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Male vs. Female Cherry Shrimp (The Differences to Look For)

Male vs. Female Cherry Shrimp (The Differences to Look For)

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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.

Cherry shrimp are wonderful pets and great tank cleaners. Their peaceful nature makes them a hassle-free addition to any aquarium, while their non-picky appetite makes them easy to care for.

Not to mention, cherry shrimps are a treat for the eye. Their vibrant colors and lively behavior can boost the aesthetics of your tank big time.

That said, it can be tricky to tell apart female cherry shrimp from male ones as they look pretty similar. However, being able to differentiate the sexes is crucial for breeding.

Today’s article is a detailed guide to male vs. female cherry shrimp. So keep reading to find out more about the gender differences in these fascinating creatures!

Do Male and Female Cherry Shrimp Look the Same?

At first glance, you may think that male and female cherry shrimp have the same appearance.

While they do look similar, the two sexes of cherry shrimp have multiple differences in their shape that set each of them apart.

What is a cherry shrimp saddle?

The saddle is a small white or yellow lump that appears on the back of a female cherry shrimp. If you see this spot on a shrimp, then you’re 100 percent looking at a female.

The saddle is a bunch of undeveloped and unfertilized eggs inside the ovaries that come into view when the female cherry shrimp reaches sexual maturity.

This identification method is one of the most reliable.

Sometimes, however, it’s not easy to spot the saddle because it’s small, less contrasting in color, or the shrimp’s shell is more opaque.

Who carries the eggs?

The female cherry shrimp is responsible for carrying the eggs, both before and after fertilization.

When the eggs are fertilized, the saddle won’t be visible. That’s because the developed eggs will move from the female’s back to its belly, clearly giving away the gender of the shrimp.

If a shrimp doesn’t have a saddle or eggs in the stomach area, then it’s most likely a male.

Do the belly and back look different?

Yes, male and female cherry shrimp have different-looking bellies and backs.

Female cherry shrimp have larger and rounder bellies. Male cherry shrimp have a straighter or more triangular belly outline.

That’s because females need more space to keep and protect their eggs, unlike males. This space is referred to as the undercarriage.

When a female cherry shrimp is mated and gets pregnant for the first time, her belly expands and doesn’t go back to its original size even after the hatching of the eggs. Its stomach becomes permanently curved.

Additionally, the female’s back becomes more bent to help support the eggs.

Does the exoskeleton have the same segments?

The exoskeleton of male and female cherry shrimp includes the same segments, but they differ a bit in size, shape, and arrangement.

Female cherry shrimp have a larger and rounder 2nd scale. In males, the second scale is straighter.

Additionally, the 2nd scale appears to sit on top of the 1st and 3rd scales in females. In males, the three scales are positioned next to each other.

Is the length of the antennas different?

Cherry shrimp possess 3 pairs of antennas:

  • One pair of long antennas is located on the side of the mouth to navigate the environment in low-light conditions.
  • One pair is facing upward at the end of the rostrum.
  • One pair is facing downward at the end of the rostrum.

The difference between male and female cherry shrimp lies in the second pair of antennas; the ones facing up at the rostrum’s end.

These antennas are longer in males but shorter in females.

As you can expect, this difference can be very tough to spot for the untrained eye. This is why we don’t recommend relying on it.

Do Male and Female Cherry Shrimp Have Different Sizes?

Yes, male and female cherry shrimp have different sizes.

Generally speaking, female cherry shrimp grow to a larger size than males because they need additional support that enables them to carry their eggs after breeding.

The average female cherry shrimp can get as big as 1.5 to 2 inches under ideal conditions. On the other hand, male cherry shrimp will almost always be smaller than 1 inch.

If you notice some cherry shrimp are larger than others after reaching sexual maturity, then the bigger ones are probably females.

Although size is the easiest way to tell female and male cherry shrimp apart, it can be tricky for many beginners because both sexes are pretty small. After all, cherry shrimp is a dwarf shrimp breed.

Examining the shape of the cherry shrimp is more reliable in helping you differentiate between male and female cherry shrimp.

If the shrimp has a saddle on top and its lower torso is curved inwards, then it’s a female. Male shrimps are slimmer with no saddle and possess a smaller, straight abdomen.

Do Male and Female Cherry Shrimp Share the Same Grade?

No, male and female cherry shrimp don’t have the same grade.

The grading system of cherry shrimp depends on their coloration; the presence or the depth of the red color to be more specific.

The sex of a cherry shrimp doesn’t just affect its size. It also has an impact on the coloring and grading of the shrimp and, consequently, its price.

Female cherry shrimp are typically more expensive because they’re larger and usually possess a more vibrant red color compared to male cherry shrimp.

As such, female cherry shrimp often belong to higher grades than their male counterparts.

Do Male and Female Cherry Shrimp Behave the Same?

Many cherry shrimp keepers mention behavior as a difference between the male and female populations. But the reliability of this claim as an identifying factor is still pretty low.

The general idea is that male cherry shrimp are more active and agitated whereas females are slower and calmer. Males are also more restless during the mating season.

That said, females can get quite jumpy when they’re under stressful conditions.

Can Cherry Shrimp Change Gender?

No, cherry shrimp can’t change gender.

The confusion in this aspect is based on the fact that all cherry shrimp look almost identical when they’re born and before they reach sexual maturity.

That said, all cherry shrimp are born with genes specifying their gender, which is clearly expressed upon maturity. This gender remains unchanged throughout their lives.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a detailed guide to male and female cherry shrimp.

The best way to tell apart the two cherry shrimp genders is to examine their shape/outline after reaching sexual maturity.

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