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The Best Substrate for Cherry Shrimp (3 Great Options)

The Best Substrate for Cherry Shrimp (3 Great Options)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re a fan of keeping freshwater shrimp, particularly cherry shrimp, you’ll know that providing them with a suitable habitat is crucial to their survival and thriving.

One essential aspect of their environment is the substrate. It’s not only important for the aesthetic appeal of the tank, but it’s also crucial for the overall health and well-being of the shrimp.

That said, choosing the best substrate for cherry shrimp can be challenging. You’ll see a lot of options available in the market. Fret not! In this article, we’ll explore some of the most suitable substrates for cherry shrimp!

We’ll outline the benefits and potential drawbacks to help you make an informed decision. This way you can provide your cherry shrimp with the perfect environment to thrive in. Read on!

What Are the Best Substrates for Cherry Shrimp and Why?

Cherry shrimp are adaptable freshwater shrimp that can thrive in different substrates. However, there are a few options that are particularly well-suited to their needs:

1 – Aquasoil

Aquasoil is a specially formulated substrate designed for planted aquariums. It’s made from mineral-rich volcanic soil that helps to buffer the water and stabilize pH levels.

Cherry shrimps love this substrate because it provides them with plenty of places to hide and forage.


While aquasoil is popular and one of the best substrates for cherry shrimp, there are a few potential drawbacks you should be aware of.

For starters, it releases ammonia and other nutrients into the water column for several weeks after setup. Hence, it’s important to cycle the tank properly and test parameters frequently during this time.

Additionally, aquasoil can lower the pH of the water. Cherry shrimp can tolerate slightly acidic water that’s caused by a lower pH level. However, monitor and adjust the pH to ensure the shrimp remains healthy.

2 – Fluval Stratum

The Fluval Stratum is another popular substrate for planted aquariums. It’s made from mineral-rich volcanic soil that helps to buffer the water and stabilize pH levels.

Cherry shrimp find this substrate appealing because it’s soft and easy to dig into.


The Fluval Stratum is a lightweight substrate that can be easily disturbed by water flow or the movement of shrimp. It also has a relatively short lifespan compared to other substrates.

They typically last 2 to 3 years before breaking down and losing their buffering capacity. This means you may need to replace the Fluval Stratum more frequently, which can be costly.

3 – Fine-Grained Sand

Cherry shrimps prefer a fine-grained and soft substrate, as they like to dig and forage for food.

As such, sand is the best choice because it’s gentle on their delicate bodies and won’t scratch or injure them.


Fine-grained sand can compact easily. It can hinder water circulation and prevent waste and debris from being removed from the substrate.

Additionally, fine-grained sand doesn’t provide much surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. This can lead to poor biological filtration and unstable water conditions.

What’s the Worst Substrate for Cherry Shrimp?

The worst substrate for cherry shrimp is anything unnatural or containing harmful chemicals and sharp or jagged edges. Here’s what you can avoid:

  • Soil from outdoor gardens
  • Gravel with sharp edges
  • Painted substrates
  • Copper-based substrates
  • Substrates with fertilizer
  • Rocks

What to Consider in Choosing a Substrate for Cherry Shrimp Tank?

When choosing a substrate for a cherry shrimp tank, it’s important to consider the following factors:

1 – Size of the Substrate

These shrimps are small creatures and need a substrate that’s not too large or too small. The substrate size should be between 1 to 3mm. This allows the shrimp to forage and burrow comfortably.

2 – pH Level

Cherry shrimps require a pH level between 6.8 to 7.5 to thrive. It’s best to choose a substrate that maintains this pH level.

3 – Water Hardness

These freshwater shrimps require a water hardness level between 6 to 8 dGH. So make sure to use a substrate that won’t affect water hardness.

4 – Nutrient Availability

If you plan to keep live plants in your cherry shrimp tank, choose a substrate that’ll provide nutrients to the plants.

These live plants can benefit cherry shrimp. They provide the shrimps with hiding places, a source of food, and help to maintain water quality.

However, it’s important to note that excessive nutrient levels can be harmful to cherry shrimp. This can lead to algae growth, poor water quality, and other issues.

5 – Material

When choosing a substrate for a cherry shrimp tank, it’s important to consider the material of the substrate. This can affect the water parameters and can impact the shrimps’ health.

6 – Color

While color isn’t critical to the health of the cherry shrimp, you may consider it for aesthetic purposes. Darker substrates will make the cherry shrimp stand out more, while lighter substrates can make them appear washed out.

Do Cherry Shrimps Need Substrate?

Cherry shrimps don’t necessarily need substrate in their tank, but it can provide several benefits for their health.

For instance, the substrate can create a more natural environment for these freshwater shrimps. It allows them to forage and burrow, which can help to reduce stress and promote natural behaviors.

It also helps beneficial bacteria to grow. This helps maintain a healthy ecosystem in the tank.

These bacteria can break down waste and harmful chemicals. Hence, they reduce the risk of diseases.

Proper Substrate Care

Proper care is important to maintain a healthy environment for the shrimp. Here are some tips for caring for substrate in a cherry shrimp tank:

1 – Vacuum Regularly

Waste and uneaten food can accumulate in the substrate. This can lead to poor water quality and harmful bacteria growth.

Use a gravel vacuum to remove debris and waste from the substrate during regular water changes.

2 – Avoid Using Chemicals

Chemicals or cleaning agents in the tank can harm the cherry shrimp. Only use aquarium-specific cleaners and make sure to rinse the substrate thoroughly after cleaning.

3 – Check for Buildup

Over time, debris and waste can build up in the substrate. This also leads to harmful bacteria growth and poor water quality.

If you notice a buildup of debris in the substrate, consider replacing or doing a deep cleaning of the substrate.

4 – Add Beneficial Bacteria

Beneficial bacteria can help break down waste and harmful chemicals in the substrate. Keep the tank’s ecosystem healthy by using a bacterial supplement.

5 – Monitor Water Parameters

Changes in water parameters can affect the health of the cherry shrimp and the substrate. Monitor water parameters regularly and adjust as necessary to maintain a healthy environment.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the best substrate for cherry shrimp is one that’s fine-grained, pH neutral, and provides beneficial nutrients for plants.

Regardless of the substrate you choose, proper care is essential for maintaining a healthy and thriving cherry shrimp tank.

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