Can Guppy Fish and Cherry Shrimp Live Together?

Every aquarium owner typically looks for one thing above everything else – diversity. In short, putting together as many fish and aquatic species as possible to provide a plus of color and life that they would otherwise miss if they had one species.

However, you must remember that not all fish species can coexist since they may fall on different branches of the food chain. And it’s never a good idea to put predators and prey in the same environment together and expect them to behave. Which brings us to today’s topic – guppy fish and cherry shrimp. Can they live together?

The most obvious answer coming to mind is no, but what’s obvious isn’t always what’s true. Let me elaborate.

Guppy Fish and Cherry Shrimp Can Coexist in the Same Tank?

First, you need to understand that cherry shrimp is on guppies’ food menu in the wild. Which doesn’t change in the aquarium since neither the guppies nor the shrimp knows the difference. You can’t domesticate these animals in the sense that you can a dog. You can’t alter their instincts; you can only change their environment a bit to be able to breed them at home.

Everything else stays the same, including the guppies’ killer instinct. This fish species is voracious by nature, meaning that they will hunt down any live shrimp until none is living anymore. There are obviously ways around that, and I will explain how:

– Build a rich natural environment for the shrimp

The shrimps’ most powerful tool against guppies is their ability to hide. If they can’t hide, the other option is to die, which isn’t really a viable option. For the shrimp, at least.

I recommend packing the aquarium with various moss and plants like guppy grass, water wisteria, dwarf lily, or java moss. These will enrich the shrimp’s habitat and provide it with plenty of hiding spots along the way. You can then rely on the shrimp’s natural instincts to make the best use of their environment to remain alive and thrive over time.

– Introduce the shrimp into the aquarium first

Cherry shrimp need time to set up their colony, raise their offspring, and find a safe and comfortable settlement within the tank’s vegetation. And they can’t do all that with a horde of guppies hunting them relentlessly. Introducing the shrimp to the tank before the guppies is ideal to ensure them with a healthy head start.

This will significantly boost their chances of survival, as they will have time to settle before the voracious guppies come into the picture. This aspect is that much more important, considering that both adult guppies and their fry have baby cherry shrimp on the menu. Unchecked, guppies will wreak havoc among the shrimp population. Your job is to prevent that.

– Provide the shrimp with optimal food

Most guppy and shrimp owners think of shrimp as some form of sanitizer creatures. They expect them to live off of the food leftovers coming from guppies, but that’s not how it works. An optimal feeding pattern for the guppies involves as much food as they can eat every meal. This means that there will be little-to-no food leftovers.

While your shrimp can make things work with what they have, that situation is far from ideal for them. I recommend paying as much attention to your shrimps’ diet as you do to your guppies’. Find them nutritious food and feed them regularly so they can remain strong, healthy, and active.

– Pay attention to the guppy-shrimp ratio

I know you want as many guppies as possible in your tank, but that strategy won’t work well for your shrimp population. If you want to capture the best of both worlds – breeding guppies and shrimp in the same aquarium – you need to pay more attention to the guppy population than anything else.

Too many guppies and the shrimp will have no chance. Adult guppies are extremely proficient at hunting cherry shrimp and their offspring, which can turn into a massive problem when the guppy population is out of control. Furthermore, guppy adults will easily transfer their hunting knowledge onto their fry, leaving shrimps with no place to hide.

To counter that, you either train your guppies not to eat shrimp anymore or keep the guppy population under control. If you’ve decided on the former, I admire your creative brain and courage, but you will fail, trust me. You’re only left with the latter, and you can make it work with a bit of diligence and discipline.

– Breed shrimps in a shrimp-only aquarium

While adult guppies can and will hunt adult shrimp, everybody hunts baby shrimp, both adult guppies, and their fry. And if your goal is to help your shrimp population thrive, that’s the last thing you want. To prevent that, I recommend breeding the cherry shrimp in a different tank, where there are no guppies.

Allow baby shrimp to spend their most vulnerable phase in a risk-free environment, where they can grow into strong adults. Only then can you move them into the general tank to integrate within the already established adult shrimp population.

This is probably the most reliable way to protect your baby shrimp and ensure that they can reach adulthood without having to compete for territory with the scary guppies and their offspring. However, that’s not the entire story.

Many guppy and shrimp owners have reported consistent success with breeding shrimp in the same tank as the guppies. Sure, they may have lost some baby shrimps, but, overall the operation has been a success. Don’t rely on this anecdotical evidence, though. Maybe their guppy population was low and unable to hunt all the baby shrimp. There are hidden factors at play that you may not be weighing in.

I recommend sticking to this article’s recommendations. You know, just to remain on the safe side.

Wrap Up

The bottom line is that you can have guppies and cherry shrimp coexisting in the same tank, so long as you stick to several specifics. Of course, the most important one is protecting the baby shrimps during their first cycle of life. Adult shrimp are already proficient at hiding from guppies and living their lives in their predators’ shadows. Baby shrimp – not so much.

This means that you need to consider extra precautions to protect the shrimp offspring immediately after birth and provide them with all the resources they need to grow and flourish. Long-term, the benefits will be outstanding. You will get to enjoy your guppy-colored aquarium while having an army of cherry shrimp lurking along the tank’s substrate and cleansing the tank of algae.

Balance things out, and the two species can coexist in harmony for a long time.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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