Can Shrimp Live in Tap Water

Shrimps can live in tap water, provided that your local tap water meets the necessary condition. If not, you will need to prepare the water, which might include converting it to RO water.

This article will list out what are the water conditions shrimps need to live and what actions you need to take if it does not.


What water perimeters for shrimp is needed

There are multi dimensions needed for a thriving shrimp tank.  Specifically, they need:

  1. Water temperature of 18 to 26 Degrees
  2. PH range between 5.5 to 7.5
  3. GH (general hardness) range 4 to 7 dH (degress of hardness)
  4. KH (carbonate hardness) range 1.5 to 2.5
  5. TDS of 150 – 200
  6. Nitrite of O (very important!)

In case you are a beginner, below are what the above stands for

  • PH refers to how acidic or alkaini the water is. A pH 7 is where water become neutral.
  • GH refers to how ‘hard’ a water is. In layman terms, it means how much calcium and magnesium is in the water. If a water is hard, it just means it contains a lot of these 2 minerals.
  • KH refers to the capacity of the water to act as buffers through the carbonate. Having the right KH allows the water to be stablize with no pH spikes, especially at night due to the plants.
  • TDS is a measurement of minerals in the water. You can see GH as a subset of TDS. The latter measures more than calcium and magnesium.
  • Nitrite is what the bacteria transforms ammonia into, before they further transform into nitrate. Ammonia is all the waste in the water, resulting from dying plants, bio waste etc. Too much ammonia and nitrite is harmful to shrimps. Nitrate is less so.


Check the water perimeter for your tap water

You will need some water measuring tools to know the quality of tap water. Unfortunately, there is no one tool that can do all the jobs. Below is a list of of what I used

  • TDS meter – measures the tds of your tap water
  • API test kit – measures PH and Nitrite. The latter is not relevant yet for tap water
  • API GH and KH test kit – measures GH and KH

Once you know your tap water’s perimeter, you can decide if they can be used directly. If not, then you need to take steps to either lower or increase the different perimeters.


How to lower GH, KH, PH and TDS of water

In many cases, the challenge is to lower the tap water’s perimeters rather than increase them. I found most of the tap water is too hard, especially if they came from wells.

If your water is too hard, it can lead to the following results:

  • your shrimps might not survive as they can’t acclimate to the high condition, especially if they come from fish stores that have much lower gh
  • your shrimps will find it too hard to breed
  • some of your plants might not survive the hard water

Below are some ways to lower your water’s hardness and tds.


  1. Invest in a Reverse Osmosis system for your aquarium

The easiest solution is to use a RO (reverse osmosis) system to reduce all the minerals in your water almost to zero, before remineralizing them again to the right levels. This will remove almost all the hardness and tds in the water. It will also save you the trouble of tacking the issue one at a time.

The downside is that a RO machine is not cheap. The price is usually around USD100 – USD150 for a good brand machine.

However, if you are using it for a long time, this cost is actually reasonable. Another added bonus is you get clean and pure drinking water for your family as well.

One problem with using RO is the speed of the water. Some home owners complaint that RO takes too long to fill the tank. That is not the fault of the RO machine itself but the water pressure of your house.

You can use a RO water pressure booster to alleviate the problem. It is simple to install and can ensure the speed of the water is fast enough to meet your water changing needs.


  1. Use distilled water

You can also buy distilled water as an alternative to RO. While it is a cheaper purchase in the short run, it might be a more expensive option in the long run, as you constantly need to buy more during water change.

If you need to raise, instead of reduce pH, check out this article on how to increase pH of your shrimp tank.


  1. Be selective in choosing your shrimps and plants

If you are not willing to spend too much money and still wants to use tap water, another method is to look for shrimps that can survive well in hard water. Ghost and amano shrimps for examples are survivors and they can probably do ok, provided the following conditions are met:

  • Your GH is not crazy high like in the hundreds dH. If that is the case, you cannot use your tap water or you need to run it through the RO machine first.
  • You have allow time for your shrimps to acclimate. The best way to do that is to use distilled water first and slowly replaced them with tap water. If you don’t give the shrimps time to adjust to the hard waters, they might not survive for long.



Shrimps can survive in tap water if it is not too hard or contains too much impurities. In fact, tap water is sometimes the best way to achieve balance in your fish tank if it has the right water perimeters. Unfortunately, not all tap water is able to achieve this requirement.

If your tap water is too hard, you will need to take steps to reduce the hardness before it can be used directly for the shrimps. RO is a good way but needs a certain amount of investment for a good RO system. Over the long run, it is probably a worthwhile investment as it solves a lot of unnecessary problems with your tap water.


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