What Is The Best Substrate For Cherry Shrimp?

Best Substrate For Cherry Shrimp

Substrate is very important for shrimps, whether it is neocaridina or caridina shrimps. The choice of your substrate can greatly impact the lives of the shrimps. If the choice is not suitable, then you might face problems later on.

So, in this article, I am going to provide you all the substrate options for cherry shrimp. I have talked about multiple substrates here, each for different purposes. The one you’ll choose depends on your budget and plan with the shrimp tank.

But before diving into the details of the substrate, we need to educate ourselves with the terms inert substrate and active substrate. These terms are very important, and you need to have a clear idea of them when setting up a shrimp tank.

Inert Substrate vs Active Substrate

Before getting into the details of the substrate, we need to know what are inert and active substrates.

Active Substrate

Active Substrates are those substrates that can lower the pH level of the tank water. We want an active substrate for shrimp species that prefer a low pH level in the tank. In most cases, these are caridina shrimps like crystal shrimp, tiger shrimp, etc.

There are many active substrates in the market. In this article, I am not going to dive into details about active substrate, as cherry shrimps don’t need active substrate.

Here are some of the popular active substrates for caridina shrimps:

  • Brightwell Rio Escuro-M
  • Brightwell Rio Cafe-F
  • Fluval Shrimp Stratum, etc.

You can choose either of these for caridina shrimps, but I like the first one most.

Now, for cherry shrimps, we don’t need any of these substrate. In the rest of the article, I’ll describe what substrate to choose for cherry shrimps, or for that matter any neocaridina shrimps.

yellow cherry shrimp colony
Owner: Kaz Brown

Inert Substrate

Inert substrate doesn’t lower the pH of the water or affect the water parameters in any way. This type of substrate is preferred for neocaridina shrimps such as cherry shrimps, snowball shrimps, etc.

Like active substrates, there are also many inert substrates in the market. Though you can choose any you prefer, I’ll talk about the ones that I personally like and recommend for cherry shrimps.

Here are the inert substrates I’ll be talking about in the rest of the article:

  • Pool filter sand
  • Seachem Flourite
  • Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

But before we get into the details of each of these substrate, we need to know actually how much substrate we should use in our shrimp tank.

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How Much Substrate Do You Need To Use For Cherry Shrimp Tank?

There have been many discussions on this topic so far. Every shrimp keeper and breeder has their own method for the amount of substrate to use.

Personally, I like to keep things simple and straightforward. If you are planning for a planted shrimp tank, then put about 1 to 1.5 inches depth substrate layer.

This depth of substrate is required for the plants to grow a strong root system. I won’t recommend going higher than this for a shrimp tank.

For a non-planted shrimp tank, you can go lower than the height I recommended. It won’t be a problem. However, a decent layer depth is visually appealing for the shrimp tank.

SubstrateGood For Plants?Cost
Bare Bottom TankNONothing
Pool Filter SandModerateVery cheap
Seachem FlouriteYesModerate
Eco Complete Planted Aquarium SubstrateBestCan Be A Bit Pricey
Substrate Types For Cherry Shrimp Tank
shrimp tank setup aquascape
Owner: Ricky Sales

Bare Bottom Shrimp Tank: No Budget For Substrate

If you’re frowning right now at the screen thinking “what is it?” then let me explain first.

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Going bare-bottom for a shrimp tank is actually an option if you are low on budget. This is only applicable to neocaridina shrimps.

Going bare-bottom is not the recommended approach, however, you can keep neocaridina shrimps perfectly well in that type of setup. This statement is backed up by Robert Lupton from FlipAquatics.

You can check out this video where he talked about the bare-bottom option for a cherry shrimp tank:

Here is a quick tip:

We know that dark-colored substrate or bottom is preferred for shrimps as the dark color encourages the shrimps to show off their true potential color. So, for a bare-bottom tank, you can replicate that by painting the bottom of the tank black.

Of course, don’t paint the internal side of the tank bottom. Paint the external bottom side so that there is no chance of the paint getting into the water.

This way, the cherry shrimps can show off their true potential color.

Pool Filter Sand: No Plan For Planted Shrimp Tank

Pool filtration sand is a type of sand that is designed to be used in the filtration system of the pool. This is a properly graded as well as dried sand that can be used in the aquarium as well.

If you don’t have any plans to put plants in the shrimp tank, then you can go with pool filter sand. They are even capable of growing some low-demanding plants like Amazon swords.

Pool filter sand is extremely easy to use and cheap. With only a few bucks, you can get a big bag of this sand. It is certainly the best budget option for a shrimp tank.

After getting the sand, remember to rinse it thoroughly a couple of times before using in the shrimp tank. There are lots of pool filter sand out there in the market. I use the one from AquaQuartz.

This is perfect for shrimp tank. This sand doesn’t get clogged up or solidify in the presence of water. Also, the sand is completely free from chemicals which is a must for shrimp tanks.

As this sand is primarily used for filtration, it has the natural ability to filter out algae, oil, hair, dirt, dust, leaves, etc., which helps to keep the shrimp tank clean and healthy.

Lastly, this pool filter sand from AquaQuartz is odorless, doesn’t get stained, and is perfect for a low-maintenance setup.

Amazon is currently having the best deal on this sand. You can check out the latest price by clicking here.

painted red shrimp  grazing on leaf
Owner: Kaz Brown

Seachem Flourite: Low Budget Option For Shrimp Tank

Seachem Flourite is a pretty good option for starting your planted shrimp tank. It is a good substrate and can grow almost any plant. Cherry shrimps also love this substrate.

Seachem Flourite is a type of porous clay gravel that enhances the feel of the natural habitat of shrimps. The gravels are black which is essential for your shrimps to show off their true potential color.

You don’t need to mix any other additive when using Seachem Flourite. It works best as a single integral substrate bed in the shrimp tank. So, there is no need to spend money on any gravel modifiers. However, if you want, you can mix it with other gravels too!

Before using, it is better to rinse the substrate under running water. Seachem manufactures this product already pre-washed. However, as flourite is a natural product, it can contain some dust particles. So, I always recommend to rinse it under running water before placing in the tank. You don’t need to get crazy with the rinsing. Just a moderate cleaning will do.

After you’ve put the substrate on the aquarium, you need to fill the water gently. Otherwise, the tank can get too much cloudy for your liking. Here is a good tip you can follow when filling the tank with water:

Place a large bowl over the substrate and pour the water over the bowl. This way, the water doesn’t directly impact the substrate and cause a messy havoc in the aquarium.

Even if you’ve filled the tank with water gently, it is normal to see a bit of cloudiness initially. It will go away within a day or two. So don’t worry!

Lastly, as the substrate is not coated with any type of chemical to alter the pH of the water, you don’t need to replace it after a certain time. A pretty good deal for cherry shrimp tank, right?

See also  9 Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina) Diseases & How To Treat Them?

If you want to check out the Seachem Flourite, you can find a good deal on Amazon. Just click here to check out the latest price there.

multiple colored shrimps all grazing and having fun
Owner: Ricky Sales

Best Substrate For Planted Shrimp Tank: My #1 Recommendation

Lastly, I’ll talk about my most favorite substrate for planted shrimp tank. It is the ‘Eco Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate’ from Carib Sea.

I absolutely love this substrate for two reasons:

  1. Great for neocaridina shrimps such as cherry shrimps. It doesn’t alter the water parameters and acts as a perfect inert substrate.
  2. The substrate is equally good for growing plants. I’ve grown hundreds of plants in this substrate. From low-demanding plants to high-tech plants, each grew pretty well in this substrate.

Formulation and Origin:

  • Secret Formula: Designed for enhanced growth of plants and roots.
  • Source Inspiration: Rich, growth-promoting soil from Bali, Hawaii, and Costa Rica.


  • Composition: Volcanic basaltic soil.
  • Key Ingredients: Magnesium, calcium, iron, sulfur, potassium, plus 25 other rich elements.
  • Biological and Mineralogical Completeness: Ideal for cherry shrimp tanks; prevents extra algae growth.


  • Rich in Iron: No need for additives like laterite.
  • Safe for Shrimp Tanks: Free from artificial chemicals, dyes, or paints.
  • Optimal Granule Design: Spherical, porous granules for optimum diffusion.
  • Heterotrophic Bacteria Included: Converts fish waste into plant food, keeping tanks cleaner and healthier.
gorgeous yellow cherry shrimp grazing on leaves
Owner: Kaz Brown

Usage Instructions:

  • Preparation: No washing required; use directly from the bag.
  • Water Filling Procedure: Follow provided steps to minimize cloudiness. Noted for creating minimal cloudiness in tanks.

If you are interested in this substrate, I’ll recommend to check out this deal on Amazon. If you have the budget, just go for it. Trust me, it is the best substrate for using in a cherry shrimp tank.

How To Prepare The Substrate Before Adding To The Tank?

Here is the step by step procedure to prepare your substrate before adding it to the shrimp tank:

  1. Cleaning the substrate is a messy job. So, I’ll recommend doing it in your lawn. If you are living in an apartment, then you’ll need to do the job in the bathroom.
  2. Take a large bucket and fill it with the substrate. Now, take a garden hose and start to fill the bucket with water.
  3. Once the bucket is filled with water, rinse the substrate thoroughly. The water should get cloudy and muddy pretty quickly. After rinsing for a couple of minutes, throw out the dirty water.
  4. Now, fill the bucket with water again. Repeat step 3 until the water runs clear. It may take 4-5 times, depending on how dirty the substrate is.
  5. If the substrate comes pre-washed, there is no need to rinse the substrate 3-4 times. Just a quick rinse under running water will be enough.
  6. If the substrate contains live bacteria like Eco-Complete planted aquarium substrate, then there is no need to wash it. Just use the substrate straight in the shrimp tank.
crystal red shrimp with hideout decor
Owner: Kaz Brown

Why You Need To Go For Darker Substrate?

Cherry Shrimps are very small and delicate. They are often hunted down by bigger preys in the wild. So, they have learnt to camouflage with their surroundings in order to save themselves from potential preys.

This camouflaging technique has become a natural instinct for cherry shrimps. So, if you keep a light-colored substrate in the shrimp tank, the cherry shrimps will try to match their body color with the substrate. As a result, the redness will get much dimmer and lighter.

On the other hand, by using a dark-colored substrate, the cherry shrimps will try to increase their body color to camouflage themselves with the substrate. This increases the redness of the cherry shrimps and encourages the shrimps to show off their true potential color.

That’s why it is always recommended to use a dark-colored substrate in your cherry shrimp tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best substrate for neocaridina shrimp?

The best substrate for neocaridina shrimp is an inert substrate such as pool filter sand, common aquarium gravel, seachem flourite, or Eco Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate.

However, there are also active substrates available on the market that are preferred for neocaridina shrimp such as cherry shrimp, snowball shrimp, etc. One example of an active substrate is the Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate.

cherry shrimp tank

What is the best substrate for shrimp and plants?

The best substrate for shrimp and plants is an active substrate that is rich in nutrients and trace minerals that aquatic plants need to thrive. Some popular active substrates for planted shrimp tanks include ADA AquaSoil, Tropica Aquarium Soil, Aquario Neo Shrimp Soil, and Eco Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate.

See also  Can Cherry Shrimps Live Without A Filter?

Do shrimp need substrate?

While it is not an absolute requirement for shrimp to have a substrate in their tank, it is strongly recommended to use one. Using a substrate provides several benefits such as giving more area for biofilm to grow, providing surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize, and helping to stabilize water parameters.

Shrimp are also sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and a substrate can help to prevent the build-up of these nitrogen compounds by providing a surface area for beneficial bacteria to break them down.

What is the best substrate for caridina shrimp?

The best substrate for Caridina shrimp such as Crystal Red Bee, King Kong, Black Pinto, Blue Bolt, etc. is an active substrate that buffers the water and maintains a slightly acidic pH.

An active substrate like Fluval Stratum or ADA Amazonia can be used to replicate the natural environment of Caridina shrimp. These substrates are rich in nutrients and minerals that help to promote plant growth and provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow.

In addition, they also help to maintain stable water parameters by buffering the water and preventing fluctuations in pH.

cherry shrimp tank

Can you use gravel for shrimp tank?

You can use gravel for a shrimp tank as long as it is not sharp-edged or abrasive, which can harm the shrimp. It is recommended to use a gravel size of 1-3 mm and to clean it thoroughly before adding it to the tank.

However, it is important to note that using an inert substrate like gravel does not provide the same level of nutrients and buffering capacity as an active substrate, which can impact the health and breeding success of the shrimp.

Do cherry shrimp prefer sand or gravel?

Cherry shrimp can thrive in both sand and gravel substrates. However, it is important to note that the size and texture of the substrate should be taken into consideration.

Cherry shrimp can get stuck in large or sharp-edged gravel, which can cause injury or death. If using gravel, it is recommended to use a small size (1-3mm) and to make sure it is not sharp-edged.

Sand can also be used, but it is important to choose a fine sand that is not too powdery or dusty. Ultimately, the choice between sand and gravel comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the tank.

Is aqua soil safe for shrimp?

While some aqua soils can cause a temporary ammonia spike during the initial setup, they are generally safe for shrimp once the tank has cycled and the ammonia levels have normalized.

However, it is important to note that not all aqua soils are created equal and some may contain high levels of copper or other heavy metals that can be harmful to shrimp.

It is recommended to research the specific brand of aqua soil and read reviews from other shrimp keepers before using it in a shrimp tank.

What is the best inert substrate for a shrimp tank?

There are several inert substrates that are suitable for shrimp tanks, including pool filter sand, common aquarium gravel, etc.

These substrates do not provide nutrients for plants and do not buffer the water, but they can still provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and help to prevent the build-up of debris in the tank.

It is important to choose a substrate that is not sharp-edged or abrasive to prevent injury to the shrimp.

What is the best buffering substrate for shrimp?

Some of the best buffering substrates for shrimp are active substrates that are designed to buffer the water and maintain a stable pH.

These substrates are rich in nutrients and minerals that promote plant growth and provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Some popular buffering substrates for shrimp tanks include Fluval Stratum, ADA Amazonia, and Tropica Aquarium Soil.


I hope by now, you have a clear idea of what substrate you should choose for your cherry shrimp tank. Though I have talked about multiple options here depending on your budget and purpose, I’ll definitely recommend the Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate for all time.

I have tried hundreds of substrates and came back to it every time for my cherry shrimp tanks. So, if your budget allows, just get this substrate and try it out on your cherry shrimp tank.

Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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