Pregnant Amano Shrimp Stages (And How To Tell If They Are)

Amano shrimp breeding is a difficult and laborious task that is usually only undertaken by experienced aquarists, but with hard work and patience, it can be done. Adult Amanos require freshwater, but their larvae only survive in brackish water. 

The popularity of the Amano shrimp is skyrocketing worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Freshwater aquarium hobbyists, both new and accomplished, can’t get enough of this algae-eating invert and their goofy personalities. 

The most popular shrimp in the freshwater aquarium world is the cherry shrimp, for its wide range of colors and prolific reproduction. Since cherries breed so easily, one would think that Amano shrimp breeding would also be a breeze. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Read on to find out how to multiply these finicky breeders! 

How Can You Tell When Your Amano Shrimp Is Pregnant?

The first step in breeding Amano shrimp is to confirm a pregnancy. Luckily, this is the easiest part of the breeding process!

Sexing Amano Shrimp

While breeding Amanos is difficult, sexing them is a much easier undertaking. For one, female Amanos are considerably bigger than their male counterparts.

Another way to tell the shrimp apart is to look at the line that runs down the bottom part of the shrimp’s tail. With females, the line is broken with occasional dashes, while the males will have dots. 

Is My Amano Shrimp Pregnant?

Just like being able to tell if your Amano is a male or female, confirming a shrimps pregnancy is quite simple compared to the other parts of the breeding process.

A pregnant Amano shrimp will carry a visible clutch of eggs on her swimmerets. These eggs can either be dark green, brown, or dark yellow, and the mother shrimp will continually fan the eggs to keep oxygen circulating around them.

These eggs are very easy to see with the naked eye, so a close look should suffice when checking if your Amano shrimp is carrying eggs. 

Pregnant Amano Shrimp Stages

It might take some close observation, but pregnant Amano shrimp have a few different stages that can be seen.

  1. When a female Amano is ready to reproduce, you will see her eggs through her carapace and her dorsal fin will become swollen.
  2. She then releases a pheromone that will attract the male shrimp. If you have multiple males, they may squabble a bit during this time, but it rarely turns truly violent.
  3. The male Amano will mount the female and fertilize her eggs.
  4. The female Amano will then drop her eggs onto her swimmerets, where she will carry them until they hatch. When a female has eggs on her swimmerets, she is now on a stage known as ‘berried’.
  5. You will be able to observe the eggs maturing, but it’s a very subtle change. 

How Do You Know When Your Amano Shrimp Is About To Give Birth?

Female Amano shrimp will carry their eggs for around 5 weeks, but there are other ways to gauge when hatching time is coming other than counting the days. 

Amano Shrimp Eggs Changing Color

As the eggs get closer to hatching, they will lighten in color, usually from dark green to yellow khaki. When you observe this change, hatching is drawing near. 

Amano Shrimp Eggs Changing Appearance

Another way to guess when your female Amano will drop her eggs is to look closely with a magnifying lens to see if the shrimp larvae’s eyes are apparent through the egg. If they are, it is almost time for them to be born. 

How To Set Up A Breeding Tank For Amano Shrimp

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the initial breeding and egg carrying phase of Amano shrimp breeding, it’s time to consider setting up a breeding tank. 

There are a few different ways to go about this, and having your timing nearly perfect is imperative for successful breeding. With Amanos, you will need either 2 or 3 separate tanks for mating and larvae rearing. 

Step 1- Breeding Tank for Adult Amano Shrimp

To maximize your potential for success, start with a group of at least 10 Amano shrimp in a 10-gallon aquarium Amano shrimp enjoy a heavily planted tank that sits around 78 to 80°F (25-26°C).

Low lights and black backgrounds are also useful for keeping your Amano shrimp calm during breeding. 

Step 2- Feeding Your Amano Shrimp For Breeding

Like most aquarium dwellers, Amanos love an excess of food to get them in the mood to reproduce. Extra food = perfect breeding conditions!

Never overfeed to the point of having food sitting at the bottom of the tank for long periods. This can cause an ammonia spike that discourages breeding and can even be dangerous to your shrimp’s health. 

High-protein foods like blood worms or brine shrimp are great for triggering reproduction and for the creation of healthy larvae. 

Step 3- Separate the Berried Female During Hatching

After the eggs have lightened in color and the shrimp larvae’s eyes can be seen with a magnifying lens, it’s time to begin the most difficult portion of the breeding process: getting the newly hatched larvae into the brackish water rearing tank.

When you’re sure hatching is imminent, remove the berried shrimp into a small hatching tank or jar. Use tank water from the breeding tank so the female isn’t shocked by new water parameters. The eggs will hatch over a few hours.

You can see the larvae by turning out the lights and shining a flashlight onto the top of the water. The larvae will swim to the light, making them easier to remove to their rearing tank. The rearing tank should be prepared with an air stone turned to a low setting and a black background, and the water should already be brackish. 

No need for acclimation when adding the larvae to the brackish water, but acclimation is needed when changing the salt water to fresh once the larvae have become shrimp. 

Alternatively, you can use the hatching tank or jar as the rearing tank, avoiding the difficult removal of the larvae. Just make absolutely sure you’ve removed the adult female before you add salt. 

Tank For Rearing Amano Larvae

One of the strangest things about Amano shrimp, and the reason they are so difficult to breed, is that the larvae can only survive in brackish water. So once your eggs hatch, you need to get them to brackish water quickly.

The recommended amount of salt is 30 grams per liter. The rearing tank should have an air stone set on a low setting, an LED light, and a black background. A moss ball is also a welcome addition since they can tolerate the brackish water well.

How Do You Care For A Pregnant Amano Shrimp?

For the most part, pregnant Amano shrimp can be cared for just like their non-expecting brethren. 

The Best Food For Pregnant Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp that are expecting don’t have any special dietary needs, so they can be fed along with the other shrimp in the tank. 

They will need to be well-fed and kept in ideal conditions. A little extra protein in the diet is always a good idea!

Keeping Your Pregnant Amano Safe

The most important thing is to monitor the pregnant shrimp to ascertain when she is close to dropping her eggs. Amano shrimp breeding can be dangerous for the adult female if she is exposed to saltwater, so be careful how you go about transferring the larvae to the brackish tank. 

How Do You Care For Amano Shrimp Fry?

Hatching Amano Shrimp Larvae

You can allow your female Amano to drop her eggs in her home tank, but the chance of finding the minuscule larvae in such a large tank is nearly impossible. To make collecting the larvae easier, remove your berried female Amano and place her in a small quarantine tank or a jar. Do not add salt at this point.

We don’t want our females in such a small area for long, just long enough for the eggs to hatch. Once the female has dropped the eggs, we can easily collect the larvae with a pipette. 

Simply turn the lights out and shine a light on the water and the larvae will swarm to it, where you can carefully remove them with a pipette. Amano shrimp larvae are phototactic, meaning they swim towards the light.

As of this step, the water in the hatching tank (or jar) and the regular/breeding tank is the same fresh tank water with no salt. You now have two choices. You can either:

  • Remove the adult female shrimp and return her to the regular tank, using the hatching tank/jar as the rearing tank.
  • Remove the larvae to a pre-prepared rearing tank.

Raising Amano Shrimp Larvae and Fry

Amano larvae cannot survive in freshwater. 30 grams per liter is the recommended salinity for Amano shrimp larvae rearing. Another important addition to the rearing tank is an air stone. A plant that tolerates brackish water is also enjoyed by the young shrimp. 

 For the next two weeks, your Amano larvae will grow. You can tell that your salinity is perfect when they take on a slight reddish coloration. 

Amano larvae appear to be legless and do well when fed with very fine foods like crushed spirulina flakes. 

Once your larvae have changed into shrimplets complete with little legs, you can begin to change the water to freshwater. Over the next two days, slowly remove the saltwater and add fresh water, so the shrimplets have ample time to get used to the transition. Once the water is all fresh, it can be returned to the main tank or a grow-out tank. 

What Is Common Amano Shrimp Mating Behavior?

When a female Amano is ready to mate, eggs will form in her abdomen, and her dorsal area will appear swollen. At this point, she is releasing pheromones into the water that will alert the males that she is ready for breeding.

The male Amanos may fight at this period in time, but it’s unlikely that any serious injuries will occur. 

Why Is A Pregnant Amano Shrimp Curling Up

There are two reasons you may notice your pregnant Amano shrimp curling up. One reason is harmless, and the other can cause substantial egg loss. 

Pregnant Amano Scratching or Airing Out Eggs 

If you notice your berried Amano curled up, it’s likely she’s just giving herself a good stretch and scratch. This is nothing to worry about!

Another possibility is she’s curling up to give her swimmerets more room to work when airing the eggs out. It’s important to keep the water flowing around the eggs to prevent mold. 

Pregnant Amano Molting

If something goes awry with the mating or the eggs themselves, a female Amano may molt while berried. Shrimp curl up before molting to help loosen and break the old shell.

If a berried shrimp molts, it’s likely that all the eggs will stay with the molted shell and die. Shrimp can also molt if water parameters are off, the shrimp is ill, or if they are stressed. Take good care of your pregnant shrimp to avoid molting while berried.

FAQ

How Long Does It Take For An Amano Shrimp To Lay Eggs?

A female Amano shrimp will typically carry her eggs for 5 weeks before they hatch. Once the hatching begins, it can last for up to 12 hours. 

Will Amano Shrimp Breed In A Community Tank?

Amano shrimp will certainly breed in a community tank, but because of the Amano larvae’s need for brackish water, the breeding tends to fail. This can happen before the eggs hatch, or shortly after since the larvae will not survive without salt. 

Do Amano Shrimps Lay Eggs Or Give Birth?

Amano shrimp lay eggs, they do not give birth. To new shrimp owners, it can appear that shrimp give live birth because they carry the eggs with them until hatching instead of laying them elsewhere in the tank. The Amanos will carry the eggs on the shrimp’s body for the duration of the pregnancy.

Recap

The breeding process of Amano shrimp is both complicated and fascinating! Here’s a quick recap of what we discussed in our article.

  • A pregnant, or ‘berried’ Amano shrimp will have green eggs attached to her swimmerets. These eggs will lighten as they mature.
  • Amano shrimp carry their eggs for around 5 weeks
  • 2 or 3 tanks are required for breeding Amanos: the breeding tank, the hatching tank, and the optional separate rearing tank
  • Amano shrimps do not hatch fully formed. They start as larvae.
  • Amano larvae must grow in brackish water for 2 weeks. Adult Amanos can’t tolerate salt and must be separated. 
  • A female Amano shrimp must have her eggs fertilized by a male. She will release pheromones to let the males know she is ready to mate. 
  • A berried Amano curling up can mean she is scratching, keeping water flowing around her eggs, or molting. 

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