Amano Shrimp vs Ghost Shrimp

Folks sometimes get confused between amano shrimp and ghost shrimp due to their color similarity.

In this post, we will look at how they are different from one another.

In particular, these are the differences between amano shrimp vs ghost shrimp

  • Size
  • Claw Length
  • Country of Origin
  • Life Span
  • Diet
  • Breeding
  • Price
  • Appearance

Basically, amano and ghost shrimps are two entirely different species. The former comes from the Atyidae family while the latter is from the Palaemonidae family.  The only thing in common is they have a clear and translucent look, which might confuse beginners.

Let’s look at some of the differences in more details below.


  1. Size

Amano shrimp can grow up to 2 inches while ghost shrimp’s is around 1.5 inches. As such, it is recommended that the minimal size for amano shrimp should be a 10 gallon tank while for ghost shrimp, you can go with a smaller 5 gallon nano tank.


  1. Claw Differences

Amano shrimps have shorter claws relative to ghost shrimps.

However, the claw grip is much stronger for ghost shrimp as it is used for prey catching. Amano shrimp usually feed off algae so their grip does not need to so tight.


  1. Country of Origin

Amano shrimps originated from Japan. This is why another of their common names is called Japanese shrimps. The name Amano came from the Japanese cyclist,  Takashi Amano, who introduced this breed of shrimps to the world

Ghost shrimp from are US and are known since 1980s. Its official name is known as Palaemonetes paludosus.


  1. Lifespan

Ghost shrimp have a much shorter lifespan relative to amano shrimp. On average, a ghost shrimp can live up to one year while amano shrimp can survive for 2 to 3 year.

Ghost shrimps are also more delicate and are sensitive to changes in water conditions. One reason is because they are not very well taken care (see the section on price below to understand why).  If you manage to buy a healthy ghost shrimp, they can live longer but most will not.


  1. Diet

As mentioned earlier, amano shrimp survives mainly on algae while ghost shrimp do feed on other aquatic creatures. This is why amano shrimps are generally considered to be great tank cleaners as they munch away the algae at a much faster rate than ghost shrimps.

Both species however are considered to be omnivore.


  1. Breeding

Ghost shrimp can breed and morph in freshwater. They also need lessor time to morph i.e. usually in the span of one week. Their fast breeding might be one reason why ghost shrimp are used as feeder food.

Amano larvae unfortunately, must morph in saltwater. In particular, they need at least one month in salt water to be able to survive.

This means that if you want to grow a shrimp colony, ghost shrimp will be much easier as no tank transfer is needed.

If you try to breed amano shrimps, you need to prepare another tank and transfer the larvaes to the new tank. This is not as easy as it sound as you need to get the water condition of the second tank to be correct.  If you are intending to breed amano shrimps, here is a useful comment that I found in a shrimp tank forum that might be useful to you (


  1. Price

Ghost shrimp are much cheaper, probably due to the ease of breeding them. As such, they are used as fish food most of the time.

Amano shrimps, on the other hand, are a bit more pricey as they are sold as pets or cleaners for the tank.

Their prices affect how well they are cared for and  ‘packaged’ during shipping. It is not uncommon to see ghost shrimps being treated poorly and as such, have a lower survival rate when they are shipped. If you order online, don’t be surprise to see a survival rate of probably 40%.


  1. Appearance

With the exception of their clear colors, ghost and amano shrimp have distinct appearances from each other.

Ghost shrimps have very little markings on their body, making it rather difficult to tell the difference between male and female. The only way is to check the belly shape. Males have slender bellies in general while the females have a more rounded look.

Amano shrimps do have different body markings on their body. Females have elongated markings (see image below) while males have more rounded markings.



If you are considering whether amano or ghost shrimps make better pets, my suggestion is to go for the former because:

  • They are hardier and will be easier to take care of
  • They help to clean up the tank so making tank maintenance much easier as well
  • They look prettier due to the body markings.

The only downside is the difficulty of breeding them into a colony.

In addition, be beware they are strong enough to be able to jump out of a topless tank so a fish tank cover might be necessary.

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