I always had a great fascination for the beautiful and magisterial red cherry shrimp (the charms have increased more with the passing days). Hence, I wanted to bring the shrimp in my aquarium.

And then something happened.

As I start surfing the net to know the red cherry shrimp details, I was somewhat surprised with color variations and changing names accordingly. I thought only the red ones existed.

What a fool I was!

I didn’t want to be an ardent fool anymore. So, I dug deep into the fact and came to know about the grading red cherry shrimp. If I summarize –

Grading refers to the intensity of the red color in the cherry shrimp body and its quality. Experts have graded the red cherry shrimp into six main classes. However, some aquarists claim that there are two additional grades also.

I thought that new shrimp breeders and owners face the same confusion similar to me. So, I am putting the entire red cherry shrimp grading guideline here for your convenience.

What Is Red Cherry Shrimp Grading?

Let’s put it simply; grading refers to the intensity of the red color of the cherry shrimp.

We all know that red coloration, like every color palette, has a variety of shades. The cherry shrimp grading is measured by the different shades of the red coloration. The deeper and intense the red is, the higher the classification will be.


Also, higher grade means the shrimp will be more expensive and rare too. Thus, you may find the two top-most categories of red cherry shrimp only to a few expert shrimp breeders and not in an aquarium shop.

What Factors Affect the Grading?

I have mentioned the intensity of the red coloration of the shrimp plays a crucial role in the grading. But there are other factors as well. I have enlisted them below, so you may realize how the grading actually happens.

Intensity: The intensity refers to the deepness of the cherry shrimp color. Higher graded red cherry shrimps have an extreme intensity, and so, their color nearly turns to be a fire.

Opacity: The opacity of a red cherry shrimp is related to transparency. Higher grade shrimps have the most opacity and the least transparency. The highest grade red cherry shrimps have 100% opaqueness and 0% transparency.

Lower-grade shrimps have a transparent body with a few patches of redness.

Female vs. male: Female cherry shrimps are graded higher than their male counterparts. So, even if two cherry shrimp has the same intensity and opaqueness, the female will be on a higher grade.

Grading Red Cherry Shrimp: Every Grade Discussed with Details

grading red cherry shrimp

I must mention that the red cherry shrimp grade isn’t a constant unit. Different aquarists have graded the invertebrate differently. So, on another website, you may find a few more or less gradation of the cherry shrimp.

However, there are eight common (at least six found commonly and two rarely) red cherry shrimp grades.

Now let’s see all of them.

Regular Grade

This is the 1st  ardent step in the long ladder of cherry shrimp classification. It is also called as ordinary red cherry shrimp.

It is the lowest grade of the species called Neocaridina Davidi. It is almost entirely transparent, not white, with a few red spots on the body.


  • Very weak red coloration. It might have a few red spots with a fully transparent appearance.
  • The abdominal segment, along with the carapace, may have a few light red dots.
  • The legs are transparent.
  • Females may have a slightly intense red bodyline compared to the males (consistent to all grades).

Each piece of regular red cherry shrimp will cost around $2.5 to $3.00.

Availability: Easily found in fish stores, offline and online. Check out at the shrimp farm!

Sakura Grade

The Sakura grade has a slightly intense redness in its body compared to the regular category. Also, it has somewhat less transparency. It means the Sakura has more opaqueness.


  • It has a denser redness with some transparent patches. However, the Pixilation is absent in the Sakura grade.
  • The abdominal part and carapace are almost entirely red with a transparent lower body.
  • The legs have a few stripped spotted transparent patches.
  • In a female, you might observe a saddle, aka ovarian development. It is intensely red.


The Sakura grade will cost between $3.00 to $3.5 for each piece.


It is readily available in the online shops and breeders aquarium. However, local stores with a few collections might not own them.

High-Grade Sakura

This is an improved variant of the standard red cherry shrimp Sakura grade. Sometimes, breeders merge the regular Sakura and high-grade Sakura, which makes the class much larger.

Also, some experts like to call it a low-grade Red fire. The grade almost has an entirely red color expression.


  • While the redness is expressively deep and intense, the shell still carries some orange tints. There can still be a few translucent patches on the body.
  • The abdominal part and carapace are entirely red. These have tiny cracks visible.
  • The legs are red. Nonetheless, you can still find a few discolored spots.
  • The saddle and egg of the high-grade Sakura are visible in the standard lighting.
  • It is developed through selective breeding.


These are rarely available in the local fish stores. So, you need to opt for trustworthy online shops such as The Fish Farm.


It will cost anywhere between $3 to $4.

Fire Red Grade

As the name suggests, the Fire Red Cherry Shrimp grading has a totally red appearance with a fully opaque body. The red variant is eye-catchy and attractive too.


  • The red coloration is very intense, with attractive vibrancy.
  • The abdominal section and carapace have no cracks and holes. These are entirely red too.
  • The legs are red as well.
  • Under natural light, the visibility of the saddle and egg is tough (although visible).


It is challenging to find in most online shops even. Only a few renowned shops sales the red fire cherry shrimp, but even then, it is not available throughout the year. Also, only a few breeders develop the red fire grade.


It is a bit pricey. You will need to ardently spend from $3.5 to $6.00 for each red fire cherry shrimp grade.

Painted Fire Red Grade

Once you see the variant, you will think that an artist has purposefully painted its body with red fire, and as such, the name evolved. It is, undoubtedly, one of the highest graded and expensive red cherry shrimp grades.

Its intense deep color helps it stand out sharply with incredible beauty against any background, from white to dark. It has 100% opaqueness and is visible in all substrates.


  • More opaque and 100% red color coverage.
  • The abdominal section, along with the carapace, bears no clear spot.
  • The leg of the painted fire grade is fully red.
  • The saddles and eggs aren’t visible unless you use special lighting effects such as metal halide.


The painted fire red cherry shrimp grading is rarely available in the online markets. In fact, only a few expert breeders have successfully developed the classification in the USA and Japan.


The last time these were available for sale in the online market, were priced from $5.00 to $8.00.

Bloody Mary Grade

The Bloody Mary was initially developed in Taiwan in recent times, and these are very distinctive from the standard red cherry shrimp.

Its tissue bears a vibrant red color with a semi-transparent carapace or shell, which is unlike the other grades. The regular categories have a non-transparent shell.


  • The color is intense, aggressive, and close to crimson red.
  • The abdominal part and hard carapace are opaque and red.
  • The legs are also intense red.
  • Some females are close to maroon or dark red appearance.
  • You won’t see the saddle and eggs anymore.


You have to be lucky to find the Bloody Mary grade online or in a fish store. To be honest, not more than a dozen breeders have successfully developed the grading. However, what about giving it a try for yourself?


Aquatic Arts last time sold each piece of Bloody Mary at $7.00 to $8.00. Also, Flip Aquatics sell the grade sometimes.

Kanoko Grade

Kanoko is a referral to ‘baby deer’ in the Japanese language. And likewise, the baby deer, the body a Kanoko grade red cherry shrimp, has spotted black patches in the body.


  • The Kanoko is the deepest, reddest, and most intense cherry shrimp grade.
  • The abdominal segment may contain a few dark black spots.
  • The black sports are rounded and much like an oval shape.
  • The eggs are painted dark black.


The population of Kanoko grade isn’t an established one. Only a few hobbyists own the rare category. However, I am confident that with a  few years, we will see commercial breeding of the excellent Kanoko grade cherry shrimp.


You might need to spend around $10.00 for each Kanoko grade cherry shrimp, but it depends on the availability.

Red Rili Grade

Most cherry shrimp experts deny to refer it to an established grading. It is only a color morph that was developed during 2010. It has a combo of transparency and redness, and that’s what makes the Red Rili so desirable.

Also, the higher the transparency, the better the grading of Red Rili is.


  • There’s no exact color pattern of the Red Rili.
  • You will see a combination of pigmented and un-pigmented (transparent) parts on the body.
  • The un-pigmented parts are slightly whitish in coloration.


It is not easily available in online shops as well. You got to be really lucky to get one. Only some renowned shrimp breeders own the pattern grading. You may find it here sometimes depending on stock.


There’s no defined price of the Red Rili grade. On an average it start from $5 per piece.

A Key Distinction:

Many unethical aquarium fish sellers sell the painted fire grades in the name of Bloody Mary to gain more profit. So, it is essential to know the critical differences between the two.

The difference occurs in the rostrum section of the shrimps’ grade.  A rostrum of a cherry shrimp refers to its nasal part.

So, here’s the pick-

Red painted cherry shrimp has a prolonged rostrum compared to that of Bloody Mary.

Since the length is extensively tiny, you will need to use a macro lens to see such distinctions. Also, place the shrimp under bright light before you perform the macro lens test.

Can I Put Various Cherry Shrimp Grade in the Same Aquarium?

Technically speaking, you can keep different grades of red cherry shrimp in the same tank. You won’t have to think about one category making a feast with another one.

However, when you put various grades of the cherry shrimp in the same tank, you need to accept one thing.

All the grades are of Neocaridina Davidi, and so, they will crossbreed. This interbreeding will result in the loss of the vibrant color of the shrimp that you have paid for during the purchase.


Well, here’s a piece of good news…..

You will get wild color variations after a few generations, and who knows, if you are lucky and maintain the water parameters properly, you might get the Red Rili or Kanoko!

Final Words

That’s all about I knew and found through hours of researching about the grading red cherry shrimp. As you have seen, the grading varies from pale red to the deepest and darkest red. Also, the classification varies from 100% transparent to the 100% opaque, except the Red Rili.

Lastly, the females have better coloration compared to the males and so always graded higher. Nonetheless, you need to spend more on the higher grades.

The higher pricing is self-explanatory since these are tough to achieve and have higher demand. Thus, the better the grade quality, the higher is the expense.

I hope your confusion about the red cherry shrimp grading has cleared now. So, what’s your thought on it?

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