Why Is My Cherry Shrimp Turning Black?

Last Updated on December 14, 2021 by cmoarz

So you purchased some lovely deep red cherry shrimp because the color really pops against the black substrate and green plants. But it seems they are starting to lose their color, and in some cases, even turn black!

So why are my cherry shrimp turning black? First, you need to determine if they are actually turning black. Female shrimp develop a dark spot known as a “saddle” which means she’s developing eggs.

This saddle will develop to look like a black spot in her mid-region. If this is the case, then there’s nothing to worry about and the shrimp will eventually lay eggs.

Assuming it’s not a female and that’s not the issue and your shrimp are truly turning black in color, there is a reason.

A lot of things can affect the coloration of a shrimp. These can range from water parameters, the food they eat, the type of substrate in the tank, and the temperature.

Changing color, usually more pale, is also a sign of stress and discomfort.

But lets assume all those things are perfect in line with what they should be and your shrimp aren’t sick or stressed out, What would cause a shrimp to begin turning black?


Shrimp genetics is full of varied colors and is the reason your red cherry shrimp can give birth to offspring that are blue, yellow, green, etc.

So it’s not uncommon to see shrimp with new colorations in your tank if you have breeding pairs. Often you won’t notice these shrimp as they spend most of their time hiding while they grow up, and when they do finally come out you go “what!?”

Sometimes a shrimp that’s already an adult will begin to revert back to its more wild genetic colors. We call these “revert” colors.

The color of a shrimp can also change pre and post molting slightly.

A dead shrimps color will also sometimes change post mortem.

The most common reason for a shrimp to turn black is genetics. So if your shrimp are turning black, don’t worry, it’s just their genes expressing themselves!

As long as your shrimp are healthy, active, and happy you have nothing to worry about.

If you’re trying to keep pure colorations in your tank, but you also have breeding pairs, You will need to cull or remove the shrimp that don’t have the proper color or they could breed and cause even larger discoloration of the future generations.

Why Is My Cherry Shrimp Turning a Dark Red?

This is often a sign that they’ve just had a very large meal.

Since shrimp are semi-transparent, you can see a darker shade terminating from inside their bellies. This can make it appear as though they have turned a darker shade of red, but in reality, will disappear as they digest their food.

This usually happens when they gorge themselves on algae or detritus.

The best way to avoid this is to keep a good balance of food in the tank and to not overfeed your shrimp.

You should also be sure to keep your substrate nice and clean as this can cause discoloration as well.

Dirt can easily coat their shells and make them appear darker than they should appear.

What Other Strange Colorations Might You Notice?

Shrimp are fairly genetically diverse. Partly due to us aquarium breeders attempting to crossbreed and modify their colorations and patterns.

Because of this, there are a lot of latent genes that can pop out for seemingly no reason. These types of changes can cause all sorts of interesting patterns, shapes, and colors to appear on a shrimp.

Some may develop varying colorations of stripes, while others may have varying shapes of spots.

These are oftentimes just natural colorations that were hidden by other dominant genes.

So don’t worry, your shrimp isn’t turning into some kind of freaky genetic mutation! They’re just expressing their colors in ways you probably never expected!

Most people welcome these spontaneous changes in coloration and patterns, while others do not. It’s always a good idea to research what you plan on buying if you intend to breed them.

This is because different colorations and patterns will require specific care, water parameters, and diet. They also tend to have different dormant genes based on their breeding history and species history which could possibly cause problems with unwanted mutations.

Coloration isn’t the only factor that can change either. Some genes that control aggressiveness or size may express themselves in various ways.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!