The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp

The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp

Dwarf shrimp are expected to be healthy and live a long life if you provide them with optimal water conditions. Even more, you need the tank conditions to be as stable as possible. One of the accessories for ensuring stable tank parameters is the type of filter you are using. So, what is the best filtration system for breeding dwarf shrimp?

To cut a long story short, I strongly believe that Matten Filter is the best filtration system for dwarf shrimp keeping and breeding. It will give your shrimp everything they need.

Although there are various types of filters on the market it should not confuse you. In general, shrimp tanks do not require complex and expensive filters. On the contrary, it can sound strange but you can get more benefits with simple ones.

I would like to begin by saying that I am not going to compare different products (models) here. This is not the goal of this article. This time I will tell you about the pros and cons of having Matten filters, sponge filters, hang on the back filters, and canister filtration system. So, you will equally understand why one filter type differs from the others.

Highlighted below (not in order of priority) are the various descriptions for each filter, so as to help ease your selection when you finally want to settle for any of them.

1. Sponge Filters for Shrimp Tanks

Sponge filter for breeding shrimpOne of the most known filters you can ever think of is the sponge filter. They are designed to be air-pump driven and their operational mechanism is quite simple. They use a host of useful bacterial to orchestrate water flow via the sponge. In fact, the larger the surface area for beneficial bacteria, the better the water quality (more stable nitrogen cycle). Outlined below are some advantages and disadvantages of using a filter of this nature:


  • Its biological filtration is carried out by the bacteria on the sponge, making it highly reliable.
  • Mechanical filtration is efficient as the sponge draws water as needed.
  • It can be easily maintained.
  • Very easy to rinse and reuse.
  • The quality foam used on the filter is great for growing biofilm. Your shrimp will love it!
  • It is absolutely safe for baby shrimp. You do not have to cover any intakes.
  • It is not expensive.


  • It does not have any chamber that takes care of chemical filtration.
  • It does not create adequate water movement inside a tank.

The sponge filter is a good pick for professionals and beginners alike. If you are just starting out with shrimp breeding, ensure you are getting the one that fits your aquarium.

Tip: Never go for a size smaller than the size recommended for your aquarium! Moreover, it is advisable to buy more powerful filters. Therefore, if you have a 10-gallon tank, choose the filter, which is rated for at least 20 gallons. It will cost you only a few extra dollars but you will never regret it!

You can also consider buying sponge filters if you are working with a shoestring budget.

Popular models (with links to Amazon) of sponge filters:

2. Hang on Back Filters (HOB) for Shrimp Tanks

Hang on the back filter for breeding shrimpApart from being very popular with both beginners and experienced shrimp breeders, these filters seem to be a step away from sponge filters. It is practically stress-free to keep your aquarium water clean with this type of filter. Nonetheless, this system also has lots of downsides. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using a filter like this:


  • It combines all the filtration types: chemical, biological, and mechanical.
  • They are available at different prices; get the one that fits your budget.
  • You do not require any super technical skills to carry out maintenance.
  • They produce the flow which can be essential if you want to keep Bamboo filter shrimp.
  • Often you can also add different extensions to the powerhead.
  • Customization for any kind of media.
  • Impressive filtration rate per hour.
  • Some models can be suitable for tanks up to 80-100 gallons.


  • It requires an extra pre-filter in the form of a sponge to prevent baby shrimp from being sucked in.
  • It is recommended that the equipment be unplugged from power before you commence cleaning.
  • Some models can be very noisy (because of the impeller).
  • Sometimes you can have leaking problems with them or they do not start working immediately after a power failure.
  • Does not provide surface area for growing biofilm for our shrimp.
  • Tends to be a bit pricy compared to sponge filters.
  • Require more maintenance compared to Sponge filters.

HOB filters execute tank cleaning with great efficiency. Since they have different sizes for various prices, always ensure that you are picking a size that is strong enough to handle the quantity of water in your aquarium.

Important: Basically, you cannot afford to be using a filter that is not powerful enough for your aquarium because the moment you install the pre-filter, the movement of water will be affected as well. It will lead to a slow movement of water, causing the cleaning process to be less effective.

Another significant tip to bear in mind when using Hang on Back filters is the fact that you must keep your pre-filters clean at all times. You need to ensure they remain unclogged all the time, as leaving it clogged could also affect the equipment working power.

Overall, HOB filters are a good option if you have big shrimp breeding tanks.

Popular models (with links to Amazon) of HOB filters:

3. Canister Filters for Shrimp Tanks

Cannister filter for breeding shrimpThese filters are extremely powerful and efficient, and you can almost tell that right away because of how expensive they are! Its design and operational mechanics allow it to function at a much superior level compared to the other two filters above. Stated below are some reasons that would help you understand if you would prefer (Whether you need it at all!) the canister filter or some other type:


  • They provide biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration to ensure absolute cleaning.
  • These filters have a huge surface area for healthy bacteria to grow that ensures stable water parameters.
  • The best flow rate and capacity.
  • They are highly reliable and also look very appealing.
  • More options for customizable filter media.
  • They are noiseless when they are in operation.
  • They can be seated comfortably behind the tank, making them discrete in a way.


  • Canister filters are quite expensive.
  • They also require a pre-filter to keep baby shrimp safe.
  • It takes a lot of time to clean them.
  • They need constant maintenance unlike the other two that are not that demanding.
  • It can be a problem to hide them because of their size.
  • Does not provide surface area for growing biofilm for our shrimp.

It is obvious that if you are just starting with your shrimp breeding hobby, this filter is not the best of choices, especially when you are particularly interested in how much you wish to spend. However, while the price may be a challenge for anyone trying to get it, canister filters seem like the only viable and most reliable filtering option for aquariums that are extremely large.

But the point is, if you will not mind how expensive this filter is, you can always go for it since it outperforms hands-down most other types of filters in the market.

Popular models (with links to Amazon) of canister filters:

 4. Matten Filters in Shrimp Tanks

Matten filter for breeding shrimpThere are not many places where you can buy them yet (flipaquatics is one of them. Actually these filters are used in their shrimp breeding tanks!). However, I am pretty sure that Matten filters will be in great demand very soon, once shrimp keepers find out more about this type of filter.

These filters have similar operation mechanics to that of the sponge filter, but … better in all senses! It is like man vs Superman.

Besides its simple design, here are some other delightful reasons why you will want to use this particular filter for your shrimp breeding:


  • They have got a very large surface area which makes them very efficient in water cleaning (2 to 4 times the surface area of the same type of sponge filters).
  • Some filters can be suitable for tanks up to 40 gallons.
  • They provide your shrimp with a huge HUGE surface where they can feed on (It has a direct effect on the survival rates of baby shrimp).
  • It is absolutely safe for baby shrimp. You do not have to cover any intakes.
  • Maintenance does not require any skills at all.
  • If you need it, it can accommodate a heater behind if you feel like raising your water temperature a little.
  • They provide the flow from top to bottom! (Bamboo shrimp will be happy).
  • Because of the size, the risk of clogging is significantly reduced.
  • They are not expensive.


  • They are not as efficient as HOB and Canister filters.
  • They do not have any chamber that takes care of chemical filtration.

Matten filters will be extremely good for both beginners, experienced and professional shrimp breeders. Since it is a cost-effective option that ensures great efficiency in filtering. So if you are looking for something cheap, highly reliable, and extremely beneficial for your shrimp, you can conveniently stick with this filter type.


Filters are absolutely crucial for keeping the tank water clean and water parameters stable. By keeping the water clean, they play a significant role in maintaining the health of our shrimp in tanks. Therefore, if you want them to live for a long time and breed prolifically, then you need to have a suitable filter type for that.

After considering your budget and needs, you should be able to come to a conclusion on which of the filter types is most fitting for your tank. From the simple and inexpensive types like Sponge and Matten filters, to Hang on Back filters to the most expensive Canister filters, there must be a filter that will just be perfect for your type of aquarium. 

So, what is the best filtration system for breeding dwarf shrimp? My personal choice for shrimp tank is:

  1. Small to medium tank size (2.5 – 40 gallons or 10 – 180 liters) – Matten filters (or Sponge filters as a last resort).
  2. Medium to large tank size (40 – 80 gallons or 180 – 360 liters) – HOB filters. Actually, the only reason why this filtration system is on second place – because there no big enough Matten filters right now.
  3. Huge shrimp tanks (over 80 gallons) – Canister filters.

Related article:

  1. How to Clean an Aquarium Filter
  2. Everything about Beneficial Bacteria in Aquariums
  3. Optimize Your Biofilter: A Guide to Ideal Biological Filtration

4 thoughts on “The Best Filtration System for Breeding Shrimp

  1. I have a Matten filter and love it for my shrimp only tank. I have had to use a planeria remover agent and mosquito larvae remover agent to get rid of pests that came in with plants. Can I put a netted bag of carbon behind the Matten filter for some time to help remove the medication from the treatments? Also, i was planning to put a net of bio rings back there as well to help seed a new tank, is that a good idea or not? Lastly, will a netted bag of Purigen help to remove nitrates? In the interest of keeping water perimeters stable, I am trying to figure out the best way to remove unwanted agents in my tank and hopefully help keep tds down as well as keep the water as clean as possible. Not much is written on these specific topics and Matten filters.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      Of course, you can put carbon behind the filter, I do not see any problem with that.
      If you are planning to use bio rings in another tank, you can put them anywhere in the tank. Every surface you may have within your aquarium targets for beneficial bacterial growth.
      Purigen does not remove nitrates but it removes the organics before they are converted into ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
      To remove nitrates you need fast-growing plants (like Hornwort, Duckweed, etc.) or Pothos plants. Check out my articles about them, including “Nitrates in Shrimp Tank. How to Lower them”.
      Best regards,

    1. Hi Millar Colin,
      Yes, nothing has changed yet.
      Best regards,

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