Can Betta and Cherry Shrimp Live Together?

Your Betta might get lonely swimming around the tank and you are not satisfied. You’ve put a lot of effort into setting up a perfect environment, arranging everything carefully but it still looks like something is missing. Even with the bad reputation that Bettas have for aggression and territorial behavior, you may still be considering introducing something new and enriching the tank. 

Bettas and shrimps, in most cases can live together but you have to consider which kind of shrimp you can join with a Betta and how to set up the tank to fit both kinds. 

We are going to introduce Cherry shrimp and talk more about this kind so that you can consider it as an option.  

Betta and Cherry Shrimp

Water Conditions for Cherry Shrimp and Bettas

Cherry shrimps are one of the most popular kinds of shrimps. When it comes to joining two different kinds there are a number of issues you need to deal with and to prepare.

Water conditions take the first place and matching parameters is one of the most important things to do. Fortunately, Cherry shrimps tolerate a wide range of temperatures between 57 and 84 degrees so Bettas needs are also covered and that is around 78 degrees. 

The other things you need to level are ammonia and nitrite which, like with Bettas, have to be at 0 ppm. Chlorine is very toxic for shrimps so you have to check that parameter as well, and you need to do it frequently.

Talking about Bettas the pH of the water should be between 6,5 and 7,5 while the range with a Cherry shrimp is between 6.2 and 8, so keeping it at 7 is an ideal number for both. The level of nitrates that both kinds tolerate is < 20 ppm. Cherry shrimps are very sensitive to nitrite and ammonia spikes so you need to provide stable conditions and there comes the filtration. You can go with a sponge filter which shrimps love for two reasons. First, they can`t get sucked in and second, they like to sit on the outside and eat bits of food that is stuck there. 

When it comes to the size of a tank, they are tiny, they do not require more than a 5-gallon tank for a group of Cherry shrimps. However, it is always easier to control the water parameters in bigger tanks. Proportionally you can increase the number of shrimps if you consider a bigger tank.  

You should arrange a proper surrounding, lots of plants and decorations to avoid anything sharp and with rough edges.  The bottom of the tank is very important and it needs to be properly arranged too. Provide substrate which should be sand or gravel. Since they also like foraging, this way they will enjoy themselves and will not have the chance of hurting themselves. 

Do Betta and Cherry Shrimp Get Along?

Cherry shrimps are very shy by nature and like to hide most of the time. They are interesting to watch when they are out in the open but they are a kind that easily gets scared. They don’t like sudden movements and noise. If they feel comfortable in their surroundings you can see them foraging in the foreground. Mostly they leave their hiding places at night when there is less chance to be attacked or eaten by other fish.

You should have 3 to 4 females for each male. In some cases, you can see males chasing another male, so you will have to use a divider until they establish a colony. 

One thing about their behavior is connected with curling and molting. Since they grow the most of their life the shell cannot grow and it has to be cast off and another replaces it. Every once in a while, cherry shrimps molt, a new shell grows under the old one so they need to grip onto anything in the tank to get free from the old shell. In rare cases while trying to get rid of the old shell they exhaust themselves to the point they are overstressed and end up dead. If the shell is successfully changed you will just notice the shell laying in the tank. Do not remove the shell but let it sink and the shrimp will eat it because it is very nutritious.  

Can Cherry Shrimp Eat Betta Food?

It is not hard to feed a cherry shrimp. They are omnivores which means that they need animal and plant food. They will eat whatever your Betta pet doesn’t eat so, yes, they can eat Bettas food. But a varied diet is something you should provide. 

A cherry shrimp will eat plants, algae and meat just to make sure you have provided enough biofilm on tank decorations such as rocks, plants, driftwood and they will graze all day long. They are great helpers in preventing algae from taking over your aquarium. However, you could serve some commercial food as long as you do not exaggerate. Algae wafers are a great choice, not expensive and easy to purchase.  You can try blanched vegetables and they prefer cucumber, zucchini, broccoli, kale and collard greens. 

How To Choose a Cherry Shrimp?

When it comes to choosing a cherry shrimp and what you should look at when choosing it you will learn in this section. First, we need to know what a cherry shrimp looks like so that you know what to look for. 

They are, as the name indicates, red but they can come in different colors such as yellow, green, violet, blue, black, brown and white. In general, females are bigger and darker in color, but most of their body is transparent with big patches of red or pink. They grow up to 1.5 inches. They have two pairs of antennae which are different in length, one pair is longer than the other. The distinctive shape of a head is called rostrum and it is typical for lobsters, crayfish and shrimps. In the carapace, the outer shells are both the head and the chest. A pair of eyes grow out so they do not have to move the head if they move their eyes.  They manipulate food with the three pairs of legs placed below the mouth. Apart from those, there are four pairs of legs for moving and walking at the bottom of the cephalothorax. They have six segments of shell covering the abdomen and allowing movements and underneath it are 5 pairs of swimming legs. The tail has smaller fins on both sides that make a fan shape that is also typical for lobsters, crayfish and shrimps. Their life span is rather short; it is between a year and two. 

The first thing before you buy one is to inspect the tank that should be clean and specimens that have anything that is not normal on their body. Look for a cherry shrimp that is complete with all body parts, antennas, eyes and tail. 

How Many Cherry Shrimps Can I Keep With My Betta?

Cherry shrimps vary in size but in general they are tiny. As we mentioned before they grow up to 1.5 inches and females are bigger. They always go in groups of six to ten. If you keep less than six, they will not feel comfortable. So many owners make a decision to keep around 10 with their Betta because they do not need a large tank. A smaller tank of five gallons will be just great. 

If you want to avoid Betta’s aggression, you can provide a bigger tank and fill it up with a lot of plants and decorations.

Finally, our advice is, depending on the temperament of your fish, you can keep a Betta and 10 Cherry shrimps, 3 to 4 females for each male in a 5-gallon tank.  It is advisable that you keep a female Betta because they tend to be less aggressive. 

Final Thoughts

Here are some important things you have to remember if you want to keep a Betta and a Cherry shrimp together in a tank. 

  • The tank doesn’t have to be very big, 5 gallons is enough for a Betta and 10 cherry shrimps
  • Have plenty of decorations, put lots of plants and substrate
  • In case you notice aggression, have an extra tank or a divider ready in case you need to separate a Betta or male shrimps that are established colonies. 
  • Provide a lot of hiding places 
  • Provide a balanced diet for both kinds 
  • Keep the water parameters within the range for both kinds
  • Introduce healthy specimens to your Betta pet

To provide harmony in your tank will mostly depend on the temperament of your Betta, so Betta and Cherry Shrimp can be difficult tank mates. If you provide an appropriate environment for your Cherry shrimps and you keep your Betta pet well fed and entertained you will increase the chance of making an ideal habitat for both kinds. 

However, if you aren’t sure whether to keep Betta and Cherry shrimps together, the following tank mates are worth checking out:

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