In all of my research, I have found a lot of good and useful info on Cherry Shrimp that isn’t difficult to come across but doesn’t seem to be well summarized anywhere.
One question I had was how long it would take for the second generation (the babies of the first cherry shrimp I get) to be ready to have babies of their own.
Well here is what I found, picking through the forums:
Cherry shrimp take between 2 and 6 months to reach maturity and be able to Breed. You can use various visual indicators to determine if they have reached a mature state. Actual growth rates depend on available food, water parameters, and genetics.
What gender is my Cherry Shrimp?
When you buy a group of new cherries or you have a bunch of babies born in your tank, you’re probably interested in figuring out which ones are boys and which ones are girls.
This will let you plan the future of your tank and determine whether you can keep having baby shrimps pop up, or whether you need to find a few new tank mates of the right gender.
As far as working out the sex of the shrimp in your aquarium, I suggest this video I found on youtube:
Before you can breed your next generation of babies, however, you need mature adults which are old enough to be breeding.
I’ve done some research on the specifics of a cherry shrimps life stages, how old it needs to be to breed, and some other details you can find below.
Can you tell the gender of a shrimp when it’s a baby?
Baby shrimp are cute, tiny copies of their parents.
Even when newly hatched, a juvenile cherry shrimp will appear to be a copy of an adult that you put into a photocopier and set to maximum shrink!
It’s because of this that you can actually apply many of the same methods for sexing an adult cherry shrimp to the juveniles.
Males will still have a straighter body shape and a lighter body color.
At this size, these are the two most natural indicators to look for.
Females will have a darker color, just like their mothers (although some variation may take place thanks to genetics).
They will also begin to have a bit of a curved body, which over time will continue to curve, eventually stopping once the shrimp has finished growing, and then potentially curving a slight bit more during and after pregnancy.
You will not see any eggs or saddle at this age, so in that respect, male and female babies will look very similar.
When the babies are born, they will be very tiny so it can be difficult to determine a difference in size as you can with adult shrimp.
The difference won’t be as pronounced at first, but over time you will notice the females grow more quickly than the males.
Eventually, the males will also reach their peak size and stop growing, while the females will continue to grow.
On a small population this probably isn’t as noticeable, but in large groups, you can get a feel for how large males get on average and then use that as extra evidence to determine male or female.
While it may suck to hear it, be patient!
It will get much more comfortable as time goes on to determine the gender of your cherry shrimp, and you’ll have a decent number of days and weeks to accurately figure out what you’re dealing with.
And that leads us to the main question…
When will my Cherry Shrimp be old enough to Breed?
Cherry Shrimp are kind of like people in a few ways.
They all have different personalities (that’s one reason why I love watching them do their thing).
They also grow and mature at different rates!
Some cherry shrimp can actually reach full maturity – that’s going from a brand new hatchling to being ready for hatchlings of their own – in as little as 2 months.
Seems crazy right?!
Well, it’s also completely normal for that process to take up to 6 months or even a little bit longer!
In reality, while it would be really nice to just say “well, your shrimp will be full grown in 4 months” (which to be honest is probably a nice round average) it just isn’t that simple.
One good indicator you can use instead of time is the actual size of your shrimp.
While it might be a bit difficult to get a good measurement without catching each one and taking it out of the water, it’s possible to get a pretty close length check while they’re still swimming around.
I like to measure shrimp that are near a wall of the aquarium, that way there isn’t tons of light distortion from the water and glass and you can get a 1:1 picture of them next to a ruler.
Hold a ruler or some other item with a reference length up to the glass and snap a picture or two when a shrimp comes close by.
Male Cherry shrimp, when fully grown, should hit right about 0.75” to 0.85” long head to tail.
Don’t include antennae in the length measurements, those suckers can be almost as long as the shrimp itself!
Female shrimp can be anywhere from the same size as Males (0.75” or 19mm) up to and exceeding 1 inch or 25mm.
If your shrimp arent this size, or at least close to it, you probably have a little more waiting to do.
Give it a week or two and then try measuring again, keeping a good record of your results so you can tell what changes – if any – have happened.
I am not sure if there’s a world record for most substantial ever cherry shrimp, but if there is, let me know! I’d love to do an article about it!
Now, if you don’t want to wait for your shrimp to grow up, or are looking for a way to grow your colony faster, check out a Breeder Package that comes with adult shrimp.
These pups are breeding age and sexed, giving you a leg up on the breeding game.
So with the significant difference in sizes and time to reach maturity, you might be wondering:
How can I make my Cherry Shrimp Age faster?
Well, there are two main influencing factors I’ve found in my research when it comes to the aging process of Cherry Shrimp and their growth rates.
Both of these factors will actually do something much more profound sounding than it really is: speed up or slow down the entire life of a shrimp.
No, this isn’t some Avengers/ Thanos level joke, it’s really true!
Water temperature and the Availability of Food are two key factors that directly influence how quickly your shrimp will grow up, develop, have babies, and how long their lives will last.
First, let’s talk about water.
Now, it should be stated that the most important thing you can do in a Shrimp tank is maintained good quality water.
The exact specifications for the water vary from species to species of dwarf shrimp and other varieties, but one aspect is universally relevant.
Keep your water temperature stable.
Fluctuations in water temperature can severely harm cherries and even kill them by causing them to go into shock.
Even a shift of 2 degrees in less than a couple hours can wipe your tank out completely.
I know, I know, I promise I’m not trying to scare you with the truth!
The point being, Cherry Shrimp are really sensitive to water temperature.
While they are sensitive to sudden changes in temp, they can actually live and thrive in a somewhat wide range of temperatures, but the temperature you choose to set your tank at will impact every aspect of their lives.
Shrimp in cold water will move slower, eat slower, breed slower, and grow slower.
The colder water lowers their body temperature which in turn lowers their metabolic rate.
The cells in the shrimp’s body all move at a slower pace than usual, and so biologic processes like growing eggs or molting will take a bit more time.
Because of this, their energy requirements also go down, and consuming less food means it takes longer to grow.
It also means they are processing fewer calories per day, putting less stress on their inside parts, which weirdly enough means that their bodies will take longer to break down….
That means they actually live longer lives just because of the water temperature!
If you keep your shrimp in lower temperature water, something below 72 degrees or so, you can expect them to take up to that 6-month range to hit full maturity.
On the flip side of this, in warmer water, everything is the opposite.
Higher body temps mean a higher metabolism which causes a need for more food and quicker eating, resulting in faster growth but also shorter lives.
Shrimp in warm tanks bring new meaning to the phrase “the brightest candle burns twice as bright but half as long”.
To get your water temp exactly where you want it, you’ll need a precision aquarium heater, like this Aqueon Pro
With the water temperature, food supply goes hand in hand.
If there is a lot of food, the shrimp will be able to eat more and quicker than they otherwise could if limited.
Excess nutrition allows the Cherry Shrimp to pack their bodies full of the fuel they need to grow, making it easier to do so and requiring less time to hit that “full grown” state.
In a tank with higher water temperatures, you’ll actually find you have to feed more often or else your shrimp could potentially turn on each other!
Tanks with less food may experience issues like this, but they also tend to self-regulate.
This means that while the shrimp will indeed grow slower, they may also breed slower or in fact not breed at all.
Without enough food to sustain baby shrimp (which will eventually grow into full-size hungry adults) it just doesn’t make sense for the mature adults to reproduce…at least not until there is some more food!
When you’re looking to get your food supply in check, there are some great options to feed both your baby and adult shrimp (and everything in between!)