Product Reviews

The Best Shrimp Tank Filters – Five Top Picks – 2023

In recent years, keeping shrimp tanks has grown in popularity. As owners will know, maintaining the shrimp’s environment is critical in keeping them active and happy.

A proper filter will provide your shrimp with quality water. We’ll take a closer look at the exact features and benefits needed to choose the best filter for your shrimp tank (and avoid you making the common mistakes).

Last update on 2023-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Shrimp Keeping and Filtration Needs

For those of you that are new to the aquarium hobby, setting up proper filtration can seem a bit confusing. Providing a clean and healthy environment for your pet shrimp starts with the water itself.

Shrimp can be more sensitive to water conditions than many tropical fish species, so understanding how aquarium filters can affect those conditions will prove helpful…

Water Chemistry

pH: is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline the water is. That measurement is expressed as a number on the P/H scale. Most shrimp will prefer pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 9.5, depending upon the species.

kH: is also referred to as temporary hardness, and measures the water’s ability to absorb increased acid without changing the pH level.

gH: is also referred to as general hardness and indicates the temporary hardness levels combined with dissolved ions.

Research on the species of shrimp you plan to keep will provide you with the pH, kH, and gH ranges that can be tolerated. Water chemistry changes are often done with chemical treatments before it reaches the tank, but you need to be aware that some materials used in filter media (discussed below) can alter these levels. Test kits are available that help you to monitor the water chemistry in your tank.

Water Cycling

When you set up your new aquarium the water will need to be cycled before you can add your shrimp. Water cycling helps to establish the Nitrogen cycle, a process that converts deadly ammonia into less toxic Nitrites and then safer Nitrates. This process is accomplished through beneficial bacterias that establish homes in your shrimp tank.

While good bacteria will grow over most surfaces in an aquarium, filters often provide ideal homes. Beneficial bacteria are a key component in biological filtration. This short video provides a diagram breakdown of the Nitrogen Cycle.

Water cycling a new tank is accomplished by introducing ammonia into the water column. In the past, this process could take months and some hobbyists would use live fish for their ammonia source. Thankfully, cycling can be accomplished without sacrificing pets by using a piece of food or chemical starters.

Filtration Methods

Your equipment will provide biological, chemical, and/or mechanical filtration to keep the water column clean. Many shrimp keepers focus on biological and mechanical filtration, but your shrimp or water may require additional chemical filtration from time to time.

Biological Filtration: is accomplished through the Nitrogen cycle discussed previously. Filter media used for biological filtration are designed to provide surfaces where bacteria can establish healthy colonies. Keeping ammonia and nitrite levels low will allow your shrimp to thrive.

Chemical Filtration: uses materials such as activated carbon to leach chemicals from the water column. Introducing materials like peat can influence pH levels as well. Most shrimp keepers adjust water chemistry outside of the tank and use chemical filtration on occasions such as removing excess medicine from the water.

Mechanical Filtration: will use items like filter floss or foams to strain the water column as it passes through the filtering system. This material will clog without regular cleaning. Mechanical filtration is important for shrimp keepers, especially with species that love to dig.

Red crystal shrimp in filtered tank

Types of Filters

Some filter designs work better than others in a shrimp tank. Filters types to consider include:

  • Sponge Filters – are located in the aquarium and provide good biological and mechanical filtration. Some shrimp keepers prefer them as the sponge prevents fry and smaller shrimp from being sucked into the filter.
  • Hanging Filters – or HOB filters are placed on the tank wall and can provide all filtration types. Shrimp will benefit from the extra aeration these models can provide.
  • Canister Filters – are external systems that provide all types of filtration. These units handle large volumes of water and may be overkill for a smaller shrimp tank.
  • Undergravel Filters – are located under the substrate in a tank. If you plan to use finer substrates that many shrimp species will prefer, this type of filter may struggle below them.

Most filters use an intake to draw the water in. Be careful smaller shrimp, especially fry, can be sucked into the filter. Use a piece of sponge or pantyhose connected with an elastic band to help prevent this. Some intakes are designed to prevent fry from entering the intake.

Shrimp Tank Filter Reviews

XINYOU XY-380 Aquarium Sponge Filter

uxcell XINYOU XY-380 Aquarium Fish Tank Biochemical Sponge Filter, 4-1/2-Inch (1-Pack)
A simple design that provides that provides safety and filtration.

The foam materials used for the sponge filter are very porous. This design element allows water to move through the thick pad while trapping debris at the surface. While this filter may be too large for a breeder or fry tank, the sponge can provide safe filtering on shrimp tanks that are 10-gallons or more.

The manufacturer offers the filter in one, three, or six-packs.
As a sponge filter, it will provide you with biological and mechanical filtration for the water column. Chemical filtration would need to be provided by another source.

This product will require an air pump to function. Bubbles from the escaping air will help to agitate the surface. That can increase the exchange of gases at the surface, helping to diffuse more oxygen into the water.


  • Side channels provide more surface area for bacteria
  • Power heads can be attached easily
  • Pours are large enough to promote consistent waterflow


  • It is bulky and may take up a lot of room in small tanks
  • The unit is light and may need to be secured to the tank bottom

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Aqua Clear 20 Power Filter

A filter that provides room for mixing multiple filter media.

AquaClear 20 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 5- to 20-Gallon Aquariums

A flow rate of 100-gallons per hour makes this a good choice for aquariums ranging from 5 to 20-gallons in size. It has a re-filtration design, providing extra contact time with the filter media.

The filter offers the same bottom-up design that canister filters use.
This unit can provide all three filtration types and the filter media compartment is built to accept various materials. AquaClear does offer pre-bagged proprietary filter media, but you can mix and match your own filter media in this product. They also include enough AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon and BioMax and Cycle Guard to get the filter up and running straight out of the box.

The lid may rattle if it is not placed correctly on top of the housing (but simply make sure it is on correctly to stop this).
Remember to protect your smaller shrimp by placing a piece of sponge or pantyhose across the water intake, and secure it with a rubber band.


  • Media storage space allows for mixing filter materials
  • Runs quietly when compared to similar units
  • This filter is covered by a two-year warranty from the manufacturer


  • Debris may become lodged in propeller box
  • Cost of proprietary media is quite high

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Powkoo Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquariums

Powkoo Aquarium Double Sponge Filter Fish Tank Air Filter for Freshwater and Saltwater

A two sponge design that can be placed almost anywhere.

This product uses two separate sponge heads to provide filtration for aquariums up to 60-gallons. That should cover most tank sizes that shrimp keepers would use. The filter comes with suction cups that allow it to attach along any tank wall, and will keep the unit in place during operation.

If one sponge needs replacing, the second sponge can continue to operate without losing bacteria colonies.
This product will provide both biological and mechanical filtering. The materials the unit is made from are food grade, a feature that prevents them from affecting the water chemistry.

Cleaning will require detaching the filter from the tank wall.
A rotating nozzle allows you to direct water output, and an adjustable vertical tube allows it to fit in a variety of aquariums. The arms holding the sponges can move, allowing the sponges to be placed at angles in roomy tanks.


  • Two sponges help to prevent clogging issues
  • The extra source of air helps with aeration
  • An adjustable nozzle helps direct water flow


  • It takes up a lot of room for the sponge size
  • Suction cups can become detached if placed improperly

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Fluval 106 External Canister Filter

Fluval 106 External Filter

A canister filter able to provide pressurized multi-stage water cleaning.

Fluval has built the 106 using durable materials, and cover their filter with a strong warranty and customer service. It provides a flow rate of 125-gallons per hour, making it a good selection for shrimp tanks up to 25-gallons in size.

An instant-prime feature allows the filter to be ready to start after one push of the priming button.
Media baskets stack in the chamber and keep filter media organized and separated. The square body provides more room for materials when compared to cylinder-shaped canisters.

You will probably need to provide intake covering to keep your shrimp safe with this unit’s flow rate.
The single-motion clamps are easy to operate and provide a tight seal between the lid and body. An intake strainer helps to stop larger debris before it clogs the system. Plenty of room is provided for cleaning and maintenance.


  • Aqua-Stop valves and lock clamps help to prevent leaks and spills
  • Impeller is designed to dampen generated noise
  • Manufacturer provides a three-year warranty on this filter


  • Debris can collect in the rib hosing making it difficult to clean

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MarineLand Penguin 150 Power Filter

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration,black

A HOB filter that provides increased oxygen diffusion in the water.

This version of the Penguin is able to move 150-gallons of water per hour, making it a good choice for aquariums up to 30-gallons in size. All of the components are made from quality materials and the unit is covered by a limited three-year warranty from MarineLand.

The Bio-Wheel is easy to install and operate, making it a good choice for beginners.
A three-stage filtration system uses all filtration types. The stand-out feature on this product is the Bio-Wheel that is designed to offer an oxygen-rich home for bacteria. The increased exposure to oxygen promotes bacteria growth and increases aeration of the water.

You must secure the intake with materials to prevent your shrimp from being sucked into the filter by the powerful flow rate.


  • It has a compact design and durable components
  • Chemical and mechanical filter cartridges are easy to remove
  • This filter is novice friendly and easy to use


  • The flow rate is not adjustable on this filter
  • Intake protection is required with this water-flow rating

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The Top Pick


AquaClear 20 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 5- to 20-Gallon Aquariums

AquaClear 20 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 5- to 20-Gallon Aquariums

  • Aquarium filtration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Quick and easy installation; we recommend that you clean aquarium filter every 2 weeks for maximum operation and efficiency
  • Provides optimal mechanical; chemical; and biological filtration
  • Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam; Activated Carbon Filter and BioMax and Cycle Guard for superior water quality
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable fish tank filters

Last update on 2023-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Of the products reviewed above, the Aqua Clear 20 Power Filter stood out as the best for shrimp tank filtering needs. The only real drawback is the need to improvise a covering for the intake.

It allows you to set the filtration materials you want, and re-filtration provides longer contact. Components won’t affect the water chemistry but chemical filtration can be added when needed. Extra surface agitation promotes aeration, while easy access and two-year warranty make it user-friendly. Your little gang of amano or cherry shrimp will thank you for it!

AquaClear 20 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 5- to 20-Gallon Aquariums


Read More Aquarium Pumps & Filters Product Reviews

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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