Care Guide for Amano Shrimp — Nature’s Amazing Algae Eater
Algae can become a natural problem in any aquarium. If you have the wrong amount of light and nutrients, this unsightly issue can quickly take over in no time. While there are many methods for getting algae under control, having an algae eater in the tank is one of the easiest, safest, and most efficient approaches. The father of modern aquascaping, Takashi Amano, was fond of using an army of these little Japanese shrimp to keep his planted tanks nice and clean, which is why they are now known as “amano shrimp.”
Amano shrimp in a planted tank
What are Amano Shrimp?
Caridina multidentata (formerly called Caridina japonica) is an algae-eating dwarf shrimp that grows to about 1.5–2 inches (4–5 cm), which is slightly bigger than your average Neocaridina cherry shrimp. It is clear-colored with a tan or gray-blue tint (that is sometimes affected by diet) and a solid stripe down the back. Males are smaller and have dots along the side of the body, while females are larger and have a row of dashes instead of dots.While they aren’t the most attractive shrimp, they have lots of interesting behaviors. You can find them constantly grazing for food with their front legs, climbing up plant leaves, and swiping food from bigger fish. Also, they won’t crossbreed with cherry or crystal shrimp, so you don’t have to worry about creating weird hybrids. In fact, they are not capable of reproducing in regular freshwater tanks at all since their larvae require highly brackish or salt water to survive. So, if you see a female fanning the eggs under her tail, don’t hold your breath expecting to see baby shrimp everywhere.
Berried female amano shrimp with eggs under her tail
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Amano Shrimp
They come from East Asia in countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Korea and can thrive in both freshwater and low brackish waters. Their hardiness makes them quite adaptable to a wide range of water parameters, so you can keep them in 65–82°F (18–28°C), pH of 6–8, and moderate to hard GH. As with most crustaceans, they need at least some minerals to promote healthy exoskeleton molts, so add Wonder Shell or Seachem Equilibrium if you have soft water.
They have a low bioload and do not need to be kept in groups, so they can live in most nano tanks (or larger), as long as there is a tight-fitting lid. Amano shrimp are expert escapers, so make sure to cover any openings where power cords or airline tubing are coming out of the tank. Also, they would love to live in a jungle of live aquarium plants and decorations, where they can graze all day long and hide when they’re molting.
Amano shrimp are larger than cherry shrimp and may outcompete them for food if there isn’t plenty to go around.
What fish can live with amano shrimp? Because of their outgoing nature and lack of breeding, they can be kept with many similar-sized, peaceful community animals like tetras, Endler’s livebearers, corydoras catfish, bristlenose plecos, kuhli loaches, other shrimp, and snails. However, stay away from any fish that are big enough to eat them, like medium to large cichlids, barbs, and goldfish. Also, they have bottomless stomachs and will happily steal fish food from their tank mates, so don’t keep too many of them with smaller dwarf shrimp and other slower eaters.
Because of their transparent shells, you can see the organs inside of an amano shrimp.
What Do Amano Shrimp Eat?
These scavengers will eat anything they can get their little hands on. They will consume all types of fish foods, blanched vegetables, biofilm, rotting leaves, and algae. Of course, they prefer not to eat algae if other tastier options are available, so limit feedings for a few days if you want them to work on your algae problem. Unlike snails, they aren’t as good at eating flat types of algae that grow on surfaces, but they will go after hair algae, thread algae, and even black beard algae if you have an army of hungry amano shrimp. Plus, they are great at picking out leftover crumbs from tight corners and small crevices. We personally like to feed them foods with added calcium — like shrimp foods and Hikari Crab Cuisine — to make sure they can successfully molt. In fact, if you see an empty exoskeleton that is clear (not solid-colored), then leave the shrimp molt in the tank so that they can consume it for extra minerals.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a molted exoskeleton. It looks like a dead shrimp but is empty inside and clear in color.
Amano shrimp are one of the best “natural” solutions for helping to keep algae at bay while you balance the lighting and nutrients in your planted tank. They are widely available, reasonably priced, and super hardy. If you’re having some algae problems in your aquarium, we really recommend you give them a try. While we do not ship live fish and shrimp, check out our preferred online retailers to get amano shrimp delivered to your front door.