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What Do Red Cherry Shrimp Eat In The Wild?

Last day, sitting idly by the side of my aquarium, I was watching my red cherry shrimp having a bite of the blanched vegetables I just left there. It felt like they were having a fist in there with all the food around – chilling like there’s no tomorrow. Suddenly, a question popped up in my head. Is that what they do in the wild, too? If not, what do they eat in the wild?

Due to being omnivores, red cherry shrimp survive on both animal matter and plant matter. They mostly eat algae, plankton, and aquatic plants in the wild. They also have a taste for biofilm and micro-organisms as well.

But is there nothing else they prefer on their menu in the wild? Of course, they do. But to get a longer list, you’ll have to scroll a bit down. And yes, I’ve also added a list of their favorite food in captivity. I bet you’d love to check that out if you’ve already got those red beauties in your aquarium.

Key Takeaways

  • Red cherry shrimp mostly eat algae, plankton, and aquatic plants in the wild.
  • Plants like Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias, Water Wisteria, and Duckweed provide them with lots of helpful nutrients.
  • In captivity, the shrimp consume blanched vegetables and their own exoskeleton

Cherry shrimp has been found in thermally polluted waters in Europe, specifically in Germany and Poland. There’s also a documented occurrence of the cherry shrimp in Hungary.

Food That Cherry Shrimp Love to Have in the Wild

The word ‘wild’ somehow makes it sound like it’s a place full of food. Well, that’s what it is for any living being out there, and that includes arthropods like cherry shrimp as well. In fact –

See also  20 Cherry Shrimp Tank Setup Ideas For Absolute Beginners

“In the wild, red cherry shrimp are nature’s cleanup crew, feasting on algae and detritus to maintain ecological balance.”

But what whole list of their diet look like in the wild? Well, the first name that comes to my mind is –

1. Algae

If you’re asking for the cherry shrimp’s primary food source, this one surely will be on the top of the list. But there’s no one single type of algae they usually stick to.

Whether it’s Green algae (Chlorophyta) or brown algae (Phaeophyceae), they prefer having both of them on their plate.

And guess what? They like diatoms as well. The best thing about algae is not only do they provide major nutrients but they also work as the perfect source of carbohydrates and proteins for the shrimp. Plus, as a source of dietary fiber, they’re simply excellent.

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

2. Biofilm

In every aquatic environment, you’ll a thin, slimy layer forming on the plants. This is what is known as biofilm. Biofilm is basically the combination of a wider variety of microorganisms. Yes, I’m talking about bacteria, algae, and protozoa, etc.

FYI, red cherry shrimp are simply amazing as grazers. So, they know how to scrape this biofilm off of anything like driftwood, rocks, and aquatic plants to fill up their tummy.

By the way, there are two things that make biofilm among the shrimp’s favorite foods – one, the right nutrition, and two, super convenient to get.

3. Decomposing Plant Material

The one thing cherry shrimp don’t need to worry about is finding enough food around in the wild and that includes decomposing plant matter too. In fact, there are always lots of fallen leaves from overhanging vegetation that are turning into their next meal.

Consuming these decaying leaves is nothing but a win-win for them. After all, these leaves are not only pure organic material but also have microorganisms on them that add extra nutrients to every bite.

4. Small Invertebrates

Red cherry shrimp are simply opportunistic feeders and they’ll grab anything that they can count as food. That list of food contains tons of aquatic invertebrates as well. Yes, I’m talking about copepods, nematodes, daphnia, etc. They’re highly useful in adding extra drops of protein and nutrients to the shrimp’s diet.

5. Microorganisms

The one food cherry shrimp never say no to is microorganisms. So, whether you’re asking about protozoa or bacteria, they eat them all as the natural part of their diet. Not only do these microorganisms contribute to the shrimp’s overall nutrition but also help a lot with the digestive processes.

See also  Can Cherry Shrimps Eat Meat?

Cherry shrimp normally live in tropical waters. However, populations have been observed as far north as Poland in areas where water has been thermally polluted.

6. Particulate Organic Matter

One of the best things about cherry shrimp is they know how to identify food in the wild easily. So, they don’t mind trying microscopic organisms floating in the water. And guess what? These organisms involve a good amount of algae fragments, edible microorganisms, and other particulate materials.

7. Insects And Snails

Who said Red Cherry Shrimp has any problem with eating small insects? FYI, they like them. Plus, they like snails as well, not the alive ones though. There are dead snails and snail shells in the wild, which are quite nutritious for the shrimp. They even eat snail eggs, too.

8. Aquatic Plants

The biggest benefit of Red cherry shrimp is they’re omnivores. So, they’ve got no problems with eating aquatic plants. Plants like Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias, Water Wisteria, and Duckweed fit perfectly into their diet chart in the wild.

Read More: Can Cherry Shrimps Eat Meat?

Shrimp Feeding & Diet: Infographic

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

What Do Cherry Shrimp Eat in Captivity?

It’s great that having cherry shrimp in the aquarium doesn’t make the owner worried much about the food part. But that doesn’t mean they’ve got no specific list of food or foods that they can call their favourites. So far, I’ve seen them quite interested in foods like –

1. All Kinds Of Algae

As I said before, algae is one of the major sources of nutrition for cherry shrimp in the wild. Well, it works for the shrimp in captivity as well. But they’re not a fan of anything like blue-green algae, staghorn algae, and green spot algae. So, don’t get surprised if they’re skipping them.

2. Uneaten Fish Food

When you’re keeping fist in your aquarium, there will be uneaten fish food as well, and red cherry shrimp will eat them up happily.

See also  How Much Do Cherry Shrimps Cost?

After all, these foods come with a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which are quite helpful in the shrimp’s growth and reproduction.

3. Biofilm

There’s no way to deny that microorganisms, such as bacteria, algae, and protozoa, can work as amazing sources of a bunch of essential nutrients. Guess what? Your shrimp can get all of them from bacterial film or biofilm. Not only can they get proteins but carbohydrates and vitamins from there.

4. Plant Debris

Decaying plant debris can be a perfect source of organic materials and cellulose. FYI, these materials can be great sources of Carbohydrates and fibre for red cherry shrimp.

Read More: When Should You Feed Cherry Shrimps?

5. Blanched Vegetables

If you’re asking for vitamins, minerals, and fibre for your red cherry shrimp, vegetables like zucchini and spinach can be amazingly useful.

These vegetables come with a pile of nutrients such as vitamins A & C, calcium, and dietary fibre.

We guess you already know how much these nutrients matter in their growth and overall well-being

6. Plankton And Phytoplankton

Along with other vital micronutrients, if you want proteins and omega-3 fatty acids for your shrimp, plankton and phytoplankton are simply your catch. The amino acids and lipids they bring in boost the reproductive success and growth of the shrimp.

7. Exoskeletons

If you’ve been dealing with shrimp, I believe you already know about molting. It’s basically the process that helps red cherry shrimp to lose their exoskeletons. But who knew these exoskeletons too are filled with fiber-rich chitin? Chitin helps the shrimp in regeneration and mineral intake.

Before We Go…

Yes, clearly, red cherry shrimp need both meaty and plant matter to thrive in the wild. In fact, they’ve got plenty of both in there. But what if they had to survive on plant matters alone? Is it even possible for them to keep growing and reproducing even after going ‘totally vegan’?

Well, I tried to dig in more and I’ve got it all covered in my blog Can Cherry Shrimp Survive On Water Plants Alone? Click to read what came out!

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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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