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How to make Red Cherry Shrimp Red-er

Updated on September 20, 2012

So maybe your red cherry shrimp (a.k.a. RCS) aren't quite as red as you would like? Here are some things you can try to improve their coloration:

Breed For the Best

If your fully grown adult shrimp vary in color, you can selectively breed to bring out the best in the next generation. It is also a good idea to introduce the occasional super-red shrimp from a different breeding line to prevent in-breeding.

However, if all of your shrimp are on the pale side it is probably due to an environmental factor. This is good news, because it means you can fix it!

Female RCS carried eggs in their swimmerettes (a.k.a. "berried")
Female RCS carried eggs in their swimmerettes (a.k.a. "berried")

Aquarium Environment

In my experience a number of factors in the aquarium will help color up your shrimp.

  • Dark backgrounds such as black sand. Not only does it make shrimp look brighter by providing visual contrast, it actually seems to encourage them to show more pigment.
  • Presence of fish, but of course not the sort that will actually eat shrimp! Coloration is used naturally to hide from predators, but in my opinion even the presence of peaceful fish will encourage color.
  • Presence of foliage, especially moss. I suspect this has as much to do with improving their food by providing a rich environment for algae and micro-fauna. But it may also have to do with supporting natural behavior patterns.
  • Some oxygenated water current or an air stone (a.k.a. bubbler).


All pigment ultimately comes from the shrimp's food. Natural algae and micro-flora are always good, as well as a varied range of commercial diets for invertebrates and judicious amounts of color-boosting tropical flakes. I use a combination of algae, spirulina, invertebrate diet (Hikari) and Tetracolor.

Adult female red cherry shrimp
Adult female red cherry shrimp


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