i have been looking at my shrimp under a microscope lately. my red cherry shrimp have only two color pigments, yellow and red. my amanos, on the other hand, have at least three: yellow, red, and blue.
this makes me want to get some wild type shrimp that are easier to breed. they probably have all the colors needed to produce just about anything. the cherry shrimp i have that have the darkest and clearest red have very few, if any, yellow pigments. i bet if i could eliminate the red and yellow from the amanos, i could breed a blue shrimp.
the smallest shrimp, even ones that were just hatched, show chromatophores. using a microscope could probably allow someone to screen their shrimp at any age to see if they really do indeed have the color characteristics that they are looking for.
amano shrimp at 400x, showing red, yellow, and blue.
I basically just put them in a small clear container with water. eventually they calm down and I get a chance to take a pic. the hardest part was getting the pic at high magnification...
ill see if I can get some pics of my cherry shrimp later tonight.
I would love to find a wild type shrimp that is easy to breed. then I could look at them and see what pigments they have. my guess is that there is a gene for each pigment. when a mutation occurs, it modifies or eliminates one. depending on how they are affected, you could have different
mutations that produce the same overall color. this would explain why shrimp genetics can get so confusing. one shrimp may have a mutation for large red chromatophores while a other has a mutation on every other color that eliminates them. the end result could look the same, but breeding the two would restore the eliminated pigments in one and return the red to normal size in the other. it would end up looking like they returned to wild type while being het for both types of mutation sets.
here are some close ups of the cherry shrimp. unfortunately, the best colored one wouldnt hold still long enough for me to take a closer shot, but you can still see the difference.
a few pics of one of the better colored shrimp:
this is one of the less colorful shrimp. i tried to get enough detail to show the difference between the chromatophores. although it looks like the yellow and red are two parts of the same chromatophore, they have different qualities. i have seen some red ones that start out growing red, although it looks like most start out an oranges color, turn red later on then start spreading. im not sure whether the pigment itself is different or if it is just a different quality of the chromatophore that causes them to show different colors. i have seen both colors as lone chromatophores, but they usually occur together, with one appearing to be on top of the other. it seems that yellow is deeper in the skin than red.
its obvious that the chromatophores grow larger with age, longer branches, etc, however they seem to have different growth patterns. also, the difference between some of my shrimp that are of similar size but different color is the number of chromatophores.