The Expert’s Guide to Amano Shrimp (Care, Breeding, and Setup)

The Amano Shrimp is – without a doubt – one of the most beloved species in the aquaria hobby.

This all-inclusive guide will cover everything you need to know about Amano shrimp successfully in your aquarium.

Quick Guide

Common NameAmano Shrimp
Scientific NameCaridina multidentata
FamilyAtyidae
Care LevelEasy
ColorTransparent body with a slight white opacity
Size2″
Lifespan2-3 Years
DietOmnivore
Suggested Tank Size20 gallons
Water Temperature Requirements70° – 78°F
pH Requirements6.5 – 7.5
Temperament & CompatibilityPeaceful
BreedingHard

Takashi Amano

Of course, we have to start off this article with a tribute to Taksahi Amano, the man responsible for bringing the Amano shrimp into the aquarium hobby, and for creating the most beautiful aquascapes ever to exist.

He greatly advanced the hobby in many ways, from taking some of the first pictures of Amazonian cardinal tetras and angelfish, to advancing the correlation between nature and art, to introducing what this article is about; the Amano shrimp.

Amano is most famous for his aquascapes, which the Amano shrimp played a large role in.

The primary role that the Amano shrimp played in these aquascapes was algae control.

Unlike other shrimp, which will occasionally eat some soft algae and brown diatoms, this shrimp is capable of eating some of the hardest to remove algae, including the dreaded hair algae.


Amano Shrimp Care – Covering the Basics

amano shrimp in planted aquarium
Atulbhats [CC BY-SA 4.0]

These shrimps are some of the hardiest in the hobby and have relatively easy care. However, you will not find baby Amano shrimp under normal aquarium circumstances.

Reproduction in aquariums is common, but keeping the young alive is incredibly rare, and even extremely dedicated aquarists struggle and fail to raise the young.

Amano shrimp require some protein and calcium in their food.

The protein can be provided with normal fish or shrimp food, which they will happily steal from any other tank inhabitants.

The easiest way to provide calcium is with vegetables such as spinach. Amano shrimp love any blanched vegetable and will make quick work of them.

While Amano shrimp are regarded as a hardy shrimp, this does not put them on the same level as hardy fish.

Invertebrates are more finicky and difficult to take care of, so they are hardy for an invertebrate, but not necessarily hardy when compared to, say, a betta fish.

Betta fish are often subjected to extremely high levels of ammonia and nitrite, but they pull through. Low levels of ammonia or nitrite will quickly kill any Amano shrimp.

In addition, hardy fish do not care whether the water is soft or hard, but if an Amano is kept in hard water, they will die.

Since shrimp shed their skin and molt about once a month, they need a certain amount and combination of minerals in the water to reform that exoskeleton correctly.

If the water is too soft, they will not be able to make a new shell and will die. If the water is too hard, they will not be able to shed the old skin and will die.

Any molting animal needs an area where they can feel safe while they rebuild their shell. Be sure to provide your Amano shrimp with a multitude of small caves and hiding areas.

They are also primarily nocturnal, so they also need areas where they can hide out during the day.

In addition, adding shrimp to a new tank, even if it was fully cycled, is a bad idea. The tank should be at least three months old before adding any shrimp.

Shrimp are constant grazers, feeding primarily on biofilm. Without a layer of biofilm in the tank, the shrimp will suffer. However, by providing them with proper water parameters, food, and tankmates, they will thrive and live their full lives.


Water Parameters

Amano shrimp are capable of surviving a wide range of parameters, though we will list their ideal parameters here.

For example, 70-78 degrees will be listed for their temperature, though they are fine anywhere from 60-80 degrees, though it is not ideal.

  • Temperature: 70-78˚
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • gH: 6-8
  • kH: 0-4
  • TDS: 180-240 ppm
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: max of 20 ppm

Amano shrimp can withstand a wide range of temperatures, though they prefer temperatures in the low- to mid-seventies.

They prefer softer water with a pH near neutral, though they can normally survive moderately hard water quite well. Ammonia and nitrite are big no-no’s but they are normally not present in established aquariums.

As for nitrates, unlike hardy fish, this hardy shrimp cannot tolerate nitrates over 20 ppm long term. They will be fine for a few months but will not reach they full lifespan.

Shrimp are much more sensitive to nitrogenous compounds than fish are, and this shrimp is no exception.


Appearance and Behavior

amano shrimp appearance
Seotaro [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Amano shrimp are luckily easy to identify, though there are some similar species that can get confused with Amanos. Amano shrimp are primarily see-through with a slight white opacity.

They have horizontal brown and red stripes across their backs and sides, with brown being more common on the back, and red more common on the sides.

They normally reach about two inches in size and are quite boisterous for a shrimp.

While most shrimp will tentatively come out of hiding during feeding time, Amano shrimp are extremely rowdy and will start swimming around snatching food right from the mouths of fish.

While they are not afraid to take food from other tank inhabitants, they are not aggressive or dangerous.

They are incapable of harming other tank mates, as their “claws” are covered in fuzz. The only thing that the fuzz can do is pick at algae, and they cannot close their claws forcibly enough to inflict damage.

This is a sociable species, so they need to be kept in groups of at least four, though more is better. Keeping them alone makes them feel unsafe, so they will frequently hide.

In addition, they will become extremely stressed as time goes on, which damages the immune system.


Sexing Amano Shrimp – Males vs. Females

Female Amano shrimp carry their eggs in their swimmerets, which are paddle like limbs located on the hind abdomen. They normally lay flat against the underbelly of the shrimp until they are needed for swimming and propulsion.

Females have much rounder abdomens to carry the eggs externally, while a male’s abdomen is thinner and curves inwards slightly.

The easiest way to differentiate the sexes is by looking at the lowest row of dots and dashes on their sides. Males will have distinctly separated dots, while females will have ovals/stripes/distorted circles instead.


Lookalikes

Amano shrimp are occasionally confused with ghost and whisker shrimp, especially when they are all juveniles. 

Amano shrimp will eventually reach a size of about two inches, though they are sold as small as half an inch.

Ghost shrimp normally reach around an inch in length, and whisker shrimp range from an inch to well over four inches, depending on the species.

However, all are translucent shrimp with slight white opacity and a few markings.

Ghost shrimp are called “ghosts” due to the fact that most do not have any patterning. Their translucency makes them nearly impossible to spot when immobile.

They have a red band on their front primary limbs right before the claws and two red dots on their tail. Some faint patterning on the back is possible in nearly any color.

Whisker shrimp come in a massive variety of species, but the ones most often mistakenly sold are entirely translucent with a slight blue tint.

They lack any red bands on their arms and red spots on their tails.

Luckily, neither of the two lookalike species have solid brown and red spotting and stripes like the Amano does, though this does not prevent store employees from mistakenly selling the wrong shrimp.


Tank Size

Since Amano shrimp need to be kept in groups of at least 4, a tank of 20 gallons is the minimum for this animal.

This gives them enough room to actively forage for biofilm and interact peacefully with their tankmates. In addition, this provides enough water volume to dilute nitrogenous wastes to a manageable level.


Suitable Amano Shrimp Tank Mates

amano shrimp tank mates
Amano Shrimp (Image Source)

Amano shrimp are peaceful and will not cause harm to other inhabitants, but some inhabitants can harm them.

They should not be housed with anything that poses a threat to them, including smaller predatory fish or larger fish, even herbivorous ones.

Amano shrimp can be housed with other dwarf shrimp such are neocaridina, ghost shrimp, or other members of the Caridina genus.

Small tetras and other peaceful fish are fine to keep with them, which gives a huge selection.

They can even be kept with smaller, less graceful, goldfish species, such as the fantail. I have personally had great success with a group of Amanos and several goldfish.


Feeding & Algae Reduction

Now, onto the primary reason that many of you are considering getting some Amano shrimp; their incredible ability to control and reduce algae in aquariums.

They will eat most soft algae, including hair algae, which is a massive nuisance.

However, the algae are not their preferred diet.

While they will spend much of their time cruising the tank and picking at a spot here and there, they will not begin to eradicate algae unless they are extremely hungry.

Unfortunately, this means that you will have to starve them slightly, but this is very difficult in a community tank.

As previously mentioned, they will try and snatch food from any other tank inhabitant, so unless you can hold off on feeding the whole tank for several days, don’t expect any miracles (except for brown diatom algae).

They will still feed on the algae, but it will not be their primary food source. With that being said, there will be a significant decline in the amount of algae in the tank, especially the softer types.

Breeding

For breeding, you just have to ensure you have at least one male and one female in your group of Amano shrimp.

They will take care of the rest, and females rarely have trouble producing any eggs. In fact, many females will still produce eggs when housed without males, though she will only carry these eggs for a few days to a week before dropping them.

It normally takes about a month for the eggs to fully develop and hatch. When they are getting close to hatching, you will be able to make out two eyes on each egg.

At this point, you either need to frequently check the tank or move the female into a different one.

If you want to move the female, fill a tub or smaller tank with water from the main tank and plants. Move the female in as gently as possible but be aware that this can cause her to drop the eggs.

Without the female constantly fanning them, they can develop fungus and die.

On the other hand, if you either do not want to move the female, or if you don’t move her in time, keep your eye out for babies. Once you see them, turn off all of the lights. Turn on a flashlight and aim it at one part of the tank.

The young larvae are attracted to light, so you will soon see several hundred babies heading towards the light. Once you have a good majority in your sights, use a net or other object to move them from the tank to a separate aquarium.

Caring for the Young – Stage One

The reason that baby Amano shrimp are so difficult to keep alive is because they can only survive in freshwater for a few hours.

After those few hours, they will be unable to regulate osmosis and will die. You will need to prepare a saltwater tank to take care of them.

This tank needs a light on 24 hours a day, a heater, and a small bubbler. With frequent water changes, a filter will not be necessary.

You should add 30-35 ppm of marine (not aquarium) salt to the water. Marine salt contains extra minerals that will be necessary for the young to survive.

While their feeding habits at this stage have not been entirely confirmed, they appear to primarily eat phytoplankton.

If you can set up the tank with phytoplankton and constant light for several days to several weeks before adding the babies, you will have a good chance of success.

The bubbler will keep the phytoplankton and the larvae suspended, allowing the larvae to eat them. The heater keeps them warm enough to hunt and digest, while the light is partially unknown.

Amano shrimp larvae have the greatest survival rate when the light is one for 24 hours a day, and while extra light will make more phytoplankton available to them, no one is entirely sure why the light is so helpful.

Caring for the Young– Stage Two

Stage two is metamorphosis; most species of shrimp found in aquariums do not have a larval stage, and therefore do not undergo metamorphosis.

The only exception would be a few species of whisker shrimp, though most of these young live fine in freshwater.

Amano shrimp, on the other hand, need to have freshwater, sea water, and brackish water during different stages of their lives.

The adults live in freshwater, breed in freshwater, and when the young are released, they are swept downstream into full saltwater. During that time, they feed on microorganisms only available in saltwater.

After they eat enough of the microorganisms, they metamorphosize and gain stronger swimming abilities.

At this point, they swim back upstream into freshwater, where they will spend most of their lives. As you can imagine, this is very difficult to replicate in captivity.

You should keep an eye on the larvae in their new tank in order to watch for any metamorphosizing ones.

Once they metamorphosize, they will look like small versions of shrimp and will begin to act more like shrimp; climbing along the walls and bottom of the tank, something the larvae cannot do.

They will not all metamorphosize at the same time, so you will likely need to move each one individually. Start by moving them into a separate saltwater tank but do an immediate 50% water change on the tank.

Some have been able to move them directly to freshwater without an issue, though others advise against this.

Once they undergo metamorphosis, the young can only survive in saltwater for 18-24 hours. For the next 1-2 days, you should do multiple 50% water changes to convert them back to freshwater.

If you have successfully managed to do this, you can move on to the easiest stage yet.

Caring for the Young – Stage Three

Now that the shrimp have been entirely transitioned to freshwater and are miniature versions of the adults, their care is similar to that of any other shrimp.

The tank you move them to should have been set up for at least three months to establish proper biofilm, and at this point, a fully cycled filter should be present.

The addition of plants, driftwood, and/or Indian Almond leaves will help promote biofilm growth and should be added to promote the growth of the young Amano shrimp as well.

Once in freshwater, they can be fed commercial shrimp pellets and flakes, and the added protein in these will help support their growth.

Even though Amano shrimp produce nearly one thousand eggs at a time, it is very unlikely that you will actually end up with a thousand Amano shrimp young.

In fact, ending up with just five or so young is very lucky, as most breeding experiments end in failure.

Luckily, since Amano shrimp are so difficult to raise, you will be able to sell them for several dollars each.

While it is unlikely that you will make a profit, after a few successful breeding trials, you should easily be able to make back your money, and gain the exclusive title of “Amano Shrimp Breeder”.

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