Welcome on board the shrimp train! Today we are going to talk about our favorite shrimp of all time – the Amano shrimp. Why is this species known as the OG of all freshwater shrimp? Well, we will tell you all about it in a few moments! First, let’s get to know this little critter better!
The Amano shrimp (Caridina japonica) is commonly referred to as the “Algae Eating Shrimp” which is why it is a very popular choice for many aquarium hobbyists. These freshwater shrimp munch on various tank algae which makes them helpful aquarium cleaners!
Moreover, these shrimp are relatively easy to care for, which is why they are a popular species for beginners. Moreover, their lifespan often exceeds the lifespan of other shrimp species. But, we will get to that later.
Let’s find out where the Amano shrimp comes from, what it looks like, and all that is needed for it to live a good life!
Amano Shrimp Origin
Perhaps its latin name Cardina japonica gave you a hint about its origin. You are right, the Amano shrimp hails from Japan! We have mentioned that they are freshwater shrimp, which means we can find them in rivers and streams.
They are hardy and easy to care for, and can live for several years with proper care. They are also known for their distinctive appearance, with a transparent body and black spots on the legs. Are you wondering why this species is called “Amano shrimp”?
Meet Takashi Amano, a famous Japanese aquarist and photographer. He was the first one to introduce this shrimp species to the dwarf shrimp hobby in the 1980s. What a great addition!
Obviously, this is how the shrimp got its name. The idea behind breeding these shrimp started when Takashi Amano noticed that they were effective at controlling algae in his tank. And, so, the breeding journey began and today we are blessed to find these critters in our tanks!
Today, these shrimp are widely available in the aquarium trade and are popular among aquarists for their amazing physical traits, calm temperament, and easy-to-maintain characteristics.
Size And Appearance
Like the majority of shrimp species that we talk about on this site, Amano shrimp are very small. Adult shrimp reach up to 2 inches in length, but most of them are around 1.5 inches long.
It is important to mention that the size and appearance of these hardy shrimp species can vary depending on the specific subspecies (Caridina multidenata, Yamato shrimp, Swamp shrimp). The conditions in which they are kept also play a huge role, but don’t worry, we will talk about that later.
These shrimp are recognizable for their mostly clear body with black markings. These signature markings are dispersed on the legs and antennae, which gives them a unique appearance.
Similar to other shrimp species, Amanos have a long, narrow body shape that is protected by a hard exoskeleton. Their head is slim with a pair of dark, large eyes. They have five pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae.
Now for the fun part!
Did you know that Amano shrimp can change color based on their mood, feed, and environment? Cool, right? They can appear more transparent or opaque depending on their surroundings and stress level.
Similar to Blue Velvet shrimp turning black, Amano shrimp can turn green, brown, black, red, and even blue! As long as they are in optimal conditions, these shrimp will have a vibrant color that is easy to spot.
Male Vs. Female
There are several differences between female and male Amano shrimp, most of them being differences in appearance.
The easiest way of sexing these shrimp is by comparing the body size. Female shrimp are naturally larger than males, and we see this in all other shrimp species such as Ninja shrimp, Red Cherry shrimp, and Blue Jelly shrimp. But, there’s a catch.
In youngsters and smaller shrimp, sexual differences are difficult to distinguish. To figure out the sex of an Amano shrimp, you will have to wait until the juvenile becomes an adult, which usually takes around 3-4 months.
Besides being larger, adult female shrimp are rounder and wider, their belly is smooth and curved. In contrast to females, males have longer and thinner bodies. Both genders have dark horizontal lines that spread alongside their bodies.
Due to the fact that this shrimp species inherits a mostly clear body , it is possible to see visible ovaries in females. Their ovaries are white and can be found on the underside of the abdomen, near the tail. Male’s reproductive organs can also be seen near the tail.
When it comes to their tails, looking at Amano shrimp images, it is clear that female individuals have larger tails.
As for coloration, male Amanos inherit a more vibrant color. On the other hand, female Amanos have less vibrant colors, but they are more active than their male counterparts.
Diet And Feeding Habits
There is a reason why Amanos are called OG of all freshwater shrimp – they LOVE food! And it seems like everything in your tank looks like food for them. Well, not in a bad way.
You see, Amano shrimp are so popular because they eat algae from planted tanks. Basically, they do the work for you! Now you know why they are called the hardest working algae eating shrimp species and why they make a good option for beginner aquarium hobbyists.
Anywhere the algae grows (plants, tank decoration, rocks), your Amano buddy will munch!
However, keep in mind that these shrimp do not prefer Black beard algae. If you put them in the tank, your shrimp won’t eat them. They simply don’t like the taste!
If you don’t have available algae in your tank, you can give your Amanos algae tablets. They are alternatives to natural algae that are packed with nutrients.
What’s great about this food source is that it is specially formulated for shrimp. It contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that keep the shrimp healthy and good-looking! However, they should not be the only food source for your shrimp – think of them like supplements or snacks to the shrimp’s menu.
Besides natural and store-bought algae feed, these shrimp like veggies! Feel free to blanch some green veggies such as spinach, cucumber, and lettuce.
But, do not overfeed them because you do not want leftover food in the tank. It will make the tank water dirty!
Feeding your shrimp a variety of vegetables will boost their metabolism and overall health. After all, they are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, calcium, and other minerals.
Even though they mostly graze on greens, Amano shrimp don’t mind eating protein-based food, such as brine shrimp pellets, Daphnia planktons, or blood worms.
It is important to feed very small amounts of protein-based food. If given in large amounts, it may cause digestive issues of the shrimp. Simply keep their food as varied as possible!
This shrimp species is small, which means that it needs to be given smaller portions of food. Having a slow metabolism, the Amano shrimp is not built to digest big amounts of food.
They should not be fed often – two times per week is just fine. However, younger and smaller shrimp will need to be fed more frequently.
As a rule of thumb, feed them small amounts. This way you will avoid tank water getting dirty, your shrimp overfeeding, and developing health issues. Plus, you will not waste any food!
A good balance of minerals and trace elements in feed, and a good filter system are also essential for the shrimp’s health.
Water And Tank Requirements
Before we point out water and tank parameters, we first want to mention that these shrimp are super-sensitive to water quality! They may not be as sensitive to temperature changes as they are to water quality. So, maintaining the right water conditions is a must!
Here are the optimal water requirements for this hardy shrimp:
|Water Temperature Range:||68-78°F (20-26°C)|
|Water Hardness:||4-8 dKH|
|Water Flow:||Low to moderate|
|Water Quality:||Clean, well-oxygenated water|
Do NOT put your Amanos into salt water. Only Amano shrimp larvae require salt water!
If you plan to own a small colony of shrimp, then a 2-5 gallon tank is perfectly fine. Amanos are small and feel safe in a smaller space.
However, if you plan to keep a larger colony and if you plan on breeding Amano shrimp, then you will need a 10 gallon tank. Breeding tanks should be larger to avoid overcrowding and provide shrimp the soundness and safety they need.
Having a small tank for a large colony of shrimp will present big problems for their health and reproductive rate.
Firstly, you must make sure to introduce your new shrimp into a cycled tank. Secondly, the water in your tank must be clean and well-oxygenated.
A shrimp tank can easily become murky due to excessive food, debris, and feces. This is why you should invest in a good filter system that is essential for the shrimp’s health.
You can choose several filtration systems such as:
- Mechanical filtration
- Chemical filtration
- Biological filtration
If your tank often develops that surface protein film, then you should get a protein skimmer to remove dissolved organic compounds from the water.
Let’s talk about aquarium lighting that is suitable for your new shrimp.
Although not particularly light-sensitive, Amano shrimp like to go into hiding during the day. They are nocturnal shrimp species that go out to find food when the Sun sets. That said, you should maintain low tank lightning with a natural alternation of night and day.
Usually, about 2 to 3 watts per gallon is required. Such light is great for plant and algae growth, and will provide a stable food source for your shrimp in the long run.
In contrast, too much light can heat up the tank water and cause your shrimp stress and health issues.
If you notice that your lightning is insufficient or excessive, make sure to change it gradually. This is very important because Amanos do not like sudden and drastic light changes. This also means you should not use flash on your shrimp tank!
Different substrates contribute in different ways to the overall tank and water condition.
For Amano shrimp species, the best substrate is a fine-grained one, such as sand or small gravel. This kind of substrate allows the shrimp to easily burrow and forage for food, while maintaining the water clean and well-oxygenated!
Aside from being healthy for both the tank and the shrimp, fine-grained substrate makes the environment more natural, which is why the shrimp feel more at home!
Avoid coarse and copper-based substrates, as they are harmful to the shrimp.
What To Put In Their Tank?
Amano shrimp love a well-decorated tank with plenty of yummy plants, hiding spots, and fun aquatic buddies they can interact with.
When preparing the tank, think about the shrimp’s natural environment. By keeping the natural setting in mind, you will easily figure out what your new shrimp needs to live a happy and healthy life. Here are a few ideas!
Not only do life plants look nice in the aquarium, but they also provide a natural environment and an endless food source for the Amano shrimp!
Some shrimp-friendly tank plants include:
- Java fern
- Water wisteria
You can also put plastic plants in the tank. Although they won’t serve as food, they will act as hiding spots for your shrimp.
There is something that you should keep in mind when adding live plants to the tank – do not overdo it.
Your shrimp may want to munch on them all the time which is why you will end up with dead plant matter all over the tank. This will lower the water quality and put your shrimp at risk of becoming stressed and ill.
Choosing appropriate companion species for your Amano shrimp may seem like a difficult task, but in reality, it is pretty easy. Simply, avoid aggressive tank species, and choose the peaceful ones!
These shrimp are known for their peaceful nature which is why you should search for species of fish that are alike. Don’t worry, we already did it for you!
The best tank buddies for your Amano are:
- Peaceful caridina and neocaridina shrimp species (Cherry shrimp, Crystal Red shrimp, Ghost shrimp)
- Freshwater snails (Bladder snails, Ramshorn snails, Nerites, and Mystery snails)
- Small species of fish (Neon Tetras, Rasboras, and Sparkling Gouramis)
Although peaceful, Amanos might fight back and even become predatory towards smaller critters. It is important to respect and maintain a proper balance between the tank species.
Amano shrimp love hiding! They hide all the time and many beginner aquarists start to worry once they can’t see their new shrimp in the tank. Note that this is their natural behavior and a way to get used to a new environment.
Providing appropriate hiding places for this shrimp is necessary for their health and well-being. A shrimpy without a place to hide is a sad and stressed little fella!
We have a list of items that make great hiding places:
- PVC pipes
- Plastic Plants
Amano Shrimp Lifespan
This shrimp is among the longest-living species! In fact, if you take care of them properly, they can live 3 years on average!
Keep in mind that the lifespan of your Amano shrimp can vary depending on several factors:
- Water quality
- Tank companions
Even though they are pretty hardy, Amano species are still sensitive to any changes in the tank. Like many other tank critters, they are prone to diseases such as parasitic and bacterial infections.
Bacterial infections such as Vibriosis and Rickettsiosis can be fatal, whereas parasitic infestation like Scutariella Japonica and Vorticella can make them weak and may also end lethally.
Keeping everything in pecking order is a must if you want your shrimp to reach their senior years!
Amano Shrimp Breeding
Although this species of freshwater shrimp is hardy and low-maintenance, breeding them in captivity may not be as easy. If you plan to breed Amanos, you have to prepare a larger tank for hatchlings.
A female Amano can lay between 1000 and 3000 eggs! That is quite impressive! Of course you will need a larger tank. Do not forget plenty of hiding places because female shrimp may be even more shy during their gestation.
Another important thing is to keep your tank water well-oxygenated, with a temperature between 68 and 78°F. You should not add more than one male shrimp into the tank. Amano females thrive when the ratio is 3 females to 1 male shrimp. That way you will avoid stressing them out and your shrimp breeding will be more successful.
When hatchlings appear, it is important to keep them in salt water. This may take some time, but with proper knowledge and a good tank set up, you will be breeding Amano shrimp in no time!
Amano shrimp are amazing little tank species, don’t you agree? No wonder they became so popular in the U.S. and around the globe!
They are hardy and adaptable, but they do have specific requirements for their tank environment. Hopefully we gave you a good insight on how to take care of this wonderful animal. Lastly, be careful where you are getting your Amanos from. If you are making your shrimp order online, double check whether the purchase is guaranteed with live arrival or not.
Hi fellow aquarists, I’m Ava and I’ve been an enthusiastic aquarium hobbyist for over four years now.
I’ve been amazed by these beautiful creatures since I was a kid and I’m thrilled to be sharing everything I’ve learned over the years with anyone who’s as passionate about the topic as I am.