Back to Neocaridina Parameter Checking Tool

Neocaridina Parameter Rating Tool - Rationale

If you’ve done some research into parameters for cherry shrimp and other Neocaridina, then you’ll quickly find that recommendations are all over the place. Some sources even have different recommendations depending on the same site. Some sources show what they think are maximum limits of the parameters while others show what they think are optimal ranges. Here are the numbers pulled from a variety of different sources, along with links:

Source(s) pH Min pH Max pH Optimal Range Nitrates Max GH Min GH Max GH Optimal Range KH Min KH Max KH Optimal Range Qualifications
Flip Aquatics 1 2 6 8 7-7.5 N/A 7 15 7-15 3 10 3-10 Shrimp seller with a lot of documented experience. Likely just their recommended ranges, not maximums.
Mark's Shrimp Tank pH GH KH 6.5 7.5 6.5-7.5 20 4 12 N/A 4 8 N/A Trusted hobbyist with a lot of documented experience.
Garden of Eder 6.8 8.2 7.2 N/A 5 7 6 0 4 3 Shrimp seller with a lot of documented experience. Seems to be very conservative ranges.
Aquarium Breeder 6 8 7-7.5 20 4 14 6-8 1 8 2-4 Well-researched, in-depth information on all articles. One of the only sources to have any citations.
Aquarium Co-Op 6.5 8.5 N/A N/A 6 N/A N/A 2< N/A N/A Trusted brand with extensive aquarium experience (many shrimp resources but they don't stress parameters too much)
Aquatic Arts 6.4 8 6.8-7.5 N/A 4 14 N/A 0 10 N/A Experienced shrimp seller
The Shrimp Farm 6.2 8 N/A N/A 4 8 N/A 3 15 N/A Shrimp seller with 20 years of experience
Buce Plants 6.5 8 N/A N/A 4 8 N/A 3 15 N/A Shrimp/plant seller. Seems to just be max ranges.
The Aquarium Advisor 6.4 7.6 N/A N/A 4 14 6-8 0 10 1-4 Aquarium hobbyist
The Shrimp Farm 6.2 8 N/A N/A 4 8 N/A 3 15 N/A Shrimp seller with 20 years of experience
Shrimp Science 6.5 8 N/A 20 4 10 N/A 1 8 N/A Hobbyist with 3ish years of experience and good info/tools on website.

Shrimply Explained is not affiliated with any of the sources on this list.

This inconsistency leads to a lot of confusion when someone is just starting out in the shrimp keeping hobby. The only two parameters every source agrees with are that ammonia and nitrites should be 0 ppm once the tank is done cycling.

Part of the reason for this inconsistency is that every source gets their information in one of two ways:

  1. Their own subjective experience
  2. Someone else’s subjective experience

None of them are backed up by reliable and recorded scientific experiments. This is because Neocaridina are not popular research animals, although Neocaridina may be selected as a model organism for crustacean studies in the future.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

How were neocaridina water parameter ranges selected for this tool?

The parameter ranges were chosen by aggregating the above sources and valuing them based on the quality of their information, with emphasis placed on citations and documented experience (video or text evidence of years in the hobby, number of tanks, etc.). Our biases include our judgement of the source quality and the 100+ hours we’ve spent doing research or assisting shrimp keepers with their tank problems. We’ve tried to make the ranges fairly conservative but some people may think they are too conservative while others think they aren’t conservative enough. If you are one of those people, we would love to hear your explanation for why a given range should be different. Please send an email to and include any sources backing up your information.

Explanations of our rating scale of “Good”, “Borderline”, and “Out of Range, along with the thought process for determining the cut-off for each of these ratings, are included below:

Rating Definition:


Your parameter is in a range where most Neocaridina thrive. This range is widely accepted as healthy according to most sources.

Metaphor – It’s like your shrimp are frolicking in a field of flowers.

Borderline [High/Low] Your parameters are slightly outside of the recommended ranges. This does not mean shrimp cannot thrive at this level but they may be more susceptible to stress, leading to infections/disease. These values are somewhat controversial due to less consistent success.

Metaphor – Think of borderline ranges like shrimp living in the vicinity of coal power plants. They can still live healthy lives within the area but are more likely to develop health issues due to pollution.

If shrimp are not yet in the tank, then we recommend changing borderline parameters. Verify that it stays stable and within the recommended range for at least a week after changing the parameters. If shrimp are already in the tank and not showing signs of stress or death, then we recommend keeping the parameters as they are. Shrimp prefer stable parameters over parameters that vary.

[Above/Below] Recommended Range

This value is very likely to have an impact on shrimp health. We recommend bringing this parameter into the borderline range, at least.

Metaphor – Your shrimp are smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day. Lung cancer isn't guaranteed but it doesn't look good.

Neocaridina pH Range

Upper Limit - The maximum value for most sources is around 8, with two outliers saying 8.2 and 8.5. The average of the values is 7.98 and 8 is the most commonly reference value, so we are using 8 pH as our borderline maximum range.

Optimal Range High Point – The “Optimal pH range” high point is consistently around 7.5 pH for the four sources, so we are using that as our breakpoint.

Optimal Range Low Point - The four “Optimal pH” recommendations varied between 6.5-7.0 so we took the average of the values and got 6.8 pH.

Lower Limit - The minimum pH is calculated by taking the average of the recommended values, giving us 6.4 (rounded).


Ammonia Range

The presence of any ammonia is a sign the tank is not cycled properly so the only safe value is 0 ppm.


Nitrites Range

The presence of any nitrites is a sign the tank is not cycled properly so the only safe value is 0 ppm.


Nitrates Range

0 to 20 ppm is safe according to most sources, although some claim that higher is acceptable. Nitrates are much less toxic than ammonia but they still stress shrimp out so lower is almost always better. The one exception is that 0 ppm may indicate the plants are not getting enough nutrients, so having nitrates that are between 0 and 10 ppm may be beneficial for the ecosystem. Based on this information, we decided to put the rating as follows:

Good – 0-14 ppm

Borderline High – 15-20 ppm

Above Recommended Range - >20 ppm


GH Range

The right GH is needed to promote healthy shell development and molting.

Lower Limit - 4 dGH (70 ppm) is the low value agreed upon by 60% of the sources on this list so that is our borderline limit. From our experience helping others with their tanks, shrimp kept at 4 dGH often still have problems molting. This is especially true in tap water because it often has the incorrect ratio of minerals so raising the GH above 4 is highly recommended. The point where molting problems consistently stop is in the 6-10 dGH range.

You may notice that we recommend 10 dGH as the upper level of the “Good” range. This is because, in our experience of assisting others with their tanks, we’ve seen the upper range is flexible. Keeping the level tightly between 6-8 dGH often causes shrimp keepers to make frequent changes and chase the number around. This results in a less stable and more stressful environment for shrimp, whereas a wider range increases the likelihood that shrimp keepers maintain the parameter in that range without constantly changing the tank.

We agree with most of the sources that the maximum GH level should be around 14-15 dGH (250-268 ppm), as that is when molting problems become very frequent.

Above Recommended Range: >14 dGH ( >250.6 ppm)

Borderline High: >10 and <14 dGH (>179  and <250.6 ppm)

Good: 6-10 dGH (107.4-179 ppm)

Borderline Low: 4 to <6 dGH (71.6 to <107.4 ppm)

Below Recommended Ranges: <4 dGH (<71.6 ppm)

KH Range

Good KH levels stabilize pH in the tank and create a healthy environment for shrimp. The more KH you have, the more stable the pH is, and the higher it pH is. The lowest point where enough KH is present to avoid most pH swings is about 2-3 dKH (35.8-53.7 ppm). Above that point, the upper limit is generally around 10 because that is when the KH pushes the pH out of range for Neocaridina. Some water has other chemicals in it which counteract this increase in pH, so KH can be even higher in some tanks without serious issues. To be conservative, though, we set the Upper Limit to 10 dKH (179 ppm).

There is no consensus from the sources for what the Good Range High Point should be so we use 8 dKH.

We set the borderline low range of KH to 0 dKH (0 ppm) because the use of active/buffering substrates take the place of KH in stabilizing pH. If pH is not too low, then the tank does not need KH. It can be difficult to communicate subtleties like this through a tool but we try to make it clear through the use of the (conditional) label.

Upper Limit - >10 dKH (>179 ppm)

Good Range High Point - 8 dKH (143.2 ppm)

Good Range Low Point - 2 dKH (35.8 ppm)

Borderline Low Limit (Conditional) - 0 dKH (0 ppm)


Back to Neocaridina Parameter Checking Tool


Copyright © 2024 Shrimply Explained.  All Rights Reserved.
Get your shrimp fix with Shrimply Explained on social media!
Copyright © 2021 Shrimply Explained.  All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram