I had a hard think about this because this question gets asked almost every single day ether on Facebook or through YouTube so I will do my best to give you guys some advice and answer it.
I think what we have to consider is the safety of the shrimp and see how we can work around this and other aspects.
Lets talk the shrimps environment ,its habitat and its place to live.
In general I say any acrylic or plastic container is suitable for keeping shrimp in as I have never had any issues with none food grade items before.
What you choose is entirely up to yourself and what your budget affords, I at least like my containers to be A. big or B. practical or C. nice to look at.
In a bedroom as an example I wouldn’t choose a bucket for a shrimp tank as they tend to be taller than they are wide and your viewing experience might be hindered by it.
On the other hand if all you want to do is breed tons of shrimp get yourself the largest container you can afford as the more water a container holds the better they tend to be for breeding as larger containers hold water stability better.
An example of this is if you had a one liter container filled with water sitting next to a 100 liter container filled with water the smaller containers temperature would fluctuate much more than the larger containers temperature.
Lets move on to the Substrate
Again this comes down to your personal choice and what you can afford , I like river sand as an example as it looks good in an aquarium setting and is relatively easy to get.
For a cheapest Cherry Shrimp setup I would use a minimal sand depth of say half a cm for the substrate depth, this is so we do not harbor nasty bacteria under the sand.
Because its so shallow we can just move it around a little with our fingers to dislodge detritus when we do our water changes.
Before we talk about water and filtration in depth I think its important that we establish where this tank will sit, if its inside you will be advised to buy a small air pump to power a small sponge filter. (cheapest setup )
If your tank/tub will be in the open air outside you can forget the filter because you will have the wind action for some water movement and oxygen transfer, just fill it with plants.
In this pond type of system you will only need fast growing stems to do all the cleaning work for you, they take nutrients out of the water and add oxygen.
They also provide food and shelter for your shrimp.
First you have to think about the source of the water and where it comes from, tap water from a municipal will have to be treated with a Declorinator for this I recommend using Prime as this will bind toxins and heavy metals.
The benefit of having tap water from a community versus collecting your own rain water as an example is that municipal water will have to meet a certain standards.
Most tap water will have a GH and KH value so that means in our cheapest setup you will not be absolutely required to buy both test kits and that is the whole point of this article to keep it cheap.
But or shrimp in this type of setup where we dont know all the details about or water will require minerals and we will go over that in detail later.
Lets fill her up !
Fill your container with your substrate choice and add your water, if you have any fast growing stem plants such as Hornwort now would be a good time to add it because this will help your shrimp out.
Lets talk about filtration
You can do a diy sponge filter out of a porous sponge filter meant for washing cars but the materials required will cost more than if you bought an already made version from the likes of amazon or ebay.
The cons of doing a diy sponge filter are that you just wont know whats in the sponge, lots of them are fragrances or have soap added to them, some even have anti fungal and anti mildew properties which isnt good for a shrimp tank or any aquatic life.
Some of them will also rot away to nothing if left in the water for long periods of time ,this is why I recommend buying a sponge filter that is meant for aquariums.
The very cheapest method will be a sponge filter powered by a small air pump like the one pictured below.
Once you have all this setup you need to sit on your hands and play the waiting game because this ultra cheap cherry shrimp tank setup needs to cycle.
Now I normally recommend you wait a full two months when cycling a tank but because we are dealing with an inert substrate that has no ammonia the waiting time is much much less.
All you are waiting for is bio film to populate the entire tank and for it to cycle you can speed this up by feeding the tank every other day with crushed up powdered fish foods.
Within a week you should be able to see a nice bio film layer like this.
Maintaining a tank like this has to be of minimal amounts because we are using water from the tap, I recommend doing no more than 10% water changes once a week on this type of setup.
Until you can and want to learn more about water its always safer to play the minimalist game because then there is less that can go wrong , less going wrong = less dead shrimp.
I also never mentioned a heater in this setup as I know for sure Cherry shrimp are ok in water from 16-27c , they might not breed under 20c but they wont die ether.
My personal reason for not using heaters is I have had them fail 3 times in my aquarium life, one stuck on killing everything in the tank and the other two shattered, so I prefer not to use them if I dont have to.
Now lets talk about some other basic things that will help you in this super cheap setup.
Shrimp require minerals as we do but seeing as this is a setup where we dont really know the water conditions we have to improvise.
What I am about to tell you might seem counter productive but you have to remember we are dealing with unknowns
I recommend using eggshells in this tank setup, you only need a few and it can make all the difference to a tank, eggshells are made from a few types of calcium which help with GH and KH.
The best way I can explain this is if you have have hard water and add two egg shells to a tank they wont really do much but what if you have soft acidic water ?
The eggshells over time will dissolve sending calcium into the tank. You will know when to add more because they visible shrink in soft water.
To prepare the egg shell just remove all the contents and the protein layer and add them to the tank.
Remember in this setup we want it to be as cheap as possible so you want to head out into your garden and see what can be used.
I live in Norway so I have things like Nettle and Dandelions available for most of the year, even in the off season when nothing grows for months you can still use the Nettles and the Dandelions that you collected when it was warmer, you just have to dry everything first or freeze them for preservation.
Remember with any food types you think you will find always do a ton of research, if you cant find answers you can always ask me or ask in my Facebook group here.
One or twice a week I would also feed a tiny amount of egg yolk that has been boiled, this
is called egg food which encourages egg growth and development in shrimp.
From this point on if you have done everything I have mentioned you should be starting to build a little nice shrimp colony that didn’t cost you the earth to make.
I will leave a link here to my Red Cherry Shrimp Guide that goes into detail about how to look after and care for your shrimp.
I will also keep you all update on my Cherry Shrimp Tubs that I do in the green house when it gets warm enough, you can check here for a sneak peek on what to expect from my tubs here or click the picture 🙂
If you have any questions please feel free to ask.
Happy Shrimp Keeping
Marks Shrimp Tanks