It’s hard as it is to make sure different fish species are compatible with each other when setting up a mixed-species aquarium, but when it comes to other aquatic animals like invertebrates, things become even more challenging.
Take algae-eating shrimp for example. They’re often added to aquariums to help keep algae growth under check or simply to add some variety to a fish-only aquarium.
Cherry shrimp are one of the most popular type of shrimp to appear in home aquaria. They’re certainly excellent eye-catchers, they do a good job at removing algae, and they aren’t difficult to keep.
If you’ve landed on this article, you probably have a molly fish tank and you’re wondering whether you can keep molly fish and cherry shrimp together, or vice versa.
Not to keep you wondering any longer: No, you should not keep cherry shrimp in the same aquarium with molly fish. In fact, I discourage you from keeping dwarf shrimp with any of your fish.
Below I explain why cherry shrimp aren’t compatible with molly fish:
Why You Shouldn’t Keep Cherry Shrimp and Molly Fish in the Same Aquarium
When it comes to dwarf shrimp, I will always advocate for setting up a shrimp-only aquarium. This way, you don’t ever have to worry about your fish eating your shrimp.
Alternatively, I recommend keeping shrimp that are compatible with your fish, i.e., smaller fish that won’t bother your invertebrates or won’t mistake them for food.
Which brings us to the problem with keeping mollies and cherry shrimp together:
1. Cherry Shrimp make for a tasty snack for molly fish
Invertebrates like cherry shrimp are in the food chain for mollies. It’s true that they’re a bit more down the line, but that won’t stop mollies from picking at your cherry shrimp – tearing them apart, injuring them, or harassing them.
2. The bright red colors of Cherry Shrimp are immediately noticeable by fish
The fact that cherry shrimp have that bright red coloration does them no favor when it comes to defending themselves from predators.
Their wonderful bright colors make them immediately noticeable and it’s only a matter of time until your molly fish catch on that these little red invertebrates make for a tasty snack.
Not to mention an expensive snack too, especially if you choose some of the fancier cherry shrimp grades.
3. Cherry Shrimp are small
Another issue with keeping cherry shrimp with larger fish is that cherry shrimp are small as they average in size at little below 1 inch.
The molly fish on the other hand is four times bigger than your average cherry shrimp, so you see how that can become a problem even if they don’t fit into the mouths of mollies.
Cherry shrimp also have no defense mechanism against predators. Their colors don’t help, they’re at a size disadvantage, all they can do is hide.
If you have a densely planted aquarium with lots of plants, it may be a good hiding place for cherry shrimp, but it’s only a matter of time until your cherry shrimp will wander into the wrong corner of your aquarium only to be hunted down by your mollies.
4. Feeding them is difficult when mollies are around
You know how mollies eat like there’s no tomorrow? What do you think will happen to the food that you want to feed your cherry shrimp?
That’s right, it will end up in the bellies of your molly fish. You can’t expect cherry shrimp to live off algae and leftovers alone.
To be healthy and develop normally, their diet needs to be supplemented with other foods too. You could offer them foods that sink, but at the end of the day, you’d be fighting a losing battle with the life of your cherry shrimp on the line.
5. Breeding cherry shrimp is next to impossible in a molly fish tank
It’s no secret that molly fish breed easily and frequently, producing a lot of fry. Cherry shrimp breed a lot too, but when predators are around, the chances of baby shrimp surviving is next to zero.
So, if you have your mind set on breeding cherry shrimp, it’s just not going to work in a molly aquarium.
Fish Compatible with Cherry Shrimp
Even though I advise against keeping dwarf shrimp species with other fish, I know some of you will still try to add shrimp to a fish aquarium.
So, if you’re going to keep cherry shrimp with fish, make sure to pick small, peaceful fish like Otocinclus, Plecos and Danios.
Not only that I discourage mixing cherry shrimp with fish, I also discourage mixing cherry shrimp with other shrimp varieties. With dwarf shrimp my rule is simple – one species of shrimp per tank.
Why? Because interbreeding between two different shrimp species can lead to weak offspring and dull colors, therefore, it should be avoided.
Shrimp Compatible with Molly Fish
Even if you pick shrimp that are large, molly fish can still tear them apart if they want to. So, instead of testing out which shrimp your mollies will accept, why not choose an invertebrate that has better defense mechanisms like snails?
Snails can also feed on algae and there are quite a lot of beautiful snails that are compatible with molly fish including nerite snails, rabbit snails, trumpet snails, and ramshorn snails.
With enough coverage, your snails should be fine, just be careful as their population can get out of control, so don’t buy too many at once.
Molly fish aren’t a good companion for cherry shrimp, in fact, very few fish are a good match for dwarf shrimp. These shrimps thrive best if they have their own tank set up.
Unfortunately, cherry shrimp are at a disadvantage compared to molly fish. They have no defense mechanisms and can’t even hide efficiently because of their bright colors.
Therefore, make sure you choose other mates for your molly fish (other compatible fish or compatible snails) and let cherry shrimp have their own aquarium if you want to enjoy them at their best.