Amano Shrimp and Dwarf Shrimp Species Compatibility

Amano Shrimp and Dwarf Shrimp Species Compatibility

Amano shrimp and Cherry shrimp are the uber-popular choices of shrimp pets, thanks to their reputation for being amazing aquarium cleaners. Obviously, many aquarists consider housing them together. So, Can Amano shrimp and dwarf shrimp species live together?

Generally, yes. Amano shrimp and dwarf shrimp species can be good tankmates, especially, because they have almost the same water and diet preferences, are hardy, easy to care for, adaptable, and don’t impose a lot of complications.

However, there are still a few things you need to know. Without further ado let’s start. 

Why Do Aquarists Doubt Keeping Amano Shrimp and Dwarf Shrimp?

Well, this is mostly because their size and temperament are a little bit different.

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  • Most dwarf shrimp are undoubtedly peace-loving, extremely social, and non-aggressive creatures when they find themselves inside a tank environment. They are excellent community citizens and get along with nearly any peaceful tankmate when placed in a community tank.

They usually grow up to 1 inch (2 – 3 cm) long.

amano shrimp

  • Amano shrimp are significantly larger and stronger, the size of fully grown adults usually ranges from 1.5 – 2.5 inches (4 – 6 cm) long.

For the most part, their behavior can also be categorized as non-aggressive. However, Amano shrimp are very aggressive eaters and can easily bully smaller shrimp. In addition, there are also random reports that these shrimp could go into ‘Rogue mode’ and even start killing dwarf shrimp.

Although there is some level of disagreement as to whether or not Amano shrimp are safe to house with smaller shrimp species, I need to point out and remind you that Amano shrimp are not hunters, they are scavengers! This is fundamental!

Sure, Amano shrimp have physical advantages over dwarf shrimp but anatomically they are not built to fight, hunt, and kill smaller prey.

Therefore, despite all those unfortunate accidents, in most cases, there should not be any problems with keeping dwarf shrimp and Amano shrimp together.

Potential Reasons Why Amano Shrimp Can Harm Dwarf Shrimp

No shrimp owner wants to see their shrimp to be eaten by a fellow tankmate. Nonetheless, when it happens we need to understand the potential reasons why it could happen.

I believe that there are 6 main reasons for that (in the following order):

  1. Individual personality
  2. Hunger
  3. The post-molt stage (Metecdysis)
  4. Injured shrimp
  5. Dead shrimp
  6. Old shell

1. Individual personality

It is really hard to talk about the personalities of shrimp (they are not smart animals after all) but their behavior can be different from one another. Thus, the individual reaction may vary in a specific situation as well.

In my opinion, this is the main reason why some Amano shrimp can be more antagonistic towards dwarf shrimp. Just like in the human world, you can have a ‘crazy’ Amano shrimp that will be more aggressive than usual.

Does it happen very often?

Fortunately, not! On the contrary, these incidents are pretty rare but they may happen.

2. Hunger

Amano shrimp are voracious eaters. They have a massive appetite and require a constant supply of food to be happy and healthy.

For example, the shrimp exoskeleton consists of three main components:

  1. Chitin (20-30 %).
  2. Protein (30-40%).
  3. Calcium carbonate(30-50%).

Shrimp require food diversity to get all microelements to be healthy. Especially protein and minerals which play a fundamental role in shrimp life.

Unfortunately, when shrimp do not get enough microelements, they may solve the problem in their own way (by turning cannibalistic). To avoid this situation, keep your Amano shrimp well-fed.

Note: Frankly saying, if your shrimp are starving, it will not be fair to blame them for attacking others. They are just trying to survive! Remember that any living organism will try to eat anything if it can, in order to survive.

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3. The post-molt stage (Metecdysis)

In order to grow and/or restore lost limbs, any shrimp species must regularly molt (shed the old exoskeleton). The molting cycle is an extremely complex process that is normally divided into 4 main stages: inter-molt, pre-molt, ecdysis (shedding), and post-molt.

It is a very stressful and dangerous process for the shrimp that requires a lot of energy and puts the shrimp in a very vulnerable state.

Metecdysis (Post-molting Stage) is a period in which shrimp is recovering from molting and during which its soft body is unprotected as the newly synthesized exoskeleton takes form. During the early post-molting stage shrimp are too soft to protect themselves and relatively immobile. As a result, they are more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, or predators.

In dwarf shrimp, molting is a time of stress and mortality. A freshly molted and immobile shrimp has an enticing smell to other shrimp, who may take advantage of the opportunity for a free meal, especially for larger shrimp such as Amano. This is by far the most dangerous stage for the shrimp.

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4. Injured or dying shrimp

Even though your shrimp may look healthy, it still does not guarantee that everything is OK. This is the sad truth that we have to accept in our hobby.

Unfortunately, we cannot be absolutely sure regarding shrimp’s health conditions, but other shrimp do not have this problem. They know better about everything that happens in your tanks. After all, they are scavengers and can sense not only the signs of decaying matter but injured and sick animals as well.

All shrimp species can see dying animals even before it becomes obvious.

There are many reports where Amano shrimp and even dwarf shrimp were noticed eating a dying tankmate. Believe it or not, from an ecological viewpoint that can be good for the shrimp colony. 

5. Dead shrimp

Do not blame Amano shrimp right away. It is possible that the shrimp just died of old age, failed molting, or some other reason.

For example, molt death syndrome (white ring of death) is a condition when shrimp are unable to extract themselves successfully from the old exoskeleton during the molt. Unfortunately, shrimp that get stuck while molting nearly always die. In the best-case scenario, the result can be mutilation.

Amano shrimp are amazing scavengers and aquarium cleaners. They will not hesitate at eating any organic matter that falls on the bottom of the tank, including other dead shrimp. This is completely natural.

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6. Old shell

Many hobbyists often confuse eating old exoskeletons (molts) with eating live shrimp. Once again, do judge your shrimp too quickly.

How can you tell when your shrimp have just died or molted?

Dead shrimp gain a different coloration. While the molt will have a very identifiable split in the middle of the shell (between carapace and abdomen).

It is also not recommended to remove the old exoskeleton. Your shrimp will eat it later to recover the calcium and other minerals.

The Right Ways to Keep Amano Shrimp and Dwarf Shrimp Together

So, how can we minimize potential aggression? There are a few ways for that.

  • Decorations and Hiding Places

The first thing to do is to make sure that your shrimp have lots of hiding places.

Many decorations provide hiding places (shelter and protection) and minimize their stress. This is especially crucial for the molting process when shrimp are soft, weak, and immobile. In the wild, they are known to be vulnerable to predation and cannibalism during molting. In the aquariums, it also may happen as well.

In addition, all types of décor provide more surface area for algae and biofilm growth. Thus, it will reduce competition for food between shrimp.

Amano shrimp and dwarf shrimp will appreciate all types of leaves, rocks, driftwood, PVC pipes, plastic mesh, plants, and other decorations to enrich the environment in your tank.

Although live plants are great for the community tank, not everyone has a green thumb. Another way is to purchase artificial plants. Choosing thicker plants will ensure there are many good hiding spots available.

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Of course, it depends on your tank setup but many aquarists treat their shrimp counting only on their scavenger abilities. Basically, it means that they are not feeding them.

Do not do that unless you have an established tank with lots of algae and biofilm. Otherwise, this is a sure way to starve them.

I suppose anything if it is hungry enough is going to try, and eat anything else. However, if you keep everybody well-fed, hopefully, they will not start looking at each other as if they are a tasty snack.

  • Tank size:

Dwarf shrimp are not territorial. Even in small tanks, there will be no fights for domination or a better spot. Overstocking is a rare problem in shrimp keeping.

Nonetheless, small tanks have less surface area for algae and biofilm growth.

As we can see, hiding places and food play the most important role in shrimp life. Therefore, setting up a co-habiting tank should include a lot of hiding spots, live plants, and food.

Will Introducing Your Amano shrimp To Dwarf Shrimp Help?

Personally, I do not think so. This trick often works with fish but not with shrimp. Why?

Because shrimp are not smart animals and, generally, operate on their instinctual nature. They do not understand and do not have long-term memory to learn.

Therefore, there is no need to establish your dwarf shrimp first, then add Amano shrimp.

What to Do If Amano Shrimp Bully Dwarf Shrimp?

Ideally, you always need to have a backup plan in case things do not go well. There are three things you can do in this situation.

  1. The first thing is buying a tank divider (link to check the price on Amazon). By doing this you can place all your Amano shrimp in one half of the tank and your dwarf shrimp in the other.
  2. Another option is to have a quarantine or small tank ready for your Amano shrimp if it does not work out with the dwarf shrimp
  3. or … simply be ready to lose dwarf shrimp from time to time.

In Conclusion

Can Amano shrimp and other dwarf shrimp coexist in the same tank peacefully? Yes, they can.

Although there are also some conflicting data about this matter (some people say that Amano shrimp will be fine with dwarf shrimp and others witnessed some aggression or at least strange activity) it should not worry you too much.

Of course, personality may play some role here. Nonetheless,  just keep in mind that Amano shrimp are not hunters, not predators, and not bloodthirsty villains, they are scavengers. 

Sure, if you completely deprive them of hiding places and essential nutrients (protein, minerals, etc.), all shrimp species can become cannibalistic but it will be your fault!

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