Cherry Shrimp and Tiger Barbs – Can You Keep Them in Same Aquarium?
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When setting up a freshwater tank, you may decide you want to add animals other than fish to your aquarium.
Shrimp are often chosen either to complete a tank with various fish or to be part of a tank-cleaning crew that will naturally keep algae growth under check.
When it comes to shrimp, the red cherry shrimp is a popular variety that’s available in many variations and grades. They’re often chosen by beginners because they’re quite easy to care for.
A question that often comes up among beginner aquarists is whether they can keep shrimp in the same tank with fish. And my answer is always the same – it depends.
Dwarf shrimp like the cherry shrimp are usually too small to protect themselves from curious fish that may mistake them for food, therefore, I usually recommend keeping them in a species-only tank.
What about cherry shrimp and tiger barbs? Should you keep tiger barbs in the same aquarium with cherry shrimp?
Some fish may be good companions for cherry shrimp. Unfortunately, tiger barbs aren’t one of those fish. As you will see below, these aquatic animals shouldn’t be kept together.
Cherry shrimp are available in many variations of red ( ranging from low intensity colors – Cherry grade, to highest intensity colors – Painted Fire Red grade), yellow, green and blue.
Native to Taiwan, wild cherry shrimp aren’t as spectacular as their captive-bred cousins to be able to better fend off predators in the wild, an ability that’s completely lacking in captive cherry shrimp.
These peaceful shrimps rarely grow bigger than 1 inch and live 1 year on average. Thankfully, they breed quite easily, so you don’t have to worry about being left with no cherry shrimp.
Depending on how many cherry shrimps you’re planning on raising a 5 gallon tank should be the minimum or a 10 gallon tank if you plan on keeping a colony.
Tank cleanliness is very important to them, therefore monitor the tank for toxins and don’t skip water changes.
The water parameters of cherry shrimp are as follows:
- Water temperature: 65-85°F
- TDS: 150-250
- Water pH: 6.3-8.0
These dwarf shrimp species enjoy planted tanks (Flame moss, Anubias nana, Crypts, Java Fern and Java moss are all good options) and require a water heater and a filter system.
Since they’re an omnivorous species, they’ll eat both plant-based and meat-based foods. You can feed them high-quality pre-prepared shrimp foods and soft-boiled vegetables.
They like to scavenge in the substrate and feed on microalgae. They’re also opportunistic eaters, so be careful not to overfeed them.
As I mentioned, they’re easy to breed and breeding will usually happen without you having to do anything.
Tiger barb fish are at least three times the size of cherry shrimp, growing to 3 inches in captivity and live 3-4 years on average. Their black vertical stripes and orange-yellow bodies are the signature coloring of these fish.
Tiger barbs should be kept in large shoals of 6 or 9, otherwise they become rather aggressive towards other fish.
Because they’re fast swimmers, they should be provided with plenty of swimming space, therefore, tanks bigger than 20 gallons are the most optimal for them.
In terms of water parameters, tiger barbs prefer:
- Temperature: 72-78 degrees F
- Hardness: up to 10 dGH
- pH: 6.5
They enjoy planted tank and can be fed a variety of foods.
Despite their semi-aggressive tendencies, tiger barb fish can be kept in community aquariums, provided they’re housed together with compatible species.
Why You Shouldn’t Keep Cherry Shrimp and Tiger Barb Fish in The Same Aquarium
As I mentioned, cherry shrimp can’t protect themselves from predators, not even if you provide them with enough foliage for cover.
Their bright red colors are easily spotted by fish and they’ll end up a delicious (and expensive!) meal for them.
Cherry shrimp and tiger barbs are not compatible because tiger barb fish will eat and kill cherry shrimp without hesitation.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid keeping them in the same tank and choose other tank mates that they’re compatible with.
Shrimp Compatible with Tiger Barbs
As far as I know (and my research hasn’t found anything to the contrary) there are no shrimp compatible with tiger barbs.
If they’re small enough, tiger barbs will eat them since they enjoy eating invertebrates. If the shrimp are larger, tiger barbs may not eat them, but they’ll make sure to pester and pick at them, which may weaken your shrimp and they may still end up dying.
It’s best to keep tiger barbs with other compatible fish such as rosy barbs, cherry barbs, black ruby barbs, zebra danios, etc.
Avoid docile fish that move slowly or fish that have long fins, your tiger barbs will nip at their fins and bother them all the time.
Fish Compatible with Cherry Shrimp
Although I don’t like to mix cherry shrimp with fish and prefer species-only shrimp tanks, there are a few fish that may not bother cherry shrimp.
Some small fish species like Otocinclus, Plecos and Danios can be good tank mates for your cherry shrimp.
If you’ve noticed, I mentioned my preference to keep cherry shrimp in a species-only tank. This is important, because if you keep cherry shrimp with other species of shrimp, there’s a risk of crossbreeding.
Crossbreeding can lead to weak offspring and dull colors, and that’s something that you can easily avoid by keeping only one species per tank.
Not only that I don’t recommend keeping tiger barbs together with cherry shrimp, but I also don’t recommend keeping cherry shrimp with other fish species.
Dwarf shrimp are vulnerable around fish because they don’t have any defense mechanisms other than hiding. And if they sport bright colors like cherry shrimp, not even hiding can help.
If you don’t want your cherry shrimp to become expensive snacks for your tiger barbs or other large invertebrate-eating fish, then keep them separated from these fish. A shrimp-only tank is the best for cherry shrimp.