Admittedly, before I got into fish keeping and learning about the care of fish and other underwater critters, I had no idea that people kept shrimp as pets.
But the more I’ve studied these guys – and looked at their adorable pictures! – the more I’ve understood why these little crustaceans not only make great pets but add a wonderful element to the right aquarium.
With that in mind, we’re going to look into these amazing Amano Shrimp, a practically clear-in-color shrimp that gobbles down massive amounts of algae while adding some entertaining elements to the aquarium life.
Because of this incredible Amano Shrimp algae eating habit – and their ridiculous cuteness – these little guys have become one of the most popular shrimp in the aquarium hobby.
Quick Intro to Amano Shrimp
|Scientific Name||Caridina multidentata|
|Other Common Names||Yamato shrimp, Japanese shrimp, algae shrimp, Japanese algae eating shrimp, Japonica Amano Shrimp|
Natural Habitat, Identification, and Where to Buy
Amano shrimp are a freshwater shrimp that originated in Japan, thus, their collection of Japanese sounded or Japan related names. They can also be found in the wild in parts of Taiwan and Korea. They live in freshwater streams and rivers – though they go to brackish waters for breeding – and live in large troupes together.
Amano shrimp are spirited little crustaceans that can be kept in freshwater aquariums of almost any size, though the recommended minimum is 10 gallons for a troupe of them. It is important not to overstock the aquarium – but we’ll get into that more below.
There are a lot of imposters in the fishkeeping world, however, and many lookalikes. Some folks can’t tell the difference between amano shrimp vs Cherry Shrimp or amano shrimp vs Ghost Shrimp. But there are some differences that you can catch.
You can identify genuine Amano shrimp by their looks, though they can sometimes be hard to tell from other popular aquarium shrimp.
They have translucent bodies with a broken line of red or brown points on their sides.
They have a white stripe on the dorsal that runs from head to tail, and their eyes are black. You may come across some blue Amano shrimp as well, but this is normal. This coloring comes from their eating Cladophora algae.
Interestingly, the Amano shrimp for sale in pet stores and online are actually wild-caught rather than aquarium bred, thanks to the difficulty in breeding them in captivity – more about this later – so that adds an interesting element to keeping them at home.
If you’re wondering where to buy Amano shrimp, you’ll find them for sale in pet stores and online. Amano shrimp price varies from place to place, but the average range is between $2 and $5 a piece, though you can purchase them in troupes of 5 or more, depending on the shop.
Some places to find Amano shrimp for sale include:
Optimal Water Conditions for Amano Shrimp
|Temperature||75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit|
|pH||7.2 to 7.5|
|Aquarium Salt Recommendations||Adults are freshwater shrimp; juveniles do best in brackish water|
Shrimp do well with tannins in the water.
If possible, it’s best to house these guys with other critters and fish that do well with tannins.
You can easily add in decent tannins levels by using unbleached driftwood, which will naturally leach out the tannins into the water over time. Be aware this means there will be “tea stains” in your aquarium, however.
|Minimum Tank Size||10 gallons|
|Optimal Tank Size||10 gallons for the base, up to ten shrimp, plus one gallon per each shrimp after|
|Optimal Tank Shape||Long|
|Recommended Filter Type||Sponge filters|
|Extra Air Flow and How to Provide||Amano shrimp need loads of oxygen. Use powerheads, strong water pumps, air stones, air pumps, or other devices to keep lots of water and air flowing consistently throughout the fish tank.|
One of the first big questions we’ve found most folks have is how many Amano shrimp per gallon?
The base answer is that you can keep one shrimp per gallon once you’ve given them a full ten gallons.
In other words, if you’ve got a 10-gallon tank, your shrimp will be doing well – up to ten of them.
They do need that minimum of 10 gallons for optimal life, though.
That means, don’t keep one shrimp in a one-gallon tank.
Keep one Amano in a ten-gallon tank. Add up to nine more Amanos in that tank.
Creating the Landscape
Since these guys naturally live in streams and rivers, they need freshwater. They need lots of plants, and they need plenty of space to swim around. They do best with a sandy substrate – after all, this is what’s in their natural environs – and with smooth pebbles and stones.
You should keep their tank moderately warm – they are tropical water shrimp – but never too warm. If the temperature consistently stays above about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll find the metabolism for your shrimp rises and they age fasted.
If you’re wondering how long do amano shrimp live? The answer is two to three years. With increased metabolism rates, it could be as low as one to two years.
Amanos like lots of places to hide – especially the females – so be sure to provide them with loads of branches and driftwood (tannins in the driftwood can be good for shrimp), tall plants with large leaves, caves, 3D backgrounds, ledges, rocks, and other hidey holes. You’ll need to provide a lot of these spaces, especially, if you keep a larger troupe.
|Best Plants||Java Moss, Anubias, Java Fern, Bucephalandra, Water lettuce, Rotala rotundifolia, Water sprite, Green Cabomba, Monosolenium tenerum, Egeria densa, Riccardia chamedryfolia, Cladophora|
|Best Lighting||Standard community tank lighting works|
|Best Decorations||Loads and loads of plants are your best bet. Go with small grain sand and gravel substrate only. Provide lots of hiding spots, especially for females.|
|Decorations to Avoid||Anything with sharp edges. Avoid anything containing copper.|
|Maximum Amano Shrimp Size||Up to 2 inches|
|Rate of Growth||Within a few months, they reach full size|
|Amano Shrimp Lifespan||2 to 3 years|
|Preferred Tank Region||Bottom|
|Scale Thickness||Amano shrimp do not have scale, but rather an exoskeleton type shell.|
|Gill Considerations||Amano shrimp do not have gills, but rather breathe via a respiratory organ is called a branchia. This allows them to breathe in oxygen in the water.|
|Swimbladder Considerations||Amano shrimp do not have swimbladders.|
|Fin Shape Considerations||Shrimp do not have traditional fins, but rather strong tails with which they propel themselves through the water. These can easily snag on jagged rocks, et cetera.|
When it comes to Amano Shrimp care, it’s important to know the way they relate to other crustaceans, fish, invertebrates, et cetera, with a freshwater aquarium environment. These guys are peaceful and very social – thus the need for several in a troupe for optimal health and happiness – but they do have some common fish they most certainly shouldn’t live with, either.
First, let’s look at some of the best Amano shrimp tank mates. These guys will do well together because they’re all peaceful and suited in size to each other. Some of their best mates include:
- Pearl Gourami
- Apisto Borelli
- Bolivian Rams
- Blue Rams
- Dwarf Neon Rainbow
- Black Neons
- Lemon Tetras
- Asian stone catfish
- Bushynose Plecos
- Hillstream Loaches
- Vampire Shrimp
- Singapore Flower Shrimp
- Ramshorn Snails
- Mystery Snails
- Nerite Snails
- Sulawesi (or Rabbit) Snails
- Cherry Shrimp
- Ghost Shrimp
- Otocinclus Catfish
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails
- Golden Inca Snails
- Ivory Snails
- Japanese Trapdoor Snails
- Assassin Snails
- Bamboo Shrimp
We also cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep these guys in troupes of at least five or six Amano shrimp or more. They are exceedingly social and rely on each other for a healthy, happy way of life together.
There are several fish you need to avoid.
Other fish to avoid with Amano Shrimp:
- Clown Loaches
- Polka Dot Botias
- Aggressive species of Barbs
- Larger catfish
- Most Plecos
- Large Gourami
Gender, Breeding, and Reproductive Considerations
Female Amano Shrimp are easy to tell apart from the males. Those rows of dots are your give away. Females have much more elongated lower row of dots than the males. Females are also generally larger than males. Finally, females have a saddle underneath where they store their eggs if they breed.
Now, as far as Amano shrimp breeding goes, it’s pretty tricky in captivity. In fact, as hobbyists, you probably shouldn’t count on it happening. There are, of course, things you can do to help, but definitely don’t expect your Amano shrimp eggs to just start appearing. This is, as mentioned above, why you’ll almost exclusively find wild caught Amanos for sale.
If you do want to attempt Amano shrimp breeding, you’ll need to set up a brackish water growth tank. This will come into play after a pregnant Amano shrimp has released the larvae after carrying them for six weeks as eggs. The adults themselves should not be put into the tank, as they cannot handle brackish water. This should only be the place for the larvae after they’ve been hatched by the female.
When they are ready to breed, the male will fertilize the eggs and the female will carry them. During this time, she will waft around with her tail inside the tank as an attempt to push oxygen over the eggs. At the end of the six weeks, she will release the larvae into the water. They should be immediately removed into the brackish growth tank.
As the larvae grow and mature, they will need to removed from the brackish water and placed into the freshwater tank.
Another important part of Amano Shrimp care is the Amano shrimp diet. Thankfully, these guys are pretty easy to feed.
The most popular Amano shrimp food choices involve algae – after all, they are called algae eaters! – live food, phytoplankton, fish food, and veggies. They will also eat the sheddings of the live plants in their aquarium home.
They’ll graze on algae and plant matter in the aquarium the rest of the time when they’re hungry, but making sure they have a solid feeding time a couple times a day is critical for their health.
|Best Sustenance Food Type||Low-grain pellets, low-grain fish flakes, prepared shrimp food, algae wafers|
|Additional Food for Optimal Health||Blanched spinach, raw zucchini, spirulina tablets, frozen fish food, fishing worms, bloodworms, brine shrimp|
|When and How Often to Feed Fish Based on Life Cycle||Feed once or twice per day.|
Common Diseases and How to Avoid and Treat Them
Unfortunately, as I was writing this article, looking for ideas the most helpful info for folks, I saw a lot of people asking about their Amano shrimp dying and what can be done to help them. Obviously, there are some issues with these guys, even if their general care is pretty easy.
CO2 is one of the main problems we’ve found for Amano shrimp. They need to live in planted aquariums. But planted aquariums need loads of CO2. This can drive the pH down, which then causes health issues for Amanos.
Be careful to work through the CO2 injections only as needed for your plants and find better tank mates for your Amanos if the plants you have are struggling without those injections.
Another question I see a lot is about Amano shrimp molting.
As a reminder: this is totally normal.
Shrimp molt from their old exoskeletons all the time – and it’s a perfectly healthy and normal thing to do. They outgrow them or they become compromised by life. Just like a snake sheds his skin, so molts a shrimp his shell.
Generally speaking, Amanos are pretty resilient and don’t have issues with most of the common freshwater fish ailments. They do, however, have the occasional issue with Planarian flatworms or fungal infections if they were actually bred in captivity. Both are rare conditions.
The other potential cause of death is simply not having enough food for your Amanos. They need that solid spread of both plant matter – much of which will come from the live plants in the aquarium – and protein. Without enough of this, they’ll starve, just like any other critter. And since they’re nearly constantly eating while they’re awake, this can be a bit of a struggle.
Since these guys are so active, keep a close eye on their activity levels if anything changes in their feeding regimen. If they seem to slow down or stop moving as much, try upping the food a bit and see if this resolves the issue.
The primary way to deal with all of these issues is to keep any new plants, animals, fish, or decorations in a quarantine tank before introduction into the aquarium. This period of time should help reduce the spread of anything nasty.
You should also be sure to keep their water parameters right within the range they need – which is thankfully reasonably wide – and avoid overfeeding in the tank, as this can raise levels of various toxins in the water.
Finally, choose the right filtration. They prefer sponge filters. And even though they are scavengers, they need really good, pure water and solid filtration, so don’t skimp on that.
Best Antibiotics: Generally unnecessary.
Treatments to Avoid: Anything containing copper.
Food Recommendations When Sick: Increased plant matter and protein in the forms of blanched spinach and freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, et cetera.
3 More Things to Know About Amano Shrimp
- Amano shrimp – like all shrimp – will molt. This means they shed their exoskeletons to grow new ones large enough to fit their new body size.
- Despite perceptions, shrimp are not nocturnal, but rather cautious and will rarely come out during daylight hours unless they feel completely comfortable in their environs.
- Amano shrimp may lay as many as 3000 eggs at a single breeding time.