How To Setup A Proper Ghost Shrimp Habitat?

how to properly setup a ghost shrimp habitat

If you are looking for a proper setup guide of ghost shrimp habitat then this is the right article for you.In this article, I have provided the ultimate guide that you can ever ask for to easily set up a proper ghost shrimp habitat. I divided the whole guide into 9 easy steps so that you get to understand each of the steps easily.

A good habitat is very important for ghost shrimps as ghost shrimps are very sensitive species. Many shrimp keepers, mostly the beginners face trouble while setting up a habitat for ghost shrimps.

Now, for setting up a good habitat there are a lot of things one can do but not all of them are necessary. That is why I will be mentioning only the minimums you need to do for setting up a good habitat where your shrimps will survive without any troubles. Other than that, I will mention some other things too which are completely optional.

Before jumping into the steps, I am mentioning the things you will need to set up a good habitat for the ghost shrimps. So, let’s have a quick look at what we need and then jump into the steps!

Things You Will Need To Set Up The Habitat:

Ghost shrimps are very low maintenance thus they do not need a lot of things to thrive and survive properly. The things you will need for setting up the habitat are:

  • A tank (10 gallon recommended) 
  • Pool filter sand or eco-complete planted aquarium substrate
  • Lots of plants and moss
  • Cholla wood, Dragon Stone, etc. for decoration
  • A filter
  • LED light
  • Net
  • Heater (if necessary)
  • Lid ( optional)
  • Tank cover
  • Water test kits

Now that you know what are the things you need to set-up the tank, let’s get to know the step by step procedure of setting up a proper ghost shrimp habitat:

Step 1: Getting A Tank

shrimp tank

The first thing you will be needing is a tank. It could be a glass tank or an acrylic tank. Try to choose one that is transparent so that you can easily have a view of the inside.

While choosing a tank one thing you need to give importance to is the size. Ghost shrimps can be kept in a 2-gallon tank but, I will recommend you to go for a tank of at least 10 gallon if you don’t have space problems. Larger tanks are way easier to maintain than the smaller ones.

Smaller tanks get dirty very soon and you have to clean it frequently. This makes the water parameters unstable and frequent changes of the water parameters are not good for ghost shrimp’s health.

This is why I am recommending a larger tank. The tank will not get dirty fast and the water parameters will be stable. Also, a large tank means you can add many livestock.

Step 2: Filling The Tank With Substrate

shrimp tank with substrate

If you are done choosing a tank, now it’s time to fill it with substrate. Ghost shrimps can live in a bare-bottom tank but it is not recommended.

The reasons why you should have substrate in the tank are:

  • Ghost shrimps require a lot of real plants and moss in the tank. Without substrate, you cannot plant real plants there.
  • Shrimps live on biofilm. Substrate provides a good surface area for biofilm to grow over them.
  • Shrimps might not show their actual color without a dark substrate.
  • Plays a great role in the ecosystem of your tank.

Now that you know why substrate is important for a tank, let’s see the types of substrate we can choose from! There are mainly two types of substrate which are:

  1. Active Substrate: Active substrates have a tendency of changing the pH of water. This is why this type of substrate is not recommended for neocaridina shrimps such as ghost shrimps, red cherry shrimps, etc. Active substrates are used mostly in caridina shrimp tanks and tanks with heavy root-feeding plants.
  1. Inert Substrate: Inert substrate doesn’t change the pH of the water thus this is suitable for tanks with neocaridina shrimps. This substrate helps to keep the pH level stable.

So, for the ghost shrimp tank, we will need an inert substrate. Inert substrate is widely available in every pet store. Also, there are a lot of options for inert substrate in the market. Here I am mentioning two inert substrates you can use for your ghost shrimp tank:

Pool Filter Sand

Pool filter sand is the best option if you have a limited budget because you can get a huge amount with only a couple of bucks. Pool filter sands are good enough to start your shrimp keeping hobby.

There are many brands that sell pool filter sand. If you get it from a good brand you don’t even have to clean it.

If you are using pool filter sand, make a layer of 1-1.5 inch deep. This much deep layer is required for growing plants. But, you can only plant some limited low-demanding plants if you use pool filter sand.

Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

The eco-complete planted aquarium substrate is one of the best planted tank substrates available in the market. It contains more than 20 minerals to nourish aquatic plants.

As ghost shrimps love lots of plants, using this substrate you can plant and grow a lot of plants in your tank. Moreover, this substrate is dark-colored and in a dark color substrate, ghost shrimps look good as ghost shrimps are transparent.

Using this substrate, make a 1-1.5-inch-deep layer. Make sure you spread the substrate evenly. One bag of the eco-complete substrate is good enough to cover a 10 gallon tank. You can check the latest deal here on Amazon for the eco-complete substrate.

You can also check this article of mine to know more details about some good substrates for shrimp tanks.

Step 3: Decorating

shrimp tank decorations

As we are done with filling the tank with a substrate, it’s now time to decorate the tank. You can use a variety of things to decorate your tank but, the purpose of decorating the tank is not making the tank look attractive only. 

There are a lot of purposes of decorating a shrimp tank other than making it attractive. The main reasons are: 

  • Ghost shrimps love biofilm and decorations give a good surface area over which biofilm grows. 
  • Decoration will make hiding places in the tank and ghost shrimps require hiding places to survive peacefully. 

The most popular and effective decorations for a ghost shrimp tank are: 

Dragon Stone

Dragon stone is a great decor for a ghost shrimp tank. You can use any type of stone in your tank but dragon stone is recommended because it has holes and curves in the surface which helps to grow biofilm. 

You can face difficulty in finding the real dragon stone. The real ones are not available in every pet store. However, you can get the real Dragon Stone from flip aquatics. If you don’t find dragon stones, normal stones can be also used instead of dragon stone. 

Cholla Wood 

Cholla wood is an ideal decor for a ghost shrimp tank. It creates media for biofilm to grow in the tank. Cholla wood also has a lot of holes in their bodies which help the shrimps to hide. 

Ghost shrimps enjoy a lot if you have cholla wood in the tank. You will see them climbing and hiding inside it most of the time. If you are planning to keep other species in your tank with the shrimps, cholla wood is a must for your tank so that the shrimps can sometimes hide in it and feel secure. 

If you want to get some authentic Cholla Wood, Flip Aquatics will be a good option for you.

Step 4: Preparing The Water 

Remember to dechlorinate your tap water with a reliable dechlorinator

After we are done with the decoration it is time to fill the tank with some water. In this stage, we will not fill the full tank with water. We will only pour some water so that the substrate gets submerged. The water height should be above the substrate. 

This will help the substrate settle in the tank properly and it will also help to plant the real plants easily. However, before filling with water we have to ensure the right water source and the water parameters. 

Water Source 

For filling a ghost shrimp tank, you can use water directly from a tap, get some from another freshwater tank as long as it’s not too dirty. 

However, if you don’t have any budget problems you can buy RO (reverse osmosis) water for the ghost shrimp tank which doesn’t contain anything except H2O molecules. But the water must contain minerals as minerals are important for ghost shrimp’s proper growth so, we have to add some if we are using RO water. 

By using a shrimp mineral, we can easily add minerals in the water. Shrimp minerals are highly available in most of the pet stores. This shrimp mineral ensures every mineral required for ghost shrimps. 

It is like a salt and you have to use it according to your tank size. Mix it following the instructions that are given on the label. After you mix it, the water will be ready to be filled in the tank. Here you can buy the Shrimp King Mineral and it will be directly shipped to your doorstep.

Step 5: Plants And Moss 

shrimp tank plants

Now that the substrate is ready properly we can plant the plants and moss. I already mentioned that plants and moss are very important for a shrimp tank thus a highly planted tank is always recommended for a ghost shrimp tank.

The reason why a lot of plants and moss are recommended are: 

  • Plants and moss offer a fantastic hiding place to ghost shrimps. Ghost shrimps feel safe and secure if there are a lot of plants around them because they get to hide in these plants and feel stress-free.
  • Moss and some other plants that are fluffy accumulate floating food particles in the water. Shrimps love to graze on these food particles and besides that, the leaves offer a great surface area for biofilm to grow. 
  • Plants play a great role in the ecosystem of the tank. They oxygenate the water and make the water quality better.

Plants 

You have an unlimited choice of plants that you can use in a ghost shrimp tank. You can check my article to get more details on the best plants for shrimp tanks. You can choose any of them depending on your preference. 

However, there are some plants that are better to plant for beginners. So, if you are a beginner you better not go for plants that are too demanding. As a beginner, you can use java fern or Anubias nana petite. You don’t have to plant them in the soil, just tie them with stone and they will grow on their own in the water. 

If you want a stem plant, I’ll suggest Rotala Rotundifolia. You just have to plant the root inside the substrate. Stem plants are typically planted at the backside of the tank and they easily thrive in moderate lighting. 

Besides planted plants, you can also keep some floating plants in the tank. Floating plants are great in terms of absorbing ammonia, nitrate from the water. My favorite is the Dwarf Water Lettuce for my ghost shrimp tank. 

Moss 

shrimp tank moss

There are many types of moss in the market and you can choose any of them for the shrimp tank. However, java moss is a great budget-friendly option. Java moss is commonly used in every shrimp tank. 

You don’t have to plant the moss in your tank. Just tie it with a stone or driftwood in the tank. And soon it will cover the whole stone or the driftwood and your shrimps will love to gaze around it. You can get a whole bunch of it from a local fish store or Amazon. Click here to get a good deal of Java Moss on Amazon.

Step 6: Filling The Full Tank With Water 

After you are done with planting the moss and plants it is now time to fill the full tank with water. As I previously mentioned, you can use tap water or RO water to fill the whole tank. No matter which one you use, leave 1-1.5 inches gap from the top of the tank. 

The reason behind keeping the gap is sometimes ghost shrimps try to jump off the tank if they get stressed or feel uncomfortable in the tank. So, if you keep a gap they will not be able to get out of the tank.

Now that the tank is filled with water let’s see what are the ideal water parameter ranges for ghost shrimps:

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameter ranges helps in making the habitat suitable for ghost shrimps. Ghost shrimps cannot survive if they are kept in the water with imbalanced water parameters for too long. Also, sudden changes in the parameters also give them stress, in extreme cases, they can die. 

So, before we release the ghost shrimps into the tank we have to ensure that the water parameters are in the right range. 

Ideal Water Parameter Ranges For Ghost Shrimps: 

Temperature70 to 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
pH6.5 to 7.5
GH (General Hardness)6-8 ppm
KH (Carbonate Hardness)1-4 ppm
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)150-250 ppm

Maintaining the ideal water parameter ranges for ghost shrimps is very important.  When you fill the water in the tank the water parameters will not be in the ranges that are ideal for ghost shrimps. You have to make some adjustments and only then the parameters will change and come into the right ranges.

Firstly, you have to cycle the water. Generally, a tank takes 6-8 weeks to cycle properly. During this cycling do not do anything to the tank which disturbs the cycling process. After the cycling process is done now you have to measure the temperature and water parameters. 

For measuring the water temperature, you can use this digital thermometer that I have been using for years now. This thermometer comes with a probe thus it always shows the accurate temperature of the tank water.

For measuring the water parameters, you need a test kit. I will suggest you to buy the API Master Test Kit because with this kit you can measure ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and many other water parameters. You don’t have to buy separate test kits for measuring the parameters. 

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

With this GH & KH Test Kit, you can measure both the GH & KH of your shrimp tank water. There is no need to buy two separate test kits. Certainly a handy test kit that will help you a long way!

Lastly, you can get this meter for measuring the TDS of the water. TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids. It indicates the total amount of solids dissolved in the tank water. If the meter shows a higher range than the ideal range, then the tank needs a water change.

All these test kits are very necessary to measure the water parameters. You cannot measure the water parameters in any other way. If you have the kits you can track the water parameters very easily and take necessary steps if you see any imbalance. So, even though it seems a burden to your budget you need to get the test kits. 

Step 7: Settings Up A Filter 

shrimp tank filter

As the tank is full of water and property cycled, now it’s time to set up a filter in the tank. Keeping a filter in a tank, mostly in a shrimp tank is very important. 

For a shrimp tank, I always suggest 3 types of filters which according to me works great. The three types are: Matten filter, Sponge Filter, and Hang On Back Filter. Let’s get to know details about these filters so that you can easily choose one for your tank! 

Matten Filter

matten filter

If you are making a shrimp only tank then matten filter is the best option trust me. The mechanism of this filter is very easy. Also, one great thing about this filter is that it has a large surface area.

The large square sheet of sponge is great for accumulating food particles, growing beneficial bacterial colonies, and micro-organism. Shrimps love to feed on micro-organism thus this filter is great for a shrimp tank without any doubt.

Matten filters are also extremely cheap compared to sponge and hang on back filters. So, if you are tight on your budget don’t get upset because you can still get this matten filter for your tank.

However, matten filters are not available everywhere so you cannot find them in every pet store. Fortunately, Flip Aquatics sells top-notch quality matten filters according to various tank sizes. They are the ones to go if you want good quality Matten Filter for your shrimps!

Sponge Filter:

Sponge filters are also great for a shrimp tank. Its price and effectivity compared to other available filters are better thus sponge filters are way more cost-effective.

Moreover, the sponges of the sponge filter are great for ghost shrimps. With time these sponges grow lots of micro-organisms and biofilm. Also, sponge filters are safe to use in tanks with baby ghost shrimps.

Other filters like a power filter or canister filter pose a threat to the baby ghost shrimps. The water-absorbing power of the filter inlet can be too strong for the baby shrimps. They can get sucked into the filter chamber but this doesn’t happen with a sponge filter.

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.

Hang On Back Filter:

Hang on back( HOB) filters are more powerful than sponge filters. They provide very powerful filtration and are mostly used in big sized tanks that have lots of livestock in it. So, if you are planning to have other tank mates with ghost shrimps and the tank size is bigger, then the HOB filter is a better option.

If you are going to use a HOB filter make sure you cover the inlet of the filter with a thin layer of filter media. Baby shrimps can get stuck into the inlet if you don’t cover it.

I use the Penguin model from Marineland in my shrimp tank. It is working awesomely for me for about a year now. I haven’t faced any technical problems with it yet.

Step 8: Lightening Up The Tank

Now, it’s time to add some lights near the tank. Lighting is not mandatory yet, I will recommend you to do some arrangements of lights near your tank.

For less light sometimes the tank environment gets so damped. A damped environment is not healthy and can help to grow parasites in the tank which can be deadly for the ghost shrimps. Also, lightning is important for the plants and moss.

There are some types of plants that require light and cannot grow if they don’t get enough light. So, you should make sure your shrimp tank is getting light at least for 6-8 hours a day. Trust me lights will help to keep the tank environment more suitable for the ghost shrimps.

You can use normal bulbs to light near your tank or a good lighting kit with an auto timer so that you don’t have to worry about turning it on or off every day.

If you’re tight on your budget you can look at this Nicrew classic led lighting kit. This light is enough for your tank if it is not highly planted. However, if you don’t have budget problems, you can buy the Finnex planted tank light from Amazon. It is one of the best planted tank lights on the market right now.

Step 9: Covering The Tank

Many shrimp keepers like to cover their tank with a lid and many do not. However, I like to cover my tank with a lid mainly because I feel it will protect the tank and the species inside the tank. There are actually many more reasons why I like to cover it. Some of them are,

  • 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 ghost shrimps as they are very sensitive.
  • The shrimps will try to jump off the tank sometimes. If you have a lid they will not be able to get out of the tank.
  • Outside dirt does not enter the tank if it has a cover.
  • If you have pets, the cover will protect the shrimps from them.

Maintenance Of The Tank

As we are done with setting up the tank, now let’s see some basic maintenance you need to do for keeping the tank suitable for the ghost shrimps:

Water Changes

You have to change 30% of tank water twice a week. If you don’t do so the water will get dirty and dirty water changes the water parameters rapidly besides increasing the ammonia and nitrate level. This is why routine water changes is a must for a ghost shrimp tank.

Water changing can be a monotonous task and doing it manually takes a lot of time. A water changing kit can be very helpful in changing the tank water and it will also save a lot of time.

I personally love the Python No Spill Clean water change kit. It comes with everything you need to change the water. It has cut down my water changing time by almost half and the whole process gets much easier with this kit.

Cleaning The Tank

Besides water changes, you have to clean the tank once or twice in a month as well. If the tank water gets dirty it ruins the whole tank environment. The glasses mostly get dirty if the water gets dirty.  

Cleaning the glass with hands gets quite difficult. Algae easily grow in the tank and it’s hard to clean them up from the glass. The easiest way to clean the glass and algae is by using a magnetic scrubber. With a good glass scrubber, the cleaning gets so easy.

I use the one from Flipper and I am in love with it. This one literally saves my time by many folds every time I clean the tank.

While cleaning the tank, one thing you must remember is that you should leave one or two glasses untouched that has algae. Ghost shrimps love to eat algae and it is one of the best food sources of ghost shrimps. So, you should keep some algae in the tank for them.

Right Way To Add The Ghost Shrimps To The Tank:

Before adding the ghost shrimps into the tank, we need to drip acclimate them 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. This is a very important procedure so you should do it if you don’t want to lose some of your shrimps.

Firstly, after bringing the ghost shrimps from the store keep them in a bowl with the store water. Do not add new water to that bowl.

Now, if you got the ghost shrimps on an ordinary non-breathing bag, you can just place the bag into the tank water. The tank water will warm it up gradually to the same temperature as the aquarium. It can take 15-20 minutes and after that, you can release the shrimps into the water.

Another way is, take an air tube and put one side into the tank and another into the bowl. Make sure the bowl is in a lower position than the tank. Now tie a simple knot on the bowl end of the tube. Then suck the air out of the tube. You will see the tank water dripping slowly to the bowl through the tube. After some time, the ghost shrimps will be acclimated to the tank water.

If all these seem difficult you can buy the drip acclimation kit. The kit has everything to help you in the acclimating process.

Conclusion

So, this was my detailed guide on how you can set up a habitat for ghost shrimps. I made this guide simple yet a detailed one so that you can get to know everything related to the topic. I hope after you are done reading this article you don’t need to see any other guide for any information.

Also, I believe if you follow the 9 easy steps and all my directions properly that I mentioned in this article you can easily build up a good habitat for your ghost shrimps. If you’ve found this article good enough do not forget to share with your beginner friends who are also looking for a detailed informative guide on how to make a ghost shrimp habitat.  

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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