Terribly entertaining, hard-working, and hardy, Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp (aka Amano Shrimp) are an absolute must-have for the live planted fish tank. Ghost shrimp are great and all, and you may have a charming variety of catfish inhabiting the lower depths of your fish tank- but Amano Shrimp absolutely take the cake when it comes to being incredibly useful and surprisingly amusing. Have a PetSmart, Petco, or some pet store equivalent nearby? You’re golden. If there’s a live planted fish tank inhabiting a room in your home somewhere, now’s the time to tune in. The Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp is your key to having a beautifully-cleaned and busy tank atmosphere.
Difficulty Level Zero
You should probably know first that they’re extremely easy to take care of. They give you and their fellow fish no trouble at all and enjoy life best when they’re left alone to scavenge the tank floor at their leisure. They require a freshwater tank set-up and their aggression may show only when they snatch a tasty chunk from a smaller and unluckier shrimp. They are very tough and will endure a variety of water conditions, as long as copper is never present (a toxic element for all Dwarf Shrimp).
The Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp does exactly what its name suggests: it eats algae. However, it also loves to consume hardier substances such as bloodworms. The braver ones won’t hesitate to jet to the top of your tank to grab a savory bit of meat originally intended for your other fish, and will happily clean extra pieces off of the tank floor that are left behind by the others. They are constantly in action with cramming their faces full of material from your substrate and algae from your plant leaves. They’ll even scoot up the edges of your tank to clean the algae that inevitably makes its way to the corners.
You’ll notice they’re almost always in motion, both at night and during the daytime. They seem to get along particularly well with each other, and again, will leave their tankmates alone for the most part. The Amano Shrimp’s life goal? Eat as much algae and leftovers as possible. All the time. They’re quick both scuttling across the ground and in shooting around the water of the tank, and they love having places to climb and explore- especially if there’s some sort of food reward to their discovery.
Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp have been known to breed in captivity, but the eggs hatch as larvae rather than full-fledged baby shrimp. These larvae need salt water before they grow to metamorphosis, when they can then be transferred to freshwater again. This means that, while you’ll probably see at least one of your Amano Shrimp horde become pregnant, that pregnancy is unlikely to come to fruition without extra effort on your part.
Amano Shrimp, or Japanese Algae Eater Shrimp, can be found in the wild in the waters of South Eastern Asia. They were introduced to the United States in 1994, and were written about by Takashi Amano, the author of The Natural Aquarium. Today Amano Shrimp are hugely popular, and for good reason. They’re a must-have for live planted tanks given their hardy nature and their proclivity for destroying all algae and waste in your tank, as well as providing good entertainment for your tank viewers. The next time you’ve popped into your local fish supplier, don’t forget to pick up some of these shrimp- you nor your tank will regret it.