Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp: Appearance, Lifespan, Size, Diet, Care, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

The Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp is a highly sought-after and attractive freshwater shrimp belonging to the genus Caridina that is a must-have for experienced aquarium hobbyists. It originates from the Sulawesi region of Indonesia.

Their captivating appearance makes them a popular choice among aquarists looking to add beauty and variety to their aquariums.

In this blog post, we will dive into the fascinating world of the Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, exploring their appearance, lifespan, size, diet, care requirements, suitable aquarium partners, breeding, and more. If you’re ready to embark on a journey into the underwater wonders of these beautiful shrimp, read on.


Sulawesi Cardinal Prawn, scientifically known as Caridina dennerli. These shrimp are admired for their striking appearance and unique physical characteristics.

Their body is just like that of other dwarf shrimp. It boasts a slender, segmented physique, along with long antennae and adorable little legs.

They have a bright red hue that covers their entire body, with white spots that break up the color. The antennae and front legs of the shrimp are also bright white, and some specimens may have pure white tails. These color variations and patterns make the Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp one of the most attractive freshwater shrimp in the genus Caridina. Their unique coloring adds a beautiful and eye-catching element to any aquarium.

The average lifespan of Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp


The average lifespan of Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp is about two years,  with proper care and conditions.

Maintaining stable water parameters, providing a balanced and varied diet, and creating a suitable tank environment are extremely important to ensure a healthy life for the Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp. By following proper care guidelines and providing the right environment, aquarists can maximize the life of their Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp.


Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp go through different growth stages as they mature. When first purchased, they are usually small juveniles, measuring about half an inch in length.

As they grow, they reach their adult size, around one inch long. It’s worth noting that these shrimp don’t get significantly larger as adults, so their size remains relatively small compared to other shrimp species. These size variations make Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp an excellent choice for small tanks.


Reproducing their natural diet in captivity is essential for their health and well-being. In the wild, they feed primarily on algae, plant matter, and microorganisms. Also, in their natural habitat, they feed on biofilm that grows on rocks and plants. You can recreate this by allowing some algae and other microorganisms to grow in your aquarium.

In addition to the above, a balanced captive diet includes algae-based foods such as spirulina flakes or pellets, along with blanched vegetables such as spinach or zucchini, which will help meet their nutritional needs.

Providing a varied and nutrient-rich diet is important to promote optimal growth and vibrant coloration of Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp.

Feeding frequency and quantities

Feeding frequency for Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp will depend on the size of your colony and the availability of food sources. As a general guideline, feeding them once or twice a day is sufficient. However, it is important not to overfeed them, as excess food can foul the tank and negatively affect water quality.

As for amounts, it’s best to start with small amounts of food and watch how much they consume within a few minutes. Adjust the amount accordingly, making sure all food is consumed without excess.


Recommended tank size

Considering that Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are small, a tank of about five to ten gallons would be sufficient for a small group of these shrimp. However, if you have the space and resources, choosing a larger tank will provide more room for the shrimp to move around and explore, ultimately improving their overall well-being.

A larger tank allows for better regulation of water conditions, as smaller tanks experience more rapid fluctuations in water parameters. Also, providing more water provides a more stable environment for the shrimp.

Tank setup and decorations

When creating an aquarium for Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, it is important to recreate their natural environment as closely as possible. This includes providing the right substrate, stones, sedges, and live plants. Here are some guidelines for tank setup and decorations:

  • Substrate: Use a dark sandy substrate to mimic the layer of plant detritus found in their natural habitat.
  • Rocks and wood: Use porous rocks and rough wood as they provide surfaces for algae growth on which the shrimp can graze.
  • Live Plants: Introduce several live plants throughout the aquarium that will serve as a food source, create hiding places and improve water quality.
  • Lighting: These shrimp are not picky about lighting conditions in their tanks. They are perfectly content with moderate light, which keeps them active and lively throughout the day.

Water parameters and requirements

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp have specific water parameter requirements to be met to thrive. These shrimp are native to the Sulawesi region of Indonesia and are adapted to the conditions of the area’s ancient lakes. Here are the recommended water parameters for Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp:

  • Temperature: They prefer slightly acidic water with a temperature range of 77-88 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining a stable temperature in this range is important to avoid stressing the shrimp.
  • pH level: Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp thrive in water with a pH of 7.0 to 8.5. The ideal pH for these shrimp is around 8.0, which is slightly alkaline.
  • Hardness: Water should have a medium to high hardness level, around 3-10 dKH.

Maintaining stable water parameters is critical to the health and well-being of Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp. Regular water testing with a reliable aquarium water test kit is recommended to ensure parameters are in the correct range. Any necessary adjustments can be made with water conditioners or other suitable additives.

Do regular water changes of about 30-50% every week to keep the water clean and maintain stable water parameters. Be sure to slowly acclimate the shrimp to any changes in water parameters to prevent shock or stress.

Compatible tank mates for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp

When choosing tank mates for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, it’s important to consider their specific water parameter requirements and peaceful nature.

These shrimp are best kept in a species-only tank or with compatible inhabitants that can tolerate the same conditions. This species is peaceful and can be kept with Sulawesi dwarf shrimp and Sulawesi snail species as aquarium partners. It’s essential to avoid larger, aggressive species or fish that may prey on the shrimp.

Breeding Behavior and Requirements


Breeding these shrimp can be challenging but rewarding. It is essential to provide a well-maintained tank with stable water parameters for successful breeding. Creating hiding places, such as caves or mosses, is critical to providing a safe space for female shrimp during breeding.

If you have a male and female in the same tank, it’s almost certain that they will eventually breed. The Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp is known to lay a smaller number of eggs. Once they have bred, the female will lay around 15 eggs, which she will carry in her swimmerets. These swimmerets are like tiny leg-like fins on the underside of her body. The female will take care of these eggs throughout the entire incubation process.

After approximately 20 days, the eggs will hatch, and the baby shrimp will start swimming around independently. To support their growth, provide them with finely powdered food. This will help them thrive and develop into healthy adult shrimps.

Possible diseases

Like any other aquatic creature, Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp can be prone to certain diseases if their tank conditions are not properly maintained. The most common diseases affecting them include bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasitic infestations. These diseases can be caused by poor water quality, stress, or the presence of pathogens in the tank.

Maintaining clean water conditions, providing a well-balanced diet, and avoiding overcrowding the tank is important to prevent diseases in Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp. Regular water testing, proper filtration, and regular tank maintenance are crucial to ensuring the health and well-being of these shrimp.

If you notice any signs of illness in your Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, discoloration, or abnormal behavior, it is important to take action immediately. Quarantining affected shrimp, performing partial water changes, and using appropriate medications can help treat and prevent the spread of diseases.

FAQs about Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp

Are Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp suitable for beginners?

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp care requires specific water parameters and attention to detail, making them more suitable for experienced aquarists.

How long do Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp live?

In the right conditions, they can live up to two years.

Can Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp be kept in a small tank?

While they can be kept in smaller tanks, it is recommended to have at least a five-gallon tank to maintain stable water conditions.

Are Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp prone to any diseases?

While they are generally hardy, they can be sensitive to water parameter changes. Maintaining proper water quality is important to prevent stress and potential diseases.

Can Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp be bred in captivity?

Yes, breeding Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp in captivity is possible but it requires specific water conditions and careful breeding practices.


Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp can be a challenging but rewarding addition to an aquarium. They are highly sought-after for their stunning coloration and unique appearance. However, they require specific water parameters to thrive, making them suitable only for experienced hobbyists willing to put in the effort to maintain the right conditions.

For aquarists with the necessary knowledge and experience, Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp can make a beautiful and captivating addition to a freshwater tank. They are relatively small and can be kept in smaller tanks, making them suitable for nano setups. However, it is important to replicate their natural environment as closely as possible to ensure their well-being.

It is crucial to thoroughly research and understand the care requirements of Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp before adding them to your tank. Regular water testing, specific temperature and pH ranges, and appropriate tank setup are necessary to provide a suitable habitat for these shrimp.

Overall, if you have the experience and dedication to meet their specific needs, Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp can be a fascinating and visually stunning addition to your freshwater aquarium.