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Why are my Red Cherry Shrimp so pale?

Updated on May 23, 2012

Red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda var. red) originate from Taiwan. They have been specifically bred to lack some pigment and so display a red color. This variety are often kept in aquariums. They are best kept at 60–85 °F and reach an adult size of about 15 inches long. They live for about two years under optimal conditions.

People are often disappointed at the color of their shrimp, in which case here are some things to consider.

Young shrimp

Cherry shrimp are usually quite pale as juveniles so if your shrimp are under half an inch in size, pale color is quite normal. Most people purchase juveniles as they adapt better to being shipped and relocated. So your new stock won't look like the illustrative photographs provided by the breeder or retailer until they have a chance to grow up.


While some people manage to get good color in the male shrimp it is not uncommon for them to be only red in speckles or bands. Males are generally smaller and have a more tapered body shape. Females can be spotted as they grow by a yellow mass in the thorax.

Two female shrimp showing different degrees of red coloration.
Two female shrimp showing different degrees of red coloration.


It is a good idea to see the stock you are buying from, and not just the best specimens. Genetics has some influence on coloration.

Settling Time

General stress can cause shrimp to became pale, but they will color up when they relax.

Realistic Expectations

Keep in mind that only prime adult females tend to appear in promotional material. Even the best population of shrimp will not be made up entirely of fully red specimens.

So can I make the more red?

Yes! Please read on.


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      prawn 2 years ago

      wow 15inches that should be a prawnstar!

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      Peter Pizzati 3 years ago

      15 inches long huh? Would love to see that lol