Plants in a shrimp tank perform a couple of important roles, including keeping the tank clean and providing biofilm for shrimps as food sources.
However, not all plant types are suitable.
These plants are perfect for a shrimp tank
- Staurogyne Repens
- Flame Moss
- Anubias Barteri
- Jave Fern
- Moss Ball
The first 4 plants are the ones I have experience with. The rest is based on what other aquarium hobbyists have recommended in the forums.
Don’t pick all the above! Just go with 2 or even one plant type is more than sufficient.
Staurogyne repens is a ‘carpet’ plant, meaning it grows at the substrate level and forms a nice green carpet in your tank. The maximum height it can reach is around 3-4 ” so it wouldn’t take up too much swimming space for your shrimps or fishes.
How to care and grow staurogyne repens: The good thing about this plant is that it is slow growing and requires less maintenance. Below is what you need:
- A good substrate: staurogyne reopens need to be rooted with the substrate so having that is important. Here is our substrate guide for a shrimp tank if you need help. The substrate is also where the plants draws its nutrients from.
- 10 gallon tank or above: A bigger tank is preferred for the plant to grow well.
- Lighting: Staurogyne reopens needs light like all plants but not the super strong type. The ones provided by beamswork or nicrew can work well with these plants.
- Water perimeters: A normal pH level of around 6-8 is fine. In terms of hardness level, 4-9 KH is ok.
How to plant staurogyne repens: These are the steps
- Make sure your substrate is around 2-3 inches deep.
- Plant the roots about 0.5 inches in to leave room for future growth
- Start with around 4 stems for a 10 gallon tank. 20 gallon should have around 7-8 stems.
- Make sure that your aquarium lighting reaches them with no blockage by other plants or decorations
I saw many sites recommending java moss but I find flame moss to be easier to maintain and grow. Shrimps love to graze at moss so having one such type in your shrimp tank is highly recommended.
As you can see, the name came from the fact that they look like flames swagging in water when fully grown.
This plant can grow up to 6 inches but it doesn’t float to the top.
How to care and grow flame moss: Growing for flame moss is pretty straight forward:
- Substrate: This plant draws its nutrients mainly from the water and the substrate so it is need good substrate like staurogyne reopens. It can also be grown on wooden materials but will need a plastic net to hold the flame moss in place while it roots itself on the material.
- Low light requirements: Flame moss doesn’t need strong lights so it is easy to grow them.
- Water perimeters: Flame moss grows well in normal neutral water, between the range of 6-8 pH. Hardness level is around 3-10 KH.
- Trimming: Flame moss grow pretty fast, esp if you use fertilizers and good lighting. As a result, you might need to trim them down as they spread horizontally across the tank, leaving no room for others.
How to plant flame moss: Planting flame needs some finanese as their roots are pretty fragile. A strong water flow is usually sufficient to break their branches.
- Prepare your substrate
- Plant the flame moss about 1 inch deep to prevent them from floating away
- If you are planting them elsewhere, you will need to place a plastic net over the area first, and then secure the plants to the net using cotton threads. The advantage of cotton thread is that they will dissolve in water over time and will not need to be removed manually.
For leafy plant lovers, you might want to consider anubias barteri as a plant for your shrimp tank. The leaves create a wider area for biofilm development, thus attracting shrimps to nibble at them.
How to grow and maintain anubias barteri: This plant is another easy plant to grow that any beginner can easily start with.
- Lighting: minimal requirement is needed. As long as the anubias barteri gets some light, it will grow well.
- Water perimeters: Normal water in the 6-8 pH range will work well. Temperature wise, it grows well between 22 to 30 degree Celsius.
- Trimming: Anubias barteri is a slow growing plant so trimming will not be needed for a while. However, once you see that the leaves are growing to a point of blocking out a lot of lighting, you will need do some trimming.
How to plant anubias barteri: This plant is very simple to plant and is able to survive under different surface area. Substrate planting would be the most straight forward. You can also plant it driftwood or porous rocks.
Shrimps also love duckweed, due to the larger surface area on the roots where biofilm can grow.
Duckweed is a fast growing plant. Due to this speed, they can help to purify the speed pretty quickly and thoroughly.
They also help to slow down algae due to them taking nutrients away as well as blocking the light.
However, the downside of this plant is that it multiples pretty quickly and clings to anything they can touch.
How to grow and maintain duckweed: Duckweed grow well and easily if your tank meets the following condition below
- Lighting: Duckweed can survive with the lowest of light. Strong lights can and will make them grow much faster though.
- Water perimeters: Duckweed can survive is water that is not neutral i.e. wide pH tolerance. It can also withstand both soft and hard waters, thus making it very hard to kill.
- Trimming: As they grow pretty fast, you will need to constantly trim in down, if you don’t want it to block the lights completely for the plants at the substrate level.
How to plant duckweed: The good news is you don’t actually need to plant it. You simply place the duckweed at the top of the tank. Just make sure you don’t plant too much as they can overwhelm your tank easily.
Jave fern is a leafy kind of plant, with a maximum length of around 13 inches. They are easy to care for and go wells with shrimps as tank mates.
It doesn’t need substrate even though they grow at the bottom of the tank. Hence if you don’t intend to have substrate in your shrimp tank, this is a perfect plant.
How to grow and maintain jave fern: Jave fern is as hardy as duckweed so they are super easy to grow
- Lighting: Can survive well in both strong and weak lighting.
- Water perimeters: Grow in both soft and hard water. Also doesn’t need pH level to be around neutral level.
- Trimming: Jave fern is a slow growing plant so not much removal is necessary. Once a year will be more than sufficient.
How to plant jave fern: Although it doesn’t substrate to grow, they need to be planted in a certain way:
- You will need some kind of hard surface like driftwood or rocks
- Secure the roots to the surface via the use of fishing wires (see image below)
- The roots will attached themselves to the hard surface after a few weeks.
- Remove the wires
Another favorite shrimp tank plant is moss ball. Shrimps love to graze around this plant. Best of all, it is very easy to maintain.
How to grow and maintain moss ball: These kind of moss need very minimal care, making it ideal for a beginner
- Lighting: Low lights are sufficient for these kind of plants
- Water perimeters: Moss ball can survive in harsh water conditions, be it hard or soft. They also do not need perfect neutral pH to grow well.
- Trimming: You don’t need to do much trimming but to maintain the round shape, you will need to turn the moss ball around once every month.
- Cleaning: Different from other plants, moss ball can trap a lot of dirt particles. You just need to squeeze them once in a while to clear out the dirt.
How to plant moss ball: No planting is needed for moss ball. Just float them to the tank. After a while, they will sink to the bottom as they absorb the water.
I have recommended these plants based on their ease of maintenance as well as suitability for shrimps. At the end of the day, shrimps are not fussy creatures. As long as plants have wide areas for biofilm development, they will like it due to the abundance of food.