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The Amano shrimp is one of the best kept secrets in the world of aquarium enthusiasts. They are a peaceful and low-maintenance species that can be added to any freshwater tank and will thrive for years without trouble. In this article we will go over everything you need to know about Amano shrimp care so that your new addition lives up to its full potential!
A Brief Overview Of The Amano Shrimp
Botanically called Caridina multidentata, Amano shrimp are freshwater crustaceans that are native to Japan and Taiwan. The Amano shrimp is known by a variety of names, including Caridina Japonica (previously named until 2006). It’s also called the “Japonica shrimp” or “Algae eating shrimp.”
They are considered the Godfather of all freshwater shrimp species and the seed for the shrimp tank boom in the 90s.
|Scientific Name||Caridina multidetata|
|Common Name (Species)||Amano Shrimp, Japonica Amano Shrimp, Yamato Shrimp|
|Lifespan||Up to 5 years (usually 2-3)|
|Tank Level||All Areas|
|Minimum Tank Size||5 Gallons|
|Temperature Range||65 – 78 Degrees F|
|KH||1 – 10|
|pH Range||6.5 – 8.0|
|Breeding||Egg-layers, Difficult to breed|
|Compatibility||Peaceful community fish species|
|Ok For Planted Tanks?||Yes|
Origins And Habitat
True Amano shrimp hail from the swamps of Japan. Takashi Amano, the founder of modern planted tank aquascaping, helped spread the word about the benefits of keeping these shrimp in a planted tank. The shrimp was named after Takashi Amano for his contributions to the aquascaping hobby. He really is a historical figure in our hobby, and is worth learning more about.
Amano shrimp (AKA Yamato Shrimp) are a unique shrimp in our hobby as they have an amphidromous life cycle. This means that they migrate from salt water to freshwater during their life.
Appearance (What Do They Look Like?)
Amano shrimp (Source) have clear bodies with tan or brown stripes running down the back from head to tail. They have a white stripe that runs from the head to tail and black eyes. Females can be told apart from males by their more elongated lower row of dots. They are one of the less colorful shrimp species. The Cherry shrimp really takes the looks, while the Amano is the workhorse of the aquarium.
How Big Can They Grow?
Amano shrimp can grow to a size of around two inches. They are larger than Cherry shrimp, which makes them better candidates for community tanks. A fully grown female will usually be larger than a male.
Amano shrimp can live up to five years, and typically live shorter because of poor water quality or food shortages. Most hobbyists will keep an Amano shrimp for about 2-3 years.
Temperament And Activity Level
Amano shrimps are very bold creatures. They do not hide and will be out and about throughout the day. The only time they are reclusive is when they molt, which makes sense because this is when they are the most vulnerable.
What Are Good Tank Mates?
Because of their great utility, you will rarely see Amanos in shrimp only tanks. They are one of the most popular additions to planted and community tanks.
Knowing this, let’s talk about what fish work best with them!
Good Tank Mates (Fish Species)
The following fish get along with Amanos with no issues. Bettas are the only ones with an asterisk, as you will want a larger tank to give the shrimp space to hide if you end up with an aggressive Betta. You want to seek out peaceful fish when selecting tank mates.
- Betta Fish – in a tank, with a cover, that is over 5 gallons
- Small Tetras – like Neon Tetras
- Peaceful Barbs – like the Cherry Barb
- Small Fish like Zebra Danios
Fish Species To Avoid
You should avoid these fish as they enjoy turning your Amano into a tasty snack!
The Best Tank Mate
If you are looking for the best tank mates, look no further! Amano shrimp enjoy living with their own species. This is because they will socialize and mate with each other without issue. They are also highly compatible with other shrimp, such as the Cherry shrimp.
What Do They Eat?
They are known for eating black beard algae. They specialize in cleaning plants and rocks and will consume leftover fish food. You can also feed them shrimp food, which I’ll go over below.
What To Feed Them
They are very aggressive eaters. If you feed them too well, they will slack on their cleaning duties and stop eating aquarium algae. If you have slower peaceful fish, you will need to scatter food during feeding time to make sure your slower and less aggressive fish get food. They are always active in the tank spending most of their time foraging for food.
There is specialty shrimp food which is suited for freshwater shrimp tanks. It works in mixed tanks as well. Dennerle Shrimp King Food works really well if you want to target feed your Amano shrimp. It’s small enough where the shrimp can grab a pellet and hide away to eat it undisturbed.
Generally, in a mixed tank, you shouldn’t need to worry about food since they are aggressive feeders.
How To Set Up A Suitable Tank
First, it is important to know that Amano shrimps are excellent escape artists. You must have a cover on your tank. They are small inverts, and are great jumpers when they are excited. A covered lid is best, something you see with most rimmed tanks.
For rimless tanks, you will need to get a glass tank cover. Mesh nets are too wide to work for shrimp.
What Is A Proper Tank Size?
For a quick answer, the proper Amano shrimp tank size is 5 gallons. Most aquarists will not keep only Amanos though, so let’s dive in deeper with a rule of thumb below.
The general rule of thumb for Amano is 1 shrimp per every 2 gallons with a 5 gallon minimum tank size. While this is the rule of thumb, you can often get away with less, as they are extremely active with scavenging and eating waste and consume algae from your tank.
When decorating, you should choose natural items like driftwood and plants. Amano shrimps will adapt to any setting, but look better in a natural environment because of their color. They tend to stand out under the dark backdrop of driftwood.
Aquarium driftwood is a great choice if you are looking for some plants material for your Amano shrimp. Cholla wood is an excellent plant option, because it naturally decays and provides shrimp with food while also providing them with the perfect habitat.
Moss is a crucial accessory in the shrimp tank because it acts as a hiding place. It calms them and keeps them safe, which also seems to make female Amano shrimp brighter than usual. The best moss for Amano shrimps would be Christmas Moss because it’s easy to care for and they love it!
Live Aquarium Plants
Shrimp thrive in tanks with plants. These shrimp are hardworking because they clean algae from all of the plants, and also don’t need any decoration other than a place to hide for safety.
To make shrimp happier, provide rocks and live plants in their habitats to serve as protection. Shrimp love eating biofilms and algae from surfaces, so including plants is doubly beneficial for them.
Plants also absorb excess nitrates in the water to maintain a cleaner and healthier fish tank. Low light plants are best for Amano shrimp setups, so make sure you buy them! Here are a few examples:
When it comes to filling the substrate in a tank, including small pebbles as a substitute for natural rocks can be beneficial. If other animals inhabit your fish tank, cater to their needs first because Amano shrimps are less demanding to manage. They adapt readily with most changes regardless of how harsh they may seem.
Starting with substrate and pebbles, rinse them thoroughly before placing in the tank. There are substrates that work well for shrimp tanks like Fluval Stratum. Definitely take a look if you’re looking to start out.
Water Quality And Tank Conditions
Water quality starts with quality filtration then maintaining parameters. Let’s focus first on key parameters.
Which Filters Are Most Suitable?
Amano shrimp require water that is dechlorinated and buffered with a neutral or near-alkaline pH. Regularly monitor your tank for anomalies or irregularities, and change 25%-30% of the water every other week. Monitor your levels with a proper aquarium test kit.
TDS is another factor to keep in mind when caring for Amano shrimp. They require the same TDS as Cherry shrimp, which is around 150-200.
As expected, these tiny invertebrates don’t need a large tank for comfort. Ideally, 5-gallon tanks are enough to meet their needs.
When choosing a tank size, in most cases you should go for the bigger size. For example, if you were going to pair them with other inhabitants, like fish or other shrimp, it is best to have a larger tank than settling for one of the smaller sizes. In general, the golden rule of thumb is to opt for the bigger tank over small.
Which Filters Are Most Suitable?
There are many factors that can affect a shrimp tank, but one of the most controversial parts is filters. Some filters might be too powerful and can suck up the shrimp, so it’s important to choose carefully. A sponge filter should provide for adequate water filtration while still keeping your pets safe and happy!
Tank Filtration Process
Always try to create a clean and well managed tank for these pets. As explained before, Amano shrimps are sensitive to nitrates or ammonia levels in the water. Therefore, filtration systems which use large amounts of bio media is advised so that your pet can thrive in the environment you have created for them.
If you are a shrimp purist, one option is to use a cheaper filter for your new shrimp. Sponge filters naturally only offer biological filtration; this means they will not suck up the Amano shrimp. The best place for these shrimp to consume leftover fish food particles is on the sponge’s exterior surface.
On the other hand, if you want to keep more than Amano shrimp, you’ll need a Hang-on the back filter or canister filter. You should put a sponge on the intake as a pre-filter to avoid sucking up any of your Amano shrimp by accident.
Water Conditions – Parameters
Although Amano shrimps are hardy and can tolerate living in a variety of water conditions, they thrive best in freshwater tanks with the following parameters:
Amano shrimp prefer to live in water that ranges from 65°F – 78°F.
Water Hardness And pH Range
pH should be between 6.5 – 8.0. Water hardness can range from 6-8 DKH
Amano Shrimp Lighting
Amano shrimp do not require any light to live. If you have a freshwater tank with plants, or if your goal is for the Amano’s coloration to come out more distinctly, these animals can also live in an aquarium fitted with a planted tank LED system.
Ammonia, Nitrites, And Nitrates
You should keep the concentration of ammonia and Nitrites at 0, and Nitrates below 20ppm at all times. In cases where these levels are higher than 20 ppm levels, your Amano shrimp may experience major problems.
Copper – The Silent Killer
Amano shrimps are sensitive to copper. Be careful using medications containing this metal in your tank as they can harm the Amano shrimp, such as seachem cupramine or marvel copper safe medications.
There are also aquarium plant fertilizers that might contain copper! Look for fertilizers that are specially made for shrimp to avoid any issues.
How To Breed
Breeding Amano shrimp is a challenge. Unlike Cherry shrimp and other shrimp caridina, they are difficult to breed and many of the shrimp you will purchase from stores and online will be imported.
The biggest challenge with breeding them is when the Amano shrimps are first born, they require saltwater. As the larvae mature, you will need to lower the salinity and get them adjusted to freshwater. This is generally going to be way too involved for many aquarists. Below is a video of what a pregnant female Amano looks like:
Sexing Amano Shrimp
It’s actually quite easy to ID males and females because shrimp anatomy is generally the same for all freshwater shrimp species. Here are some key pointers to help you identify each:
- Brown stripe and dots
- Thick vertical body
- Saddle for the eggs
- Whiter and more pronounced stripe that runs from the top of the female
- Larger than male
Females will attempt to breed after molting.
- Less colorful
- Brown dots versus stripes across the body
- No saddle
- Stripe at the top is more faint than the male
Breeding is a complex process for Amano shrimp. Describing the process is a whole separate post in itself. Since this post is fairly long already, I’m going to supply a video from Avatar Aquatics that goes over the process and I’ll include a few notes for you below.
- Incubation tank needs to be at saltwater tank salinity (35PPT or 1.026 salinity)
- Use diatoms or pyato plankton to feed your shrimp
- Cover so water does not evaporate
- Move larvae as soon as born and acclimate to saltwater immediately
The female reproductive cycle is as follows:
- Molt to berried – 1 day
- Berried to drop – 17 days
- Drop to next batch – 5-7 days
- Shrimp hatch time: up to 5 weeks
- Total time: 25-30 days
To provide clarification, a female with eggs is called a berried female. You want to remove the female around a week after they become buried. If they are dropping eggs in your display tank, that is also a sign that you can remove her.
If you want scientific backed studies on the process of breeding Amanos, here is the link to the document from the Zoologicial Society of Japan.
One nice side-benefit with Amano is that they are purists. They will not crossbreed with other types of shrimp species. This means if you want to keep a stable population in your tank, Amanos are an excellent choice because they will not breed like crazy like other shrimp.
The hatching process is one of the most difficult transitions when raising Amanos. You will need to transition them to saltwater within minutes of the shrimp hatching. The video from Avatar Aquatics illustrates how to do it correctly.
The preferred food to use is phyto plankton. It is readily available online and easy to use. I prefer Algae Barn’s phyto.
How To Raise Shrimplets
Congrats, you have baby larvae and are now trying to figure out how to raise them. The next phase is all about maintenance. You will want to feed your larvae every day, and consider doing a water change every other day.
Larvae hit the juvenile stage around 20 days. This is when you will want to consider acclimating them to freshwater. This is another critical and complex step. You will want to drip acclimate the shrimp to freshwater over a 12-24 hour period. The goal is to go from 35PPT to 5PPT within that time frame.
The saltwater side of the hobby sell a number of drip acclimators that you can use. I would recommend using Innovative Marine’s Accudrip Acclimator.
DO NOT put the juveniles in a tank with fish in it. You should use a separate growing tank. Do not move them to a tank with fish until they are at least 1 inch. The grow out tank should be 2.5 – 5 gallons and should require water changes every 2-4 days due to the increasing amount of molting and death of the baby shrimp.
There are lots of reasons why baby shrimp do not make it. They can die during the molting process from a bacterial attack or some may not get enough food. This is part of the process. In nature, many larvae do not survive predators and bacteria.
Let’s cover molting next, as I just mentioned it.
If you see a whitish shrimp laying on its side that looks half broken, it is likely the result of a molt versus a dead shrimp. If you see a shrimp laying on its side, and it is gray or an orange or pink color, then that is likely a dead shrimp.
So What Is Molting?
The shell of Amano shrimps do not grow along with it. The remains left behind, when the old shell falls off, are called an ingrowth shell, and it needs to be replaced after a few weeks.
What’s Involved In The Molting Process?
The new shell grows slowly under the old one, which is soft. The shrimp then grips tightly to any surface it can find, such as the substrate or plants. It pulls against a half portion of the shell before pulling away from it gradually.
Once the shrimp finishes, it removes the empty shell by quickly curling its tail.
Once The Molting Is Completed
The shrimp’s new shell is typically soft for the first few days before it hardens. During this time the shrimp is susceptible to attacks, so it usually hides in plants until the shell firms up.
Molting Related Problems
Yes, molting-related problems exist. For example, if a shrimp fails to molt it will die. Alternatively, the shrimp might only crack off the first part of its shell and then struggle to break open the other half—only to be stressed to death in doing so; it could also happen that the wheel might not break off completely resulting
Causes Of Molting Problems
There are many theories about what causes the various molting problems. Some people think it is related to water parameters, while others believe that changes in diet or inconsistencies in temperature can lead to troubling molting issues.
If your water’s general hardness levels are too low, the shrimp will have a difficult time developing shells. It might not shed its shell altogether, but it will become so soft that you can bend it and not split it. If you want to help your shrimp thrive (and protect their shells), try using GH test kits to make sure your GH stays in the right range.
You should also consider material dosing if your tap water source is soft, or if you use a water softener in your home.
Where To Buy
You can purchase Amano shrimp at a local or online fish store. For online, I would highly recommend purchasing from BucePlant. They are one of the best places online to purchase healthy and vibrant freshwater shrimp.
I hope this article has helped you learn about the Amano shrimp and what to expect when taking care of them. If it’s not already obvious, I highly recommend these little guys for any freshwater aquarium! They are a great addition that will thrive with minimal work on your end. Leave us a comment below if you have any questions or feedback about our guide, or anything else related to fishkeeping. Thank you so much for reading and happy tanking!
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I’m thrilled that you found Aquarium Store Depot! Here you’ll find information on fish, aquariums, and all things aquatics related. I’m a hobbyist (being doing this since I was 11) and here to help other hobbyists thrive with their aquariums!