Amano Shrimp – A Complete Guide (Care, Diet, Facts)

So, you have your first aquarium and want some help keeping it clean?  Or maybe you have some experience raising fish, and want to try your hand at invertebrates.  Well, chances are, Amano shrimp are just right for you!

Amano shrimp are an extremely common aquarium pet, and are in fact one of the most popular shrimps to breed and raise.  They are second in popularity only to Cherry shrimp, and are easy to find at most pet stores in your area.

Amano shrimp, also called Yamato shrimp or Japanese shrimp, are native to Japan, Taiwan, and China.  They were first introduced to hobbyists as aquarium pets in the 1980s.  Their appetite for large amounts of algae and tank debris has driven their popularity among beginner and experienced hobbyists alike.

If you want to get started raising Amano shrimp of your own, then this guide is for you!  In it, we will give you everything you need to know to get started raising your own Amano shrimp.  We will give you all the facts you need to learn about Amano shrimp in general, how to set up your Amano shrimp tank, how to care for your shrimp and feed your shrimp, and lastly all about breeding more shrimp for your tank.

Amano Shrimp Overview

The Amano Shrimp belongs to the genus and species Caridina multidentata.  They were first introduced as an aquarium pets by Takashi Amano. Takashi wanted to find a way to keep his aquarium tanks clean without the pain of constant maintenance, and found the Amano to be an excellent means of keeping an aquarium free of algae and debris.

As mentioned earlier, Amano shrimp are the second most popular shrimp to keep in an aquarium, behind only the Cherry Shrimp.  Amano shrimp are great for beginners, especially those raising invertebrates for the first time, because they are very resilient creatures.  So if you are just getting started with your aquarium hobby, read on, as these are the shrimp for you!

Most Amano shrimp available for purchase are, surprisingly, wild-caught.  Amano shrimp can be very hard to breed, as we will discuss later in this guide, and breeding Amano is not generally advised for beginning hobbyists. 

Behavior

Amano shrimp are very calm and placid shrimp the majority of the time.  But all that changes when the food comes out!  They can be quite aggressive when feeding.

They will frenzy wildly around their food, with the largest shrimp typically being the first to reach the food and eat.  In fact, you might even find a hierarchy among the shrimp, or a “pack mentality,” with larger shrimp given preference for feeding.

On the other hand, when not being fed directly, they will spend most of their time peacefully grazing and eating algae and debris from around the tank.

Appearance

Amano shrimp are easily distinguishable from other shrimp by their appearance.  In general, they:

  • Have a size of up to 2 inches; they will be roughly half this size when purchased.
  • Have a large transparent and/or greyish colored body
  • Have a see-through tail
  • Have a long line of red and/or brown or blue and/or grey dots running along their body – the color of the dots depends on what the shrimp typically eat. For example, an Amano that eats for algae will be greener, while an Amano that eats more meat will have redder or browner dots
  • Molt roughly once a month

In addition, they are excellent hiders, and can sometimes even seem to disappear inside your tank!  So don’t worry if you can’t find your little friends right away, as they are likely just hiding out somewhere among your greenery.  Like all shrimp, the Amano molts, and needs lots of plants in the tank to keep them safe while growing their new shell.  Amano don’t feel very safe while molting, so do make sure you have lots and lots of plants to keep your new pets safe!

In terms of appearance, male and female Amano shrimp look quite a bit different.  It is relatively easy to figure out an Amano shrimp’s gender.  In general:

  • Females are usually bigger than males
  • Females’ dots running down the female’s back are more similar to long, irregular dashes down their bodies
  • Males’ dots running down their bodies have a more evenly-spaced dot-like appearance
  • Females have a bulge, or “saddle,” under their stomachs where they store their eggs

Tank Requirements

Preparing a new home for your Amano shrimp is simple and straight forward.  In fact, they are such resilient shrimp that there is plenty of room for error for beginners just getting their hands wet at raising shrimp.  To begin with, amano shrimp require at least a 10-gallon freshwater tank.  They can be successfully kept in a single-species tank or a community tank.  More information on what fish and invertebrates make good neighbors for your new shrimp will be given later in this guide.   As mentioned earlier, their tank needs lots of plants for them to hide to feel safe while molting.  They also need:

  • pH level of 6.0 – 7.0
  • water temperature of 70°F – 80°F
  • water hardness 6.0 – 8.0DKH.
  • lots of plants

As these conditions show, they are indeed a hardy species!  A hang-on back filter works best for the shrimp, but most other filters will suffice.

In general, a tank can hold one shrimp per two gallons, depending on their tank mates.  However, they need little food or space, so more are welcome in your tank!  Amano shrimp cannot be left alone and should be kept in a group of at least six.  Keeping a higher number will help reduce the pack behavior discussed earlier in this guide.  An even ratio of females and males is also important.  Because Amano shrimp are peaceful and lack any means of defense, they should only be kept with other invertebrates and smaller fishes.

A good list of tank mates is:

  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Bamboo Shrimp
  • Vampire Shrimp
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Tiger Barbs
  • Discus
  • Guppies
  • Neon Tetras
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Various snails

Amano shrimp are low on the food chain, being tiny shrimp and all, and they serve as food for many larger, more aggressive fish.  Remember, if it fits in a fish’s mouth, it’s that fish’s food!  As such, they should never be kept with:

  • Cichlids
  • Goldfish
  • Arowanas
  • Osacrs
  • Crawfish
  • Bettas
  • Larger Plecos
  • Gourami
  • Other large, carnivorous fish…

Diet: Feeding your Amano shrimp

As pointed out earlier in this guide, Amano shrimp are well-known for their ability to consume algae.  This fact is why they have become and remain so popular among hobbyists.  These shrimp make excellent “tank janitors,” and will chew through tank debris as fast as it can accumulate.  They are known to especially eat:

  • plant debris
  • leftover food
  • algae
  • dead fish

A popular misconception is that Amano shrimp do not need additional food to survived, but this is false.  If you want your Amano shrimp to survive and thrive, you will need to supplement their diet with several different kinds of food.  Of course, the more there is to scavenge in your tank for them to graze and feed on, the less supplementary food they will need.  All the same, your new friends will always require at least some additional food.

While most well-known for eating algae, they are in fact omnivores.  As such, their diet should consist primarily of pellet or algae wafers but must also include some sources of meat.  That said, they can feed on sinking:

  • Sinking pellets
  • Frozen foods, including bloodworms and brine shrimp
  • Vegetables, including squash, zucchini, and spinach

As a precaution, the vegetables should be blanched to remove any toxins.  The vegetables should also never be left in the tank for more than an hour.  Any longer and the vegetables will ruin the tank water and hurt your Amano shrimp.

Nothing containing copper should ever be put in an Amano’s tank.  Just like other shrimp, copper is toxic to Amano shrimp.  So, check food labels with care before placing food in the tank.  Many fish foods and medicines contain copper, and these items have the potential to kill the Amano shrimp.

Breeding

While determining the gender of an Amano shrimp is easy, breeding them is very difficult.  Getting Amano shrimp to mate is next to impossible, and trying to breed your Amano shrimp is not recommended for beginners.  The main challenge to breeding Amano shrimp is their need for salt water as larvae.

Interestingly, while Amano shrimp are freshwater shrimp as adults, they live in salt water as larva.  This means you would need two tanks to breed your shrimp.  To breed, male shrimp first fertilize the female’s eggs.  The female then carries the eggs for roughly six weeks.  While carrying the eggs, it is common to see the female fan her tail over the egg saddle.  This waving pushes the oxygen the eggs need to develop unto the eggs, and this behavior is very similar to that of other shrimp.

After about six weeks, the female deposits the hatched larvae in salt water. Larvae need salt water to mature, but as they grow they move later into fresh water.  This transition between fresh water to salt water and back to fresh water is what makes Amano shrimp so nearly impossible to breed in captivity, because adult shrimp should never be placed in salt water.  Even just a small exposure of a matter of minutes will kill an Amano shrimp.  When attempting to breed Amano in captivity, the adults should be removed immediately from the breeding tank as the salinity is slowly raised to accommodate the larvae.

While Amano shrimp are easy to keep as a beginner, breeding them is far too difficult for inexperienced hobbyists.  If you want to breed shrimp, we highly encourage you to consider an easier species, such as Cherry or Ghost Shrimp.  But, for those bold enough to try and breed their Amano shrimp, the salinity of the breeding water should be around a level of 1.024.

General Care Requirements

As mentioned early, Amano Shrimp are extremely resilient and easy to raise.  Because they can survive in such a wide range of pH values and temperatures, they are perfect for beginning enthusiasts.  In addition to surviving in a wide range of conditions, they are also remarkably hardy to sudden pH and temperature changes.  Additionally, they thrive not only in a single-species tank but also with many diverse tank mates.  The best tank mates are discussed in a previous section of this guide.

The biggest concern when raising Amano shrimp is keeping copper away from the shrimp, as mentioned earlier.  Adding anything with even trace amounts of copper is highly-dangerous and harmful to your Amano shrimp.

The only time Amano require special care is when they molt.  When molting, the Amano are vulnerable, and they feel vulnerable during this time.  This is why a tank heavy in plants is so critical.  When well feed and cared for, the shrimp will molt roughly once per month.

Summary

This guide has armed you with all the knowledge you need to begin your Amano shrimp raising journey!  Amano are busy bees, working hard day and night to clear your tank of algae and debris.  They are compatible with many other fish and invertebrates, and make excellent additions to your multi-species tank.

They are very hard to kill and therefore easy to care for.  This makes them a great investment for the beginner, as they will not only help with general tank maintenance but also provide a sense of accomplishment for you, the hobbyist.  You will be able to see your shrimp grow and thrive, and these little guys do not come with the frustration of difficult care and low success rate in caring for more complex fishes before you are ready for the challenge.  On top of all these benefits, Amano are also pleasant to look at!

We wish you the best of luck and joy in your coming Amano shrimp raising adventures!

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