Amano Shrimp and Betta: The Go-To Cleaning Crew

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If you’re a betta fish fan, but you’re concerned that your fishy friend might be feeling lonely living by himself in his tank, you may be wondering if some Amano shrimp would make good tankmates for your betta.

In this guide, we take a look at the Amano shrimp to find out if one or more of these cute crustaceans would make a suitable companion for your betta.

What is an Amano shrimp?

The Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentate) is also known as the Japonica shrimp, algae-eating shrimp, and Yamato shrimp. The species gets its common name from the Japanese aquarist and photographer, Takashi Amano. He popularized their reputation as algae eaters and as a natural tank cleaning crew.

Amano shrimp are one of the largest ornamental species of shrimps. They are also one of the longest-lived, often surviving for up to two or three years. Amanos are grey with stripes or dots along both sides of their body. And they can grow up to two inches or more in length. The species is generally peaceful in contrast to the betta, which is known to be highly territorial and aggressive.

Amano shrimp colors

The regular color for Amano shrimp is typically translucent pale gray, although they can also appear in shades of light brown, green, or pale reddish-brown.

You’ll see many solid dots and dashes, running the whole length of the shrimp’s body. These markings are usually reddish-brown or grayish-blue in color. You may also notice a narrow, lighter-colored stripe running the length of the top side of the shrimp’s body.

Can Amano shrimp and betta live together?

Thanks to their peaceful nature, Amano shrimp make good tank companions for bettas. However, the conditions in your aquarium must be suitable for both species for them to thrive.

What tank environment do Amano shrimp need?

Your tank should be heavily planted and must include lots of hiding places for the Amanos. Live plants are the best choice, rather than silk or plastic. Plastic can be hard and cause injury to both your betta and your shrimp. Also, the shrimp will enjoy eating scraps of vegetation when it falls into the substrate, making a useful addition to their diet.

When choosing plants for your tank, there are two main types you can pick; low light plants, and high light plants. In a tank that has low lighting or where the lights are only switched on for a few hours every day, plants such as java moss and java ferns grow best. Java ferns are often supplied, growing on driftwood, so you get a perfect tank ornament and plant in one purchase.

Note that the more light you have in your tank, the more algae will grow on the glass, ornaments, and plants. However, Amano shrimp love to eat certain kinds of algae, so your little cleaning crew will help to keep the tank surfaces clean. That said, you will still need to clean the glass to prevent the algae from taking over.

Shrimp are quite shy creatures, so providing them with tank ornaments that they can use as hiding places is the way to go. However, you should avoid using any ornaments that are sharp or rough, as that could damage your betta’s fins and may cause injury to the delicate shrimp too.

When it comes to tank size, you should keep your shrimp in a tank with a minimum capacity of ten gallons. The more space your betta and your fish have, the less likely it is that there will be a confrontation. Remember, wild bettas have a territory of around three feet square, so the bigger your tank, the better.

Do Amano shrimp like the same water quality as bettas?

When it comes to the water conditions in your tank, Amano shrimp share the same water parameters as bettas, preferring a pH level of between six and seven and a water temperature of between 700 and 800 Fahrenheit.

It’s worth noting here that Amano shrimp love to eat tiny morsels of food that float down onto sponge filters. So, if you have a sponge filtration system, your shrimp will love it!

What do Amano shrimp eat?

Amano shrimp are natural scavengers, eating whatever they can find on the bottom of the tank. Your shrimp will happily live off scraps of meat-based food that’s dropped by your betta, as well as plants and algae. That said, you should supplement your shrimp’s diet by providing them with shrimp pellets and algae wafers too.

Amanos also eat dead snails and fish. So, you must remove anything dead from your tank right away to prevent ammonia spikes that could harm your water quality.

Do Amano shrimp eat algae?

Amano shrimp are commonly regarded as the only cleaning crew that your betta tank will ever need. However, it’s a misconception that Amanos will eat every morsel of algae that appears in your tank.

Problems with algae are generally caused by water conditions and lighting in the tank. So, unfortunately, adding a group of Amano shrimp to the tank environment is not going to provide you with a perfect solution. Instead, you should work out the root cause of the algae problem and deal with it accordingly.

Also, Amano shrimp eat only certain species of algae. For example, “green spot algae” is commonly found in tropical fish tanks. This species of algae grow in small clusters on solid surfaces. Green spot algae are hard, unpalatable, and extremely difficult to shift. So, don’t make the mistake of assuming that a group of Amano shrimp will clear up your green spot algae problem because, unfortunately, they won’t!

However, Amanos do work as tireless tank cleaners, vacuuming up tiny particles of waste food and helping to keep the environment tidy.

How to Feed Amano Shrimp

A group of Amanos makes quite an entertaining addition to your tank. If you notice a group of Amanos busily eating algae off the bottom on one side of the tank, drop a bottom feeder pellet in on the opposite side. As soon as the pellet lands on the substrate, the shrimp will sense it and hurry toward it, jumping, hopping, and swimming across the bottom of the tank.

To prevent fights from breaking out, it’s a good idea to grind pellets, flakes, and wafers into small pieces or powder before adding the food to the tank. Pouring the fine particles into the tank creates a cloud of food that allows everyone to get a share of the bounty, helping to keep feeding times relatively harmonious among the shrimp community.

Group Feeding Dynamics

If you have a group of Amano shrimp in your tank, you can expect a feeding frenzy! These critters can become quite aggressive when they’re fed, and they will steal pellets from each other too!

Amano shrimp have a clear pecking order within a group. Whichever shrimp reaches the pellet first, keeps the tasty morsel until a larger, more dominant shrimp arrives.

When feeding your shrimp, the same general rules apply as for feeding your betta. Only offer sufficient food to be eaten within a couple of minutes. If you overfeed the occupants of your aquarium, any uneaten food will decompose in the substrate, increasing the nitrate levels in the water and placing extra pressure on your filtration system.

Amano shrimp molting

Every five to six weeks, Amano shrimp shed their old shell and grow into a new one. So, if you notice an empty shell on the floor of your tank, the shrimp hasn’t died; it has simply molted. Once the old shell has been discarded, the shrimp feel vulnerable and will hide for a short while until the new shell hardens. That’s why you must provide plenty of hiding places and plants in your tank that will act as a shelter for your shrimp.

You can leave the empty shrimp shell in the tank for a day or so. Amanos need to re-ingest the minerals that the empty shell contains in readiness for their next molting cycle.

How to choose healthy Amano shrimp

When buying a group of Amano shrimp to add to your betta tank, be sure to pick only healthy specimens. Just as when you’re choosing fish to add to your betta tank setup, you don’t want to bring in anything that may be carrying a disease that could spread to other members of the community in your tank.

The Antennae

So, study each shrimp carefully. The shrimp should have:

  • Two pairs of antennae growing outward from the side of the head, starting below the eyes
  • Two pairs of antennae that project from the front of the shrimp’s head, in front of its eyes

If any of the antennae are broken or missing, don’t choose that particular shrimp.

The Carapace and Abdomen

A healthy Amano shrimp has a translucent carapace. The legs are attached underneath the carapace. Behind the carapace is the shrimp’s abdominal section. The abdomen is divided into sections, giving the shrimp flexibility. You might notice the shrimp arching its abdomen into an upside-down U-shape. That’s normal and is nothing to become alarmed about.

The final abdominal section connects to the shrimp’s tail. The tail is made up of flat, thin, clear pieces of shell. Those portions can contract or expand slightly so that the tail can become slightly narrower or wider, as needed by the shrimp. On the edge of the tail shells, you’ll notice some incredibly fine, hair-like filaments resembling short bristles on a very fine brush.

Final Checks and Precautions

Before you make your final choice of shrimp, make sure that each individual has all of its body parts. Be sure to check that each shrimp has all its antennae pairs and that it has both eyes too. Often, Amano shrimp that are kept in display tanks in fish stores nip at each other, causing injury.

As you would with any new tank resident, keep the Amanos in quarantine for a few days to make sure that they are not showing any signs of illness before introducing them to your tank setup.

Can you breed Amano shrimp?

Unlike some other species of shrimp, Amano shrimp are extremely difficult to breed in captivity. That’s why Amanos tend to be more expensive to buy than other varieties of ornamental shrimp. Mating the shrimp is straightforward, but rearing the fry is the tricky part.

Step One: Get the Parents

If you want to try breeding Amano shrimp, you’ll need to buy at least ten shrimp with an even balance between males and females. Identifying the different sexes is easy. Females are usually much bigger than males. Also, the line that runs along the side of female Amanos is dashed and fragmented, whereas the line on the male shrimp is made up of circular, evenly spaced dots.

Step Two: Prepare for Mating

Given a stable, safe tank environment, Amanos will mate naturally. Pregnant females release pheromones into the water, attracting males ready for mating. During this stage, male Amanos may fight, eat more, and become noticeably agitated. Eventually, the pregnant female will choose a male to mate with her and fertilize the eggs.

Step Three: Check for Eggs

Once the eggs are fertilized, the female shrimp will carry them underneath her abdomen. You will clearly see the green-colored eggs, of which there can be as many as 3,000. The eggs take about five weeks to hatch, turning to a light yellow-brown when they reach the point of hatching.

Step Four: Monitor the Offspring

When the eggs hatch, you need to remove them and put them into a special rearing tank. In the wild, Amano shrimp rear their youngsters in streams that connect to ocean estuaries. The water here is brackish and salty, and you’ll need to replicate these conditions to have any chance of successfully rearing the fry to adulthood. That’s why rearing Amano shrimp is so challenging.

In summary

Amano shrimp make good tank companions for betta fish. Also, these busy little shrimps can help to keep your tank environment clean and tidy by eating discarded scraps of food and grazing on certain species of algae.

Amanos enjoy very similar water conditions to bettas, making them compatible from that perspective too. Unfortunately, Amano shrimp are difficult to breed, unless you can recreate the brackish environment that they need to raise their fry, and that would have to be done in a separate tank.

So, all in all, a small group of Amano shrimp would make a suitable and entertaining addition to a betta tank setup.

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