Are you looking for an awesome algae eater that has become a permanent staple in my planted aquariums? Keep reading, as I share the amazing world of Amano shrimp and why you need to keep one.
I don’t think I really knew much about Amano shrimp the first time I got one. I didn’t even have any algae issues. I wanted something different than fish. And I thought shrimp are really cool looking and snails are really gross. So thankfully, they are very hardy as long as you do three things right. So let me explain them to you so you’ll keep them alive.
Amano shrimp overview
Amano shrimp are translucent, clearish, dwarf shrimp. You can pretty much see all of its organs inside. It has little round dashes or dots running horizontally along its body. And you can buy them anywhere from 3$ to 6$. They come in about one inch long, and then the females can get about two inches long.
They are made famous by Takashi Amano, father of modern-day aquascaping and planted aquariums because he found they were so good at eating algae off of plants and hardscape. Not so much off of the aquarium walls. You need shrimp and other catfish for that. They’re also good for scavenging for leftover pieces of food that are lying around any cracks.
Tank set up
Let’s talk about tank setups. In terms of tank size, the general rule of thumb I’ve heard is one Amano shrimp for every two gallons. Well, for my 20-gallon tank, I personally probably wouldn’t keep more than six Amano shrimp just because they’re so voracious.
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Water conditions, as I said, they’re very hardy. They can endure a wide range of pH. I’ve heard anywhere from 6.5 to 8.0. Same thing for temperature, anywhere from 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
They do like harder water, so a higher level of GH, especially minerals to help with their moltings. So if you have really soft water like me, maybe consider adding crushed coral in your substrate or in the filter using Wonder Shell or Seachem Equilibrium.
How Do I know if Amano shrimp molting or dead?
Speaking of molting, if you see a white, clearish shrimp basically lying on the side potentially broken in half, it might not be a dead shrimp but actually just its exoskeleton that it recently molted.
Now on the other hand, if you see a shrimp lying on its side and it’s bright orange or pink, kind of looks like a cooked shrimp, then it might be a dead shrimp. In general, Amano shrimp are pretty bold, I would say. The only time I see them hiding is, again, when they have recently molted and they’re a little shy afterward.
Ideal tank mates for Amano shrimp
A lot of people ask me about betta fish and amano shrimp. Can they go together? The answer is yes, but depends on how much cover you have and if the aquarium is large enough. In my case, I definitely say yes, a 20 gallon tank works.
Five-gallon tank do as well. Guppies are another one I often get asked about. I’ve heard they can do fine with them, at least for me. And those livebearers didn’t bug them at all. So in general, it’s yes to nano fish and invertebrates whose mouths aren’t large enough to eat them. Versus no to medium or larger cichlids, goldfish, really bigger fish in general.
Can Amano shrimp climb out of my aquarium?
A really important thing to remember is that Amano shrimp are definitely escape artist. You must have a tight-fitting lid. And not just a tight-fitting lid, but cover every single shrimp size hole there possibly is.
My first Amano shrimp ever lived happily in a 20-gallon community aquarium. One day, I put her in a three and a half gallon holding tank, and then, she disappeared. I could not find her. Searched high and low, tore apart everything in the aquarium and nothing.
Six months later, spring cleaning time, I was cleaning out the dust bunnies underneath the bed and under a pile of decorative pillows, several yards away from the original aquarium, I found the shrimp very dried-up body. So yeah, lesson learned. Don’t do as I do.
As for diet, I have inferred many times before they are very aggressive eaters. They will eat anything you put in the aquarium, preferably stuff that sinks to the bottom. And in fact, if you feed them too well, they will definitely ignore all the algae in the aquarium they’re supposed to be eating.
I mean these things, as soon as I put anything in the tank, I mean, they are fast. They will immediately swim to where the food is and they will out-compete fish. They’ll definitely out-compete your dwarf shrimp. I’ve had to learn to scatter food in little piles all along with the aquarium just so everybody gets a piece.
In general, I don’t feed them any kind of specialty shrimp food, but I do like Hikari Crab Cuisine just because it has a lot of good healthy minerals that invertebrates need. And then each of the amano shrimp can kind of grab a pellet and then swim away and hide so they can secretly eat it.
Not a lot of people have been successful in breeding them because the larvae require saltwater. And then you have to slowly step it up to freshwater as they’re adults. It’s just way too much trouble.
But if you want to sex them, females are generally larger, like I said, about two inches long. Obviously, if you see eggs underneath her tail abdomen area, that’s a sure sign. And they tend to have kind of brown dashes along the side of their body. Versus males are smaller and have brown spots along the side of their body. The good news is they won’t cross breed with other types of shrimp, so you’re good to go.