Setting up a new aquarium can be an exciting yet daunting task. From choosing the right tank and equipment to selecting compatible fish and invertebrates, there are many factors to consider. Two popular options for those looking to add shrimp to their freshwater aquarium are Amano shrimp and Ghost shrimp. But what exactly are the differences between these aquatic crustaceans? How do their care requirements, behaviors, and suitability for community tanks compare? This comprehensive guide will delve into all the key similarities and differences between Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata) and Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes spp.) to help you determine which is better for your particular setup.
Amano Shrimp vs. Ghost Shrimp Comparison Table
|Criteria||Amano Shrimp||Ghost Shrimp||Key Takeaway|
|Origins||Japan||North America||Knowing the origins can help you mimic their natural habitat in your tank.|
|Natural Habitat||Brackish waters||Freshwater|
|Size||Up to 2 inches||Up to 1.5 inches||Amano shrimp are generally larger and more colorful than Ghost shrimp.|
|Color||Semi-transparent with grey, red, and brown hues||Completely transparent|
|General Behavior||Generally peaceful||Mostly outgoing||Amano shrimp are more reserved, while Ghost shrimp are more active.|
|Temperament||Prefer to stay hidden||Can be occasionally aggressive|
|Diet Type||Omnivores||Omnivores||Both can adapt to a variety of foods, but have different preferences.|
|Food Preferences||Algae eaters, will also consume plants and small invertebrates||Prefer small aquatic animals like blood worms|
|Tank Size||At least 10 gallons||At least 5 gallons||Amano shrimp require larger tanks and slightly different water conditions.|
|Lifespan||2-3 years||6 months to 1 year||Amano shrimp live longer but are harder to breed.|
|Breeding||Difficult in captivity||Easier and quicker|
|Compatibility||Generally peaceful but varies based on temperament||Generally peaceful but varies based on temperament||Choose tank mates based on the shrimp’s behavior.|
Origins and Natural Habitat
Understanding where a species originates from and its natural habitat can provide great insight into how to care for it in captivity. Recreating water conditions and an environment similar to their native homes is key to keeping shrimp healthy and thriving. Let’s take a look at the backgrounds of each variety:
- Origin: Native to Japan
- Natural Habitat: Brackish coastal rivers and estuaries
Amano shrimp, also known as Yamato shrimp, are native to Japan. In their natural habitats, they live in brackish water environments where freshwater rivers meet the ocean. Here the water contains a mix of fresh and saltwater. Areas where river mouths transition into estuaries form the Amano shrimp’s native ecosystem.
- Origin: Various species native to North America
- Natural Habitat: Freshwater streams, rivers, ponds
Ghost shrimp is a common name for various freshwater species native to North America. They live in freshwater systems like rivers, streams, and ponds rather than brackish estuaries. A few different genus and species fall under the Ghost shrimp moniker, including Palaemonetes paludosus, P. kadiakensis, and Macrobrachium spp.
Key Takeaway: Amano shrimp come from brackish waters in Japan while Ghost shrimp originate from freshwater environments in North America. Knowing this helps inform proper tank setups.
Appearance can vary quite a bit between Amano and Ghost shrimp in size, coloration, and overall look. Here’s an overview of how they compare:
- Size: Typically grows up to 2 inches (5 cm).
- Color: Translucent greyish body with brown, red, and green tints. Dots and stripes may be present on legs and body.
- Other Physical Features: Distinctive downturned rostrum (beak-like projection), large fan-shaped tail, and long antennae.
- Size: Usually 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) long.
- Color: Transparent and glass-like with a pale whitish/greyish tinge. May have some faint dots or pigments.
- Other Physical Features: Shorter rostrum than Amano, smaller tail, and shorter antennae. Claws are longer than body.
Key Takeaway: Amano shrimp tend to be about twice the size of Ghost shrimp when fully grown. They also have more pronounced coloring while Ghost shrimp are nearly transparent.
Behavior and Temperament
In addition to physical traits, the behaviors and temperaments of Amano shrimp and Ghost shrimp also impact their suitability for community aquariums. Here’s how the two species compare:
- Temperament: Peaceful and non-aggressive by nature. Quite docile compared to other shrimp.
- Behavior: Tend more time hiding or drifting among plants versus being out in the open. Not overly active but will forage for food.
- Activity Level: Moderate to low. Prefers resting spots with ample vegetation.
- Territoriality: Minimal; may have dominance hierarchies but don’t aggressively defend territories.
- Temperament: Generally peaceful though occasionally aggressive toward each other. More nippy than Amano shrimp.
- Behavior: Outgoing and active. Constantly roaming tank looking for food. Less secretive than Amano shrimp.
- Activity Level: High, almost always on the move.
- Territoriality: Low-moderate territorial behavior, especially when molting. Males may fight over females.
Key Takeaway: Amano shrimp are more docile and reserved while Ghost shrimp are active, outgoing, and moderately territorial. This can impact compatibility.
Providing a proper diet is crucial for shrimp health. While both are omnivores, Amano and Ghost shrimp do have some differences when it comes to their ideal nutrition sources:
- Preferred Foods: Algae, biofilm, aquatic plants, vegetables, supplemental shrimp pellets/flakes.
- Foraging Behavior: Fans and small legs filter fine particles from water. Graze constantly on algae and biofilms growing in tank.
- Supplements Needed: Calcium-rich foods for exoskeleton growth. Occasional meaty items.
- Preferred Foods: Detritus, microorganisms, insect larvae, worms, brine shrimp, shrimp pellets.
- Foraging Behavior: Actively hunt down and scavenge meaty foods. Less efficient at filtering out microorganisms.
- Supplements Needed: Vegetable matter and algae to balance diet. Calcium for molting.
Key Takeaway: Amanos thrive on aquatic plants and algae. Ghost shrimp prefer microorganisms and meaty foods. Offer both options to satisfy their dietary needs.
Caring for any aquatic creature starts with providing an appropriate habitat. Here are the basic tank requirements for keeping Amano shrimp versus Ghost shrimp:
Amano Shrimp Tank Needs
- Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons or larger.
- Water Type: Slightly brackish. A specific gravity of 1.005-1.010 is ideal.
- Temperature: 68-75°F. Cooler temperatures around 70-73°F are preferred.
- pH: 6.0-7.0, preferably closer to neutral (7.0).
- KH: 4-8 dKH
- Decor: Plenty of plants, rocks, wood, hiding spots. Low-moderate water flow.
Ghost Shrimp Tank Needs
- Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons or larger.
- Water Type: Freshwater only. No brackish conditions.
- Temperature: 65-80°F. Ideal range is 70-75°F.
- pH: 7.0-8.0. More alkaline than Amanos.
- KH: 5-10 dKH.
- Decor: Plants, rocks, driftwood. Moderate flow and oxygenation.
Key Takeaway: Amano shrimp require brackish water while Ghost shrimp need strictly freshwater. Amanos also prefer larger, planted tanks with neutral pH.
Lifespan and Breeding
The average lifespan and breeding habits of each species also merit consideration:
- Average Lifespan: 2-3 years with proper care.
- Sexing: Females larger than males. Males have a distinct saddle-shaped markings under body.
- Breeding: Very difficult in home aquariums. Larvae require brackish waters to mature.
- Average Lifespan: About 1 year, sometimes longer.
- Sexing: Females have broader tail base. Males have elongated claspers.
- Breeding: Readily breed in freshwater tanks. Females carry 100-500 eggs for 3+ weeks before larvae hatch.
Key Takeaway: Amanos live longer but are hard to breed at home. Ghost shrimp have shorter lives but breed prolifically in tanks.
Compatibility with Other Species
Selecting suitable tank mates is key to a stable and healthy aquarium environment. Here are some general compatibility guidelines for housing either shrimp variety with fish and invertebrates:
Good Amano Shrimp Tank Mates
- Small peaceful community fish like tetras, rasboras, hatchetfish
- Bottom-dwellers like cory cats, kuhli loaches, bristlenose plecos
- Snails like nerites, mysteries, ramshorns
- Other shrimp like Red Cherry shrimp
Good Ghost Shrimp Tank Mates
- Small schooling fish like guppies, minnows, danios
- Bottom-feeders like Corydoras catfish, khuli loaches
- Small cichlids like German blue rams (if not aggressive)
- Snails like nerite snails, mystery snails
- Other shrimp like Red Cherry shrimp, vampire shrimp
Bad Tank Mates for Both Shrimp
- Large aggressive fish like cichlids, goldfish, Oscar fish
- Carnivorous fish that may prey on shrimp like bettas, crayfish
- Invertebrates that may harm shrimp like crabs, mantis shrimp
Key Takeaway: Choose small, peaceful tank mates that won’t intimidate shrimp. Avoid housing either variety with aggressive fish that could attack or eat them.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about keeping Amano and Ghost shrimp together or separately:
Can Amano and Ghost shrimp live together?
Yes, Amano and Ghost shrimp can safely cohabitate provided a few guidelines are met:
- Maintain brackish water conditions using marine salt. Ghost shrimp may have shorter lifespans in brackish tanks.
- Provide plenty of hiding spots and line of sight breaks.
- Introduce both species simultaneously. Adding one later may cause aggression.
- Monitor for signs of stress or aggression and separate if issues arise.
What is the difference between Amano shrimp and normal shrimp?
Amano shrimp require more specific care than simpler freshwater shrimp like Ghost shrimp or Red Cherries. Key differences include:
- Water type – Amanos need brackish while most others thrive in regular freshwater.
- Size – Amanos grow much larger.
- Behaviors – Amanos are more peaceful and not as outgoing.
- Breeding – Very difficult to breed Amanos in home tanks.
- Diet – Amanos consume more algae than protein-based foods.
Can Amano shrimp live with cherry shrimp?
Yes, Amano and cherry shrimp can live together peacefully. Some tips include:
- Keep water parameters ideal for both species with neutral pH and low salinity for the Amanos.
- Provide plenty of infusoria and aufwuchs for the smaller cherry shrimp to graze on.
- Give them both plant-based and protein foods.
- Add hiding spots and breaks in sight lines to reduce aggression.
- Make sure tank size can handle the bioload of both species.
Whether you’re leaning toward keeping Amano shrimp or Ghost shrimp, carefully considering their origins, natural habitats, care needs, behaviors, and compatibility with other species is important for your tank’s success. Their shared omnivorous and scavenging nature allows for some overlap in care, but key differences exist like brackish water requirements for Amanos. Doing research beforehand enables you to select shrimp that will thrive in your particular aquarium setup. If setting up a community tank, choose mates that won’t prey on or outcompete shrimp. With the proper environment and tank conditions, Amano and Ghost shrimp can make interesting and decorative additions to a home freshwater aquarium.