Do Shrimp Like Bubblers? (Solved!)

Bubblers are a widely debated topic in the shrimp hobbyist community. Do you need a bubbler in your tank? Or, more importantly, do shrimp like bubblers?

You are, after all, providing this extra piece of tank equipment for their enjoyment, right?

Ask your local aquarium store owner, and they’ll tell you that bubblers are a necessary piece of equipment. However, shrimp enthusiasts are divided about its practical application in their tanks.

Shrimp like a lot of oxygen in their tank. Whether the added oxygen comes from a bubbler or a good filter setup doesn’t really make a difference to them.

If you’re looking for a straightforward answer to whether shrimp like bubblers, you may be disappointed. Reading the pros and cons of this long debate, though, may help you make your own decision about whether to include one in your tank.

do shrimp like bubblers


Do Shrimp Like Having a Bubbler in Their Tank?

Some shrimp like swimming in the stream of bubbles that bubblers provide, but that preference isn’t universal. It may depend on the shrimp you have and how strong the bubble stream is running.

One of the main reasons for including an air stone or bubbler in a shrimp tank is to improve water circulation and flow. Better flow means better oxygenation for your little critters.

However, the adage ‘too much of a good thing’ can apply here if you already have a filter setup that agitates the water.

For example, HOB or hang-off-back filters usually provide enough surface agitation to circulate the water. In this case, a bubbler in the tank is strictly for aesthetics and enjoyment (for you and some shrimp).

Some shrimp hobbyists say that bubblers that produce tiny bubbles (as opposed to the larger ones from a filter) can get stuck under their exoskeleton. When this happens, the shrimp may fail to molt or die.

Other shrimp keepers have an ‘it can’t hurt’ philosophy about bubblers and air stones. Their logic stems from the main reason you’d put a bubbler in a tank in the first place: aeration. More surface agitation equals more gas exchange and thus more oxygen for the shrimp, and high oxygen levels lead to happier shrimp.

If you have a bubbler or would like to add one to your current shrimp tank, you may want to watch your colony closely for signs of distress, e.g., shrimp knocked about or hiding on the opposite end of the tank. Fortunately, strong bubble streams are easily remedied using an air valve to control the bubble flow rate.

Are Air Stones Good for Shrimp?

Shrimp need relatively clean water in their tanks to thrive, and bubblers can help do that if your filter setup doesn’t already circulate water flow.

In addition, you want adequate water flow in your tank to prevent layers from forming near the bottom material or substrate of the tank where the shrimp live.

Bubblers and air stones are also an effective way to facilitate oxygenation by disturbing the surface area of the water and promoting gas exchange. This disturbance also helps manage biofilm growth in a tank. While shrimp do eat biofilm in their habitats, too much is unhealthy for them.

Additionally, some shrimp enjoy floating in a bubble flow if the flow is gentle enough and doesn’t toss them about the tank.

If you’re a shrimp breeder, you may want to investigate adding air stones to your tank setup. Other shrimp enthusiasts have reported that the addition of an air stone or two can help baby survival rate, and shrimp love the extra oxygen an air stone may provide.

Do Shrimp Need Bubblers?

Shrimp don’t necessarily need bubblers in their tank unless you happen to have a filter setup that doesn’t agitate the water enough for gas exchange.

Your shrimp need a specific GPH rating (varying depending on the type), and bubblers can help with maintaining those oxygen levels. However, filters can do this job, too.

For example, the previously mentioned HOB type filter may provide enough agitation to provide adequate water flow and thus oxygenation for your shrimp. If you choose to use a sponge filter in a large capacity tank, though, you may need a bubbler or air stone to prevent stagnant water.

Sponge filters create water flow and gentle air bubbles when an air pump pushes through the sponge walls, but it may not be enough.

Some shrimp hobbyists report that their shrimp love sitting next to the sponge filter and floating in the water flow. If you have a big tank, though, those intermittent bubbles may not be enough to agitate all the water.

In this case, adding an air stone to a sponge filter setup can help optimize water circulation and lessen the filter’s load. Instead of intermittent large bubbles pushed through a sponge filter, air stones diffuse the air into a steady stream of continuous tiny bubbles that some shrimp enjoy.

Keep in mind that air stone and bubbler requirements depend mainly on a variety of factors like:

  • Tank size
  • Shrimp variety
  • Water parameters

Generally, bubblers and air stones are not considered ‘essential’ pieces in a shrimp tank, especially if you have adequate flow and oxygenation from your filter setup. Adding gentle bubbles to a tank can help water flow and break up protein films in the water, but your filter may do that already.

One of the best things you can do for your shrimp is monitor them and see if they need an air stone or bubbler. If your shrimp are not thriving in their current environment, adding bubbles to the tank may help.

In Summary

Fancy bubblers make an aquascape look great, but the bigger question is, do shrimp like bubblers or not. That answer may depend on your setup and your shrimp. Shrimp like oxygenated water, like gentle bubble flow, but depending on how you set up your tank, you may not need one.

If you’re new to shrimp keeping, you may want to watch your shrimp’s behavior. Shrimp that congregate near the water’s surface is a warning sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen in the water. Using a bubbler or air stone can help alleviate the oxygenation problem and keep your shrimp happy and thriving.

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