How To Identify Cherry Shrimp Gender?

saddle and eggs

If you are a new shrimp keeper or keeping shrimps for a long time, then at some point you definitely wanted to know the gender of your shrimp. The curiosity is quite understandable. However, cherry shrimps are so small that it can be quite difficult to determine their gender. So, I decided to do some extensive research and find out the most reliable ways for sexing cherry shrimps.

If the cherry shrimp has a light color, then the saddle is the most reliable way to identify the gender. If the shrimp has a dark-colored body, size and color intensity will be the easiest way to identify the gender.

I have identified and explained 7 ways to differentiate the gender of cherry shrimps in this article. All these ways are applicable to most other types of pet shrimps.

Do remember that some of the ways can be quite difficult and suitable for experienced shrimp keepers only. Also, not all the ways are equally reliable. So, you should check and match at least 3-4 ways before confirming the gender of the shrimp.

Why Determining Shrimp Gender Is Important?

Determining the sex of cherry shrimps is quite important, especially if you want to become a serious breeder. Here are some reasons why you should know how to determine the gender of shrimps:

  • It is always recommended to start cherry shrimp keeping with a group of 10 shrimps at least. Among the group, more than 50% should be female. This ratio of males and females is important for future breeding.
  • If your tank has more male cherry shrimps than females, it can pose a problem. Though cherry shrimps are quite peaceful in nature, sometimes the males can fight with each other. It is mainly seen during the mating time. In such cases, you need to separate the males from each other. This demands the knowledge of sexing shrimps.
  • For serious shrimp breeders, it is crucial to know how many female shrimps are there in the tank. This way, they can predict the number of offsprings as well as the quality. So, if you want to pursue shrimp breeding, then you must know how to determine their gender.

I hope I’ve mentioned enough reasons to explain the importance of sexing shrimps. Now that you know why you should identify the gender of cherry shrimps, it is time to learn the differences between the male and female cherry shrimps.

Male & Female Cherry Shrimp Differences

In the below table, I am mentioning the major differences between the male and female cherry shrimps in short. You can take a look at the table to understand their basic differences.

However, for more in-depth knowledge about each of the factors, I’ll urge you to take a look at the next section.

FactorMale Cherry ShrimpFemale Cherry Shrimp
SaddleMales don’t have a saddle.Females have a clear saddle.
SizeSmaller in size. Typically three-quarter of an inch.Larger than the females. About 1.5 inches when sexually matured.
ColorNot as colorful as the females. Have lots of transparent blotches around the body. More vibrant and intense color.
Belly ShapeThe belly is straight or triangular shaped.The belly is rounder and larger in order to hold eggs.
Second Abdomen ScaleThe first, second as well as the third scales sit next to each other. The second scale sits on top of the first and third scale.
Third Set of AntennaThe third set of antennas (facing upward) is longer in males. The third set of antennas are shorter in females.
BehaviorMales are more hectic and agitated.Females generally behave peacefully.

7 Ways To Identify Cherry Shrimp Gender

Saddle and Eggs

According to me, saddle is by far the easiest and most reliable way to identify the gender of cherry shrimps. Female cherry shrimps have a saddle in their body whereas males don’t.

Now, you may want to know what is this saddle?

It is the small part inside a female shrimp’s body that contains undeveloped and unfertilized eggs. The saddle is generally located underneath the back of the shrimp between the head and the abdomen. If you can locate a saddle in the cherry shrimp, it is 100% a female.

The color of saddle can vary from species to species. Mostly, it is white color with a yellowish hint. In Ghost shrimps, the saddle has a greenish hint.

Here’s a picture to help you understand this method:

saddle and eggs
  • In the first picture, you can see the saddle quite clearly. It is circled red. This is 100% female.
  • In the second picture, there is no saddle. However, there are eggs in the belly. For this shrimp, the undeveloped eggs in the saddle have turned into developed eggs and moved to the belly. So, you can clearly see it is a female.
  • In the third picture, there is neither a saddle nor eggs in the belly. So, it is clearly a male.

Size

size of male vs female cherry shrimp

This is also a very reliable and easy method to determine the gender of cherry shrimps. Females are generally larger than males.

On average, under optimum conditions, females can get up to 1.5 inches in size. On the other hand, males generally get up to three-quarters of an inch.

One thing to be noted, this method is only applicable when the shrimps are adult and sexually matured. You can’t rely on this method if the shrimps are baby.

Do you know why the female cherry shrimps get larger than the females? It is because they have to carry eggs inside their body. For this reason, nature has made them larger than the males.

I don’t stand 100% behind this method. The size can be quite different in other shrimp species. This method is useful for having a calculated guess only.

Color

color of male vs female cherry shrimp

Color is another way to differentiate the gender of cherry shrimps. The female cherry shrimps have a brighter and more intense color than the females. The males have more transparent blotches in their bodies.

However, there are a few limitations to this approach:

  1. Under a stressful condition, the females can lose color. It is quite normal. So, if the shrimps are stressed, you can’t rely on this method.
  2. This method is not applicable to all the shrimp grades. If you have higher grades cherry shrimps mixed with lower grades, such as Painted fire red shrimps with low-grade cherry shrimps, then this method will not work. Because, a higher grade male shrimp will definitely have a brighter color than a lower grade female shrimp.

I’ll recommend to not rely on this method 100%. Along with this method, check with a couple of others mentioned in the article to confirm the gender of the shrimp.

Belly & Back Curve

belly curve male vs female cherry shrimp

This is another reliable way to differentiate between male and female cherry shrimps. Female cherry shrimps have a rounder and bigger belly. On the other hand, males have a more straight or triangular-shaped belly. Females need extra space in their belly to store their eggs.

This area is also known as the undercarriage. The curved shape of the undercarriage also adds an extra layer of protection for the eggs.

Once the female gets berried for the first time, her belly gets rounded permanently. It is because, once the shrimp gets pregnant, the belly gets expanded and doesn’t return to its normal size after eggs are hatched.

In female cherry shrimps, the back of the body also bends a little bit. This bend helps to hold the eggs better. But this is a very subtle bend. Only experienced eyes can see the difference.

This method is more applicable to a bit experienced shrimp keepers. If you are new to shrimp keeping, then don’t rely on this method much.

Exoskeleton Shape (Second Scale)

second scale male vs female cherry shrimp

In the case of female cherry shrimps, the second scale is larger and rounder. But in the males, the second scale has a straight shape.

Also, in the females, the second scale looks like it sits on the top of the first and third scale. In the males, the 3 scales sit next to each other. In addition to the second scale shape, the males have narrower tail than the females.

As you can see, this method needs trained eyes to see the exact shape of the second scale.

Antennas

antenna male vs female cherry shrimp

Before explaining this method, let me start by saying that it is very hard and reliability is low. So, if you are a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend to count on this method alone.

Cherry Shrimps have 3 sets of antennas. They are:

  • One pair of antennas is located on the side of the mouth. This pair is longer compared to the other 2 sets. Shrimps use these antennas to detect danger in the environment. Also, in a low light condition, these antennas help the shrimp to feel the surrounding.
  • There is one pair at the end of the rostrum. This pair faces downwards and shorter than the first set.
  • The third pair is also located at the end of the rostrum. They face upwards. Like the second set, this set is also shorter than the first set of antennas.

The short antennas are used for finding foods and sensing danger around the shrimp.

After countless hours of observation, biologists found out that the male cherry shrimps have a longer third set of antenna than the females.

This means, the antennas that are located at the end of rostrum facing upwards, is longer in the males than the females.

Like I said, spotting the difference in the size of the antennas can be very difficult. Even experienced shrimp keepers face a hard time following this method.

This method also has some limitations such as:

  • Both the male and female shrimp has to be quite similar in age. If they aren’t then this method won’t work.
  • The size of the antenna varies from shrimp species to species. So, it may not work for some species.

Behavior

Well, don’t rely on this method alone. I find it less reliable and accurate. However, many shrimp keepers believe in this method, so I am including it in the list.

Male cherry shrimps are generally very active and agitated compared to the females. The females are more peaceful and slow-moving. Also, during the mating season, the males behave restlessly around the females. They might also fight with each other in order to mate with a single female.

However, that doesn’t mean female shrimps are always peaceful and slow-moving. Under stressful conditions, the females will also jump around like crazy!

Best Age To Determine Cherry Shrimp Gender

I’ll say roughly after 2 months the cherry shrimps were born. During this stage, the females will have a more developed saddle, ovary, and underbelly. Also, the shrimps start to get sexually matured around this time.

So, you can apply most of the methods mentioned in the article after about 2 months.

Now, if you are nerdish and have special tools in your arsenal, you can identify the cherry shrimp gender much earlier. But that requires special knowledge about shrimps, their body structure and a lot more. Even I don’t know these!

Conclusion

I really hope this guide has helped you in determining the gender of your cherry shrimps. I tried to make the guide as easy as possible for beginners. Granted that some of the ways can be difficult to follow, but you can always start with the easy ones.

With enough time and practice, soon you’ll be able to identify the gender of shrimps like a pro!

Happy Shrimp Keeping!

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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