How to Grow Biofilm in a Shrimp Tank? (In 5 Easy Steps)

Biofilm is one of the favorite foods for Shrimp, and it plays an important part in their diet. If you want to grow biofilm in your shrimp tank but are not sure how to do it, this article is for you.

Here’s a step-by-step process to follow:

  1. Take a Sweet Potato
  2. Cut it into 3-4 Pieces
  3. Dip it into The Tank
  4. Keep them Under Water Until Biofilm Grows
  5. Feed It To Your Shrimps

In this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step process that I use to grow biofilm in my shrimp tank. I will also tell you how to avoid the outbreak of biofilm inside your aquarium. So, keep reading!

What is Biofilm?

For those who are not sure exactly what biofilm is, let me provide a brief first.

Biofilm is a massive and complicated collection of bacteria and single-celled organisms that forms a coating on any surface submerged in water.

It may appear to be oil at first glance; it nearly has a strange pattern to it. However, this is not the case.

Biofilm can cling to any surface in the tanks thanks to the glue (such as water surface, driftwood, plants, decorations, leaves, etc.).

So, What’s Good about Biofilms?

Biofilm is not unnatural; on the contrary, it is a natural byproduct that also indicates how well your tank is balanced. In a well-balanced tank, it can even fade on its own for a few days to many weeks.

Biofilm microorganisms, which are literally growing on every surface in a healthy and cycled aquarium, consumed by shrimp provide essential nutrients (sterols, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins) that make them an important food source.

It is simply not possible to overestimate the importance of biofilm for shrimp growth.

How to Grow Biofilm in a Shrimp Tank?

Every shrimp keeper knows that the success of a shrimp tank is also determined by its ability to generate and maintain its own biofilm. Shrimp feed on them heavily, thus making their demand quite high.

Here’s a Step-by-Step Process To Grow Biofilm in your Shrimp Tank:

Step 1: Take a Sweet Potato:

You can use a lot of foods and veggies to grow biofilm. But I prefer to use sweet potatoes.

Bacteria need carbs and proteins to feed on and grow biofilm, and sweet potatoes are a good source of nutrition for that.

Step 2: Cut it into 3-4 Pieces:

Simply peel the outer layer and cut the sweet potato into 3-4 pieces. Don’t grow too much biofilm for the first time.

Try 3-4 pieces, grow it and see if your shrimps can consume it completely or not. If you feel that your shrimp needs more, next time, take more sweet potatoes.

Considering you are doing this for the first time, you can take a single sweet potato and cut it into 3-4 pieces. If you have a big community of shrimps, then you might consider using multiple sweet potatoes for growing more biofilm in the tank.

Step 3: Dip it into The Tank:

Now, this step is pretty simple. All you have to do is drop these pieces of sweet potatoes into your shrimp tank.

If you want to see the entire growth of biofilm properly, then drop it in a separate cycled tank.

That’s how you will be able to see the full growth of the biofilm before they are consumed by the shrimps. However, it is perfectly fine if you do this in your shrimp tank.

Step 4: Keep it Under Water Until Biofilm Grows

After the sweet potato pieces are soaked in the cycled tank, you will start to notice the biofilm growth within a couple of days.

One more thing, make sure the tank water is already cycled. Otherwise, it will take longer to grow biofilm.

Step 5: Feed It To Your Shrimps:

Within 4-5 days, you will notice the biofilm has already grown, and it’s ready to feed to your shrimps.

If you have used your shrimp tank to grow biofilm, by this time, you will notice that the shrimps are already feeding on biofilms grown on the surface of sweet potato pieces.

However, I prefer biofilm to grow biofilm in a separate tank to avoid any sort of contamination.

So, if you have grown biofilm in a separate tank, then collect the pieces of sweet potato and dip them in your shrimp tank. Your shrimps will start feeding on biofilm instantly.

Watch this video to get a better idea:

I prefer sweet potatoes to grow biofilm. But there are various other ways to grow biofilm as well.

Let me go through several other options to promote biofilm  growth, and these worked for me pretty well:

  1. Powdered food
  2. Soaking Leaves
  3. Driftwood
  4. Blanched vegetables

How Long Does It Take Biofilm To Grow In A New Aquarium?

Depending on the temperature, type of substrate, and plants present in a new aquarium, it can take up to 2 weeks to grow biofilm.

However, if you use cycled water in a new aquarium, it is possible to grow biofilm within 4-5 days.

What Makes Biofilm Dangerous?

Too many Biofilms in aquariums can be an issue in that way since they deplete oxygen that would otherwise seep into the water. It’s very critical for biofilm on the surface.

When an aquarium is unbalanced, there is a possibility of a biofilm outbreak. This leads to an increase in the number of bacteria.

Those bacteria (biofilm) will have virtually unlimited oxygen supply and access to the nutrients in the water that they require by situating themselves that way (on the surface).

In an unbalanced tank, this may result in a quick buildup of CO2, which will cause the fish, shrimp, and other organisms to asphyxiate. In simple terms, it can cause your shrimps to suffocate due to the lack of oxygen.

In the worst-case situation, an overabundance of biofilm can suffocate the nitrifying bacteria and cause the tank environment to crash entirely.

The disadvantages of Excess Biofilm: 

  • The aquarium might become bacteria-contaminated because of biofilm.
  • Decreases the quantity of light available to the plants.
  • In rare situations, this might overheat the aquarium.

Because of these disadvantages, I highly discourage newbies in the aquarium hobby from growing biofilms. There are high-quality commercial foods available in the market; why would you go through all the trouble? You can check out my recommended food for shrimp by clicking here.

How To Get Rid of Excess Biofilm?

Although biofilms can be a major issue, there is no need to be concerned because they are simple to manage. So, even if you’re a newbie and have never done anything like this before, I’ll tell you how easily you can do it if you go through these steps:

  1. Keep the Aquarium Balanced: Maintaining a balanced aquarium is the greatest method you can employ to avoid biofilm.
  1. Don’t Overfeed: Overeating is bad news for your fish. It is the fastest way of accumulating trash due to uneaten food and increased waste produced by the fish-eating more than they require.
  1. Add Snails And Shrimp: Clean-up crews like snails and shrimp can assist you in avoiding overfeeding and eliminating trash from the tank before it has a detrimental impact on the water quality. So that’s also an option to control the biofilm.
  1. Remove Dead Leaves and Plants: Allow no rotting organic waste to accumulate. Remove any leaves or plants that are dead or decaying.
  1. Avoid Large Driftwood: Driftwood should be handled with caution, as in a small aquarium, you should avoid putting too many large chunks of them.
  1. Make it Dust-Proof: Use the lid to resist minute particles. Allow no dust to enter the tank.
  1. Maintain and Change the Water Regularly: Filters should be cleaned in a systematic manner. When the flow becomes significantly slower, biofilm can form. Take it as a sign that it’s time you should do it.

Related Questions:

Is Biofilm Good For Shrimp?

Yes, biofilms are good for shrimp! Biofilms are kind of the preferred food for shrimp diets, and they feed largely on them.

According to a recent study, biofilm contains some essential nutrients such as essential fatty acids, sterols, amino acids, and vitamins.

So, feeding biofilm to your shrimps can boost their growth rate, immunity, and coloration.

Will Floating Plants Help With Biofilm?

Floating plants provide more surface area for biofilm to grow, thus giving more space to expand. Also, the biofilm grows better in darker environments. Floating plants obviously resist light from entering your tank and allow more growth of biofilm.

Does Biofilm Mean My Tank Is Cycled?

Biofilms usually grow in a cycled tank. In a cycled tank, bacterial growth has taken place, and without bacteria, biofilm can not grow. So, if you are seeing biofilm growth, this probably means your tank is already cycled.

Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Biofilm?

Yes, Cherry Shrimps love to eat Biofilm! Cherry shrimps are omnivores, and they eat all kinds of stuff like rotting plants and biofilms.

I had a shrimp tank in the past, and my red cherry shrimp loved to eat biofilms. Also, as biofilms contain many important nutrients, they are a really good food source for cherry shrimps.

If you have red cherry shrimps, feeding enough biofilm can also help with their deep red coloration.

Recommended Article: Do Cherry Shrimp Eat Snails? Here’s The Truth

Final Thoughts:

A biofilm is simply a group of bacteria. To some extent, they are always present in our aquariums.

Temperature, nutrient availability on the substrate, and time can all influence the formation and growth of biofilm.

Of course, biofilms are unsightly, but they are not very dangerous unless you let them grow uncontrollably and take no steps to remove them.

So, only proper maintenance will ensure the well-being of your fish and a balanced environment in the aquarium.

Many aquarists grow biofilms to feed their shrimps as they believe variation in their diet is essential for their proper growth and coloration.

If you don’t want to take the hassle of growing biofilm, make sure you are feeding your shrimp high-quality commercially prepared foods. Check out our recommended food for shrimps by clicking here.

Thanks for reading! If you have a minute, check out my article, Can I Keep Angelfish With Shrimp? (No & Here’s Why)

Sifatul Shohan

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