There’s a common misconception floating around saying betta fish need solitary tanks.
In truth, many different aquatic creatures like shrimp and snails get along just fine with betta splendens.
Cherry shrimp and betta fish can live together if you take extra care with your aquarium setup. Dense plants, various food sources, and ample hiding spaces all help minimize aggression. Follow both species’ water parameters, and watch for signs of stress or aggression.
Table of Contents
Understanding Betta Behavior
Betta fish, also called Siamese Fighting Fish, were originally bred to fight one another.
Aggressive bettas were sought out, so we still see territorial and angry ones today.
Their instincts are to protect their territory and assert dominance… most of the time.
The great thing about betta fish is how unique each one is!
Some have aggression episodes whenever they see another creature near their tank. Others live happily with suitable tank mates or hide timidly in caves and aquarium plants.
Finding your betta tank mates is certainly tricky regardless of their personality.
But the important thing is to exercise caution with potential prey like shrimp.
If your betta flares or charges just at the sight of the cherry shrimp, don’t make them share an environment.
Even with heavy cover, the odds are good those poor shrimp would be goners.
Understanding Cherry Shrimp
Behavior and Care
Cherry shrimp are notoriously easy to care for.
They take care of algae growth in the tank and graze on plant matter and food waste.
Furthermore, these guys produce very little waste themselves.
Some creatures add the risk of ammonia spikes in your betta tank. But cherry shrimp are a better choice for keeping the environment clean (in more ways than one)!
Cherry shrimp originated from Taiwan. They live in streams and ponds with lots of plant life and rocky substrate there.
It’s essential to emulate this environment in the aquarium so your shrimp will be comfortable.
This means using a low-power filtration system like a sponge filter. Strong currents are harmful to cherry shrimp.
Coincidentally, betta fish like a very weak current as well. This is because they are not the strongest swimmers and are easily pushed around by the current.
Another way to replicate their natural environment is to use plenty of tall plants in the tank. Silk plants are just as good if you prefer not to use living ones.
Plants reduce stress levels in both cherry shrimp and betta fish.
This is partly because the colors and plant cover are similar to their natural habitat.
But it also helps them feel like they don’t have a competitor for space by reducing how much they see one another.
Reproduction and Overpopulation
A lot of algae eaters are known for their fast reproduction rates.
Both snails and shrimp can take over an aquarium quickly if the population isn’t controlled.
Cherry shrimp are no exception. They breed often and release up to 30 eggs at a time.
If things go as planned and your betta leaves them alone, your shrimp colony will grow a little too fast.
Here are some tips for population control:
- Re-home or sell extras
- Feed to a predator
- Lower temperature
Selling and re-homing cherry shrimp is easy if you know the right people. They’re very popular aquatic pets, after all.
However, depending on the area you live in this may be more difficult.
Ask around at the nearest pet store or any fish breeders you may know. They can probably tell you about anyone local who would be interested in your shrimp.
To use these guys as food, you need a separate tank with a predatory fish.
Goldfish, gouramis, and more aggressive betta fish will gladly eat away your overpopulation problem!
Finally, cherry shrimp reproduce most quickly at higher temperatures (around 80° degrees Fahrenheit or 26.5° C).
Unfortunately, this is about the temperature your betta fish needs.
Therefore, it’s better to work out a plan for re-homing or feeding the shrimp to predators.
Common Health Issues
The most common problem shrimp owners face is fungal infections.
Cherry shrimp are susceptible to all kinds of other illnesses as well.
Here’s a more comprehensive list:
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infections
- Muscular necrosis
These diseases all have different treatments and causes.
But your shrimp will always show some basic signs of illness before getting too sick.
Some of these signs include:
- Discoloration or loss of color
- Brown or black spots
- No appetite
- Slow growth rate (juveniles)
Generally, the best way to prevent illness is to be caught up on your shrimp’s care.
Maintaining water quality by performing consistent water changes, not adding foreign objects to the tank without cleaning, and being careful when choosing live food options.
Keeping chemical levels down while pH and temperature levels stay constant will help a ton!
Are Betta and Cherry Shrimp Compatible Tank Mates?
Will the Betta Attack or Eat the Cherry Shrimp?
There is a possibility your betta will mistake the cherry shrimp for food. But there are ways to prevent this from happening.
For one thing, choose your betta fish very carefully.
If you go to a pet store or breeder, watch the behavior of all the fish for a while. Any betta who is flaring or charging is likely more aggressive by nature.
Conversely, a betta who is hiding or doesn’t flare at all is probably calmer or timid.
Choosing the calmer fish is much safer in this scenario. (I know a lot of betta owners love keeping feisty little guys, but this isn’t the time!)
When you introduce your betta to the shrimp, be very cautious.
Use a floating breeding box or a transparent tank divider to let them see one another before sharing a space.
If your betta flares a lot or charges, they will probably show great aggression once those shrimp move in.
As long as things seem calm enough, putting them together is safe!
Are Their Basic Care Requirements Compatible?
To get a better idea of how compatible cherry shrimp and betta fish are, here’s a side-by-side comparison of their needs:
|Water Parameters||Cherry Shrimp||Betta Fish|
|Temperature||72-80° degrees Fahrenheit (22-27° C)||78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (26-27° C)|
|Filtration||Gentle sponge filter||Gentle sponge filter|
|Tank Size||~1 gallon per 6 shrimp||5 gallons per fish|
Based on this chart, it’s easy to see the water parameters in a shared tank.
For example, say you have 6 cherry shrimp and 1 betta fish. Here is the optimal setup:
|Water Parameters||Combination Tank|
|Temperature||78° degrees Fahrenheit (26° C)|
|Filtration||Gentle sponge filter|
|Tank Size||6-10 gallons|
It’s actually super easy to set your tank up in a way both critters will like!
Their preferences are very similar, and neither needs to compromise their comfort.
The temperature could even float a little closer to 80°F (27°C). But your shrimp would be more likely to reproduce constantly in those conditions.
Here’s a fun fact for you, too; cherry shrimp are incredibly hardy. If the pH or temperature were to get a little outside of their comfort zone for a while, they would likely be just fine.
Your betta and cherry shrimp will both be very content with the above water parameters, though!
Additional Tank Mates for Your Betta and Cherry Shrimp
If you’re sure stress levels in the tank are low, it may be safe to add a third tank mate.
We strongly recommend against adding a different shrimp or fish species to the mix.
Instead, the best option here is to get some snails. Many freshwater snails are little vacuum cleaners for the aquarium.
They will gladly take care of extra food scraps or algae growth.
Cherry shrimp and betta fish generally leave snails alone unless they are particularly tiny (like larvae).
This makes them the ideal addition to your betta and cherries tank.
Some favored snails in the aquarist community are:
- Mystery snails
- Nerite snails
- Apple snails
- Ramshorn snails
Be sure to pick a variety you know will thrive in your tank’s water conditions.
Finally, be prepared to use a larger tank. Snails produce a heavy bio load and need extra space to avoid ammonia spikes.
Do Cherry Shrimp Eat the Betta’s Food?
It is highly unlikely a cherry shrimp would ever beat your betta to their meal.
Most pellets are designed to sink very slowly, giving your fish time to eat them.
Cherry shrimp are much more likely to eat things near the bottom of the tank.
They gladly take care of leftovers from your betta’s meals. But they won’t be stealing precious protein.
How Many Shrimp Are Safe with a Single Betta?
Cherry shrimp are very calm individuals. With one betta, keeping up to 10 cherry shrimp is safe.
Technically there is no hard limit. We recommend keeping the numbers to 10 or fewer because it reduces stress in your betta.
Even timid and calm betta fish need to feel like they are in control of their environment.
Your shrimp colony should not take over the tank.
Will Betta and Shrimp Hide From Each Other?
When your betta and shrimp first meet one another, they may hide for a while. But over time, they should grow more comfortable.
If a couple of weeks pass and they still hide, this is a sign of excess fear and stress.
Make sure you have a contingency plan before starting the combination tank.
In the event your pets hide from each other, you need to either re-home or move the shrimp to a separate tank.
High stress leads to all kinds of health issues in both betta fish and cherry shrimp.
The Ideal Aquarium for Betta and Cherry Shrimp
How to Set Up a Combination Tank
Start with many plants and decor where your fish and shrimp can hide.
Betta fish love floating logs and driftwood, so consider adding these as decor.
You’ll need to use a gravel substrate, which is optimal for cherry shrimp and betta fish.
Your cherry shrimp want something dark in color, as they are prey animals. It makes them feel safer as they blend in a little better.
Follow the water conditions outlined above. Use a thermometer and water testing strips to closely monitor those water parameters.
The most important thing is never to feed this betta fish live shrimp.
Most betta fish pellets and flakes use shrimp as the main ingredient. But feeding live shrimp is avoidable.
There are lots of other live foods to give them, though.
Here’s our article on betta fish treats if you need some suggestions.
Cherry shrimp mostly eat algae, plant matter, and leftovers from your betta’s meals.
But if you want, here’s an algae-based product they’d love as a treat.
Cleaning and Maintenance
You must keep up with weekly partial water changes.
Never change all the tank water at once. Instead, change about 25% each week.
This helps keep the water clean without shocking your pets.
Read more about how often to change betta water in our guide here.
Check On Your Pets Often
This setup is new to both your shrimp and your betta. Check in to make sure they’re both doing okay.
Healthy betta fish swim around throughout the day, though they made hide occasionally.
Healthy cherry shrimp spend some time exploring as well.
They are more likely to disappear from your sight sometimes.
But they should not spend all their time hiding. This is a sign of fear and stress.
If you see a sick or stressed shrimp in the tank, you must remove them and use a quarantine tank.
The same goes if your betta falls ill.
This is for their safety and the others in the tank.
If you need help treating their disease or injury, reach out to a fish-savvy veterinarian!
Here’s our article on common diseases in betta fish and how to treat them.
Can a Novice Raise Cherry Shrimp with Betta Fish?
If you read this article and it all seems doable, you’re ready to raise cherry shrimp with your betta.
You don’t need the experience to give it a shot. Just be willing to learn and research as needed.
For your first time setting up a tank and owning a fish, raise the betta alone for a little while first.
You need to know whether you’re an aquarist at heart!
Takeaways on Cherry Shrimp and Betta Fish
Cherry shrimp and betta fish are considered easy enough for beginners to raise.
They share a lot of basic care requirements including the water parameters and tank setup.
The biggest challenge is how they get along. Introduce them slowly and keep an eye out for signs of stress.
If you want to learn more about how to raise betta with shrimp, read our article at the given link!
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