Can Cherry Shrimps Live Without A Filter?


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Can Cherry Shrimps Live Without A Filter

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

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 filters are extremely important for cherry shrimps? What purpose does 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 many misconceptions regarding filters. That’s why they want to skip buying it. Here are some of the misconceptions people have regarding filter in a shrimp tank:

  • This is by far the most common misconception. Some shrimp keepers think that, as shrimps are a fairly small animal, if the tank is heavily planted, there won’t be any necessity for a filter. There are several things wrong about this idea. First, it is true that plants produce oxygen when there is light i.e. the lights are ON in the tank. However, when the lights are OFF, the plants do the reverse i.e. take oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. This can be deadly for shrimps if the tank doesn’t have any filter. Also, even if the shrimps manage to live in the tank, that won’t be the proper way to keep shrimps, right? Surviving doesn’t mean living. If I lock you in a 5ft x 5ft enclosure and provide food regularly, will you die? No. You’ll survive. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be healthy or happy.
  • Another misconception is filters are extremely expensive. This is also wrong for a shrimp tank. Yes, filters like the canister ones can be expensive. But you don’t need to buy a canister filter for your shrimp tank. For most light to moderately stocked shrimp tank, a good sponge filter will be enough. However, if you want to level up the game, I’ll recommend getting an HOB (Hang-On-Back) filter. They are not that much pricey like a canister filter. But they are the best for shrimp tanks.
  • This one is not fully wrong: filters can suck in the shrimplets if the water flow rate is too high. However, you can prevent it easily. Just cover the intake tube of the filter with a piece of filter media or sponge. It’s just that simple!
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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, 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 starts to grow their colony. These are all beneficial bacteria which is 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, it has a very large surface area.

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

And 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 to try out matten filters.

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

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 an 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.

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.

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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.

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 shrimps 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.

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About Muntaseer Rahman

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