Amano Shrimp - Planted Tank Mates
Amano shrimp in planted tank.

Amano Shrimp

Overview

Caridina Japonica, otherwise known as Amano Shrimp, originated from Japan and was popularized by Takashi Amano.  They’re voracious algae eaters which is why he used them in his planted tanks.  Being one of the best algae eating shrimp, they’re one of the few species that will even eat black beard algae.  Amano Shrimp are very hardy and can handle a wide range of water parameters which make them great tank mates.  You can keep them with all sorts of shrimp species and they will not cross breed.  

Amano Shrimp Appearance

Amano Shrimp are more dull in color and appearance compared to ornamental species like Crystal Red and Cherry shrimp.  They’re also much larger in size, reaching up to 2” and looking huge in comparison.  Their clear to gray \ body helps them hide in the wild, and their tan stripes give them their distinguishing looks.  Males are often smaller and will have a series of dots near their abdomen and tail.  Females are often larger in size and have a rounded belly.  You can also identify a female by their dashed line patterns instead of dots.

amano shrimp profile
Male Amano Shrimp 
Female amano shrimp with eggs.
Female Amano Shrimp Berried

Algae Control

Amano shrimp are fantastic algae eaters and scavengers for any planted tank.  You can see other types of algae eaters here.  They’re not shy and will often be out and about your landscape.  Like all shrimp, they do hide when they’re molting, but that’s to protect themselves when their body is most vulnerable.  Provide plenty of hiding spaces and a mixed diet of proteins and calcium for molting.  

Be careful not to overfeed them though as you do want them to search for food and clean your tank.  In an established aquarium, there’s enough biofilm and algae that it’s OK to NOT feed them everyday.  That’s certainly not the case for a newly planted tank though, so log the feed quantity and remove any leftovers.  Typical shrimp feed like powders, pellets and even high quality fish flakes will do just fine.

Breeding

Breeding can be time consuming and is a bit tricky.  In the wild, Amano shrimp are found near coastal waters where the female will release her eggs.  The larvae will stay in salt water feeding off plankton and algae.  6-7 weeks later in the form of baby shrimp, they return to freshwater for the remaining part of their lives.

To mimic this in a contained ecosystem, you need a separate tank with brackish water.  The dropped eggs will need to be siphoned and added to the brackish tank where the larvae can grow.  Another option is to move the berried female into the brackish tank right before hatching.  Adult Amano can handle the brackish water, but the conditions must be right.  Once the adult is removed and after several weeks, you’ll see tiny shrimp swimming around the water column. That’s when you’ve successfully bred and raised Amano Shrimp and the small fry can be returned to freshwater conditions.  A more detailed version of breeding Amano shrimp can be found here.

All Things Considered

Amano are great at keeping algae under control, but don’t expect them to clean up a poorly maintained aquarium.  “Under control” is the key word; not to “come in and clean the entire house”.  If you already have algae issues, start with the usual water change and scrubbing algae off glass and decorations.  Also reduce your lighting and possibly crank up the CO2.  Be weary of excess CO2, however, especially if your livestock start gasping.  Use a drop checker and maintain a log.  Amano Shrimp are not ornamental, but they can be key role players in a community tank and balanced ecosystem.

Male and female amano shrimp in planted tank
Best Algae Eating Shrimp – Male and Female Amano Shrimp – available on Amazon

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