Can You Mix Different Color Cherry Shrimp?

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Cherry shrimps have long been the sweethearts of most aquarists when it comes to putting together a reliable cleaning crew.

Few things are as spectacular as a green aquatic ecosystem with a bunch of cherry-red shrimps roaming the substrate.

These shrimps are easy to maintain, and they keep the environment cleaner by consuming algae, detritus, and various microorganisms that may populate the tank water.

They also need additional shrimp food for a balanced diet, but this is a topic for another shrimp-related article.

Today, we will focus on a more fitting subject – mixing differently-colored shrimp. Can you do it, and, if not, why not? Let’s have a look!

Different Cherry Shrimp Colors

If you’re not that familiar with cherry shrimp, you may not be aware of the color diversity among these little invertebrates.

Here’s what I mean by that:

  • Common cherry shrimp – Transparent with red markings
  • Sakura shrimp – More red patches, combined with brownish or transparent areas
  • Painted fire shrimp – Display a bright red, including on the legs
  • Orange or Yellow Sakura shrimp – As the name suggests, this strain showcases orange or yellow instead of red
  • Jade shrimp – This strain comes in bright green
  • Blue morph – The color pallet is wider than with other strains. Blue morphs may display different shades of blue, from pale to velvet

All these shrimps are the result of selective breeding, given that these colors don’t really exist in the wild.

Can Different Color Shrimp Breed?

Yes, differently-colored shrimp can breed. After all, this is how we got all these different morphs in the first place.

Just remember that the offspring are called hybrids, since they are the product of selective breeding, and they’re unlikely to retain their parents’ colors.

Most likely, they will develop their own distinct coloring, which is either a combination of the parents’ coloring or something entirely new.

It’s worth mentioning that cherry shrimp haven’t been so subjected to selective breeding as frequently as other aquarium animals like guppies, for instance.

That’s because the shrimp’s genetic behavior isn’t easily tamable. The shrimp will revert to its natural biological state with time, undoing the effects of selective breeding during subsequent generations.

So, don’t get your hopes high; you’re unlikely to get your rainbow shrimp anytime soon.

How do Wild Type Shrimp Look Like?

Wild shrimps are not colorful. At least not to the same degree that captive or farmed shrimp are.

The reason for that is purely practical; it simply isn’t sustainable to flash bright colors in an environment where literally anything can eat you.

Wild shrimps have developed paler and duller colors, allowing them to blend within their environment easier. So, most wild shrimps appear brown or transparent, making them difficult to spot.

So, yea, remember those bright-red cherry shrimp you’re eating at a restaurant? Those are farmed.

This is a good reference point to use when trying to determine whether a specific shrimp is wild-caught or farmed.

Pros of Mixing Different Color Shrimp

The most obvious pro is diversity. Differently-colored shrimp will mix together just fine and can easily breed with each other.

So, you’ll get a lot of color diversity, and that’s pretty much it. There are no other benefits other than the ones of esthetic nature.

Cons of Mixing Different Color Shrimp

The main con of mixing differently-colored shrimp is that they will eventually lose their coloring.

The reason for that is the shrimp’s unbending genetic pool. As we’ve just discussed, cherry shrimps are only red when farmed. Wild shrimps are brown and transparent, colors that, while bland, provide improved camouflaging effects.

It’s not clear why shrimps will lose their coloring when paired with shrimps of other colors, but they will.

Your shrimps will eventually become blander and revert to their wild colors – brown.

Interestingly enough, this doesn’t happen when keeping only red shrimp.

So, the solution is simple: only go for single-colored shrimps to prevent them from losing their coloring.

Conclusion

Cherry shrimps make for fine additions to any community tank. They are adaptable, easy to breed, keep the environment clean, and don’t need much in terms of care and maintenance.

I understand the temptation of mixing shrimps of different colors, but I recommend resisting it.

Go for single-colored shrimps instead, or accept the fact that your multicolored shrimp tank isn’t meant to last.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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