Cherry Shrimp Saddle: How To Identify Pregnant Females!

When keeping shrimps as pets, you need to be aware of their gender and how to identify them. That way, you can provide your pet with the right environment, especially when the animals conceive.

Of note, you can rely on the cherry shrimp saddle to help discern their sexes and pinpoint the pregnant females. 

In this article, we will unveil some tips to distinguish the genders. Stay tuned!

What Is A Cherry Shrimp Saddle?

Saddles are only found in shrimp females, which is a white, green, or yellow area on the female’s back, located behind the head, and composed of unfertilized eggs. This signals that the shrimp female has reached sexual maturity and is ready to reproduce.

The saddle in cherry shrimp may be highly evident. Yet, in other species, it may be less contrasted and smaller, notably in those with more opaque shells.

cherry shrimp saddle

Source: Plantverse

Shrimp Gender – Female and Male Differences


Females are bigger than males. In particular, red cherry females are about 1″ (2.5 cm), while males are typically 2/3 – 3/4″ (1,5-2 cm). Also, males look thinner than their mates. However, Cardinia and Neocardinia can vary in size in some cases. 

Using size to distinguish the gender has a flaw: Young females and adult males often have similar size and look, so you may get confused at first sight. This measure is not recommended for a novice.

Female and Male Differences

The Eggs And Saddle

The saddle can be the best indicator of gender. It consists of tiny, unfertilized eggs growing in the female’s ovaries. Back again, if you see a shrimp with a saddle, it’s undoubtedly that you’re seeing a mature shrimp female. Regarding a male, its bottom often lacks a saddle and has no egg in the belly.

As stated, saddles often come in the white, green, or yellow dent. Still, different species will feature distinct dents. For instance, those Ghost shrimps lay between their abdomen and head with greenish saddles.

It’s simple to locate their eggs if you see through the shrimp’s exoskeleton. When its pigmentation is dark, the saddle may be hidden.

Some shrimp breeders suggest flashing a special light from the specimen container’s bottom to observe a black patch where the saddle should be. 

Back & Belly Curve

Female dwarf shrimp have rounder and more prominent abdomens, while males do not have curved ones. Instead, the males’ abdomens have a straight or triangular shape as they don’t require room under to keep eggs.

Researchers firmly believe that the curved and low-slung undercarriage of females helps protect the developing eggs better.

If the female reproduced before, her belly would be rounder than normal. To explain, the abdomen enlarges during pregnancy and can’t return to its initial shape again.

Also, females bow their backs a bit to hold eggs more efficiently. Like the belly, it doesn’t bounce back to its former form during and after the pregnancy.

Still, the shrimp’s undercarriage and back don’t indicate gender. To see the difference requires well-trained eyes.

Back & Belly Curve

Scale Shape

A female shrimp has a round-shaped second scale, while the male is straight-shaped.

Females’ second scale looks like it sits on top of the first and third scales, but males’ will be next to each other. Since males don’t carry eggs, their tails are narrower.

Scale Shape


You can see their antennas to identify the animal’s genders as well. Shrimp have 3 sets of antennas:

  • One pair on the mouth’s side. They appear long and serve as long-range danger detectors, helping the animals feel their surroundings as they move in low-light areas.
  • A set of short down-facing antennas on the rostrum’s end. 
  • A set of short up-facing antennas on the rostrum’s end. 

These shorter antennas help shrimp spot food near their mandibles and sense danger ahead better.

Some experts confirmed that males often have longer up-facing and down-facing cantennas than females do.

Still, different species and sizes come up with different antenna lengths So this trick makes it difficult for laypeople to tell male and female shrimp apart. 


It’s said that the two genders behave differently. Females are slower and calmer than males. On the flip hand, males are restless and more agitated during mating. 

Anyway, this approach seems unreliable as many stressed females rush around the tank, like getting crazy.


4 Pregnant Stages Of Cherry Shrimp

Stage 1: The Egg’s Development

Cherry shrimp gestation begins when eggs grow up in the female’s ovaries. You should see the eggs inside yellow, white, or green saddles behind their heads. It’s where their ovaries are to retain their eggs.

Also, the shrimp’s vibrant color changes to darker tones during this period.

Stage 2: Egg Transportation

Cherry shrimp move all eggs from ovaries to legs to hold them better. At this time, she tends to go missing for a safer fertilization time.

Leafy plants are ideal hiding spots for your pregnant shrimp. You can even make an artificial cave for her to hide in. A cave is preferable if the tank has fish, especially ones that may eat the shrimp eggs.

Cherry shrimp will hide until she finds out the counterpart. During this time, the female releases pheromones to attract males. A healthy male shrimp can breed and fertilize eggs in 1-3 weeks.

Pregnant Stages Of Cherry Shrimp

Stage 3: Your Shrimp Undergoes The “Berried” Stage

Right after mating, the breeding cycle of cherry shrimp will begin. This state is so-called “berried,” and the animal will show some specific behaviors. In particular, the female shrimp fans her tail to oxygenate the eggs so that they can grow up healthier.

Once this happens, you might as well adopt an aerator instead of a filter to support the pregnant pet. Far from purifying water, aerators add oxygen and alleviate drainage, helping the eggs develop better. 

Stage 4: Give Birth

The female will release the hatchlings and give birth to shrimplets after a month. 

Female shrimp still hides when she’s about to give birth. Also, pregnant individuals favor looking for plankton and biofilm to feed their offspring. You’d better add some in the tank if needed!

Wrapping Up

Compared to females, males are smaller and have up and down-facing longer antennas without the cherry shrimp saddle.

Now you’ve realized that the saddle is handy for determining the gender and determining a pregnant shrimp to a tee. Your fellas may also need informative posts like this to raise their shrimp better. Forward it to them!