How To Properly Setup Cherry Shrimp Habitat? [9 Easy Steps]

cherry shrimp tank setup

In this article, I have tried to pour my heart and soul for providing you the only cherry shrimp tank setup guide you’ll ever need. I have divided the guide into 9 easy steps so that you can complete each of the steps easily.

Many shrimp keepers go overboard with their tank setup. I know it can be an overkill for those who are just beginning their shrimp keeping journey. That’s why, I have decided to keep this guide geared for the beginners mostly.

There are lots of things you can add to a shrimp tank, but are all of them absolutely necessary? No. Here, I’ll talk about the bare minimums you need to have for setting up the cherry shrimp tank. I’ll also talk about a couple of things that are optional but they can make your shrimp keeping journey much easier.

The guide can get quite long. So, feel free to bookmark this page and come later where you’ve left off.

First, we’ll start with the cherry shrimp requirements for setting up their tank. Then, we’ll move on to the step by step procedure for setting up the shrimp tank.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Cherry Shrimp Requirements

Cherry shrimps don’t need a lot of things to thrive. They are very low demanding shrimp species. Here the things you’ll need for setting up the cherry shrimp tank:

  • A tank (10 gallon recommended)
  • Pool filter sand or eco-complete planted aquarium substrate
  • Water Test Kit
  • Sponge Filter
  • LED light
  • Lots of plants & moss
  • Cholla wood, Indian Almond Leaves, Dragon Stone, etc for decoration
  • Lid (optional)
  • Heater (if necessary)
  • Net

Now that we know what we need, let’s get to the step by step procedures to setup a cherry shrimp tank:

Step 1: Getting The Tank

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The first thing is to get the tank. You can either choose a glass tank or an acrylic tank. It doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is the size. I’ll recommend to go for at least a 10 gallon tank. The larger, the better.

You can keep shrimps even in a 2 gallon tank. But with smaller tanks, there are many more risks of the water parameters spiking up or down. Cherry shrimps are very delicate in nature and sudden spike in the water parameters can really make them sick.

With larger tanks, there is more water volume. This makes the water parameters stable and they don’t change suddenly. That’s why it is always better to start with a 10 gallon tank. If your budget allows, you can choose a 20 gallon tank too!

If you are looking for a good deal on 10 gallon aquarium, I’ll suggest to check out the one from Aqueon. It is a very elegant looking tank with black trim design. The silicon seals are clear and not that much visible. I’ll recommend it for any beginner who’s just starting out. Click hereOpens in a new tab. to check out the latest price on Amazon.

Step 2: Filling With Substrate

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After you’ve got the tank, now it is time to fill it with a substrate. Shrimps can live in a bare-bottom tank but it is not recommended at all.

Here are the reasons why you need substrate:

  • Shrimps live on biofilm. Substrate provides a good surface area for biofilm to grow over.
  • Shrimps require lots of plants and moss in the tank. Without substrate, you can’t keep any real plants in the tank.
  • The shrimp might not show its true potential color without a good dark substrate.

So, now that we know why substrate is important for a cherry shrimp tank, let’s see which one to choose.

There are mainly 2 types of substrates:

Active Substrate: This type of substrate can change the pH of the water. They are not recommended for neocaridina shrimps such as cherry shrimps. Active substrates are mostly used in caridina shrimp tanks.

Inert Substrate: Inert substrates don’t change the pH of the water. They help to keep the pH level stable in the shrimp tank. Inert Substrates are suitable for neocaridina shrimp species such as cherry shrimps.

So, for our cherry shrimp tank, we need to use an inert substrate. There are lots of options out there in the market. Here’s what I’ll recommend:

Pool Filter Sand

Pool filter sands are perfect if your budget is limited. You can get a huge amount with only a couple of bucks. Moreover, if you get from a good brand, you won’t even need to clean the sand too much.

Make the pool filter sand layer about 1-1.5 inch deep. It is required for growing plants. However, with pool filter sand, you can only grow very low-demanding plants and your options will be limited.

There is a good deal of 50 pound pool filter sand on Amazon. You can click hereOpens in a new tab. to check the latest price.

Pool filter sand is fantastic if you are just starting your shrimp keeping hobby. However, if you want your cherry shrimp to be a bit extra special and gorgeous, choose the later one.

Eco-complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

As the name suggests, this eco-complete aquarium substrate is suitable for planted tanks. As it is a kind of inert substrate, you can use it for a cherry shrimp tank too.

The good thing about this substrate is you can grow lots of plans on it. Cherry shrimps love lots of plants in their tank. Also, this substrate is darker in color. A dark substrate is always appreciated for a cherry shrimp tank.

One bag of eco-complete planted aquarium substrate will be enough to cover a 10 gallon tank. Make sure the substrate later is at least 1-1.5 inches deep for good plant growth.

If you don’t have any plant to grow lots of plants in the cherry shrimp tank, then this substrate will be an overkill for you. On the other hand, if you love plants as much as you love cherry shrimps, then choose this substrate without any doubt. Click hereOpens in a new tab. to find a good deal on Amazon.

Why Dark Color Substrate Is Preferred?

  • Shrimps can do fantastic camouflage to keep themselves safe. This is required for them to hide from the prey. In the wild, most shrimps try to match their body color with the color of their surroundings. This helps them to stay unnoticed from potential prey.
  • If you keep a light color substrate, the shrimps will try to camouflage with the substrate and make their body light too. Consequently, your shrimps won’t show their true potential color. They’ll be mostly transparent or whitish.
  • By keeping a dark-colored substrate, the opposite happens. To match with the dark substrate, the shrimps show off their true potential color. As a result, you’ll see dark red cherry shrimps roaming around the tank.

The color of the substrate won’t affect the life-quality of the cherry shrimp. It is for us. We want our shrimps to show their true potential color and for that, a dark colored substrate is mostly suited.

Step 3: Putting The Decorations

After putting a good layer of the substrate, we need to think of the decorations and place them according to our plan. You can also do this step later, but I like to put the decorations before filling up the tank with water. It helps to keep everything stay in place.

The purpose of putting decorations in the cherry shrimp tank is not only to make the tank look cool. They have other purposes too:

  • Decorations offer a good surface area over which biofilm can grow. Cherry shrimps love to graze on these biofilm all day long.
  • Some decorations like cholla wood and Indian Almond Leaves release tannins Opens in a new tab.which can be beneficial for the health of the shrimps.
  • I like this Pacific Driftwood for hiding places. It is natural, looks extremely good and shrimps love these types of woods too! They grow biofilm over them which is a natural food source for shrimps.

The most popular decorations for cherry shrimp tank are:

Leaves

You can put lots of types of leaves in the shrimp tank including Guava leaf, banana leaf, etc. But the most common and recommended choice is Indian Almond Leaves.

They are awesome for shrimps because:

  • Indian Almond Leaves offer a large surface area for biofilm to grow. Cherry shrimps love to graze on this biofilm. If you are looking for a good deal on Indian Almond Leaves, check it out. You’ll get 10 packs of Indian Almond Leaves which will last you a lifetime!
  • They release tannins in the tank which acts as a type of medication for the cherry shrimps
  • Micro-organisms grow over the surface of the leaves as it starts to decay. Shrimps love to eat these micro-organisms

For a 20 gallon tank, one Indian Almond Leaf will be enough for about a month.

Cholla Wood

Cholla wood has almost similar benefits like the Indian Almond Leaves. They also have lots of holes over their bodies which helps shrimps to hide. Cherry shrimps also love to go inside the cholla wood and climb over its body.

Flip Aquatics has the most amazing looking cholla woods in their stock. Just have a look at their Cholla Wood and order one for yourself! You’ll be happy and so will your shrimps!

Dragon Stone

Dragon stone, or any type of stone for that matter is a wonderful decor to grow biofilm. They also bring a natural vibe to the shrimp tank. Though you can choose any stone, I prefer dragon stone because they are more natural looking and have lots of curves and holes over their surface. These help to grow biofilm.

It can be hard to find real & authentic dragon stones in the fish stores. Fortunately, Flip Aquatics has them for you. They have the real dragon stones ready to be used in your shrimp tank! Just have a look at their Dragon Stone & order one for yourself! Trust me, your shrimp tank will achieve a completely new natural look!

Step 4: Preparing The Water

Now that we’ve placed all our decorations, it is time to fill the tank with water. However, in this stage, we’ll not fill the whole tank with water. We’ll only keep the substrate “just submerged” with water. The water height should be about only half inches above the substrate. This will help us to put the plants and moss at the next stage.

But before filling with water, we need to know about the water source and water parameters.

Water Source

For cherry shrimps, you can use water directly from the tap. It is okay for the shrimps as long as you can ensure the water parameters are in the right range.

However, I like to use RO water for my shrimp tank. RO stands for Reverse Osmosis. RO water is fully distilled water that doesn’t contain anything except the H2O molecules.

However, shrimps need minerals in the water for proper growth. That’s why we need to add these minerals in the RO water before using it in the shrimp tank. The best way to add these minerals is by using Shrimp Mineral.

Shrimp Mineral is like a salt that ensures the water has every mineral required for the cherry shrimp’s proper growth. Mix the shrimp mineral following the instructions on the label. After that, the “RO + Shrimp mineral” water is ready to be filled in the tank.

Here you can buy the Shrimp King Mineral. It will be directly shipped to your home!

Let me make it clear, you don’t have to go for the extra mile and get RO water for cherry shrimp tank. If your budget is short, just use regular tap water (need to be chlorine free). However, if your budget allows, try the RO water. You’ll get amazed at the result!

Water Parameters

Now comes the most important thing for keeping shrimps, water parameter. Keeping the water parameters in the ideal range and consistent is crucial for keeping any type of shrimps.

Sharp changes in the water parameters can make the cherry shrimps stressed and even cause their death. So, I hope you understand how important this is.

Here is a chart that shows the ideal water parameters for cherry shrimp:

Temperature70 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
pH6.5 to 7.5
GH6-8 ppm
KH1-4 ppm
TDS150-250 ppm

When you have just filled the tank with water, the parameters won’t be in the ideal range. That’s okay. The tank needs to be cycled first.

During the cycle period, check often if the water parameters are in the right range or not. Don’t add any shrimps until each of these parameters are in the correct range.

For measuring the temperature, you can use this digital thermometerOpens in a new tab.. I am using this thermometer for many years now. It has always showed me accurate readings. The good thing is, this thermometer comes with a probe. So, it shows you the most accurate temperature of the place you put the probe in.

If you need a test kit for measuring the water parameters, I’ll recommend API Master Test Kit. With this master test kit, you can measure ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and many other water parameters. It is certainly a worthwhile investment for any shrimp keeper!

Do remember that before adding any shrimps, the water’s ammonia, nitrite and nitrate reading should be as low as possible, preferably close to zero.

To measure the GH and KH of the water, you can use this meter. It will measure both the GH and KH of the water for you. This is a nice and very helpful tool to have in your arsenal.

Lastly, get this meterOpens in a new tab. for measuring the TDS of the water. TDS simply means Total Dissolved Solids. It indicates the total amount of solids dissolved in the tank water. If the meter shows a higher reading than the ideal range, then the tank needs a water change.

I know I’ve talked about a lot of meters and testing kit in this section and it can be a burden for your budget. But these things are necessary to ensure that the water is completely safe for your shrimps.

Cherry shrimps are very delicate in nature and prone to water parameters. A slight and sudden change in the water parameter can bring deadly impact on the shrimps.

That’s why I always recommend to keep yourself equipped with these pieces of equipment for tackling any emergency situation.

Step 5: Preparing The Moss and Plants

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At this stage, our tank is partially filled with water (about half an inch from the substrate). Now it is time to think about the plants and moss.

Both moss and plants are extremely important for cherry shrimps. Every shrimp tank should have lots of plants and moss for the following reasons:

  • Shrimps feel safe around plants. As they are very small in size, they often need to hide to save themselves from potential prey. Plants and moss offer a fantastic hiding place for the shrimps. They feel safe and stay out of stress among plants.
  • Moss and fluffy plants accumulate floating food particles in the water. Shrimps love to graze on these food particles. Also, the leaves offer a great surface area for biofilm to grow. Shrimps live on this biofilm.
  • Lastly, plants and moss oxygenate the water and make the water quality better. Shrimps need pristine water quality to thrive in the tank. For this, plants are an excellent choice!

Moss

There are hundreds of types of moss in the market. You can choose any type. The most common and budget-friendly moss is the Java Moss. You can get a whole bunch of it from a local fish store or Amazon. Click hereOpens in a new tab. to get a good deal of Java Moss on Amazon.

After you get the moss, tie it with the driftwood or stone. moss needs to be tied with something. You don’t need to plant them in the soil. Just get a piece of stone or driftwood and use fishing line to tie the moss. You can use a piece of tile too.

Soon the moss will cover the whole stone or driftwood and your shrimps will absolutely love it! Moss also increases the natural appeal of the shrimp tank by many folds.

Plants

Like moss, the choice of plants for a shrimp tank is also unlimited. You can choose any plant you prefer. However, some plants are better for beginners than others. You can check out my guide on the best plants for cherry shrimp where I’ve talked about this in detail.

If you are a beginner and don’t want anything too demanding, use Java Fern or Anubias Nana Petite. You don’t need to plant any of these in the soil. Just like the moss, you’ll need to tie these plants with a stone or driftwood. From there, they’ll grow on their own. Also, these plants don’t require too much nutrition or light. They are the perfect choice for a low-tech shrimp tank.

Some dealers on Amazon sell Java Fern already tied on a stone or driftwood. If you want something like that, check out this dealOpens in a new tab..

If you want a beginner-friendly stem plant, I’ll suggest Rotala Rotundifolia. Just plant the root inside the substrate. This is a stem plant and typically planted at the backside of the tank. They’ll thrive in moderate lighting. However, with high-light, Rotala Rotundifolia starts to show pinkish coloration which is highly appreciated by the shrimp keepers.

You can also keep some floating plants if you want. Floating plants are great for absorbing ammonia, nitrate and nitrite from the water. Their roots are also great for shrimps to graze on. For using in a shrimp tank, my favorite floating plant is water lettuce. They are extremely easy to grow. All you need to do is just put them on the tank and nothing else!

Step 6: Filling The Tank

After you’ve planted all the moss and plants, it is time to fill the tank completely with water. It is better to leave a 1 or 1.5 inches gap from the top of the tank. This ensures the cherry shrimps don’t jump out of the tank.

Step 7: Setting Up The Filter

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At this step, we are going to set up one of the most important things for a shrimp tank: filtration!

For shrimp tank, I prefer mainly three types of filter: Matten filter, Sponge Filter and Hang On Back Filter. For any shrimp only tank, I believe Matten Filter will be single-handedly the best choice! I simply love them for shrimp tanks!

Matten Filter

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.

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 Filter

Sponge filters are simply great for shrimp tanks. Here are the following reasons why:

  • Sponge filters are very cost-effective. Compared to many other filter types like canister filter, they cost just a few bucks.
  • The sponges are great for shrimps. With time, these sponges grow lots of micro-organism as well as biofilm. Shrimps love to graze on these micro-organism and biofilm all day long.
  • Other filters like a power filter or canister filter pose a threat to the baby cherry shrimps. The water absorbing power of the filter inlet can be too strong for the baby cherry shrimps and they can get sucked into the filter chamber. This doesn’t happen with a sponge filter.

For these reasons, I absolutely love sponge filter for my cherry shrimp tank. There are lots of sponge filters in the market. However, I use the one from Powkoo. This sponge filter is perfectly suitable for tanks up to 30 gallons.

Amazon is having a great deal on this sponge filter right now. You can either buy only the filter or the filter set that comes with air tube and air pump. Check out the deal hereOpens in a new tab..

Hang On Back Filter

As the name suggests, this type of filter hands on the back of the shrimp tank. They provide more powerful filtration than the sponge filters do. If you have other tank mates in the shrimp tank along with cherry shrimps, then you should invest in a good HOB filter.

I use the Penguin model from Marineland. It is working awesomely for me for about a year now. I haven’t faced any technical problems with it yet. One thing to be noted, cover the inlet of the filter with a thin layer of filter media. This prevents the baby shrimps from getting sucked into the filter chamber. You can check out the current price here Opens in a new tab.on Amazon.

Step 8: Lighting Up The Tank

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The next thing to look at is lighting. Lighting is not that important for shrimps. They practically don’t care what light you provide to them. However, lighting is important for the plants and moss.

Some plants don’t do well without adequate lighting. So, you need to ensure the plants in your shrimp tank are getting enough light for about 6-8 hours a day.

You can get a good lighting kit and a auto timer so that you don’t have to worry about turning the light ON and OFF everyday at the same time.

If your budget allows, get the Finnex planted tank lightOpens in a new tab. from Amazon. It is without any doubt one of the best planted tank lights in the market right now. It comes in many sizes so that you can choose the one that fits your tank. Also, the kit comes with multi-color blend for the optimum growth of the plants.

If your budget is short, get the Nicrew classic LED lighting kitOpens in a new tab.. Though it is not as featured as the Finnex planted tank light, it will do the job nice for a low-tech planted tank.

Step 9: Covering The Tank

This is a somewhat controversial step. Some shrimp keepers like to cover their tank with a lid, some don’t. So, it is up to you if you want to put a lid over your shrimp tank or not.

I use lid for the following reasons:

  • The evaporation rate of the tank water gets lower when you use a lid. This prevents any drastic change in the water parameters. You know how important it is to have consistent water parameters for cherry shrimps.
  • The shrimps can’t jump out of the tank. It has happened many times in my shrimp tank and I have lost many shrimps. So, I don’t want to take any second chances.

Maintenance Of The Cherry Shrimp Tank

Now that we have completed the setup of the shrimp tank, it is also important to how to maintain the tank. Many shrimp keepers don’t put much emphasis on the maintenance part, and they suffer for it later.

Water Change Kit

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Every aquarium needs water change. It is a must. For a shrimp tank, you should do 20-30% water change on a weekly basis. This helps to keep the nitrite, nitrate and ammonia level as much as possible. Also, water change lowers down the TDS value.

Whenever something is wrong with my shrimp tank, I perform a water change. This almost every time solves the problem.

Water changing can be a monotonous task. And doing it manually takes a lot of time, unless you have something to help you with. I am talking about a water change kit.

I love the Python No Spill Clean water change kit. It has cut down my water changing time by almost half! The whole process gets much easier and less messier with a good water changing kit like this. The kit comes with everything you’ll need for changing the water. You can check out the details on Amazon by clicking hereOpens in a new tab..

Aquarium Glass Scrubber

The tank glass can get dirty quite quickly. Green spot algae can easily take over the aquarium. And it is quite hard to remove them by hand. Also, cherry shrimps don’t like to diet on hard spot algae.

The easiest way to remove them is by using a magnetic glass scrubber. With a good glass scrubber, you won’t even need to wet your hand. They just make cleaning tanks a hell lot easier. I love the one from Flipper. This one is saving my time by many folds during each time I clean the tank. If you want a solid Flipper Magnetic Cleaner, check the price here.

NB: I only scrub the front glass. I leave the other three to grow biofilm over them. Shrimps love to graze on this biofilm. This is a great natural food source for the cherry shrimps.

When Can You Add The Cherry Shrimps?

You can add the cherry shrimps after the tank is properly cycled. Typically this takes about a month.

However, you can quicken the cycling period.

Just take a old sponge filter that has been running in another of your tank. If this is your only tank, then take one from your friend or neighbor hobbyist. Now run the sponge filter in your new tank. The old sponge filter already has a good beneficial bacterial colony over it. So, the tank doesn’t need to grow the bacterial colony from scratch.

This way, the whole cycling process gets a head start and the cycling period can be cut down to about 2 weeks.

How To Ensure The Tank Is Properly Cycled For Cherry Shrimps?

  • Take the API freshwater master test kit and test the nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and pH of the tank water. The nitrate, nitrite and ammonia reading should be as low as possible, preferably zero. The pH needs to be between 6.5 to 7.5
  • Take the GH and KH test meter and check if their readings are in the ideal range for cherry shrimps. If all the readings are in the ideal range, then it is safe to add the cherry shrimps to the new tank.

How To Add The Cherry Shrimps To The New Tank?

Before adding the cherry shrimps, we need to drip acclimate them. It is necessary so that the shrimps don’t get a shock when they are released in the new tank.

Drip acclimation is the process through which the shrimps gradually get adjusted to the new tank water parameters and temperature. We do this by the following procedure:

  • After bringing the shrimps from your fish store to home, put them in a bowl with the store water.
  • Take an air tubing and put one end to the tank and the other on the bowl. Make sure the bowl is in a lower position than the tank. Now, such on the bowl end of the tube until you see tank water dripping.
  • Make a knot of the tube so that the drip rate slows down to only 2-3 drops per second. Now, place the end over the bowl. Water from the tank should drip to the bowl slowly and steadily.
  • If all this seems complicated to you, get this Drip Acclimation Kit. You’ll get everything you need to drip acclimate your shrimps.
  • After about a couple of hours, your cherry shrimps are properly acclimated to be released in the new tank. With a net, catch the shrimps and release them to their new home. Be careful not to spill any store water in the tank. The store water can carry germs and pathogen which we don’t want in our shrimp tank.

Conclusion

So, this is my detailed guide on how to setup a tank for cherry shrimp. I have tweaked this guide many times over the years to make it work for me. I am sure it will work for your cherry shrimps too.

Don’t forget to bookmark the guide so that you can look at it whenever you need it. Also, if you have found my cherry shrimp tank setup guide useful, share with other beginner shrimp keepers so that they can get benefited too!

Lastly, I sincerely hope that you can set up the perfect home for your cherry shrimps because they deserve only the best!

cherry shrimp tank setup infographic

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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