Do Amano Shrimp Eat Algae? (Hair, Brown, Black Beard & More)

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As I noticed the algae growth in my aquarium, I wondered whether Amano shrimp would come to my rescue as they are supposed to be voracious eaters of algae. After extensive research and weeks of testing, I am willing to share what I found.

Amano shrimp will eat soft algae, including brown, hair, green, and black beard algae. Yet, they will probably avoid eating blue-green, staghorn, and green-spot algae. You may encourage Amano shrimp to eat algae by starving them, although one shouldn’t rely on them solely to control algae growth.

As we move forward, I will elaborate on the types of algae that Amano shrimp are likely to eat. Then, I will show you what steps you could take to encourage them to eat algae in your tank and discuss whether they can survive on algae alone.

Will Amano Shrimp Eat Algae?

The easiest way to remove algae from a tank is to add Amano shrimp. They are one of the best algae eaters on the market.[1] However, some people are hesitant to use them to fight hair algae because they do not know whether the creatures are willing to eat the algae.

Hair algae typically consist of long wisps and threads. And while some people dismiss it as a nuisance, it can be pretty harmful, either clogging the filters and pumps or covering the plants in the tank and preventing them from growing. 

The response you will observe in Amano shrimp where hair algae are concerned will depend on the type of algae. For instance:

1. Green Algae

Before you can eliminate the green algae in your tank, you must first identify the type of green algae you have. Green algae are not all the same:[2]

  • Rhizoclonium – This type of algae appears when an aquarium experiences a notable spike in ammonia concentration. As such, you tend to find it in new tanks that are not correctly balanced. Pale green, boasting a filamentous shape and manifesting in clusters, anyone that has touched this alga will tell you that it feels like mucus.

Caused by poor maintenance, low levels of CO2, and a low water flow, Amano shrimp will eat Rhizoclonium. You can also use Nerite Snails and Siamese Algae Eaters, to mention but a few.

  • Oedogonium – This alga comes in dark green and yellow-green shades. Common in tanks with low water flow, low CO2 levels, and varying levels of nitrates and phosphates, they will attach to any surface they can find in the tank, including plants. They have a fluffy appearance, though their texture is not quite as slimy as you might expect.

Aquarists rarely rely on shrimp to remove this type of algae because the creatures do not like it. They will eat it, but they won’t consume it in large enough quantities to keep the algae under control. However, that doesn’t apply to Amano shrimp. They have no qualms about eating Oedogonium, and neither do creatures like Nerite Snails and Otocinclus Catfish.

  • Spirogyra – Spirogyra is very common in tanks. You will find it in both freshwater and brackish water. Slimy to the touch and manifesting in bright green strands, spirogyra is free-floating. Though, it can form brown mats. In an aquarium with decent lighting, the algae will multiply rapidly.

It can cover every major surface you have in the tank, including the plants and decorations, within a few days. It tends to run amok in tanks with excess amounts of organic waste and micro-nutrients.

The alga is challenging to control because it relies on the same nutrients and conditions that ordinary aquatic plants require to grow. But you can trust Amano shrimp to eat it. Admittedly, in some cases, the shrimp are not enough. In the wrong conditions, spirogyra can grow faster than the Amano shrimp can eat.

  • Cladophora – Cladophora hair algae look like Rhizoclonium, which is why some people confuse the two. It comes in bright and deep green colors. The species smells like a swamp, and it will either attach to every firm surface it can find or float freely. Coarse to the touch and springy, it can survive in tanks with both fast and slow-flowing water.

It can manifest as a result of the presence of excess nutrients in the water. Cladophora is challenging to eliminate because it can thrive in various conditions, including aquariums with bright lighting or shading, warm or cool water, and freshwater or saltwater conditions.

While Amano shrimp can eat it, you have to use multiple methods to remove it, including long blackouts, manual removal, and the use of products like API Algaefix.

2. Back Beard Algae

This is a stubborn type of algae that grows at a fast pace. It comes in grey, deep back, dark green, and brown colors. It will appear as spots on various surfaces before turning into patches of thick hair that will cover the plants and surfaces to which it is attached.

Caused by unstable CO2 levels, too much light, and excess nutrients, black beard algae is unsightly. It can also cause an imbalance in the nutrients in the tank. Fortunately, various species can eat it, not just Ramshorn snails, Florida Flag Fish, and Siamese Algae Eaters, but also Amano Shrimp.

3. Brown Algae

Brown algae are also called diatomic algae. It is the first algae you must overcome because it appears in cycling aquariums. Because it manifests as a result of poor water quality, it tends to go away on its own over time. Naturally, if the tank in question is poorly maintained, the algae will persist. Fortunately, Amano shrimp can eat it.

4. Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae are not real algae. Instead, it is bacteria.[3] People categorize it as algae because it also uses photosynthesis to meet its energy requirements. It will appear due to unstable lighting (Either too much light or too little), high ammonia concentration, and poor water circulation.

To eliminate blue-green algae, you have to remove it manually. Clean the tank, siphon the gravel, and perform water changes. You can also use commercial products like hydrogen peroxide. You cannot rely on fish or shrimp to eat Blue-Green Algae, not even Amano shrimp, because it is bacteria, not algae.

How Much Algae Can Amano Shrimp Eat?

Five Amano shrimp in a 20-gallon tank can eat enough algae to keep the algae population under control. If you have enough Amano shrimp in the tank, they will consume the algae so quickly that you will be forced to add food to their tank to complement their diet.

Amano shrimp are excellent algae eaters. In fact, among freshwater shrimp, they are the most proficient algae eaters. But they won’t necessarily eat algae on command, regardless of the type of algae.

You have to starve the shrimp, or at the very least, make sure they are hungry.[4] If you keep adding flakes, pellets, algae wafers, and other types of food to their tank, they won’t hesitate to abandon the algae in the tank for the food you have added.

The only way to get them to eat algae, especially less savory forms of algae such as black beard algae, is to stop feeding them. If you want to know whether or not they can keep your tank clean, it depends on the number.

The size of the tank will dictate the number of Amano shrimp you should keep. If you have a large tank and a small number of Amano shrimp, the algae population will run amok because the shrimp cannot eat enough to control it. If you have too many Amano Shrimp in a small tank, the algae in the aquarium won’t be enough to satisfy them.

Should I Rely On Amano Shrimp To Clean Algae Off The Glass?

You should not rely on Amano Shrimp, or shrimp of any type, to remove algae from the glass. They do not have the tools to perform this task. They will eat what they can, but they cannot scrape the algae off the glass.

They may encounter similar challenges with algae that form on other hardscapes. If you want to remove algae from aquarium glass, you should scrub or scrape it off. You also have the option of using snails like Nerite, Mystery, and Malaysian Trumpet.

Do Amano Shrimp Eat Java Moss?

Amano shrimp are not likely to eat Java Moss. They might dig through it to search for algae or leftovers, but they do not eat the plant. In some cases, Amano shrimp will slightly nibble at the edges of it, but that’s about it.

Java Moss is a common sight in Amano Shrimp tanks. It doesn’t require that much effort to install. Besides improving the appearance of the aquarium, it also offers protection. Despite its benefits, many people are afraid to add Java Moss to their Amano Shrimp tank because they are convinced that the creatures will eat the Java Moss.

This fear has been heightened by all the aquarists whose Amano shrimp frequent the Java Moss. They think that the Amano Shrimp in question are nibbling on the Java Moss, but that isn’t the case. While Amano Shrimp can nibble on Java Moss when hungry, they primarily use the plant to forage food. 

First of all, a lot of small creatures and organisms live in Java Moss. Small fish and Amano shrimp that spend a lot of time in Java Moss do so because they look for infusoria, biofilm, and the like.[5] If you take a closer look at their activities, you may see them picking food out of the Java Moss.

Secondly, sometimes, the shrimp have to dig through the Java Moss to find algae. At the end of the day, even if the Amano shrimp decide to nibble on the plant, they cannot eat enough to ruin the Java Moss. Keep in mind that you have to clip the Java Moss to keep it under control occasionally. So any shrimp that eats the Java Moss is doing you a favor.

How To Make Amano Shrimp Eat Algae?

The most effective way to make Amano shrimp eat algae is to starve them. Make sure that they do not have access to pellets, flakes, and other types of food. Without that food, the shrimp will have no choice but to forage for alternative food sources.

If you provide them with enough algae in their tank, they might not need to eat anything else. But as was already mentioned, you should rely on Amano shrimp alone to control algae in your aquarium.

Another effective way to fight algae is to lower the lightning hours or change the intensity. As a rule of thumb, you should lower the intensity by 10% and decrease the lighting hours by 30%. But this will not be enough.

You should switch to an LED lighting system if you want to turn around the situation. You will need to reduce the number of hours you keep your aquarium on or replace your wet/dry light with LED lights. You must follow these recommendations carefully for them to work.

You can also use snails to fight your battle. Some excellent algae eaters include Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails. Snails are easy to work with. All you have to do is give them breeding conditions, introduce them into the aquarium, and watch them go.

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Conclusions

Amano shrimp are unique algae eaters. In fact, they are the most proficient algae eaters among all freshwater shrimp. But they won’t necessarily eat algae on command, regardless of the type of algae. Nonetheless, you can make Amano shrimp eat algae by starving them. 

This will make them search for alternative food sources. If you provide them with enough algae in their tank, they might not need to eat anything else. But as was already mentioned, you shouldn’t rely on Amano shrimp alone to control algae in your aquarium. To get the best results, use snails like Nerite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Malaysian Trumpet Snails.

References

  1. https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/a-solution-to-algae-amano-shrimp
  2. https://aquariumbreeder.com/how-to-remove-hair-algae-in-aquariums/
  3. https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/how-to-win-the-algae-battle-in-your-aquarium/
  4. https://lifeoffish.com/do-amano-shrimp-eat-algae-14-things-you-should-know/
  5. https://www.theshrimpfarm.com/posts/java-moss/

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