Shrimp Tank Setup - Planted Tank Mates
sakura cherry shrimp on driftwood

Shrimp Tank Setup


Many ideas come to mind when thinking about a shrimp tank setup. There are suitable strategies for both Caridina and Neocaridina species which integrate slow moving waters and safety for fry. You can keep them in something simple like a bare bottom tank or in a planted community with injected CO2. Below are some ideas for an easy, medium and advanced setup for your dwarf freshwater shrimp. Combinations include compatible plants, soils and tank mates.

Easy Setup

One of the easiest types of setup you can do for your freshwater shrimp is a bare-bottom tank. This can be a species only tank or you can include some snails like bladder or mystery snails. Bare-bottom tanks keep maintenance extremely easy and give you full visibility of the shrimp’s conditions. You can easily siphon out uneaten food, remove dead shrimp and have better oversight on feeding.  Some decorations can be added, but the idea is to omit soil, gravel-like substrate and allow the glass bottom to be visible.

Bare Bottom Shrimp Tank
Bare Bottom Shrimp Tank with Column Feeding Plants

This can be achieved with a simple 5 gallon tank and a light sponge filter. Be sure the filter is not too strong as you don’t want to suck up shrimp fry. The same goes for a hang on back filter. Be sure to put on a pre-filter sponge on the intake to protect baby shrimp. You can always include some decoration like some rocks or Cholla wood. Be sure to rinse rocks thoroughly and you may want to soak the Cholla wood for a few days prior. Soaking the Cholla wood will help it sink to the bottom as well as reduce the yellow-tan colored water.


sponge filter – available on Amazon
HOB filter with pre-filter sponge at inflow pipe – available on Amazon
Shrimp on Cholla Wood – available on amazon

Some column feeding plants are also suitable for a bare bottom tank. You can weigh down Anubias with rocks, attach moss to wood or simply let guppy grass float. Avoid plants that require soil and substrate as it will not thrive. Also, avoid plants that require heavy CO2.  Easy, column feeding plants, light decoration and a small filter keeps a bare bottom tank easy for shrimp keeping.

Anubias Barteri - on driftwood
Anubias Barteri – on driftwood – plant available on Amazon
Column Feeding Plants

Medium Setup

Taking it up a notch, you can add soil to your tank and grow root feeding plants. Soil like Fluval Stratum PH is a good start and helps maintain stable and neutral water parameters. With aquatic soil, you can grow carpet plants like Monte Carlo or Microsword. They don’t require CO2 and they create a more natural habitat and area to graze. Toss in some alder cones and shrimp will always have something to snack on near the bottom of the tank. Staurogyne Repens is a great foreground plant and provides more hiding places for fry. Start with the smaller plants in the background and slowly adjust to taller stem plants like Moneywort or Amazon Sword. These types of root feeding plants are easy to maintain and can supplement any decoration. Aquatic soil will lose its nutrients, so be sure to provide root tabs to replenish the soil.

Aquarium Soil – available on Amazon
Shrimp on Alder Cone – available on Amazon
Aquatic soil + Root Feeding Plants
Root Feeding Plants
Medium Level Shrimp Tank

Advance Setup

It is possible to keep your shrimp in a planted community tank with CO2. Neocaridina shrimp are very hardy and can handle a wide PH range. They’re also capable of handling small PH fluctuations throughout the day as a result of turning on and off CO2.  Caridina shrimp, however, may not thrive in such conditions. They’re very sensitive to change and require very stable water conditions. With CO2 injection, you have many more plant and aquascaping options. Try Dwarf Hairgrass in the foreground, driftwood in the center and Rotala Rotundifolia in the back. This will give shrimp several places to graze at various heights in the tank.

CO2 – In Tank Diffuser Setup – learn more here
Root Feeding Plants

Nano fish like Celestial Pearl Danios, Clown Killifish, Pygmy Corydoras and Otocinclus are great community fish with shrimp. Their peaceful nature and small mouths make them a great choice even for shrimp fry. Although there are many nano fish that are compatible with dwarf shrimp, small fry are always a potential snack. It’s important that community tanks include lots of plants and hiding places for shrimp to explore, graze and retreat. Add some almond leaves to help keep PH levels low. These also make great cover areas for shrimp and provide them with something to eat.

Shrimp and peaceful Otocinclus
Shrimp on Almond Leaves
Shrimp – Tank Mates
Planted Shrimp Tank

All Things Considered

Regardless of your experience level, there’s always a shrimp tank setup that fits your schedule and lifestyle. If you’re new, keep it simple and start with what makes you comfortable. It’s always easy to start with a bare tank and slowly add more to it. Vice versa, if you started with a heavy planted tank, you can always slowly reduce and take things out. The key to shrimp-keeping is minimizing changes and keeping water parameters steady. Small and frequent water changes are preferred over monthly large ones.  The combination of rocks, branches, plants and other livestock for a shrimp tank is endless. Have some fun and explore, and again, minimize change.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top
Click outside to hide the comparison bar