Despite being called dwarf shrimp, amano shrimp are some of the largest of their kind and can grow up to two inches in length. More commonly, they will be about an inch in length at the time you purchase them. Although some shrimp sold at the pet store may be a bit smaller, don’t’ be deterred by a shrimp that is a shorter length. Size is not an indicator of health with this species, and many mature and grow quickly once you get them home.
These shrimp have translucent gray bodies with lines of reddish brown or dots that are bluish grey. The presence of stripes versus dots indicates the sex of the shrimp, but the coloration of the dots can also vary depending on the shrimp’s diet. A shrimp that feeds heavily on algae and other green foods will have a more greenish hue to its dots. The tail of the shrimp is also translucent.
Because these shrimp are so nearly see-through, they can camouflage themselves and blend into your tank and their surroundings with ease. In fact, when they’re in the mood to hide, they can be quite difficult to find. If you worry that you have lost your shrimp, simply shine a spotlight into the tank toward the substrate. You’ll be able to see the eyes reflecting and shining back at you.
You can tell the difference between male and female amano shrimp based on their appearances. Females are quite a bit larger than males, and the dots on a female’s exoskeletons will look like long dashes, whereas the males will have evenly spaced specks. Females will also have saddles beneath their stomachs where they store their eggs.
Amano shrimp, like most other shrimp species, are incredibly peaceful. However, they become a bit more agitated at feeding time, when you will likely find them racing frantically after the food. In these situations, you may be able to observe the largest shrimp dominate the rest of the group – it will rise above the rest in the pecking order and show a bit of aggression as it does so.
Besides this, amano shrimp are relatively calm. They will spend most of their days foraging among the plants and the substrate of your tank, looking for leftover food and other debris that they can eat. They will climb over all of your live aquarium plants, swimming from plant to plant as they look for new places to explore.
Amano shrimp molt roughly once every month, and go into hiding when they shed their shells. This is why a heavily planted tank is so vital when you are raising this kind of shrimp. Amano shrimp are also great swimmers, and can be kept in tanks of nearly any size as long as the regular rules of fish husbandry and populations are adhered to. Do not overstock your tank with amanos. Although these shrimp are excellent cleaners, they produce a significant amount of waste themselves and can add to the build-up in your tank.