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Red Cherry Shrimps not breeding

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So its been 3 months, and my 12 Red Cherry shrimps have never berried. Water conditions I believe are good as there are no deaths and their behavior seems normal.

I also have ten Amanos for the same time, and they have berried at least 5-6 times, although sadly Amanos cannot reproduce in a freshwater tank.

Also added 5 CRS over a week ago and they also appear to be comfortably settled in.


My question is why isn't my RCS berrying? There's a good mix of male/females, and several of the females are good, fat and healthy, red 1 inch critters.


I suspect this may be due to my soft water (low GH).


My parameters :-

17 gallons, CO2 tank with 6 hour lights.

ADA Amazonia soil.

Planted tank (java moss, java fern, carpet grass, stem plants, driftwood, etc) with a bit of algae growing.

PH between 6.4 to 7.0 depending on CO2 injection.

Temp 77-79F (25-26C)

Ammonia/Nitrite - 0

Nitrate - between 10 - 30 ppm

TDS - 70

GH - not sure, but I know my water is soft. Best guess 3-5 dH

Weekly 50% water change

Tankmates are about 2 dozen small tetras but they coexist peacefully.


I dose plant ferts according to EI (NPK + Trace), although I stopped on the KNO3 (Nitrate) because my tap water has 10ppm and my plants are not consuming the nitrates fast enough.


Diet & Food

I feed them Borneowild Spinach about every 2 days.

The Amanos are the hungry eaters as they deny others. But after they've had theirs, the RCS and CRS do feed on the spinach pellet but only sub-enthusiastically. I suspect the lukewarm response is probably they've been feeding on algae.


The shrimps are often out and about, not hiding or anything unusual. And moulting is quite often too.


I don't see anything wrong except for the soft water (low GH). Or is it the temperature? Or am I just being impatient?


I am considering to add crushed coral to increase the GH, and then regulate the PH down with CO2 injection attached to a PH controller. But before that, is it really due to the soft water?



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With a TDS of 70 your GH is likely to be less than 3-5 so that would be my guess as to what's is holding them back. It's worth getting a GH kit then you'll know for sure what it is. When you know for definite what it is you can adjust it very slowly using something like Salty Shrimp to increase the calcium and magnesium salts by making up replacement water to your specs then doing 10% water change daily until your chosen parameters are met. Don't try and do it all in one go as they'll likely die from TDS/GH shock. My targets are TDS 250 and GH  > 7 usually runs about 9.

They are said to breed better at higher temps, but that also leaves them more prone to bacterial infections as the bacteria thrive in higher temps. Personally I keep mine between 22 and 24 by using a fan blowing over the vents and need to top-up every other day due to evaporation.

Try to keep the nitrates under 20 ppm as they are very sensitive to it.

Bullet points:

check the GH and adjust if necessary,

get the nitrates under 20 ppm consistently and

maybe lower the temp a couple of degrees.

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Got a GH/KH kit.


GH is 3

KH is 0-1


Unless you see any issues:-

To bump up GH, I'm going to add one fistful of Crushed Coral to the filter.


I prefer crushed coral over salty shrimp because I try to use natural buffers where possible.

I have ordered a PH controller, and will hook up the CO2 to regulate at PH6.8 - can't go above PH7 as that would be stretching for the CRS.


I've never used a PH controller before. If you see any issues, please let me know.



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Good luck! Controlling pH is extremely difficult even for experts. You would honestly be better with something like Salty Shrimp GH/KH+ which will solve all your problems in one product. Your KH needs to be 2-3 for the pH to be stable. Crushed coral will take ages to correct those levels. 

Strictly speaking if the shrimp need different parameters (as do cherries and crystals) then it's not a good idea to keep them together as one or other of them is going to be compromised in some way.

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Better of raising the GH and give it some time. If they were tiny when you got them may not,be ready. Ive tried using a PH controller and gassed my shrimp.

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