Red German Spotted Head Pinto Shrimp Grading and Genetics

Species Snapshot

  • Species Name: Caridina cantonensis “Pinto” 
  • Common Names: Red German spotted head pinto shrimp, red pinto spotted shrimp 
  • Size: Up to 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
  • Native Distribution: Japan

While many freshwater dwarf shrimp are selectively bred for all-over color, the red German spotted head pinto shrimp is unique. Like other pinto shrimp, this variety is dual-colored, but the pattern is distinctly divided between the upper and lower body. A mix of solid color and spots, the red German spotted head pinto shrimp makes a striking addition to the shrimp tank. 

Still relatively new in the aquarium hobby, these red German spotted head pinto shrimp are graded similarly to other freshwater dwarf shrimp. Here’s what you need to know about this variety’s genetics and tips for their care and breeding.

Genetics and Grading 

Pinto shrimp are divided into two categories: German pinto and Taiwan pinto. Sometimes called Taitibee shrimp, Taiwan pinto shrimp are achieved by crossing tiger shrimp with Taiwan bee shrimp (or crystal shrimp). All Taiwan pinto shrimp come from the same species, Caridina cantonensis, but selective breeding determines their appearance. 

German pinto shrimp are what some hobbyists refer to as “true” pinto shrimp. They’re the result of crossbreeding between Caridina mariae and Caridina logemanni shrimp. The term pinto is a reference to the shrimp’s dual coloration, either red or black combined with white. German pinto shrimp exhibit two patterns: solid color with stripes on the back or solid color with spots on the head.

The red German spotted head pinto shrimp lives up to its name. These shrimp are red and white, with opaque white on the lower half of the body and red-and-white spots on the upper half. When it comes to grading pinto shrimp, opacity is key—the more translucent the color, the lower the grade. For this variety in particular, the number of spots on the head is a factor. 

A high-grade red German spotted head pinto shrimp exhibits a completely opaque white lower body. The upper body is red—the more opaque the better—with a maximum of 10 white spots. Translucent color, having more than 10 spots, or having spots below the head reduces the grade of this shrimp.

Red pinto spotted shrimp.

Ideal Aquarium Setup 

Though not considered the most beginner-friendly variety, the care requirements for red German spotted head pinto shrimp are similar to other freshwater dwarf shrimp. They do best in an established planted tank that provides plenty of natural food sources, namely algae and biofilm. Fluctuations in tank parameters should be avoided, especially when the shrimp are molting and sensitive to these changes. 

The ideal tank parameters for red German spotted head pinto shrimp are: 

  • Temperature: 68°F to 74°F
  • pH Level: 5.8 to 6.8 
  • GH: 3 to 7 dGH 
  • KH: 0-3 dKH

The size of your tank should be determined by the number of shrimp you plan to keep and whether you intend to raise the baby shrimp together with the adults. The minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons to ensure ample feeding opportunities for a small colony. 

Red German spotted head pinto shrimp prefer warm, slightly acidic water. They’re able to acclimate to a range of water parameters but, once the tank is established, it’s important to maintain stability. Strong biological filtration is key and can be achieved with a sponge filter. It’s best to avoid any type of filter that might create too much suction or flow for your shrimp. 

Planted tanks are best for pinto shrimp. Not only do the plants provide places for the shrimp to hide, but the shrimp will feed on decaying plant matter as well as the algae and biofilm that accumulates on the surfaces of the plants. Driftwood and porous rock decorations also work well for these shrimp. 

Even with ample surface area for algae and biofilm to accumulate, however, keep in mind that supplemental feeding may be required. Only feed your shrimp small amounts of food at a time, avoiding overfeeding with high-protein foods that might trigger abnormal growth. Rapid growth can cause problems when it comes time for the shrimp to molt.

Breeding Red German Spotted Head Pinto Shrimp

The best way to breed red German spotted head pinto shrimp is to begin with a sizeable starter quality. The spotted head pattern can be difficult to achieve through crossbreeding and will take much larger than breeding shrimp with the desired appearance and selecting for grade. 

The primary challenge associated with breeding these pinto shrimp is with sexing the shrimp. As they mature, you’ll begin to notice differences between the males and females, but it takes time. Compared to male shrimp, the females will have slightly larger tails and develop a saddle formation behind their heads. This is where the eggs are stored before fertilization. 

As long as you have an established tank with a sufficient colony of mature shrimp, breeding should occur naturally. Once fertilized, the female holds the eggs under her tail, fanning them with her legs until they hatch, normally about 20 to 40 days later. The newborn shrimp look like miniatures of the adults and can be cared for the same way. 

If you plan to breed your red German spotted head pinto shrimp for grade, you’ll want to pay attention to the baby shrimp as they mature. It will take time for their full color to develop, at which point you may need to cull (remove) low-grade specimens to keep them from breeding. Avoid keeping multiple varieties in the same tank to prevent crossbreeding. 

Breeding red pinto spotted shrimp is not inherently difficult, it’s just a matter of deciding how serious you want to be about it. If you want to achieve high-grade shrimp, consider keeping multiple tanks to separate the most desirable specimens for breeding purposes. 

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