t like hard algae such as green spot algae. So, don’t expect to clean all types of algae from red cherry shrimps.
How Long Do These Shrimps Live?
Cherry shrimps usually live for up to 2 years. However, under optimum conditions and environment, I’ve seen them live for about 3 years too.
Amano shrimps generally live for 3 years in an aquarium. However, the ghost shrimp live the shortest. They usually live for up to a year.
Most of the pet shrimps in the aquarium world usually live for around 2 years. Some may exceed the 2 year time frame, but surely not many.
Can They Live Together?
Yes, they can only if there is enough room in the tank. If the tank is too small for the shrimps, they can get territorial and may fight over food or other things.
Here are some insights if you want to keep different types of shrimps together:
- A good rule of thumb is to have 4-5 shrimps per gallon. That means, if you have a 20 gallon tank, it should not have more than 100 shrimps. This estimation considers there is no other fish in the tank. If there is, the estimated number will lower down depending on the type and number of other fishes.
- If you are mixing different types of shrimps together, make sure there are at least 5 shrimps from each type.
- In most cases, shrimps are peaceful and do not fight with each other. However, it is a good practice to do a bit of research and find out if you are really mixing two polar opposite shrimp types or not.
- If for some reason you find one shrimp type acting in a dominant manner and the other one is getting bullied, you need to separate them and keep them in separate tanks.
I hope this article explains pretty well how good cherry shrimps are at eating algae. If you want to control algae in your aquarium, cherry shrimps can be an excellent choice.
However, don’t buy them on a wimp. Do some research and check if your aquarium can be an ideal home for cherry shrimps or not.