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How To Easily Build A Walstad Shrimp Bowl!

As the number of people setting up dedicated shrimp only tanks continues to increase, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask about using a walstad shrimp bowl to keep their shrimp in.

Not only is a walstad shrimp bowl cheap but its also very beginner friendly provided you have a little time to research the various plants that you are able to use for your setup.

A walstad shrimp bowl allows you to easily keep shrimp in some unique shaped bowls where a filter of pump may not fit really opening up the type of tank that you are able to keep.

With aquascaping also seeing a spike in its popularity right now, we are also seeing more and more people implement some type of aquascaping strategy with their walstad tank too but the aquascaping side is totally optional and far from essential to successfully set this type of aquarium up.

What Is The Walstad Method For Aquariums?

The walstad method is a natural way of cycling an aquarium using only plants and shrimp.

It was developed by Diana Walstad and published in her book “Ecology Of The Planted Aquarium”

In short, the walstad method makes use of live plants to cycle the aquarium and remove nitrates from the water column.

The shrimp poop is used as a food source for the plants and in doing so help to create a natural balance within the aquarium.

In turn, the shrimp eat the algae and detritus in the tank to create an internal, self contained eco system that just keeps on working over and over again. It can be difficult to with a walstad method tank though and beginners will often still have to supplement food and check water parameters regularly.

Does The Walstad Method Work Well For Shrimp?

The walstad method definitely works well for shrimp.

Not only does it help to create a natural and stable environment for the shrimp to live in but it also provides them with plenty of food sources too.

One of the things that we love about the walstad method is that it allows you to keep shrimp in some really unique looking tanks that you otherwise may not have been able to.

It’s also a really cheap way to get into the hobby and set up an aquarium which is definitely a bonus!

How To Build A Walstad Shrimp Bowl – Step By Step Guide

Building a walstad shrimp bowl is actually very easy and can be done in just a few simple steps.

The first thing that you need to do is choose a bowl or aquarium that is at least 10 gallons in size. The method can work with smaller tanks but the suitable plants will quickly outgrow smaller tanks.

You then need to add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the tank and rinse it thoroughly to remove any dust or debris.

After the gravel has been added, you then need to add your plants.

We would recommend using a variety of different plant species to create a more natural looking environment for your shrimp. Here are some of the suitable plants we recommend for a walstad shrimp bowl:-

  • Amazon Swordplant
  • Echinodorus major
  • Pygmy Chain Sword
  • Echinodorus
  • Dwarf Sag
  • Dwarf Baby Tears

You can either purchase plants from your local fish store or grow them yourself from cuttings if you know someone else who has them in their tank helping keep your costs even lower.

Once you have added your plants, you then need to add your shrimp. We would recommend adding around 10-20 shrimp depending on the size of your tank and the shrimp species you plan to use.

Here is a list of shrimp species that can work well in a walstad shrimp bowl:-

  • Cherry Shrimp.
  • Blue Dream Shrimp.
  • Neon Yellow Shrimp.
  • Amano Shrimp.
  • Ghost Shrimp.

We would usually recommend that you only keep one of these types of shrimp though. The first three types are neocaridina shrimp and can crossbreed with each other.

As we covered in our article on keeping neon yellow and cherry shrimp together though, their baby shrimplets will almost always be brown rather than the color of their parents.

The final two suggestion species are both caridina shrimp and are often larger than the neocaridina. As we covered in our article on keeping amano shrimp and cherry shrimp together, the amano shrimp will usually just eat your cherry shrimp.

There are a number of suitable water options for a walstad shrimp bowl but tap water that has had a water conditioner used on it will usually be the most common option for our readers.

It is quick, easy, and cheap while offering a great water supply that you can use for your shrimp and plants with minimal risk to them.

Is A Walstad Shrimp Bowl Beginner Friendly?

We get asked this question a lot by our readers who are starting out in the hobby and thinking about setting up their first shrimp tank.

The short answer is yes, we think that the walstad method can be a great option for beginner shrimp keepers.

The main reason for this is that it is a very low maintenance way of keeping shrimp which can be very helpful for beginner shrimp keepers who might not have a lot of time to dedicate to their hobby.

The walstad method can also be a very cost effective way of setting up your first shrimp tank as you will not need to purchase any fancy equipment or expensive substrates.

It is worth noting that the method does require you to have a little bit of knowledge about plants and how to care for them.

If you are not confident in your plant care abilities, we would recommend doing a bit of research or speaking to someone at your local fish store before setting up your tank.

While the walstad method can be a great option for beginner shrimp keepers, it is worth noting that it is not without its challenges.

One of the biggest challenges that you might face is keeping your plants alive. This can be difficult if you do not have a lot of experience with plant care as they will need to be frequently trimmed and fertilized in order to stay healthy.

Another challenge that you might face is keeping your shrimp population healthy. This can be difficult as the shrimp will not have a lot of places to hide from predators and they can also be quite sensitive to water changes.

We would also recommend that you do some research on the specific type of shrimp that you plan to keep before setting up your tank.

Some shrimp species are more difficult to keep than others and they might not do well in a walstad shrimp bowl.

How Big Can A Walstad Shrimp Tank Be?

One of the benefits of the walstad method is that it can be used in a very wide range of different sized tanks.

You can use the method to set up small shrimp bowls all the way up to large, full scale 100 gallon aquariums and everything in between.

The minimum tank size we would recommend using for a walstad shrimp bowl is 10 gallons but you could get away with using a 5 gallon tank if you were just looking to set up a small breeding tank or something of that nature.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using The Walstad Method?

There are a few disadvantages of using the walstad method that you should be aware of before setting up your own tank.

The first is that it can be extremely difficult to get the balance right when you are first starting out.

If the plants do not grow well then the shrimp will often starve and if there are not enough plants then the nitrates can build up to toxic levels very quickly.

We would definitely recommend doing plenty of research before setting up a walstad method tank and make sure that you are prepared for the potential challenges.

Another downside of the walstad method is that it can be very difficult to maintain good water quality.

Because the plants are taking up most of the nitrogen in the water column, there is often not much left over for things like ammonia and nitrite tests.

This means that you will need to test your water parameters much more frequently than you would with a traditional aquarium setup.

The final downside of the walstad method is that it can be difficult to add fish to a tank that is already established.

Because the plants are already taking up most of the nitrogen in the water, adding fish can often lead to a ammonia and nitrite spike which can be lethal for your shrimp.

This is why we would always recommend that you pay very close attention to your water parameters using a test kit to check them every couple of days until you have built up your initial experience with the system.