When considering an ideal tank cleaner, Amano shrimp should be a good choice. Well known by a number of names including swamp shrimp, Yamato Numa Ebi, algae eating shrimp, Japonica Amano shrimp among others, this tank animal can literally clear algae from the aquarium. The shrimp is an aggressive food hunter and a powerful swimmer as well.
Popular among many hobbyists, the shrimp is exploratory. It also perches and hides behind plant leaves. Hunting for food is its favorite pastime. No wonder it matures within a short time.
Appearance of Amano Shrimp
The Amano shrimp often adorns a number of colors. The most conspicuous one is light grey. Other shades include green, reddish brown or light brown. Throughout the length of its body are dots and dashes that range from light blue to reddish brown. At the top of its body is a long stripe that runs the whole length of its profile. On its head are two large eyes and long outstretched antennae. It has two nimble legs and a wide almost translucent tail.
One unique factor about the shrimp is that its color is largely determined by its feeds. Those that feed mainly on algae and detritus tend to be green. Amino shrimps that mainly eat fish food are reddish brown in color. They also have the ability to mask themselves. In case it disappears without a trace, it is likely to be hiding somewhere beneath the substrate or plants.
Their sizes vary owing to a number of factors including care and genes. When fully mature, they can measure anywhere between 1.5 to 2 inches. If properly cared for, they can live for three years or more.
Origin and Habitat
The shrimp is native to South Central Japan. China and parts of Taiwan are known to host it too. The shrimp is known to inhabit fresh water streams and rivers. These kinds of waters are known to play a huge role in its life cycle.
The shrimp was discovered in Japan when Takashi Amano used them in an aquarium. Within no time, all the troublesome algae was gone. After the discovery, the news spread far and wide, with more hobbyists keeping the shrimp for tank cleaning purposes.
Since they are aggressive tank cleaners, most hobbyists house them with fish and other tank pets. They easily transform to meals for other predatory fish. The choice of tankmates must therefore be done considerately.
- A 20 gallon tank should accommodate at least 20 shrimps very comfortably.
- Place pebbles at the bottom of the tank.
- Add fine sand and gravel to the substrate.
- Place rooted plants as well as floating ones to provide a nice cover for the shrimp. This helps it hide during moments when it wishes to be alone.
- Use a filter that offers a high water current. In their original habitat, they are used to high moving waters.
- Standard lighting will be ideal.
The water temperature should be between 73 and 78 F (23 and 27C). Of course a little decrease or increase does not adversely affect the shrimp. All the same, a constant temperature is often a recommendation. The pH can vary between 5.8 and 7.0. A pH of more than 7.0 can lead to a lack of oxygen that may force the shrimp to vacate the water. To avoid this, stick to the required pH.
Do not add copper to the water. In case there is need to use nitrate, it must be used modestly as high amounts may spark a problem for the shrimp.
While it is a scavenger that eats anything from food remnants to tank algae, there is still need to provide it with sufficient food. Remember it hunts for its feed in its natural environment because it has its freedom. This is different in captivity as conditions are under tight control. The following feeds should do well for the Amano shrimp:
- Decaying plant matter
- Shrimp pellets
- Fish flakes
- Blanched spinach
- Raw zucchini
- Algae wafers
After offering feeds, the leftovers should be removed within 24 hours to avoid fouling the tank. When kept with other peaceful fish that are non-predatory, there is no need to feed the shrimp too often as it will devour any leftover from the tank-mates.
Distinguishing males from females is possible in Amano shrimps. Breeding them in captivity is however, difficult as it requires certain conditions that are hard to meet in a standard tank. All the same, there is always the chance for trial. The following can be done to have them breed:
- Identify two mature shrimps with male and female features. The males are slightly smaller than females in size. On the other hand, females look much larger with bulging pleopods in their abdomens.
- Place them in a different tank.
- The female will release pheromone into the water. This entices the male to pursue it. If there are more males in the tank, they are all likely to pile on top of the female in question. While many will do this, only one will fertilize the eggs within her.
- The female will then carry a “beg” with eggs inside it. The eggs may vary from 2 million to 4 million. These eggs are carried around for about 2-6 weeks. During this period, they (eggs) will be regularly cleaned and placed in certain nests.
- During the process of carrying, the tank should be extremely conducive. Ensure there is high oxygen content within the tank. If these conditions are unmet, the eggs are unlikely to hatch.
- The eggs begin to hatch. Some may not. The female then throws away those that do not.
- The shrimp fry begin feeding actively from the time they hatch. Offer baby shrimp food by crushing yeast or vegetables. Being active eaters, they often mature quite fast.
Amano shrimps can easily coexist with fish like tiger barbs, discus and bristlenose fish. If kept as a group, they are very lovely and lively.
Important points to note
The Amano shrimp can hide for several days without availing itself to be seen. In case it disappears for some number of days, just give it time and it will eventually resurface.
They are preyed upon by many fish types. House them only with friendly pets that will not tear their body parts off.
Amano shrimp is a very ideal tank cleaner. Instead of worrying about regularly cleaning a tank, place them with the friendly fish and have a clean tank in return.