(A very transparent Ghost Shrimp, pictured above. Its body fades into the black background. Canon 5D MKIV + 100mm f/2.8L IS USM)
After the untimely passing of my sweet betta fish, I was reluctant to revive my empty aquarium with a new inhabitant. I took a few weeks to mourn my old office buddy, and then decided I would try my hand at managing a freshwater shrimp tank. I first introduced a few Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus), a commonly-found shrimp native to North America that I have kept in the past. Wonderful little scavengers, the Ghost or, Glass Shrimp, are often sold inexpensively as food to other aquarium fish. Always busy and with a great appetite, they are terrific at cleaning up algae and discarded fish foods. After seeing my Ghost Shrimp flourish in my partially-planted tank (so successful that a female soon dropped a clutch of eggs that produced one viable offspring that I could see but unfortunately, did not make it to adulthood), I sought out compatible tank companions and found the Japanese Amano Shrimp.
(Japanese Amano Shrimp, pictured above. Canon 5D MKIV + 100mm f/2.8L IS USM)
The Japanese Amano Shrimp, named for professional aquarist (among many other professions) Amano Takashi who first introduced these shrimp into the mainstream freshwater community in the 1980’s, is a transparent shrimp native to the freshwater streams and marshes of Japan and Taiwan. While upon first glance it may appear similar to the Ghost Shrimp, there are many differences that upon further inspection, make it easy to differentiate. Amano have more robust legs, lower-profile eyes that lie closer to the top of the head, and feature rows of dots along the body that are used to ascertain the males from females. Ghost Shrimp have skinnier legs, eyes that bulge to either side of its head, and are relatively free of distinguishable body markings.
A primary difference between Ghost and Amano Shrimp is in their life-cycle. While Ghost Shrimp reside in freshwater their entire lives, Amano Shrimp must go through a process of moving between fresh and brackish/salt water before returning to freshwater, where they live out their adulthood. This necessity for Amano fry, or “zoes” to metamorphose in salt water makes captive breeding difficult. After Amano eggs hatch, they are larval rather than tiny versions of their adult selves. The zoes must enter salt water very soon after hatching, and will spend the next 30-60 days in the metamorphose stage before they will need to be transferred back to freshwater. Adult Amano cannot tolerate full, marine salinity. Because of the difficult breeding process, most Amano Shrimp in the market are wild-caught.
(Amano Shrimp, pictured above. How can you not adore those googly-eyes? Canon 5D MKIV + 100mm f/2.8L IS USM)
(Above: An Amano Shrimp fastidiously feasts upon algae.)
I am having a great time observing and learning more about these two species. They have been a great addition to my office aquarium, and provide plenty of both calm and entertainment throughout the day.