8 Best Tank Mates for Cherry Shrimp (Shrimp Safe Fish)

cherry shrimp tank mates

Cherry shrimp are easy-going invertebrates, but you’ll still need to be careful about the livestock kept with them. If you’re looking to breed, things become even more difficult. Most people like to keep other animals with their shrimp, so read on. I’ll break down some of the best tank mates for you, and then we’ll explain how to keep them safe.

Top Shrimp Tank Mates

1. Endler’s Livebearer

Endler Livebearers

  • Maximum Size: 1″
  • Required Tank Size: 5 Gallons+
  • Diet: Anything
  • Care Level: Beginner

Bright, colorful, and varied. There’s a reason that Endler’s Livebearers are so common: they’re beautiful and don’t take any more effort to raise than guppies. Just throw them in a cycled tank with 1:2 ratio of males to females, and they’ll start breeding and thriving.

Since Endler’s are so easy to keep, they make a great tank mate for your shrimp. The chances of incidents with adult shrimp are minimal, especially since a large Cherry Shrimp is often bigger than an Endler’s.

I think they’re perfect for a colorful shrimp tank. If you breed the Endler’s and keep a variety of different color morphs of shrimp? It’s a lot of color with little work required. It may be a bit much for those who are primarily interested in aquatic gardens, however.

Endler’s are still a threat to shrimp fry, but they’re much easier to manage than most fish. Give them a shot if you’re going for bright colors, especially if you’re running a tank that is 10 gallons or less.

2. Fancy Guppy

Fancy Guppies

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Anything
  • Care Level: Beginner

The Fancy Guppy catches some flak from experienced aquarists, but it’s a winning combination with your shrimp. These colorful fish can even breed alongside shrimp if you have enough of them. Too few shrimp, and it’s likely that the Guppies will eat the majority of the fry.

They’re extremely easy to care for. These fish are fully domesticated at this point, and any cycled tank will do it. Within reason, of course, I recommend at least a 10-gallon tank for a group of 6. Keep the male to female ratio at 1:2 or 1:3 in tight quarters. It will avoid territorial disputes.

Guppy genetics are also easy to understand. If line-breeding fish is on your to-do list, then you should start with these hardy little fish. If not… well, you can still sort them out for coloration and patterns.

In the end, Guppies are great companions for most aquatic animals. They’re doubly so for shrimp, but like most fish, they’re not above eating the shrimp babies.

3. Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

  • Maximum Size: 1 ¼”
  • Required Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Diet: Anything
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Neon Tetras are another easy option, and a favorite in the planted tanks you’ll find shrimp thriving in. They’re quick, colorful, and about the right size to coexist with Cherry Shrimp. Particularly large specimens may be able to eat half-grown shrimp, however.

Neons need to be kept in large groups. Six is good, nine is better, and twelve is about the sweet spot. You’ll need at least a 20-gallon tank to have the best results. The more Neons in the shoal, the less they’ll bother your shrimp.

Neons prefer more acidic conditions than shrimp, but most won’t object to normal conditions. The fragility of Neon Tetra is often overstated. They’re not Guppies, but they’re not particularly hard to keep. Aim for maintaining the pH of the tank under 7.5, and you’ll be fine.

Neons will go for shrimp fry. Keep that in mind. These peaceful little guys are also fast and persistent when they want to be. The likelihood of shrimp fry surviving is low, so you may need to restock with more Cherry Shrimp if you go down this route.

More: Demystifying Freshwater Shrimp In the Home Aquarium

4. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbs

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Anything
  • Care Level: Beginner

You could consider adding some more Cherry to your tank. Cherry Barbs are attractive, peaceful, and the only fish in the Barb family that works well with shrimp. The rest are too large and aggressive.

Cherry Barbs display extreme sexual dimorphism. The males are a bright red and sleek fish, while the females are orange and white with a broader body. You’d hardly believe they’re the same fish when compared side-by-side.

Cherries are close to fry-safe. They’ll still eat them, but if kept in a group of six or more, they’re unlikely to bother adult shrimp at all. They’re much more content to do their own thing.

Cherry Barbs are a personal favorite of mine, especially for planted tanks. They thrive alongside Cherry Shrimp, they’re peaceful, and they’re beautiful. There’s not a whole lot more to it, except to note that Cherry Barbs don’t shoal as tightly as most Barbs. If school behavior is your goal, stick with Neons.

5. Betta


  • Maximum Size: 2 ¼”
  • Required Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Diet: Anything
  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Bettas are an excellent companion to Cherries- with some caveats. You’ll have to accept one thing: some will get eaten. In my desk tank, I expect to lose 2-4 shrimp a month to my Betta. With heavy planting and time, however, they’re not able to out-do a breeding colony of shrimp.

Bettas are highly individual. I’ve seen them completely ignore shrimp in the past. Others will actively hunt them down. Bettas are slow, and they’re not the best ambush predators, so their success rate is low. In a tank that’s 10 gallons or more, the chance of a Betta catching half-grown shrimp is quite low.

It really depends on what you consider an acceptable loss in the end. Betta can be a bit of a gamble, particularly if they’re aggressive, but they can also coexist peacefully.

Give it a shot. They’re a bit harder to handle than the others on this list, but with a bit of aquascaping and care, you’ll come out on top.

6. African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Required Tank Size: 5 gallons
  • Diet: Worms, Brine Shrimp
  • Care Level: Intermediate

African Dwarf Frogs make the list simply for being too blind and slow to catch shrimp. They both occupy the bottom of the tank at times. There’s always the risk of a shrimp being eaten, but I’ve never seen them devour an adult.

African Dwarf frogs are derpy. That’s the only real way to describe them. They’re almost blind and not exactly stars in the mental department. They are fun to watch.

These guys are actually social. It’s rare in frogs, but they should be kept in multiples. Two or three is recommended for smaller tanks. That said, they can be surprisingly active.

The main problem with their care is the fact that they often need special attention during feedings, especially in larger tanks. An eyedropper and frozen bloodworms will fix the problem, but it’s a bit labor-intensive for some people.

As far as care goes, as long as they’re eating and the tank is cycled, they’re in good hands. They’re an interesting addition to any tank, and their lack of offensive capabilities makes them a good choice for shrimp tanks.

Shrimp-Fry Safe Companions

There aren’t very many fish that are safe with baby shrimp. If you’re looking to keep breeding in a predictable fashion, then you’ll need to go with one of the following fish.

1. Pygmy Corydoras Catfish

Pygmy Corydoras Catfish

  • Maximum Size: ¾”
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Sinking pellets, frozen foods
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Pygmy Corydoras are some of the few shrimp who won’t eat your shrimp’s fry. They’re generally too busy going around the bottom, which makes them an excellent companion, especially in smaller tanks, where size is a major concern.

Pygmy Cories don’t require anything special over other Corydoras Catfish. They just happen to be quite a bit smaller than the average for the family. They’re active and social, so try to keep at least six of them in the tank.

You can actually use other Corydoras as well, but the majority of shrimp are kept in smaller aquaria. You’ll need at least a 20 gallon to meet the six-member minimum. The largest may eat fry on occasion, but it will be a rare occurrence.

They’re a favorite of mine. The only caveat is that the tank needs a sandy bottom. Otherwise, your fish will hurt the barbels around their mouths. You may need to feed a bit more than usual as well: Cories and shrimp will be competing for food at the bottom of the tank.

They’re a safe option, however, which means this list would be incomplete without them.

2. Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

  • Maximum Size: 2″
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Diet: Biofilm, Algae Wafers
  • Care Level: Intermediate

Otos are a perennial favorite. They’re peaceful, eat algae, and generally make an excellent addition to any tank. They’re perfect for coexisting with shrimp, however, since they really can’t eat them due to their small size and suckermouth.

Otos display a lot of personality for such small fish. They’re a lot of fun to watch, but you need to keep at least three of them for the social behavior to begin. Five or more is best, creating a small shoal that won’t spend much time hiding.

Some people have trouble keeping Otocinclus Catfish alive. They eat biofilm, primarily, which forms on surfaces in a tank naturally. You don’t want to put them in a new tank; it needs to be fully mature for them to thrive.

As long as you have a well-established tank, however, Otos are some of the best. They’re also 100% shrimp-fry friendly, which makes them the only fish in the aquarium trade I’d recommend to those who want to line breed shrimp in the same tank.

Good Company for Inverts

Finding a set of great tank mates for Cherry Shrimp can be a bit complicated. The more you know about these invertebrates, the easier it is to figure out whether an individual fish is a good fit. The above are some tried-and-true tank mates, so why not give them a shot?

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