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January 30, 2015

I know it’s a couple days early, but Happy February! This is National Cherry Month (strange, since cherries aren’t in season) and we don’t take that very seriously here in Oregon. Nevertheless, a couple interesting tidbits: Oregon is one of the five top cherry producing states in the US, along with our West Coast neighbors Washington and California. Of course, Oregon is most known for growing Queen Anne cherries, the type used predominantly in maraschino cherry manufacture. It is not particularly surprising, then, that a horticulture professor from Oregon State University by the name of Wiegand pioneered the modern brining method used to create maraschino cherries since the States’ Prohibition era. One can occasionally find repurposed maraschino cherry vats in the hills outside of Portland – often large enough to be converted into small cottages.

Anyways, we’re not here to talk about cherries, but rather about fish. Of course, there’s a few fish named for the fruit, the most well-known of which is likely Puntius titteya, the “Cherry Barb.” The popularity of this fish is due in part to the males’ brilliant maraschino cherry red coloration and likewise to their diminutive adult size of two inches and peaceful, community-friendly nature. A group of ten or more including several males and females makes a stunning display as the males vie for the attention of the females by putting on their best brilliant red coloration and attempting to establish dominance over their other male rivals by being prettier than them. Females are much less colorful than the males, but they still display red in their finnage and bring out the best of the males. These tank-raised fish are undemanding in regards to water quality and feeding and are incredibly adaptable to any researched community aquarium.

Puntius titteya group
If one were so inclined as to have an entire tank of Cherry fish, the lovely Rasbora lacrimula “Red Cherry Rasbora” could house quite well with your Cherry Barbs. These fish reach a maximum of about one and a quarter inches and prefer somewhat acidic water.   The body of this Rasbora is gold to silver with an elongated teardrop-shaped (hence the species name, ‘lacrimula’) black marking running along their midline, with the “drop” end of the shape at the caudal peduncle. This is overlain by an iridescent blue sheen and bordered above by a faint pink line, adding interest to their beauty. Their fins, particularly in male specimens, are bright red.

Rasbora lacrimula1

Rasbora rubrodorsalis “Cherry Spot Rasbora” of Northeastern Thailand could be housed right with these two – it is equal in size to the Red Cherry Rasbora with even more vivid red coloration in its fins. The brilliant red, however, is confined to the base of the caudal and dorsal fins. Cherry Spot Rasboras have a silvery body with a dual black and gold lateral line. Unlike R. lacrimula, the Cherry Spot Rasbora enjoys neutral water, but is still an adaptable fish.

Rasbora rubrodorsalis

We only have two fish remaining, but the perfect centerpiece fish for these tanks would be Betta channoides, the “Red Cherry Betta”. Males feature brilliant fruit-red bodies and especially rosy gill plates over their black heads. With the exception of their transparent pectorals, each fin carries the cherry color of their bodies, followed by a bold black strip of color and are finally tipped in brilliant white, with the exception of the dorsal fin - the Red Cherry Betta does not have a black stripe in their dorsal fin and their red coloration continues until the fine white line at the upper edge of the fin. The species are stunning and friendly and, with a maximum size of just over an inch, make amazing centerpiece fish for small aquaria.

Betta channoides

Finally, you could have a crew of Neocaridina davidi var. red “Cherry Shrimp” beneath your cherry rasboras or barbs but, and I speak from personal experience, Red Cherry Bettas love to nibble on Cherry Shrimp. If you choose to leave out the Bettas, however, the Cherry Shrimp is a fantastic aquarium occupant. Their diminutive size of one and a half inches at maximum, extremely low bioload and ease of breeding and feeding make dwarf freshwater shrimp a popular choice for nano aquaria and hobbyists with limited space. Be aware at all times that they are a tasty snack and be sure to provide them with foodstuffs in adition to the algae in your tank – they will graze on this, but they prefer a varied diet including some meaty feed and vegetable matter. They will breed readily with females carrying the orange eggs beneath her tail until hatching.

Neocaridina denticulata Cherry Red

All of your cherry red fish will benefit from a varied diet, of course, and the occasional feeding of Cyclop-eeze and other frozen foods will definitely help enhance their red coloration in your home aquarium, bringing out the best of the cherry fish.   And a bonus for reading our newsletter: All of these fish mentioned will be 20% off for the next two weeks for all orders purchased and shipped by February 13th! All of these fish, with the exception of the Red Cherry Bettas, are available in minimum purchase of six individuals or more. Thank you for reading; I’m going to go have a cherry soda!

Jessica Supalla