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Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Algae? Are They Good Cleaners?

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Algae? Are They Good Cleaners?

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Vibrant, peaceful, and adorable, cherry shrimp make for fantastic pets.

Not only do they add a brilliant pop of color to boost your aquarium’s aesthetics, but they’re also happy to eat just about everything you can give them.

Does this mean that cherry shrimp can clean tanks? Do cherry shrimp eat algae? Do they eat dead fish?

Today’s article answers all these questions and more, so keep reading to learn more about the behavior of these tiny fascinating creatures!

Are Cherry Shrimp Good Cleaners?

Yes, cherry shrimp are good cleaners for tanks.

Cherry shrimp are opportunistic omnivores, so they’re not at all picky about their food. They’ll eat both animal and plant matter.

More importantly, cherry shrimp are scavengers. This means their feeding behavior mainly consists of roaming around the bottom of the tank searching for edible bits that made their way down to the substrate.

This feeding habit may not seem like anything special, but you’ll realize its value once you understand that bottom scavengers are vital for keeping an aquarium clean.

You see, tanks are pretty gross. From food leftovers and rotting plants to decaying organisms (such as snails and fish) and debris from the surrounding environment, a lot of junk can dirty up the water and substrate in your aquarium.

In addition to making the tank an eye sore, these pollutants can mess up your aquarium chemistry. Organic remnants release ammonia upon decaying, which is very harmful to living tank inhabitants beyond a certain concentration.

While you can schedule weekly water changes to clean the tank and fight these toxins, you may not be able to keep up with the build-up.

By feeding on decaying plants, food leftovers, even rotting fish, and other organic remnants, cherry shrimp do an excellent job as a cleaning crew.

They can’t replace a regular cleaning routine, but they can make it less frequent and more effective.

What Kinds of Algae Do Cherry Shrimp Eat?

Cherry shrimp are opportunistic omnivores, so they’ll eat both animal and plant matter including algae.

They’ll feed on the plant wherever it exists since they’re small enough to reach every nook and cranny. They can feed in awkward positions, even attached to the algae on the tank walls.

Similar to other shrimp types, cherry shrimp can munch on pretty much any kind of algae.

They do have preferences and tend to avoid certain types, so you need to know what sorts of algae can be added to their diet to keep them happy and save costs.

Cherry shrimp mainly like to eat soft algae. These include brown algae, green algae, black beard algae, and hair algae.

Brown algae

This type of algae actually consists of animals known as diatoms. You can’t see these minute creatures unless you look through a microscope.

If your aquarium contains brown algae, it’s a sign of poor water quality. Luckily, you can simply rub off this kind of algae because it’s soft.

Not to mention, cherry shrimp are more than happy to eat it.

Green algae

This is a very common type of algae that grows very quickly.

If the infestation isn’t too heavy, cherry shrimp can handle it for you. But if you don’t get it under control, it’ll make your aquarium look murky and gross.

Black beard algae

This type of algae appears in clumps resembling tufts, which is why some people say it looks like small shaving brushes.

While cherry shrimp have no particular issues eating black beard algae, the problem lies in the growth rate of this algae.

You see, black beard algae spread rapidly to the point that cherry shrimp have a hard time keeping up.

So if you want to get rid of this algae, you need to help your shrimp by using additional algae removal methods like disinfecting decorations and trimming plants.

Hair algae

Similar to black beard algae, hair algae appears in strings and tufts. It’s also fast-growing and can quickly overwhelm your aquarium if you don’t manage it.

Most aquarists agree that cherry shrimp can eat hair algae without problems. But some people say that cherry shrimp will only feed on immature hair algae.

What Kinds of Algae Do Cherry Shrimp Not Eat?

Cherry shrimp can feed on pretty much any type of algae.

But as mentioned above, they have preferences and will avoid certain kinds such as green spot algae, staghorn algae, and blue-green algae.

Green spot algae

While cherry shrimps can munch on green algae, they tend to stay away from green spot algae.

Green spot algae make your aquarium look like it’s covered in light green circular patches on the tank walls, plants, substrate, rocks, and decorations.

These spots are tough to get rid of and you’ll probably need to use razors or scrappers to remove them.

Green dust algae

GDA is a fast-growing type of algae that looks like a green layer covering tank walls and rocks. It’s easy to wipe off, but it reappears quickly.

Green water algae

Also known as microalgae, this type of algae is super tiny. It floats in water in millions, turning the color of your tank water green.

Staghorn algae

Belonging to the red algae family, this type of algae appears in the form of deer antlers. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see the antlers are made up of strands.

Blue-green algae

This type of algae is classified as a bacteria.

Besides its blue-green color, it gives off a distinct musty odor. Algae eaters, including cherry shrimp, won’t consume it.

Can Cherry Shrimp Survive on Just Algae?

No, cherry shrimp can’t survive eating only algae.

While they like to munch on it, algae don’t contain all the nutrients necessary to keep cherry shrimp healthy. If you only give them algae, your cherry shrimp will suffer from protein and vitamin deficiencies.

While most of their diet should consist of algae and biofilm, you need to provide your cherry shrimp with other food sources such as bloodworms, pellets, kale, algae wafers, and zucchini.

How Often Should You Feed Cherry Shrimp?

Because cherry shrimp are omnivorous scavengers, they eat plenty on their own. As such, you don’t need to feed them every day.

Feeding them every day will make them less efficient in cleaning the tank because they’re not very hungry. So do it every other day for better cleaning productivity.

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Fish Poop?

Contrary to popular belief, cherry shrimp don’t eat fish poop.

Cherry shrimps are opportunistic omnivores that scavenge for food and will happily consume leftovers, decaying plants, and rotting organisms. However, they won’t feed on feces.

Cherry shrimp can sift through fish waste to look for undigested food particles. They’ll eat what they find, not the poop itself.

Occasionally, cherry shrimp may nibble on fish feces out of curiosity. But they’ll back off once they realize it’s poop and will spit back out whatever they swallowed.

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Their Dead?

As opportunistic omnivorous scavengers, cherry shrimp will eat just about anything that falls to the bottom of the aquarium.

They’ll feed on algae, decaying plants, decaying worms, rotting snails, rotting fish, and even dead shrimps including dead cherry shrimp and dead brine shrimp.

Final Thoughts

So, do cherry shrimp eat algae? The answer is yes.

Cherry shrimp are omnivores, so they’ll eat both animal and plant matter including algae. They mainly like to eat soft algae such as brown algae, green algae, black beard algae, and hair algae

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