Do I Need A Filter For Shrimp Tank

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Filter are a absolute necessary in all fish tanks. How about shrimp tank? Does it really one?

The answer is: it is not 100% necessary but it makes your life much much easier.

You need a filter for shrimp tank to provide sufficient oxygen for the shrimps. The filter can also help with water flow, which helps to prevent built up of biofilm at the water surface. If there are no filters in the shrimp tank, you will need much more plants and frequent water changes. Hence, a filter is not necessary but gives you so much convenience for so little a price.

How to set up a filterless shrimp tank

If you decided not to have a filter, here is what you need to watch out. Most of the steps are similar to the ones I wrote in my guide on shrimp tank set up. I will focus more on the things you need to watch out to compensate for not having a filter:

  • Set up the tank as usual, including cycling it.
  • Introduce more plants into the tank so that oxygen production is sufficient. Fast growing plants are ideal in such situations as you want them to start producing oxygen as soon as possible. Ideally, you will want your whole tank to be full of plants.
  • Watch for any excessive algae or biofilm floating at the surface. If these are not sorted out after a week, it means the water is not clean enough and you will need to do water change. Over time, the shrimps should take care of these problems unless you overfeed them. The danger of having biofilm at the surface is that it reduces the air and water contact, thus making the water have less oxygen.
  • Do not add to much shrimp food to avoid dirtying the tank and produce excessive ammonia.

Best sponge filter for shrimp tank

If you have decided to install a filter in your shrimp tank, the best and cheapest option is to go a sponge filter.

I recommend Xinyou’s XY-2831 for small shrimp tanks. I find that it works effectively but gently so it wouldn’t suck in the shrimps or small fishes. I know the filter is working as I saw my shrimps swimming around it for food.

However, do note you need to get an airline tubing and an air pump separately.

In term of cleaning, it is pretty straight forward. I clean them once a month by simply removing the sponge and rinsing them with water. Initially I was using tap water but read somewhere that this kills of the good bacteria. Now, I clean the sponge with water that has been pre treated with water conditioner.

One minor complaint is about the Xinyou’s suction cups inability to stick. This is not a big problem for a shrimp tank. In the worse case scenario, the filter would come out in the middle of the night but that shouldn’t kill off your shrimps. Just stick it back in the morning and everything will be ok.

Other sponge filter brands to consider

If you don’t like products from China, here a few brands you can consider::

Aquanet; Pretty decent sponge filter but you need an airflow value to control the large air bubbles coming out when it is on full power. Not only is that a lot of noise but the bubbles might disturb the shrimps and smaller fishes

Upettools: Found this new brand at Amazon. I have not used it before but reviews are saying this is an easy to set up filter, that produces good results. In addition, everyone is saying it is a pretty quiet filter.

Elite: This has the most compact design among all the brands here. As such, it is easy to hide among your plants and wouldn’t spoil your aquascape. There is also a controller for you to adjust the water flow strength. The only downside is that it is less quiet compared to Xinyou and Upettools.

Airstone vs Sponge Filter

I have seen some folks proposing the use of airstone vs sponge filter for a shrimp tank. My advice is to just buy a sponge filter if you are thinking of using an airstone. The filter has the following advantages over the airstone:

  • Water circulation: Helps water to circulate and avoid biofilm buildup at the surface. As mentioned, the buildup is not ideal to encourage water and air contact
  • Provides food: Some shrimps love to eat around the filter area. An airstone doesn’t provide such benefits to your shrimps
  • Less water change: An airstone can only help with the oxygen level in your water but don’t provide any filtering capability to ‘clean’ the tank. If you are not just filter, you need to do more water changes and that means more work. With a sponge filter, you can go for months without changing the water, provided any conditions are met.


At the end of the day, a shrimp tank can survive well without filter if

  • there is sufficient plants in the tank and
  • water change is more frequent

If you are not familiar with a planted tank, having more plants might cause you problems, rather than simply buying a cheap sponge filter. They cost around $10 but gives you so much more convenience. I would definitely recommend getting a filter for your shrimp tank if you want it to low maintenance.

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