Is it okay to feed broccoli to your cherry shrimp?
In this article, we’re going to talk about what cherry shrimp are. After we establish that we’re on the same page, we’ll talk about if it’s okay to feed your cherry shrimp broccoli. Also, we’ll explain how to prepare the broccoli if you do decide to feed it to your shrimp. You might be wondering if your Amano shrimp might like the broccoli too? Well, we’ve got you covered on that too. And the same goes for your fish sharing the tank with your cherry shrimp—we’ll talk about that, as well.
What Exactly Are Cherry Shrimp?
It’s important to establish an understanding about what type of shrimp we’re talking about. This is important because, unfortunately, sometimes shrimp are sold under the wrong name. So, be sure to identify your livestock accurately to ensure you are obtaining relevant care information.
Fortunately, though, (at the time of writing) most freshwater shrimp in the aquarium hobby are either in the neocarinda or carinda genus. Therefore, because they are quite closely related, they generally browse on the same sorts of food. So, in this case, identifying your shrimp species exactly probably isn’t too big of a deal.
However, for specificity’s sake, the cherry shrimp is a particular species that originated in Taiwan. Its scientific name is Neocaridina davidi. In the wild, these shrimp are typically brownish with a degree of transparency. However, in the aquarium hobby, lots of domestic strains have been created via selective breeding. The red form of Neocaridina davidi is where the name “cherry” shrimp came from. In addition to red shrimp, they also come in blue, yellow, green, black, and blue.
Can You Feed Broccoli to Cherry Shrimp? YES!
In the wild, cherry shrimp feed on biofilm, detritus, algae and—this is important—decaying plant matter! Therefore, the answer to whether or not cherry shrimp can eat broccoli is simple: yes, they can.
Of course, the question of whether it is “natural” or not is a complicated one. This is because, of course, broccoli does not occur in nature. In actuality, broccoli is a selectively bred crop. That selective breeding has packed broccoli with more nutrients than its wild ancestor. Therefore, feeding broccoli to shrimp isn’t perfectly “natural” but, it is certainly nutritious.
Is Broccoli Good For My Shrimp?
As we mentioned above, broccoli is extremely nutritious thanks to the diligent work of our forebears. For centuries, farmers have taken wild vegetables and selectively bred them to be even more nutritious than their wild counterparts. This, lucky for us, has been a wonderful thing for humanity. We have been better able to get the nutrition we need via our selectively bred crops.
And your cherry shrimp can benefit from this, too! Just check out the list above to see how broccoli compares to green beans in terms of vitamins and minerals. It’s easy to see that broccoli is a very nutritious food.
Its calcium content, though, is missing from the list above. When you’re keeping invertebrates like shrimp or snails, it’s always important to make sure they can access calcium. And it turns out that broccoli is an excellent source of calcium. See the table below to see how its calcium content compares to other foods.
Do I Need to do Anything Special to Prepare the Broccoli for my Cherry Shrimp?
Yes, you do need to prepare your broccoli before you feed it to your shrimp.
If you’ve followed along with the article, then you’ll know that in the wild shrimp eat decaying plant matter. So, that means, they don’t eat living plant matter. For them to be able to graze on it, it needs to have died and softened, making it so they can scrape it up with their little claws so they can then feed it into their mouths.
So, uncooked and, therefore, hard broccoli is absolutely no good for your shrimp. Yes, the broccoli has been severed from its roots and is therefore “dead” but, that doesn’t mean it will decay and soften immediately. Also, terrestrial plants are much more rigid than aquatic plants because they are required to stand upright in the air. So, if you just drop a piece of fresh or frozen broccoli into your cherry shrimp tank they won’t be able to eat it for a long, long time. Also, without being prepared properly, the broccoli will float.
How Should I Prepare Broccoli For My Shrimp?
Preparing broccoli for your cherry shrimp is very simple, blanch it! How long you boil your broccoli for will depend, though. Once it sinks and is quite soft to the touch, then it is ready to feed to your cherry shrimp.
You can boil your broccoli either on the stovetop or in the microwave. For convenience’s sake, I prefer the microwave. I simply take a single piece of frozen broccoli, fill a bowl with tap water, and then drop the frozen broccoli in. It will float. I then put the bowl of water with the broccoli in it in the microwave for 10 minutes, and then when it’s done it’s ready for my cherry shrimp.
Obviously, you need to wait for it to cool off before you drop it in the aquarium, though.
Final word on preparing your broccoli: always rinse it thoroughly to ensure no pesticides are present.
Do Other Types of Shrimp Like it?
Heck yeah other types of shrimp like it! I’ve found that my Amano shrimp, housed with my cherry shrimp, love broccoli as much as the cherries do. It is fair to expect that other species of Neocaridina and Caridina would also find broccoli to their taste.
Will it Harm My Fish?
Broccoli, when correctly prepared, will pose no threat to your fish. If the broccoli remains in the aquarium too long, it could be that it eventually fouls the water. However, this is unlikely in an aquarium with shrimp, snails, and/or herbivorous fish. The broccoli will likely be consumed long before it becomes a problem for your water quality.
However, if you are concerned about the cleanliness of your aquarium after feeding fresh vegetables, like broccoli, then by all means perform a water change to freshen things up.
What Kinds of Fish Will Also Eat Broccoli?
Lots of fish will devour broccoli hungrily. While they’re much too big to be kept with shrimp, goldfish are huge fans of broccoli. Unlike goldfish, though, bristlenose plecos do make good shrimp tank mates and they will happily eat up broccoli. In addition to this, fish like platies and silver dollars will also enjoy a treat of blanched broccoli.
How Long Before I Should Remove the Leftovers?
This is a very contentious question. Some maintain that the leftover broccoli should be removed 16 hours after first being introduced to the aquarium. However, this is an oversimplification. There are no hard and fast rules because no two aquariums are the same.
It’s a question of chemistry. Will the broccoli, as it breaks down over time, create an ammonia spike so large that your colony of beneficial bacteria aren’t able to convert it into nitrite, and then nitrate? This is unlikely.
Additionally, if your tank contains some cherry shrimp, then it probably contains a lot of cherry shrimp—they are prolific breeders. This means that it could well be that your aquarium contains enough shrimp to successfully consume the entire piece of broccoli in a day or two.
Lastly, remember what cherry shrimp are made to do: eat decaying plant matter. So, therefore, how can having decaying broccoli available for them in the aquarium be that bad for them?
Personally, I do not remove veggies from the aquarium. Typically, my shrimp finish off whatever i put in after a day or two. Therefore, I find no need to remove the veggies and have had no bad experiences allowing the shrimp to consume broccoli entirely.
Can I Feed Other Veggies to my Shrimp?
You can feed lots of different vegetables to your shrimp. I’ve had success feeding small sliced pieces of carrot, along with green beans, spinach, and zucchini. All of these vegetables should be blanched first, of course.
One veggie I have found that my shrimp do not like, though, is lettuce.