The Amano shrimp is a popular aquarium shrimp, thanks in part to its ability to eat large amounts of algae. The shrimp goes by many names in pet stores, including the Yamato Shrimp, Caridina Japonica, Japonica Shrimp, and the Japanese Marsh Shrimp.
The popularity of the species is credited to Takashi Amano, who praised their ability to keep the tank clean by eating algae. There are more than 200 varieties of shrimp that are related to the Amano shrimp, so you will have to be keen when buying one.
It is easy to purchase imposters and lookalikes, but the best way to judge an Amano shrimp is to analyze its enthusiasm for eating algae.
The Amano shrimp is one of the largest freshwater shrimp species, and it can reach two inches in length. Store-bought varieties will be about an inch in size, but they will grow quickly in the right aquarium.
Most individuals have a translucent light grey coloration, although some may have light-brown, green, or reddish-brown hues. The fish have dots and dashes that stretch across their bodies, and which are typically used to determine their gender.
The males have evenly-spaced spots, while those on the female resemble long dashes. The colors of the dots also indicate the diet of the fish. Amano shrimps used to an algae-based diet or green meals will have a greenish hue to their dots.
The shrimps have a broad, translucent tail and a lighter stripe stretching down the top-side length of their bodies. These pets are notorious for camouflaging in aquariums, thanks to their translucent bodies. If you cannot spot them, shine a spotlight towards the substrate at night, and their eyes will reflect and shine back.
Amano shrimp are native to Asian countries, including Japan, Taiwan, and China. They move in large groups in freshwater streams and rivers. Although they are classified as a freshwater species, only the adults inhabit freshwater waters. The larvae have adapted to brackish waters, and it is only after they mature that they move to freshwater.
A significant percentage of the Amano shrimps in aquariums are caught in the wild. They are, therefore, less tolerant of captivity and often die after being introduced to a tank.
Amano shrimps are omnivorous and gracious eaters since they will eat any leftovers in your aquarium. They will consume detritus, algae, and plant debris, and will even munch on any dead fish or snails. You will need to encourage algal growth in your tank for the shrimps to graze on.
You will also need to supplement your shrimp’s diet with pellets, flakes, and algae wafers. The pellets can be given whole or ground up, although doing the latter will create a feeding frenzy.
You can provide brine shrimp and bloodworms or blanched pieces of vegetables like squash, cucumber, zucchini, and spinach.
Amano shrimps also pick pieces of organic material from Marimo Moss Balls or sponge filters. Do not put anything containing copper to a tank with amano shrimps.
Water & Tank Requirements
Below you can find the best temperature and water parameters required for keeping Amano shrimp healthy:
Amano shrimp should be ideally kept in 10-gallon tanks or larger. You can keep them by themselves or add other fish species provided there are plenty of hiding spaces.
Temperature and PH
The Amano shrimp tolerates a temperature range of 70-80ºF (22-26ºC). The PH should be between 7.2 to 7.5.
Before adding your amano shrimp, the nitrite and ammonia levels should be at 0ppm, while the amounts of nitrates should be below 20ppm.
You will need to acclimatize the shrimps to give them the best chances to live. Once you carefully add them into the tank, maintain stable water parameters, and switch off the lights on the first day.
If the pet becomes limp and floats close to the surface, aerate your tank, add a dechlorinate and change the water.
Amano shrimps thrive in a heavily-planted tank, and they are often seen swimming from plant to plant. Live plants like green caboma and Java moss provide plenty of hiding spaces, and they mimic the natural aquatic environment. You can also add shrimp tubes or wooden branches to add to the hiding spaces.
The more plants you have, the more you will see the shrimps since they will feel very comfortable in the aquarium. The shrimps will also hide after molting and may emerge only after the new shell is ready. In case you see a shrimp missing, they may just be molting.
Amano shrimps are mostly friendly, and they spend a lot of time searching for food around the tank. They prefer to be kept in their own groups, and you can buy six of them to start.
A large group will also limit any aggression, and their bio-load is relatively small to put pressure on the water parameters. Maintain an even ratio of the genders if you can.
If you want to keep them with other fish, opt for small or mid-sized peaceful inhabitants like Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish, guppies, neon tetras, Discus, cherry shrimp, vampire shrimp, and bristlenose pleco.
The shrimp will also get along with many freshwater snails, including Nerite snails, Assassin Snails, Mystery Snails, and Ivory snails.
Do not couple amano shrimps with aggressive or large fish like goldfish, bettas, cichlids, gourami, and Oscars.
While sexing Amano shrimps is easy, the case is not the same as breeding them. Most of the ones in the aquarium industry are wild-caught as a testament to how difficult it is to mate them in captivity.
The primary issue is the survival of the fry since they require brackish water. On the other hand, you cannot add any salt to a tank with adult amano shrimps because they will die. You may see the female shrimps carrying eggs but not any fry.
In the wild, the females carry the eggs for six weeks after fertilization, and she will waft her tail to circulate oxygen over the eggs. The female releases the larvae into brackish water.
If you decide to breed the shrimps, remove the adults from the breeder tanks after you identify larvae and increase the salinity of the tank. Only very experienced aquarists seem to have raised fry successfully.
Amano shrimps are the most popular freshwater shrimps after the cherry fish, and they are appreciated for their algae-eating activities.
Most Amano shrimps in pet stores are wild-caught because it is hard to breed them in captivity. Beware of imposters when buying the pets as they are over 200 species that are related to the shrimps.