Shrimp tanks are easy to set up, but the core of their equipment is the filter. The right one will be solid, dependable, and do a good job cleaning the water. Meanwhile, the wrong one can be a major pain. Read on for my list of the best shrimp tank filters, and I’ll help you find the information you need to make your decision.
Best Shrimp Tank Filter Reviews
1. hygger Sponge Filter – Best Overall
For most shrimp tanks, this is your best bet. It’s affordable, has two-stage filtration, and there are versions for small and larger tanks. Overall, it’s one of the best on the market. Your dollar does the most here.
This set doesn’t include the air pump, so make sure you pick it up. What it does have is ceramic filter media to promote good bacteria and a great sponge arrangement. It’s even easy to clean!
The only real flaw is the sponge is rather fragile. Your shrimp won’t be able to damage it, of course, but it can be a concern in mixed tanks. It’s also too big for tanks under 10 gallons.
It does the job admirably, and you can scale it for your tank with the right size air pump. There’s a lot to like here. Give it a shot for your shrimp.
2. AQQA Aquarium Fluidized Moving Bed Filter – Best for Highly Stocked Tanks
Large tanks, even with just shrimp, have a larger bioload. There are two strategies to handle it, but I much prefer using a sponge filter with an upsized bio-media storage. This one fits the bill to a T.
The idea is that it creates a natural “river pebble” effect. I think that’s mostly an explanation for the large viewing chamber where you can watch the media tumble. It also has a decent sponge, and you can scale it to fairly large tanks.
It doesn’t come with a pump, unfortunately. It also comes with some pretty weak media. So you should replace the media at the first opportunity. Any good ceramic media will do.
If you’re using over 3 shrimp per gallon, I’d recommend taking a close look here. While a canister may give better filtration, this is a lower-cost alternative for your tank.
3. AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter – Budget Option
Sometimes you just need something cheap which works. That’s the case here, with a simple sponge filter that’s affordable and great for those who need filtration in bulk.
These are bare-bones. It’s a sponge, a tube, and an airline fitting. The negative pressure pulls the water through the sponge, and it handles smaller tanks easily. Think about the 5-10 gallon tanks commonly used for breeding shrimp.
The downfall is in its simplicity. There’s nothing extra here, and I don’t think I’d use it for a display tank. It also doesn’t attach to the wall of the tank, so it requires careful placement if you have decorations.
Overall, it’s a solid sponge filter. That’s all there is to it, but it’s also sometimes all you need. Just get the right-sized air pump, and you’ll be good to go.
4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media – Best for Extra Large Shrimp Tanks
For large tanks, I prefer to use canister filters. They’ll require a bit of modification in most cases, but in the end, they’re the best for large shrimp tanks. They’re also a lot more expensive than a sponge filter and air pump.
The EHEIM Classic is at the right junction of price and features to make the bill for me. It has an easily modified canister along with all of the hardware required to put it together. Once placed, it’s smooth sailing until the next time it needs to be maintained.
The downsides are just the price and increased amount of maintenance. I’d also recommend only using this canister in huge shrimp tanks.
Still, if it’s a premium filter you’re looking for, this one is just right. Just remember you can safely add about 50% of the rated capacity as long as it’s a tank only for shrimp.
Shrimp Tank Filter Buying Guide
There’s not a whole lot to picking a shrimp tank filter.
They need to be able to do the following:
- Clean the water for a low bioload tank
- Work dependably
- Have the right amount of flow
The latter is often the problem when people set up their shrimp tanks. Too much flow can hinder your critters, while too little will lead to stagnant water.
There are two main filters that are suitable for a shrimp tank.
- Canister Filters: Using a canister filter is best, but they have more maintenance issues. They should be your go-to choice for tanks larger than 20 gallons.
- Sponge Filters: These simple filters are easy to service, cheap, and perfect for smaller tanks. Tanks 20 gallons and under should go down this route.
Both come in a variety of sizes, so make sure that you have the appropriate size for your tank.
One overlooked thing about sponge filters is that they also add a considerable amount of oxygen to the water. Most models are an air pump attached to the filter, drawing water through by the air’s disturbance.
There are also in-tank filters, which pull water through a sponge and release it into the tank. These are best used as a supplement, and they tend to be a bit finicky, so I don’t recommend most of them.
They don’t do much better than a sponge filter and don’t introduce aeration. I recommend avoiding them.
Canister filters often have a lot of stages. Anywhere from 3 to 4, usually including a run through a sponge, activated carbon, and ceramics, which are porous for bacteria.
Any of these are entirely appropriate for your shrimp tank.
On the other hand, most sponge filters have only one stage. The two-stage models come with some ceramics. I prefer those with ceramics since they seem to be better at managing the bioload in the tank.
Look for a two-stage sponge filter for your tanks if you’re over 3-4 shrimp per gallon. They’re not much more expensive either, but if you’re running a breeding operation, then the small difference will add up.
Common Questions About Shrimp Tank Filters
Can I Use a Hang-on-back Filter for My Shrimp Tank?
Yes, but they’re not ideal. If you choose to run them, then you’ll want to undersize them. Even if shrimp aren’t getting swept into the intake, they’ll make life challenging. They can also suck up shrimp fry, which is a pain for anyone who’s breeding.
How Do I Protect Shrimp Fry From the Filter Intake?
Low flow or a sponge filter is your best option. If you’re using a canister, you can also put a piece of foam over the intake, preventing anything smaller than the pores from going in. You’ll have to clean any sponge covers regularly.
Do I Really Need a Filter for My Shrimp Tank?
If you’re asking this question… yes. Essentially, the only way to keep healthy shrimp without a filter is three to four water changes a week and an exceptionally high amount of plants. While it can be done, just put a filter in there. It’ll make everyone’s life a lot easier.
Are in-tank Filters Good for My Shrimp?
For the most part, in-tank filters are subpar if you stock a normal amount of fish. For shrimp, on the other hand, they can often be sufficient. The main problem is fry getting pulled into the intake. You can prevent this by covering the intake with a piece of filter sponge.
How Do I Pick an Air Pump?
Look for an air pump, which is the right size for your tank. Most are rated in gallons.
Do I Need an Air Stone With My Sponge Filter?
No, you can hook your line in directly if you want. However, air stones will produce a finer stream of bubbles and may be desirable in a smaller tank.
Shrimp Tank Filter Tips
For the most part, shrimp tanks are a low maintenance affair. I’ve usually spent more time working on my line-breeding than maintaining the tanks. Done right, you won’t have a problem.
However, you do still need to handle these filters.
Maintenance for Sponge Filters
Sponge filters don’t require much. Simply rinse the sponge if the flow of water is restricted.
Try to do so in treated water. The sponge contains beneficial bacteria, and you just want to clear away the surface layer of detritus that disrupts the flow of water.
Maintenance for Canister Filters
Your canister filter is a more complicated beast.
You should protect your shrimp by covering the intake of the filter. Placing a piece of filter sponge over the intake’s tube works well.
Over time, your filter will clog. When you see the flow of water is breaking down, you should act now rather than later.
Check your manual, but the procedure usually looks like this:
- Remove a bucket of water from your tank with a siphon
- Unplug the filter
- Open the canister and place filter media in the tank water
- Clear any blockage of the impeller and scrub off any algae
- Check mechanical filtration media(sponge) for detritus and lightly remove it
- Replace contents of the canister and close it
- Re-assemble everything and turn it back on
They’re simple enough to handle, but larger canisters are often time-consuming to clean.
Best Shrimp Tank Filter Summary
For my money, I still think the hygger Sponge Filter is the way to go. It’s cheap, easy, and scales for most sizes. Is it the best shrimp tank filter? For most people, I’d say that’s a yes.
Ready to get your shrimp tank nice and clean? It’s easier than you thought!