Cherry shrimp are low-maintenance pets that are becoming more popular among aquarists.
Besides looking amazing with their vibrant colors, they demonstrate interesting behaviors that can entertain you for hours. As an owner, you may be wondering why your cherry shrimp is swimming upside down.
Today’s article offers a thorough answer to this question and more, so keep reading to get to know your tiny friends better!
If you notice your cherry shrimp swimming or laying upside down, the reason for such behavior could be one of the following:
Cherry shrimp can start swimming upside down as part of their feeding efforts to reach certain objects.
They can also attach their bodies upside down to leaves and stay moving in that position while eating the algae on the plant.
If you’re sure your cherry shrimp are healthy and living in a proper environment, then you don’t need to worry about them swimming or laying upside down.
Cherry shrimp will shed their exoskeletons and form new ones as they grow bigger throughout their lifespan. This is called molting, and it usually happens every few weeks.
If your cherry shrimp are swimming upside down and you can notice them failing or kicking, chances are they’re trying to get out of their exoskeletons.
3 – They’re swimming in unsuitable water conditions
Poor water parameters result in an unfavorable environment for the delicate cherry shrimp.
This can cause stress and harm their health, leading to strange swimming behaviors (such as being in an upside-down position), loss of appetite, and inactivity.
If you don’t resolve this issue, a distressed, sluggish upside-down shrimp may even die.
Optimal water conditions for cherry shrimp are:
- Temperature: between 70 to 80 degrees F (21 to 26 degrees C).
- pH level: between 7 and 7.5.
- Carbonate hardness (KH): between 3 to 15 (50 to 250 ppm).
- General hardness (GH): between 4 to 8 (65 to 130 ppm)
- Total dissolved solids (TDS): between 150 to 250.
The average lifespan of cherry shrimp is around 1 to 2 years. The older they get, the less active they become.
So if a fish or current pushes an old cherry shrimp onto its back, it may not have enough energy to turn its body back up.
If your cherry shrimp are new to the tank, they could be stressed due to the change in the environment.
As they try to adjust to their new home, you may notice the shrimp swimming or laying upside down.
If you simply leave them alone, chances are they’ll eventually roll back up.
However, some shrimp are too distressed from the shipping journey and the new tank that they die in such a position.
Another potential reason why your cherry shrimp are laying or swimming upside down is a disease.
Various parasitic and bacterial infections such as leeches and vorticella can cause your shrimp to get sick, weak, and lethargic.
Cherry shrimp may roll on their backs and stay like that until their condition either: improves so they regain strength to right their bodies, or worsens and they die.
Cherry shrimp need copper in trace amounts, but large amounts of this mineral in the water can cause toxicity with symptoms including decreased immunity, breeding problems, and erratic swimming behaviors.
Too much copper can easily make the tank deadly for cherry shrimp. You may be adding copper to your aquarium via fish medicine or algaecides.
If you notice your cherry shrimp laying on its side, the reason could be one of the following:
- The shrimp are stuck in the molting process. In this case, it’s best to leave them be.
- The water parameters are poor.
- Their diet lacks proper nutrients.
- The shrimp are affected by nitrite and ammonia poisoning.
- The shrimp are affected by parasites or bacterial infections.
- The shrimp are exposed to dangerous levels of copper.
Restoring an upside-down or sideways cherry shrimp depends on how early you detect the problem and start fixing it.
Once you notice the situation, follow the steps below as soon as possible:
- Isolate the affected shrimp by transferring it to a separate bowl or tank.
This reduces stress and prevents the spread of potential diseases, protecting the affected shrimp from environmental factors and keeping other tank inhabitants safe.
- Identify the reason by checking the water conditions, testing the water for toxins, cleaning the tank, reviewing the diet feeding frequency, and examining other environmental factors.
- Make the necessary changes. This can be administering medicine, changing water more frequently, adjusting water parameters, removing toxins, and so on.
If a cherry shrimp is dead, you’ll notice that it stopped moving completely. Its body will remain at the bottom of the tank until it starts to decompose and float up.
Appearance-wise, the inner body of the shrimp will gradually turn fleshy and light pink even if the exoskeleton looks normal.
So, why is your cherry shrimp swimming upside down?
The most common reasons are molting and unsuitable water parameters. But you may also notice this behavior if the shrimp is too weak, sick, experiencing copper poisoning, or trying to adjust to a new tank,
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.