The Ultimate Guide to the Amano Shrimp: Breeding, Care and Lifespan

Welcome to one of the most popular Shrimps in the aquarium hobby. For over a decade now Amano Shrimp have captivated hobbyists due to their exceptional ability to consume large amounts of algae.

In addition, their peaceful nature and busy-body personality have helped to sky-rocket its popularity over the last 15 years or so.

If you are considering Amano Shrimp this is the guide for you. We discuss how to care for them, ideal tank mates, dietary requirements, breeding and much more.

Category Rating
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Transparent/Greyish Body
Lifespan: 2-3 Years
Size: Up to 2 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Atyidae
Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallon
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, Heavily Planted
Compatibility: Peaceful community fish, other Shrimps and Snails

Amano Shrimp Overview

Amano Shrimp on Java MossThe Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata) is known under a variety of names including:

  • Caridina Japonica (previously named this until 2006)
  • Japonica Shrimp
  • Algae Eating Shrimp
  • Yamato Shrimp

They were brought to popularity by Takashi Amano, because of their reputation for controlling algae and generally keeping tanks debris free.

Behind the Cherry Shrimp, it is the most popular freshwater Shrimp in the hobby

Interestingly, because they are incredibly hard to breed, the majority available to buy are actually wild Shrimp. They are a hardy shrimp that makes it ideal for beginners looking to experiment with invertebrates for the first time.

They should be kept in at least a 10 gallon tank and can be kept in either a species only or community tank. The tank should be heavily planted and contain lots of hiding places for them (more on that later).

Typical Behavior

In general they are very peaceful; however this all changes when the food comes out. They will frantically race after the food and generally speaking the largest Shrimp has priority; you will definitely see a ‘pecking order’ here.

Outside of this you will see them spend most of their time foraging amongst the substrate and plants for leftover food and debris to eat.

Whilst not exactly a behavior, another interesting observation is when they molt (this generally occurs each month). When they are without a shell they feel vulnerable and normally go into hiding; this is why a heavily planted tank is a must.

Appearance

Yamato ShrimpThey are one of the larger “dwarf shrimp”, and can grow up to 2 inches. However when buying them they will typically be less than 1 inch in length.

They are easily recognized by their large transparent/greyish colored body. You will see a long line of red/brown or blue/grey dots running the length of their body; this is how you determine their sex (more on this later). The coloring of these dots can vary significantly depending on their diet. A Shrimp heavily fed on algae and other greens will have a green tint to their dots.

You will also notice their tail (Uropod) is translucent

Finally, you will also notice that they can mask and blend into your tank incredibly well; they can be very difficult to find when hiding!

Top Tip: to find hidden shrimps shine a spotlight into the tank at night towards the substrate; the shrimp’s eyes will reflect and shine.

Sexing (Tell the Difference between Male and Female)

Unlike Cherry Shrimp, it’s actually very easy to identify the difference between male and female Amano Shrimp.

  1. Firstly, the females tend to be bigger than the males.
  2. Secondly, you can look at the dots on their exoskeleton. The dots on females will be long dashes whereas for males they will be evenly spaced out dots.
  3. Finally, the females will have a saddle (i.e. egg nest) underneath her stomach where she stores her eggs.

Imposters and Lookalikes

Unfortunately within the aquarium trade there are lots of imposters and lookalikes. Whilst many of these imposters look virtually identical you can tell the difference in their algae clearing ability.

There are more than 200 different varieties of Caridina, so you can easily see why many different Shrimp get confused as true Caridina multidentata. The easiest way to identify imposters is because they are generally lazy don’t make good algae cleaners; real Amano Shrimp are relentless. Imposters tend to be smaller as well.

Finally they will breed in freshwater aquariums whereas true Amano Shrimp require brackish water to breed.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to visually identify imposters.

Amano Shrimp Habitat and Tank Conditions

True Amano Shrimp are native to Asia, specifically Japan, China and also Taiwan. They will live in large troupes within freshwater rivers and streams.

Fascinatingly though they don’t always live in freshwater. It’s only the adults that live in freshwater. As larvae they require brackish to hatch and survive. It’s only once they mature they will head to the freshwater rivers.

So how does all this translate to setting up your aquarium?

The first things to note is that your tank should be thoroughly planted. This provides them with lots of shelter and gives them comfort. You should be using plants such as Java Moss and Green Cabomba.

If you want to add even more hiding places for them you could consider Shrimp tubes. You can also add wooden branches into the tank.

Second you should only add them to established tanks; debris and algae is crucial for them and this won’t be present in newly cycled tanks. Finally, as for substrate you can use small rocks and pebbles to emulate the river beds of Japan.

Tank Conditions

They are reasonably hardy inverts and can withstand a wide range of water conditions;

  • pH level: 6.0 – 7.0.
  • Temperature: 70°F – 80°F.
  • Water hardness: 6.0 – 8.0DKH.

In terms of currents; they are used to this because of their natural environment. A hang on back filter works best for them.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

They need to be kept in at least a 10 gallon aquarium. With an aquarium this size you could keep at least 5 Shrimp in it.

How Many Amano Shrimp per Gallon?

As a good rule of thumb you can add 1 Amano Shrimp per 2 Gallons. However it obviously depends on the number, and species, of fish you have in the tank.

Amano Shrimp Tank Mates

Female Amano ShrimpTo start with it’s important to know that the Amano Shrimp is commonly viewed as food, so you should always exercise caution when adding them to a tank.

They are an incredibly peaceful species and have no real means to defend themselves.

You should be looking to include peaceful, small to mid-sized, community fish with your Shrimp. The following list of fish typically does well with them:

Cherry Shrimp Malaysian Snails Guppies
Bamboo and Vampire Shrimp Tiger Barb Neon Tretras
Otocinclus Catfish Discus Mystery Snails
Cory Catfish Bristlenose Pleco Nerite Snails

You should not keep your Shrimp with any large or aggressive fish. The following list will give you a good indication of which types of fish to avoid:

Cichlids Goldfish
Arowanas Bettas
Oscars Large Plecos
Crayfish Gourami

Remember if you are uncertain fall back on the old rule of thumb; “if it can fit in its mouth, then exercise caution”.

Keeping Amano Shrimp Together

If you plan on keeping Amano Shrimp it is recommended that you do not keep them alone. You should keep them in a group of at least 6 to help reduce any dominant behavior. Also try to maintain an even ratio of females and males.

They have such a small bio load that you don’t need to worry about over stocking the tank.

In addition to keeping them with their own species you can also keep them with other peaceful Shrimp such as Cherry Shrimp and Ghost Shrimp.

Diet and Feeding

If you didn’t already know, Amano Shrimp are famous for feeding on algae. They are known as being one of the best cleanup crews in the hobby and will devour plant debris, leftover food and algae. They have also been known to eat dead fish.

Unfortunately due to their reputation many people believe that they only need algae and leftovers to survive, this is not true.

They will always need their diet supplementing. Obviously the more amounts of algae and debris in the tank for them to graze on, the less supplementing they will need.

They are actually omnivores, so will eat both meat and plant matter.

The core of their diet should consist of a high quality pellet or algae wafer. However you can also feed them on sinking pellets, frozen foods and vegetables.

They will eat cucumber, squash, zucchini and spinach to name a few. Just remember though, the vegetables should be blanched and don’t leave them in the tank for longer than an hour because it will start to contaminate the water.

In terms of frozen snacks, think of the usual: bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Just like Cherry Shrimp, you should avoid placing anything with Copper into the tank; it is toxic to most invertebrates. Be sure to check the labels as many fish food and medication contains Copper.

Also you should avoid placing them in a tank with black beard algae; they will not eat this.

Breeding Amano Shrimp

As previously discussed sexing them is fairly easy; however attempting to breed them is anything but easy. They are incredibly difficult to mate and I’ve yet to hear from anyone that has successfully hatched the larvae and raised them into adults.

This is mainly due to the brackish water problem mentioned above (more on this later).

In the wild, the male will fertilize the eggs and the female will carry them for around six weeks. During this time, the female can often be seen wafting her tail to push oxygen over the eggs; similar to the Cherry Shrimp.

At the six week mark she will release the larvae into brackish water. As larvae they require salt water and as they mature and grow they need freshwater.

Remember adults should not be placed in brackish water; even a small exposure to salt can kill them. It’s at this point you should remove the adults from the breeder tanks as you increase the salinity of the water.

Due to the limited success stories of breeding them, no more information could be found on breeding Amano Shrimp; this really is only an endeavor for the most experience fish keepers. If you are looking to breed Shrimp we would suggest you look at either Cherry or Ghost Shrimp.

Those very few success stories that we have heard of, breed these shrimp in full strength saltwater with a salinity level of around 1.024.

How to Care for Amano Shrimp

Amano ShrimpAmano Shrimp are one of the hardiest and least demanding inverts in the freshwater aquarium hobby. They can be kept both in a single species tank, or you can keep them with ghost or cherry shrimp.

Fortunately because of their hardy nature they don’t require much specialist care.

One of the biggest things you need to pay attention to is cooper. Avoid adding any copper into the tank as this is highly damaging to all invertebrate.

They are also surprisingly resilient to ammonia spikes; however if at all possible avoid rapid any pH or temperature drops.

You should pay special attention to them when they molt; this is when they are most vulnerable. You should expect them to shed monthly if they are well fed and feel secure.

Amano Shrimp Lifespan

When kept in an aquarium they should live between 2-3 years. They are most likely to die young as soon as they are added to a tank. So if they survive the first few weeks in your tank they should live a long life.

Is the Amano Shrimp Suitable for your Aquarium? (Summary)

Now you know why Amano Shrimp are the most prized inverts within the aquarium hobby.

They are tireless workers, help keep your tank algae free and are also great community tank members as they are compatible with lots of peaceful fish.

In addition their resilient and hardy nature makes them perfect for people looking to try invertebrates in their tank for the first time.

After reading this guide you should now feel comfortable enough to know if Amano Shrimp are the right shrimp to put into your tank.

Do you have any questions about keeping Shrimp? Let us know in the comments section below

Robert Woods Portrait
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.

26 Comments

    • They are probably not true amanos, they are probably imposters, they 100% need brackish water to survive otherwise they would be extremely cheap as breeding would be easy, there are over 200 species of shrimp in the same genus, you probably have another species of the same genus that look the same

    • Hi Mohamad, they are omnivorous so it’s quite likely that they will nibble at your plants, however they typically prefer to eat dying plant matter and algae so I’d recommend housing them with plants without much issue. Thanks, Robert

  1. Hello,
    I have had a dozen amanos in my tank for well over six months. A couple of days ago something weird happened. Firstly, at least 8 of them started crowding around a small water circulation pump that I have in my tank. This included a couple of egg-laden females as well as the rest of my population.
    The next day, I saw nine of them huddled together under an Amazon Broadsword plant leaf (or leaves) that were attached to bogwood. They all seemed perfectly contented on both occasions, but I had never seen this behaviour before.
    The only difference that I can possibly put their behaviour down to is that I thoroughly cleaned the 3dm nuggets and 3dm beads that I have in my filter for the first time. My water changes are regular, but since the thorough cleansing of the media, I have noticed that the water is even cleaner and has less particulate matter in it than before. I use RO water with minerals, and change the filter wool and carbon every month.
    Any ideas?
    Cheers,
    M.

    • Hi Martin, thanks for your question. I’m yet to see behaviour like this too so I’ll leave your question here in hope that someone else had had a similar experience which they can share with you. When you say you thoroughly cleaned the filter media, what did you use to clean it? They should only be cleaned in a bucket on your tank water to avoid stripped them of the good bacteria which has built up, and also to avoid introducing any chemicals to the tank. Thanks, Robert

  2. My Amano (10 with at 6 males 4 females) occasionally congregate for a “meeting” I’ve seen it a few times. Idk why but it’s interesting and they seem perfectly happy. Both times (in 3 months of having them) was not around feeding time. Not around a filter cleaning of filter or tank. Once was when I turned on lights in the morning and the other in the afternoon after several hours of light. Other than size and cleaning ability what other ways can you distinguish true Amano from any other lookalike shrimp? Mine look like all the pictures and in the time I’ve had them they have grown large but idk about 2 inches. Maybe 1.5. Unsure if they are fully grown as none of my females have gotten berried yet. My Amano won’t touch any veggies I blanch or freeze. They will occasionally eat a pellet but are happy eating algae. They love the bubbler and love my mopani wood. A few will go off into plants and explore but most of the time they enjoy staying on the wood or around it. I have a heavily planted 10 gal with eco complete substrate.

  3. Are their bio load actually that small? I have been keeping 3 Amanos in a tank with sand substrate and therefore their poop is visible. It looks like they poop just as much as Mystery snails.

  4. After good results of amono shrimp in one tank. I added two to my second tank in early January which is heavily planted with Java and El Niño ferns. I was not sure that they survived until a month later when I saw one. It was the end of March when I discovered them both together. I usually see only one at a time about once a week but I can tell they are thriving.

  5. How long can these things really live? I’ve had some for 8 years now. 2 years in a 20g then 6 in a 55g. It’s a heavily planted tank, they have plenty to eat and there is only guppies in the tank but 8 years is crazy. Originally had 6, only am sure of seeing 3 now. I’m positive they are amanos.

    • I have also had my Amanos for longer than the advertised 3 years, maybe 5 years, possibly more. I am happy to hear that someone else has experienced this as well, as I thought I was crazy! I have a 55 gallon well-established planted tank that they share with some danios, a black skirt, neons, corys and cherry shrimp.

      • Hi,

        We have an Amano shrimp which is around 12 years old now.

        I found this page after googling to see how long they are supposed to live, so you can imagine how shocked I am that they should only live for around 3 years.

  6. Hi there I had a quick question. Is Copper Sulfate any safe for the Amano Shrimp? I was feeding them some leftover Aqueon tropical flakes that had them but they survived that for some reason. I was just checking to make sure nothing happens to them in the future. Thanks

  7. Oh thank you so much! I also had another question that might be off topic. I heavily planted my aquarium and my shrimp just love it but I’m kind of worried about something. Some of the plants in my aquarium are actually a different species and getting brown spots/yellowish fading leaves and I’m just wondering if all plants no matter species need the same lighting or is it because it’s a different plant with different care? I keep my lighting on for 8 hours. Thanks.

    • Hi Chase,
      Different plants require different strengths of lighting, but I usually recommend to go for a mid-range lighting if you’re keeping multiple species.
      How long has your tank been set up for? Some plants can take a couple of months to readjust to your water. Remove any dead leaves or leaves with brown spots and give them a couple of weeks to see if they recover. If not, you’ll likely want to use supplements.
      Thanks, Robert

      • My tank has been set up last October of what I remember so it’s been 6-7 months but I don’t know what day, sorry. I use seachem flourish excel and seachem flourish as my supplements do my plants need them?

        • Beware of using Seachem excel- it’s a toxic chemical and many testimonials point to harm to fish and invertebrates as well toxicity to mosses and floating plants. Most plants don’t need excel and setting up co2 for those that do need it is pretty easy. You can start Co2 for around $20

  8. I am thinking about getting a Amano Shrimp and I have a 10 gal tank. I currently have 2 glofish and they have been there for about a year. The main thing I wanted to ask is if I can have some large fake plants instead of real ones. There is still some algae on the fake plants I have now. This is mainly because a real plant can be a lot of hard work. Please get back to me soon, I might get one or two today.

    • Hi Gavin, thanks for your message. Yes, fake plants are fine, just make sure you feed your shrimp algae wafers instead. Thanks, Robert

  9. I’ve two males and three females, of which are always carrying eggs. I moved them yesterday (as I had to treat my main tank) to my 60L cherry shrimp tank, of which has very similar water parameters. A few hours ago I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed that one of the females has hatched her eggs, got to be at least 1,000 babies. Off to LFS tomorrow for advice, but for now I’ve turned filtration off to stop them getting sucked up, fingers crossed the other shrimp don’t eat them!

    • Have you noticed any decrease since then? I’ve only had hatches in my Anono shrimp when moved to a vase of similar fresh water. When hatched Ive had luck for a good 24 days, so far, with a water peramiter of 32ppm salinity (every other day I’ll switch from fresh water to saline water to compromise for evaporation with a small inverted water bottle ) Plan to switch them at 45 days to just freshwater with a improvised drip system. Or until they start swimming sporadically. Amono shrimp go through metamorphosis like butterfly and are not born true shrimp looking creatures, once sportatic swimming is observed, the shrimps are presumably looking for freshwater and should be drip acclimated thenforth.

  10. I have an Amano shrimp that I have had in my aquarium for 12 years. I feel like the expected life span is due to aquarium conditions and not the natural life span of the species. It is a male shrimp.

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