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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

November 18, 2010

Ornamental Shrimp

By David Lass


When Takashi Amano introduced the tropical fish hobby to his exquisite planted aquariums, he also introduced us to the wonders of small ornamental shrimp--especially the “Amano Algae Eating Shrimp.” This little beauty does a spectacular job of cleaning algae from plants and other objects in an aquarium (although it really doesn’t do anything to algae on the aquarium glass).

Amano shrimp--and many other of the genus Caridina and Neocaridina--have become established as a staple of the aquarium hobby/business, and if you are not stocking and selling them in your store you are missing out on an excellent profit-maker. The Amano shrimp are very hardy and active little buggers, and the only thing to be careful of is that they can also become a snack for many fish.

In addition to the Amanos, the next most popular group would be what is called “cherry shrimp,” for the clever reason that these shrimps are red. The only minor problem with them is that it is only the males that have the deep cherry red color; but the other side of that “problem” is the fact that they reproduce like rabbits. The Amano shrimp must go through a marine/brackish stage in their development and do not reproduce in an aquarium. Cherry reds will breed freely, and as long as there are no predators they will quickly populate a tank. I know a few local fish stores who keep a few 20-gallon tanks in their back room for producing cherry shrimp for sale.

The final group of shrimp that do great in an aquarium are the Atyopsis shrimp, which usually go by the moniker of flower, mountain or bamboo shrimp. These get to be around 3 inches overall, and they are distinguished by the first two legs on each side of the body being modified into “fans,” which they use for filter feeding. It is really interesting to watch one of these animals sitting where the water flow is best in the tank, and alternating the four “fans” as it shovels minute food from the water stream into its mouth. If there is not enough food in the water column, these shrimp are perfectly happy grubbing around the tank like their other, smaller brethren.

Ornamental shrimp are great animals--and they are perfect for the small nano tanks that are so popular today.

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