It’s easy to set up a new aquarium for shrimp-keeping!

It can be complicated, of course … you can fiddle with pH and gH and KH, mineral composition and TDS, if you want to. You can install high-intensity lighting and CO2 injectors and sump systems. Technology can be great, but it’s optional.

Happy shrimp! (Albertomeg / CC0)

Simply putting your aquarium next to a bright window and waiting for algae to grow works, too.

A box of green water doesn’t really answer our aesthetic aspirations, however … so we do basically the same thing using attractive aquatic plants and artificial light we can regulate.

Here are the basic steps:

(1) Rinse out the aquarium and put it where you want it to be. Make sure it’s well supported and can’t tip! (Water weighs about ten pounds a gallon.)

(2) Add gravel, sand, or whatever substrate you choose. Put in the rocks, driftwood, or other hardscape. (Wash them off first!)

(3) Add water. Remove the deadly chlorine and chloromine in most city tapwater by mixing in a few drops of a dechlorinator.

(4) Hook up your filter and/or airstone. A simple and inexpensive sponge filter is excellent and completely safe for your shrimp. Turn it on.

(5) Add aquatic plants. Shrimp aren’t picky.

(6) Turn on the light.

That’s it! Well, there’s one more thing…

Cycling Your Tank

After setting up your aquarium, you need to “cycle” it, which means encouraging good bacteria to establish themselves. The simple way is to add a pinch of food daily to the empty aquarium. This gets the cleanup bacteria going so that, when you add shrimp, the tank will not become polluted and kill your water babies.

It’s about harnessing the magic of Nature.

Cycling is critical to the success of your tank. It’s something to learn about, but it’s not too complicated. There’s plenty of info online that explains it.

Here are some good videos:

The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Aquarium Co-Op
Fishless Cycling an Aquarium Trafish Aquatics
Cycling Your Aquarium | What Pet Stores Don’t Tell You Solid Gold Aquatics

Cycling can take anywhere from a day to several weeks, depending upon the method. Natural planted tanks establish themselves quickly because live plants carry the bacteria that populate your new ecosystem. If you add a filter or gunk from a seasoned aquarium, cycling will happen even faster.

Even a new, sterile tank will eventually acquire the right bacteria from the air: these important bacteria are everywhere. It will just take a little longer.

How to Know Your New Aquarium is Ready?

It’s easy to know when your tank is ready for shrimp—your plants will be growing. Seeing algae is another good sign. Plant growth shows the tank is alive and capable of sustaining additional life.

Congratulations! At this point, your tank is an underwater shrimp pasture ready for grazing … and the next adventure can begin.