Do Ghost Shrimp Need a Filter in the Aquarium?

It is no secret that the ghost shrimp is considered a good beginner’s shrimp – a species to start out with if you are just beginning to incorporate shrimp in your freshwater tank. It is small, reasonably easy to care for and it is constantly on the move, which makes it both fun and interesting to watch.

To successfully keep ghost shrimp in your tank, you need to know how to care for it, and there are a few things you need to consider. For example, do ghost shrimp need a filter in the aquarium? The quick answer is no, but let’s find out more.

Introducing the Ghost Shrimp

The best way to understand what a ghost shrimp needs is to first understand what a ghost shrimp is. Ghost shrimps are also known as glass shrimps, and they are small, transparent decapod crustaceans that thrive in freshwater tanks.

These invertebrates, which go by the scientific name air pump, usually grow to become approximately 1.5 – 3 inches in size and they can be recognized by their segmented body and their 10 legs and the yellow (or sometimes orange) tail spot.

To separate male ghost shrimps from female ghost shrimps, you simply look for the green coloring under the female’s body (something the male does not have). Ghost shrimp are found all around the world and they make a delicious meal for bigger fish or can be added to an aquarium for their excellent tank cleaning skills.

Filtration in the Ghost Shrimp Tank

It is true that ghost shrimp are excellent cleaners, but it doesn’t mean they can be given the task to clean the tank on their own, as they don’t have the capacity to replace the function of a filter. Unclean water can also be harmful to the ghost shrimp itself.

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A small power filter that is hung on the back of the aquarium is your best option, and it should be of a size that suits the tank. An intake screen should be checked for, and you should preferably wrap something around the screen, such as netting fine enough to keep the ghost shrimp out, as they may otherwise get stuck during one of their scavenger hunts.

Activated carbon is one great thing to have in your ghost shrimp tank filter, as it helps remove water discoloration while gently purifying the water in the aquarium. Also, keep an eye out for a filter with a cartridge, to help trap and get rid of any debris that may be floating around in the water.

If your filter’s flow control is adjustable – even better! In some instances, you may be able to keep ghost shrimp in a tank without a filter, but this would only be possible if you have enough live plants for the filtering process to proceed naturally.

How About an Air Pump?

While not absolutely essential, your ghost shrimp can certainly benefit from having an air pump installed in the tank, as they need elevated oxygen levels. Here, too, live plants can play a positive role, but the more you can prepare and set up your tank, the better it will be for your ghost shrimp and their quality of life.

Ghost Shrimp Tank Requirements

It is unusual and not recommended to keep only one shrimp, and your best bet is to introduce multiple ghost shrimp or other shrimp at a time so that they are not alone. They are going to need plants, and it is up to you if you prefer to provide your ghost shrimp with live plants or plastic plants. 

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Plants and Vegetation

Plants, along with rocks for the shrimp to climb on, will provide an aquatic environment they are likely to thrive in. A 10-gallon tank is recommended, potentially with driftwood drifting around if possible, and a lid over the tank to prevent the ghost shrimp from getting out. They can be quite the little escape artists!


A minimum temperature of 68°F and a maximum temperature of 85°F should be strived for, and ghost shrimp do not tend to enjoy drastic changes in water temperature or water conditions. These disruptions could lead to stress and prevent your ghost shrimp from thriving in their new environment, and  74-78°F is recommended.

Water Quality

Dirty water is not beneficial for a tank, and it is essential to change the water and to keep it clean when you have ghost shrimp. A filter can definitely come in handy here, but you also want to make sure to change the water frequently. 

A weekly 10% water change is going to benefit the whole tank, but just be careful when you clean the tank or change its water, as ghost shrimp can be very curious and might come a little closer than what is ideal during the cleaning process.

Fortunately, ghost shrimp are very hardy and it is not considered a delicate shrimp, meaning they aren’t difficult to keep even with limited knowledge and experience, but it is always smart to try and provide them with ideal water conditions.


Ghost shrimp are easy to care for and not expensive to purchase or maintain, which could be one reason why it has become so popular among beginners! They are resistant to changes in the tank but do not like fluctuating water temperature, and they are fun to watch thanks to always being on the move.

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Some tank owners purposely add ghost shrimp to feed other species in the tank, others like to watch them move around, and then there are some who want to take advantage of their impressive tank cleaning skills.

A common question is whether you need a filter in an aquarium with ghost shrimp, and you usually do. The only way around is if your tank is filled with live vegetation and plants, which could help filter the water and keep it clean naturally. Regardless, if you have the option to add a small filter, it is recommendable to do so.