5 Shrimp Tank Setups You Need To Try

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Aquarium shrimp is one of the best aquatic pets out there. Most of them are small and beginner-friendly, which means anyone can keep them with some basic fishkeeping knowledge. Although it is sometimes hard to create an appealing aquarium for shrimp. In this article, I will break down 5 shrimp tank setups, that are both amazing in appearance and safe for aquarium shrimp.

Table of Contents

Things to Know Before Setting up a Shrimp Tank

To begin, there are a few things to know before creating a shrimp tank setup. For a beginner, it can look difficult, because you need to choose the right tank size, decorations, other equipment, and more. I will break down all things you need to consider before creating your first-ever shrimp tank setup.

Shrimp Tank Size

When it comes to aquarium size, it is important not to be too conservative, and consider a larger tank. Shrimp can actually be fine in aquariums as small as 3 gallons, but I highly recommend starting a shrimp tank setup with at least a 10-gallon tank. 

More water volume means less maintenance because it will be harder for the water to become dirty from the shrimp waste. Another thing is that with more space you can create a more appealing aquarium, with better scapes and decoration ideas. Most of the time the largest aquariums look the best since there is more space to create beautiful texture and details.


Moving on, decorations are also an essential part of an amazing shrimp tank setup. There are a few different types of decorations, that are a big part of a shrimp tank: driftwood, rocks, plants.


Driftwood is a good decoration because it resembles the natural environment of fish and shrimp. Most of the time there is a lot of driftwood in lakes, and rivers, that is responsible for creating hiding places, and breeding spots. You can also create an amazing view with driftwood, since there are so much different types to choose from, ranging from thick wood pieces to small, root-like wood.


Rocks are an important decoration, that most shrimp tank setups should have since most rock types have a lot of surface space, which is home to beneficial bacteria. Lava rocks for example have lots of holes and edges, which can be a place for beneficial bacteria to grow. Another important thing is that aquarium rocks provide lots of different hiding places for smaller and even adult shrimp.

Aquatic Plants

Probably the most important decoration, that all shrimp tank setups should have, are live aquatic plants. It is essential to have lots of plants in an aquarium, because they provide shade from the light, clean the water, and create dense hiding places for shrimp. Aquatic plants also in general look good, and there are a lot of good aquarium plants for shrimp tanks.

Aquatic plants are generally split into 4 categories. The first one is floating plants. These species float at the top of an aquarium, are usually fast-growing, and suck up all excess waste and nutrients. The second one is aquarium carpet plants. These species are grown at the front of the aquarium, and create a dense carpet at the bottom of the tank. 

The third one is midground plants. These species grow to a minimum size and complement the hardscape of the tank. The last category is the background plants. Just as the name describes it, certain aquatic plants grow very tall and very large and are usually planted at the back of the aquarium, to create a nice background.

Essential Equipment

Moving on, without certain equipment there would be very little success to create a beautiful shrimp tank setup.  All of the equipment mentioned below are almost necessary in every case and will ensure the good being of your shrimp. Be sure to use this equipment in your shrimp tank setups.


A filter is a must, if you are a beginner shrimp keeper. There are some instances, where more experienced hobbyists don’t use filters in their shrimp tanks, but that requires a lot of knowledge to do and is not recommended to beginner shrimp keepers.

When it comes to filtration, it is a good idea to have double the amount of filtration than your water volume. For example, if you want a 10-gallon shrimp tank, be sure to buy a filter, that capable of filtering 20 gallons of water per hour. You can also have a stronger filter than that, but too much filtration can cause a stronger flow in an aquarium, which shrimp don’t like.

Another important thing about filters for shrimp is that sometimes shrimp can get sucked into the filtration. To prevent this, try to buy a sponge filter, which is perfectly safe for aquarium shrimp. 


Light is an important aspect of a shrimp tank setup. The main attraction of the tank is the shrimp, and it is essential that they are visible for you to be seen. A basic aquarium light in most cases is enough for a shrimp tank, unless you are planning on keeping certain aquarium plant species, that need a stronger light.


A stable temperature is completely necessary when keeping aquarium shrimp. These creatures have weak immune systems, which means a sudden change in temperature can kill them. If you are living in unstable temperature conditions, be sure to have a heater, which will heat your water in case the temperature would drop in the environment your shrimp are being kept.


There is not one universal substrate for a shrimp tank setup. Some people like to use small rocks, sand, and other specific soil designed for a shrimp tank. It solely depends on the type of shrimp, because some species need substrate, that lowers pH (caridina shrimp). It also depends, if you are going to have needy plants because some types of plants don’t grow well in sand or gravel.

Shrimp Tank Setups

Moving on, I found out 5 interesting aquarium shrimp setups, that are both beautiful and are not very difficult to create. Some of these shrimp tank setups might be smaller in water volume than recommended, but they still seem to be perfectly healthy for aquarium shrimp.

Dutch Style Shrimp Tank Setup

The first shrimp tank setup on this list is the Dutch-style shrimp tank setup. It is one of the easiest shrimp tanks, that almost anyone can create.

shrimp tank setup, that only has aquarium plants in it

Dutch-style aquascaping is becoming widely popular among many fish keepers. The main focus of this setup is showcasing the beauty of aquatic plants. Usually, there are at least 10 different aquatic plant species planted in Dutch aquascaping setups, ranging from background plants to carpeting plants. Here is what you would need for a dutch style shrimp tank setup:

  • 10-15 aquatic plants, depending on the amount of space in an aquarium. Make sure to have carpeting, midground, and background plants in this setup;
  • Nutrient-rich soil is necessary since there are going to be lots of plants, that need nutrients. You can also add sand on top of the soil to cover it up;
  • An aquarium plant light is also recommended in this setup because it will increase the growth rate and coloration of the aquarium plants;
  • Additional fertilization methods like liquid fertilizer or root tabs can be used in this setup;
  • Necessary equipment, like a filter and a heater;

Another thing worth mentioning is that there are no rocks or driftwood in dutch style shrimp tank setups. A large number of different plants will create enough surface space for beneficial bacteria to grow, and it would provide enough cover for shrimp to hide, that is why rocks and wood are not necessary.

Shrimp Tank Bowl Setup

Moving on, another one of the easier shrimp tank setups is the shrimp tank bowl. It is known, that bowls are hated by the fish-keeping community, but they are perfectly fine for shrimp if the bowl can hold at least 5-10 gallons of water.

shrimp tank bowl with aquarium plants, rocks and driftwood

Every shrimp bowl can look different, and there are no universal scaping rules, compared to the Dutch aquarium scaping method. It is essential that there are enough plants and hiding places in a shrimp tank bowl setup. Here are the following things, that are necessary for a shrimp bowl:

  • Hardscape decorations, like driftwood or rocks, so that it would look more natural
  • Soil, if you are planning on growing carpet plants, or other species, that require planting
  • Aquatic plants can be simple floating plants, or column-feeding aquarium plants, that don’t need to be planted
  • Basic lighting is enough unless there are needier planted in the shrimp bowl;
  • Necessary equipment (filter, heater);

One challenging thing in this shrimp tank setup is that there is not much space for a filter and a heater. Most sponge filters are attached to the glass, and in a bowl, it is slightly difficult due to the glass being curved. Nevertheless, most shrimp bowls turn out to look great and are something unusual compared to standard shrimp tank setups.

Bonsai Tree Shrimp Tank Setup

One of the most interesting and challenging shrimp tank setups is the bonsai tree shrimp tank setup. The main attraction of this tank is a big bonsai tree made out of aquarium driftwood and moss.

shrimp tank setup, that has bonsai tree made out of aquarium plants

It is one of the harder shrimp tank setups since it takes some practice to attach the moss to the driftwood so that it would look appealing. Nevertheless, this setup does not require a lot of care and special guidance and can be easily achieved even by beginners with a little bit of patience. Here are all the things you would need for this shrimp tank setup:

  • Bonsai tree-shaped driftwood;
  • There are a few types of moss you can choose from, to attach it to the tree: java moss, flame moss, riccia fluitans, christmas moss. All the different mosses have slightly different patterns, but look great on a bonsai tree;
  • String or aquarium glue for attachment;
  • Other aquarium plants, which can be attached to other decorations, or planted into the substrate;
  • Aquarium soil (if you are planning on planting plants), or basic gravel, sand;
  • Basic light is enough for most moss species since they are hardy plants;
  • Necessary; equipment for maintaining the good health of shrimp (filter, heater);

Bonsai tree shrimp tank setups are becoming increasingly popular since they are very appealing and beautiful. One important thing to mention is that bonsai tree driftwood is usually relatively expensive, compared to basic driftwood, so be sure to prepare your pockets for this particular setup.

Center Path Shrimp Tank Setup

Moving on, an easier shrimp tank setup idea for beginners is the center path shrimp tank setup. It is simply a shrimp tank, in which a center path is created, that is surrounded by aquarium rocks on both sides.

shrimp tank aquarium, that resembles mountains and a path in the middle

The center path shrimp tank setup resembles a path, that can be found between two mountains. It is a simple idea, but at the same time very beautiful. Here are the all necessary things you would need to replicate this shrimp tank setup:

  • Aquarium rocks (lava rock, dragon stone);
  • Midground and background aquarium plants;
  • Soil is essential in this setup since there needs to be a lot of aquarium plants species planted, in order to create a lush environment on both sides;
  • Necessary equipment (filter, heater, lightning);

The goal of this shrimp tank setup is to replicate a mountainous region, with a small path in the middle. Larger rocks from both sides slightly curved should create a mountain look, while midground and background plants on the sides improve the view, and add some greenish colors to the shrimp tank setup.

Iwagumi Shrimp Tank Setup

One of the most popular and simplest setups is the iwagumi shrimp tank setup. It has been around for the longest time and is easily achievable by any level of shrimp keeper.

shrimp tank setup, that has iwagumi type aquascape

“Iwagumi” is a Japanese term, which means that the rocks are essentially the main attraction of the aquarium, and their formation and placement create an outstanding look. Another important look of the iwagumi setup is the green lush aquarium plant carpet, which every iwagumi shrimp tank setup should have. Here is what you need to replicate this tank:

  • Grey aquarium rocks (seiryu, ohko, elephant skin stone);
  • Carpeting aquatic plants;
  • Aquarium soil, since carpeting plants need lots of nutrients;
  • CO2 system, if you choose one of the difficult carpeting plants (dwarf baby tears, glosso);
  • Additional plants, so improve the overall looks. It can be moss attached to the rocks, or midground plants like hydrocotyle tripatita, bucephalandra, and java fern;
  • Stronger aquarium plant light, since carpet plants need more lightning to thrive;
  • Filter and a heater;

The key to achieving this amazing iwagumi appearance is to place the chosen rocks in opposite directions. Another important thing is that this shrimp tank setup will only achieve the best appearance, is when the carpeting plants fully take over, which can take a couple of months. Nevertheless, shrimp absolutely love carpeting plants, which provide a dense environment and lots of hiding places.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Shrimp Should Be Kept Together?

You should definitely keep at least 5-6 shrimp. Most species feel safer in larger numbers, and it is a higher chance, that they will reproduce, since both sexes will surely be present in a larger shrimp group.

Will Shrimp Clean My Tank?

Aquarium shrimp are known for being great algae eaters. All sorts of aquarium shrimp eat green, brown, black, hair algae. Be sure not to overfeed shrimp, because they will not be interested in algae, if there is other food.

Writer's Thoughts

In conclusion, I believe, that most shrimp tank setups presented on this list are not hard, and are really beautiful. Every fishkeeper should at least try to keep shrimp, so I hope these little setups can inspire someone to create a shrimp tank.

If you enjoyed reading our article, please feel free to share it with your friends by clicking the social media buttons below: