Do Amano Shrimp Eat Hair Algae?

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Hair algae are the bane of any aquatic setup, whether wild or manmade. These plant-like organisms are resilient, they spread fast and will disrupt your tank’s impeccable esthetics fast.

Fortunately, hair algae are not toxic, so you don’t need to worry about them changing the water’s chemistry.

That being said, they will become an issue fast due to their accelerated growth rate and biological functioning. Since these are plants, they will produce oxygen, consume CO2 during the day via photosynthesis, and reverse the process during nighttime.

All fine and dandy. The problem is that the algae’s growth rate and spread potential mess everything up.

In other words, the hair algae will consume too much oxygen during nighttime, increasing the risk of suffocation for all your aquatic life.

There are several ways to contain the algae’s spread, but today we will focus on one of the most popular ones – Amano shrimps.

Do Amano Shrimp Like Eating Hair Algae?

Yes, Amano shrimp consume algae regularly as they make up one of their primary food sources. They will consume a variety of algae, including hair algae and even the notorious black beard algae that few other aquatic creatures will consume.

The only problem with relying on Amano shrimps to keep the algae population under control is the shrimp’s diet.

A well-fed shrimp will feel less inclined to eat hair algae since better, tastier, and more nutritious food is readily available whenever they need it. So, you might want to starve your shrimp a bit to incentivize them to go algae-grazing.

Why Are My Amano Shrimp Not Eating Algae?

The most obvious answer is that the shrimp are too well-fed. This is true in most cases when shrimps refuse to eat algae, especially since the algae are one of the main courses in the shrimp’s diet.

Other issues may be responsible as well, like a sick shrimp experiencing discomfort due to digestive issues or other health problems.

In this case, though, the shrimp will most likely refrain from eating altogether. If your shrimp doesn’t eat algae specifically, that’s clearly because they are too well-fed.

It’s rather unnatural for them to refuse algae, especially when readily available in their habitat.

If your Amano shrimp displays a low appetite for hair algae, despite being plenty throughout the tank, consider tweaking the shrimp’s diet a bit. And by tweaking, I mean starving it. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt the shrimp.

These are adaptable, opportunistic, and resourceful animals, so they will immediately turn their attention towards the algae reserves around them.

What Other Algae Do Amano Shrimp Eat?

Amano shrimp consume brown algae, string algae, brush algae, and even black beard algae. The latter is especially hated in the aquarium community due to their dirty look that will ruin any aquatic setting.

Fortunately, these aren’t dangerous to your fish or plant life, except when growing out of control.

There are several ways to inhibit algae growth, but the Amano shrimp remains the most reliable controlling mechanism. The Amano shrimp is more voracious than other species and will consume algae at a more accelerated rate.

A hungry shrimp will graze constantly around the tank, keeping the algae population under control.

How Many Amano Shrimp Do You Need to Keep the Tank Algae Free?

The number of Amano shrimp you need depends on the tank’s size and layout. Generally speaking, you can house around 3 to 4 Amano shrimps in a 10-gallon tank and up to 6 in a 20-gallon setup.

The numbers go up from there, along with the tank’s size. In this sense, you can have up to 10 shrimps for a 30-gallon tank, up to 13 for a 40-gallon tank, etc.

This shrimp-per-gallon ratio should provide sufficient shrimp power to contain the algae’s spread.

However, you should keep some things in mind when housing many shrimps in the same habitat:

  • Avoid overcrowding – The shrimp-per-gallon ratios I’ve provided earlier are not there for nothing. They are the result of extensive research on what makes a balanced and thriving shrimp population. Do not exceed the recommended limitations since overcrowding will take a toll on your shrimps’ health and mental state.
  • Ensure an optimized meal plan – Amano shrimps require a mix of protein and veggies to stay healthy. Their main diet consists of algae, sure, but these animals rank as omnivorous scavengers. This is another way of saying that they eat anything available to them, and a diverse diet is necessary to prevent nutritional deficiencies and starvation. More importantly, they have quite voracious appetites, so they will spend most of their time eating and fighting over food. Make sure there’s enough food for all shrimps to prevent fights and starvation among their ranks.
  • A clean setup – While Amano shrimps are adaptable and resilient scavengers that consume a variety of dead matter, they still need clean waters and a hygienic environment. Providing them with regular maintenance and a clean habitat will prolong their lifespan and dramatically increase their quality of life.

Other than that, you can also consider breeding your shrimps if you think you need more of them. Or, in case you’re setting up another tank that could use a shrimp infusion.

Unfortunately, the breeding process is rather tricky when it comes to Amano shrimps, but this is a topic for another discussion.

Oh, and parents tend to consume shrimp larvae upon hatching, so you might want to keep that in mind as well.

Do All Shrimp Eat Hair Algae?

Yes, all shrimp consume algae, although the rate of eating and the algae preferences vary among different species. If you’re looking for professional algae grazers, though, look no further than the Amano, the cherry shrimp, and the cardinal shrimp.

These are some of the best at their job since they have a sweet tooth for algae in general.

Amano shrimps are more specialized for hair algae, but they don’t discriminate when it comes to algae grazing. They will consume anything nutritious enough to be worth consuming.

That being said, you shouldn’t rely on shrimp alone to keep the algae population under control.

It’s not uncommon for hair algae to spread faster than your shrimps’ ability to contain them.

So, here are other useful tips on preventing hair algae from taking over your tank:

  • Reduce access to sunlight – Algae are plants that naturally thrive in brightly-lit environments. While fish and plants require sunlight to survive and thrive, too much light is a thing. Place your tank in a moderately-lit room to provide sufficient light for fish and plants to thrive but not enough for algae to bloom.
  • Mind overfeeding – Overfeeding your aquarium inhabitants comes with a variety of problems. These include digestive issues, overweight problems (yes, fish can get overweight), and environmental pollution. Residual food will decay on the bottom of the tank, increasing ammonia levels and leading to algae bloom.
  • Add in competition – Algae and plants compete over similar resources in terms of light and nutrients. Consider adding more plants to your tank. These will create natural competition for the algae, containing their spread and making it more difficult for them to grow.
  • Manual cleaning – Nothing can make up for the lack of regular tank maintenance. I recommend manually removing algae deposits from the tank walls, rocks, and decorations to contain their spread. Water changes are also necessary to keep the aquatic environment balanced and fresh.

Relying on shrimp and fish to clean off algae is another good control mechanism since it requires minimal effort on your part.

But since we’ve mentioned fish, are there any good algae-grazing fish available?

What Fish Eat Hair Algae?

Fortunately, you have quite the handful to choose from. Here are some freshwater fish that are notorious for their predilection towards hair algae:

  • Tangs – These are omnivorous fish with a varied diet and a healthy appetite. Tangs consume algae, crustaceans, plankton, plant matter, and a variety of invertebrates. They are rather territorial towards other fish species, so be wary about housing them with friendlier and more docile tankmates.
  • Blennies – These are smaller fish, more suitable for smaller and more compact aquatic setups. They are great at grazing algae off of a variety of surfaces and have a pretty rich appetite. They’re also friendly and will get along with tankmates sharing similar personalities.
  • Rabbitfish – If you’ve ever seen a rabbitfish, you understand where the algae-grazing capabilities come from. This fish displays a horse-like snout made specifically for collecting algae and other food residues from its environment. Just be careful about the fish’s potential tankmates. The rabbitfish possess venomous fin spines.
  • Gobies – These small fish are great for nano aquatic setups since they only grow up to 2 inches at most. They rely on algae as their primary food source but will also consume flakes, pellets, and other foods as part of their omnivorous diets.

Other reliable algae eaters include angelfish, the spotted scat, and a variety of invertebrates like shrimps, snails, crabs, etc.

Conclusion

Hair algae aren’t necessarily dangerous and will grow in any environment, no matter how much you try to prevent them.

Fortunately, today’s article will help you better manage the algae and prevent them from spreading and taking over the entire environment.

The Amano shrimp will be your best friend in this sense.

Shrimp  
avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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