Can Cherry Shrimps Live Without A Filter?

I have seen many beginner shrimp keepers often want to skip the part of buying a filter for their shrimp tank. They think the filter is unnecessary as shrimps are very small. Is it really? I did some digging, and here’s what I found:

Cherry shrimps can’t live without a filter. They can survive if the tank is heavily planted and the bioload is extremely low. However, the shrimps won’t grow up to their full potential.

Why are filters extremely important for cherry shrimps? What purpose does a filter have in a shrimp tank other than cleaning the water? Isn’t there any way to bypass using a filter? I’ll answer all these questions in detail:

Why People Don’t Want To Buy Filters?

People often have misconceptions about using filters, leading them to consider skipping the purchase. Here are some common misunderstandings regarding filters in a shrimp tank, corrected for better understanding:

Common Misconceptions About Plant Oxygen Production:

A prevalent belief among some shrimp keepers is that heavily planted tanks negate the need for a filter, assuming the small size of shrimps means less need for filtration. This notion is flawed for several reasons:

  • Plants do produce oxygen when exposed to light, but they consume oxygen and emit carbon dioxide in the dark. Without a filter, this reversal can endanger shrimps by depleting oxygen levels.
  • Merely surviving in such conditions doesn’t equate to thriving. Analogously, surviving in a small, confined space with basic needs met does not ensure health or happiness.

Misconception About Filter Costs:

The belief that filters, particularly canister filters, are prohibitively expensive is misleading. While canister filters can be costly, they aren’t necessary for most shrimp tanks.

  • For lightly to moderately stocked tanks, a quality sponge filter usually suffices.
  • For those looking to enhance their setup, Hang-On-Back (HOB) filters offer a balance of efficiency and cost. Though more expensive than sponge filters, HOB filters are not as pricey as canister filters and are excellent for shrimp tanks.
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Concern Over Shrimplets Being Sucked In:

It’s partially true that filters can pose a risk to shrimplets if the water flow is too strong, but this issue can be easily mitigated.

  • Covering the filter’s intake tube with filter media or a sponge effectively prevents shrimplets from being drawn in, offering a simple solution to this concern.

Why Filters Are Necessary For Cherry Shrimps?

Filters are a must for every type of aquarium, no matter what the livestock is. Even if the tank is dedicated to only shrimps, you need to have a filter. Many people often think the job of the filter is to clean the water. For a shrimp tank, the filter does many more than that.

Not only filter cleans the water, it also helps to maintain a healthier environment in the tank. Without the filter, maintaining the tank will be very tiresome. You’ll have to do water changes every day. On the other hand, if you use a proper filter, doing a partial water change on a weekly basis is more than enough.

Filter also works as a food source for the shrimps. Most shrimp keepers use a large sponge filter in their shrimp tank. The sponge works as a great filter media. Through the sponge, water is purified both mechanically and biologically.

Mechanical filtration through a sponge filter is okay. But you may wonder how it can filter biologically.

On the surface of the sponge, bacteria start to grow their colony. These are all beneficial bacteria that are extremely important for any aquarium. The beneficial bacteria colony helps to cycle the tank and stabilize the water parameters.

Shrimps also love to feed on these bacteria. So, when you are using a sponge filter in your shrimp tank, it will do the following:

  • perform both mechanical and biological filtration
  • act as a great food source for the shrimps
  • maintain a healthier environment inside the shrimp tank

A Good Budget Filter For Cherry Shrimps

If you want to buy a filter for a cherry shrimp tank, there are 3 options: Matten Filter, Sponge filter and HOB filter.

Matten Filters

matten filter

I love matten filters for my shrimp tank. I think they are simply the best for a shrimp-only tank. The mechanism is extremely simple. The great thing about matter filters is that they have a very large surface area.

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The large square sheet of sponge is great for accumulating food particles and growing beneficial bacterial colonies and micro-organisms. Shrimps love to feed on this micro-organism.

Lastly, matten filters are extremely cheap compared to a hang-on-back or sponge filter. If you are just starting out with shrimps, I’ll absolutely recommend you try out matten filters.

However, matten filters are rare, and you can’t find them in many fish stores. Fortunately, FlipAquatics sells top-notch quality matten filters according to various tank sizes. They are the ones to go if you want a professional-grade Matten Filter for your shrimps!

I am using sponge filter on my shrimp tank!

Sponge Filters

Sponge filters are great for shrimp tanks. They are the budget option. Try to choose one that comes with a water flow mechanism. Water flow is very important for shrimps.

If you want to step up the game, choose a HOB filter. HOBs are a little bit pricier than the sponge filters. However, these filters are worth the cost. If you can get your hands on a good HOB filter, it can last you years.

The reason I like HOB the most is, they have a separate chamber for placing the filter media. In the chamber, I can put any filter media I prefer. As a result, the HOB will be able to perform mechanical, biological as well as chemical filtration. All 3 in 1 filter!

I don’t know whether you’ll choose a sponge filter or HOB. So, I am recommending both a specific sponge filter and a HOB filter. If your budget allows, try to go for the HOB.

Powkoo 4 layer sponge filter

I love the sponge filter from Powkoo. It comes with everything you’ll need to start the filtration process. The kit comes with an air pump, airline tubing, check valve, and, of course, the sponge filter itself.

Here are the main features of this sponge filter:

  • Comes with a 10-layer shape with a ribbing pattern. This creates more surface area for a larger beneficial bacteria colony. Which means the tank will be cycled more quickly.
  • There are two sponges. So, 2 x mechanical as well as biological filtration with double cycling speed.
  • The air pump oxygenates the water and provides a good water flow, which is essential for cherry shrimps.

If sponge filter is the route you want to take for your shrimp tank, I don’t see any better option other than this sponge filter from Powkoo. Click here to check out the latest price on Amazon.

I am also using a HOB filter along with a sponge filter. It is not necessary to use both filters. I am using just because I had a spare HOB filter. Also, there is nothing called TOO MUCH FILTRATION!

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel HOB Filter

This will be by far the best filtration choice for a moderately stocked shrimp tank. I am talking about the Penguin HOB filter from MarineLand.

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Why am I so excited about this filter? Here are the reasons:

  • The filter is perfect for aquariums even up to 70 gallon
  • Includes patented bio wheel and activated carbon
  • Provides 3 stage filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological
  • Comes with two C filter cartridges (Rite-Size)

I don’t think I’ll have to tell again how effective this filter is for shrimp tanks. In the long run, you’ll definitely get more out of this filter.

If you want to check out the latest price on Amazon, click here.

What To Do In Case Of Power Failures?

Filters need to run all the time. You can’t stop it running for 5-6 hours. Sometimes, we face power issues for 1-2 hours. That’s okay if you can’t run the filter for a couple of hours.

However, if your area has constant power failures that last 7-8 hours or even days, then you might face a problem. So, what can you do in such situations?

There is not much to do. I’ll recommend using a UPS for emergency power backup.

  • Don’t run any other equipment i.e. heater, light, etc. with the UPS. Just run the filter. It will save more power.
  • Don’t turn ON the UPS immediately after a power failure. Wait for a couple of hours. Your shrimp will do fine if there is no filtration for 1-2 hours. If the power doesn’t come even after 5-6 hours, then it is time to start the UPS.
  • Keep your shrimp tank heavily planted. The more plants there is, the better the environment will be. Also, plants will be able to provide a good backup in case of a long power failure.


So, I hope by now you understand how important filter is for shrimp tanks. Don’t even think of buying shrimps if you are not ready for buying a filter. If your budget is short, wait for a few more days. Save enough money and then buy everything that your shrimp will need for living happily.

Always remember, surviving doesn’t mean living.

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of 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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