Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp: Ultimate Guide & Care Essentials

cardinal sulawesi shrimp profile
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 17, 2024
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Does your aquarium seem a bit dull? **Add some pizzazz** by introducing the *Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp*! This little creature can become the star of your tank. Our detailed guide reveals their beauty and teaches you how to care for them. **Turning your aquarium into a mesmerizing wonderland** is easier than you think! Dive in and find out more secrets to elevate your aquarist game to the next level.

Article Summary

  • Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp are captivating freshwater shrimp native to Sulawesi, Indonesia.
  • They have a slower breeding rate compared to other shrimp species, but successful breeding can be achieved with patience and proper care.
  • Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp require a stable environment, proper tank cycling, calcium supplementation, and regular water changes.

Species Overview

The Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, scientifically known as Caridina dennerli, is a captivating freshwater shrimp species native to the beautiful island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. These small creatures are highly sought after by aquarists around the world for their striking appearance and unique characteristics.

The Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp originates from the crystal-clear waters of Sulawesi, an island known for its distinctive biodiversity. This region boasts an array of fascinating aquatic lifeforms, making it a true paradise for nature enthusiasts.

However, due to habitat destruction and pollution, there are growing concerns about the conservation status of these shrimp, as they have become endangered in their natural habitat.

Physical Characteristics

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp exhibit mesmerizing physical features that set them apart from other shrimp species. They typically reach a size of about 1 inch when fully grown, making them relatively small in comparison to other aquarium inhabitants. Their vibrant red coloration with white stripes makes them instantly recognizable and adds a splash of vividness to any tank.

One remarkable aspect of these shrimp is their variability in red coloration.

One remarkable aspect of these shrimp is their variability in red coloration. While most individuals display a brilliant shade of red on their bodies, some may showcase deeper or lighter hues. This diversity adds an element of intrigue and uniqueness to each specimen.

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp possess distinct white dots with delicate blue outlines that adorn their bodies. These intricate markings contribute to their overall allure and make them stand out among other freshwater crustaceans. They have white front legs that create an eye-catching contrast against their fiery red bodies.

Size, Growth Rate, and Lifespan

As juveniles, Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp measure around half an inch in length but gradually grow up to approximately 1 inch during adulthood. Their growth rate may vary depending on factors such as diet quality and environmental conditions.

These remarkable creatures can live for up to two years when provided with optimal care. It is essential to maintain a suitable habitat that meets their specific requirements, including the right temperature and water quality. Stress levels should be minimized to ensure their well-being and longevity.

Water Parameter Guidelines

Maintaining the right water parameters for your Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp is crucial to their overall health and well-being. These shrimp are known for their sensitivity to changes in water conditions, so it’s essential to be vigilant and provide them with the ideal environment they require.

Ideal Water Temperature, pH, and Water Hardness

Maintaining proper water parameters is vital as any fluctuations can cause stress or even harm your Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp.

The recommended temperature range for these shrimp is between 77°F to 88°F (25°C to 31°C). This warm temperature mimics their natural habitat in the Sulawesi region, Indonesia.

Keeping it within the range of 7.0 to 8.5 is crucial. This slightly alkaline environment helps maintain a stable ecosystem for the shrimp.

Water hardness also plays a significant role in creating an ideal environment for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp. Aim for a hardness level between 3 to 10 dKH (degrees of carbonate hardness) to replicate their native waters accurately.


When setting up a tank for these shrimp, it’s crucial to cycle it properly. This involves establishing beneficial bacteria colonies that help break down harmful substances such as ammonia and nitrites. Regular testing of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates will indicate when the shrimp tank has completed its cycling process.

By maintaining ideal water conditions, you can provide your Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp with an environment that promotes well-being and encourages natural behaviors.

Remember to monitor the water parameters regularly using reliable test kits and make adjustments as needed.

Replicating their Natural Habitat

Creating the perfect environment for your cardinal Sulawesi shrimp is crucial to their well-being and overall health. By replicating their natural habitat, you can provide them with a comfortable and thriving home in your aquarium.

Tank Size and Tank Setup

Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp can thrive in smaller tanks, even as small as five gallons. However, larger tanks offer several benefits such as increased stability and easier regulation of water parameters. If possible, it is recommended to opt for a larger tank to ensure optimal conditions for your shrimp.


A dark sandy substrate mimics the lakebeds found in ancient lakes where these shrimp originate from.

A dark sandy substrate mimics the lakebeds found in ancient lakes where these shrimp originate from. This type of substrate provides a visually appealing backdrop and promotes natural behavior like burrowing. It’s advisable to avoid light-colored substrates as they may cause stress or affect the coloration of your shrimp.

Incorporating rocks, driftwood, and live plants into your aquarium will enhance its resemblance to their natural habitat. These elements serve as hiding places for the shrimp while adding aesthetic appeal to the tank.

However, caution should be exercised when using driftwood. While it can create an attractive environment, certain types of driftwood can alter pH levels in the water. It’s essential to monitor pH regularly and ensure it remains within suitable ranges for these dwarf shrimp.

Lighting and Frequency

Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp prefer dim lighting conditions similar to their native habitats. Bright lights may cause stress or disrupt their normal behavior patterns. Opting for low-intensity lighting will help create a more comfortable environment for these delicate creatures.


Plants like crypts or java moss provide ample shelter and grazing surfaces for the shrimp. These aquatic plants can also aid in maintaining water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and providing a natural habitat for beneficial microorganisms.

Incorporating porous surfaces, such as rocks or decorations, encourages algae growth. This not only serves as a natural food source but also provides additional shelter for the shrimp. It’s important to strike a balance with algae growth to ensure it remains manageable without overpowering the tank.

By replicating their natural habitat through substrate choice, lighting conditions, and suitable decorations, you can create an environment that promotes the well-being and natural behavior of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp.

Taking these steps will not only provide them with a comfortable home but also enhance their overall coloration and vitality.

Tankmates and Temperament

Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are peaceful creatures that can be happily kept in community tanks. However, it is important to carefully consider their tankmates to ensure a harmonious environment for these delicate shrimp.


When introduced to a new tank, cardinal Sulawesi shrimp may initially exhibit shyness. It is not uncommon for them to hide and take some time to acclimate to their new surroundings. To help them feel more secure, providing hiding spots such as caves or dense vegetation can greatly assist in their adjustment process.


Over time, as they become more familiar with their environment and tankmates, cardinal Sulawesi shrimp tend to become more active and sociable. Their shyness upon introduction gradually fades away, revealing their natural curiosity and engaging behavior.

These fascinating creatures have unique foraging habits and social behaviors within their native Sulawesi habitat. They display a preference for interacting with other aquatic species found in this region. Observing their interactions provides an interesting glimpse into the intricate dynamics of aquatic life.

Compatible Tank Mates

Finding compatible tank mates for cardinal Sulawesi shrimp can be challenging due to their specific water requirements. These shrimp thrive in tropical freshwater aquariums with stable temperatures and low ammonia levels.

When considering suitable tank mates, it is essential to note the compatibility of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp with other freshwater shrimp species. Fortunately, there are suitable companions available within this category:

Sulawesi Dwarf Shrimp: These small yet captivating creatures share similar environmental preferences with cardinal Sulawesi shrimp.

Sulawesi Snails: Adding snails from the same region not only enhances the aesthetics but also creates a natural and compatible environment for the cardinal Sulawesi shrimp.

Tank Mates to Avoid

To ensure the well-being of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, it is crucial to avoid certain tank mates that may cause unnecessary stress or harm.

To ensure the well-being of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, it is crucial to avoid certain tank mates that may cause unnecessary stress or harm. Here are some species to steer clear of:

Aggressive Tropical Fish: Large or aggressive tropical fish can pose a significant threat to the peaceful nature of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp. It is best to avoid any species known for their predatory behavior.

Ammonia-sensitive Species: Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp require low ammonia levels in their tank. Therefore, it is important to avoid fish or other creatures that produce excessive waste, leading to high ammonia concentrations.

By carefully selecting suitable tank mates and considering the unique needs of cardinal Sulawesi shrimp, you can create a thriving and harmonious aquatic community. Providing them with a safe and comfortable environment will allow these beautiful creatures to showcase their vibrant colors and engaging behaviors.

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp Care

Caring for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp requires attention to their specific needs due to their natural environment. These shrimp are known for their vibrant colors and unique patterns, making them a popular choice among experienced aquarium keepers.

However, they can be quite challenging to care for, requiring careful consideration of several factors.

Food and Diet

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp are scavengers by nature, feeding on decaying plant matter, algae, and biofilm in the wild. To replicate their natural diet in captivity, it is essential to provide them with a varied diet. Feeding them specialized shrimp pellets and blanched vegetables is highly recommended.

To ensure proper nutrition, feed your Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp a few times a day in small portions. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and health problems. It’s crucial to strike a balance between providing enough food and avoiding excess waste.


Suggested foods that contribute to a well-rounded diet include spirulina powder and Bacter AE. These supplements help promote healthy growth and enhance coloration. Incorporating calcium-rich foods into their diet is vital for maintaining strong exoskeletons.

Dwarf Shrimp Species Health Concerns

While there are no known diseases specific to Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, they can still face health challenges if not properly cared for. Infections and molting problems are common concerns among these shrimp.

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial to prevent stress-related health issues. Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp are sensitive creatures that require stable water parameters. Fluctuations in temperature or pH levels can make them susceptible to bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.

Regularly monitoring ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and other water parameters is essential for keeping the shrimp healthy. A well-cycled tank with appropriate filtration will help maintain stable conditions. Gradual water changes should be performed regularly to prevent sudden shifts in water chemistry.

Care Recommendations

Caring for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp requires dedication and attention to detail. By understanding their specific needs regarding food, water parameters, and overall care requirements, you can provide them with a thriving environment in your aquarium.

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp thrive in stable environments where water conditions remain consistent over time.

Here are some reasons why vigilance in maintaining these conditions is essential:

Stability: Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp thrive in stable environments where water conditions remain consistent over time. Sudden changes can lead to stress or even death.

Cycling the Tank: Before introducing your shrimp into a new tank setup, it’s crucial to cycle the tank properly. This process establishes beneficial bacteria that help break down waste products and maintain good water quality.

Exoskeleton Health: Calcium supplementation is necessary for Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp as it supports healthy exoskeleton development. Providing liquid calcium supplements or incorporating calcium-rich foods into their diet can help ensure strong and robust shells.


In addition to maintaining proper water conditions, providing hiding spots with live plants or decorations can help reduce stress levels among the shrimp. A good heater is also necessary to maintain a consistent temperature within their preferred range.

Water Changes: Regular partial water changes are necessary to maintain optimal water quality and remove any accumulated waste or toxins. Aim for a 20-30% water change every two weeks, ensuring the new water is properly conditioned to match the desired parameters.

With proper care, these stunning shrimp will flourish and become a captivating addition to any aquatic setup.

Breeding the Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp

Breeding Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp may require more patience compared to other shrimp species. They have a lower breeding rate and lay fewer eggs per clutch. However, despite these challenges, creating optimal conditions can significantly improve your success rate.

Providing a suitable tank setup is essential. The following factors contribute to optimal conditions:

pH levels: Maintain a slightly acidic pH between 6.5 and 7.

Water quality: Ensure pristine water quality with minimal ammonia and nitrate levels.

Lighting: Use subdued lighting as excessive brightness can stress the shrimp.


Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp thrive in warmer water conditions. To encourage breeding behavior, consider raising the tank’s temperature slightly within their preferred range (around 78-82°F or 25-28°C). This increase in temperature can stimulate mating activity and enhance the chances of successful reproduction.

Substrate: Utilize a substrate that mimics their natural environment, such as fine gravel or sand.

Filtration: Employ gentle filtration to avoid sucking up any eggs or young shrimp.

To initiate the breeding process, it is crucial to separate male and female Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp. This allows you to control their interaction and monitor their breeding behavior closely. By keeping them apart initially, you can introduce them at the right time for optimal results.

Pregnant female shrimp require secure hiding spots where they can protect their eggs until they hatch. It is recommended to create a well-planted aquarium with plenty of vegetation, caves, or other suitable hiding places. These hiding spots will provide a safe environment for the females to carry out their maternal duties undisturbed.

Compared to some other dwarf shrimp species, Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp have a slower breeding rate. They typically produce fewer eggs per clutch, but each egg has a higher chance of survival due to the maternal care provided by the female. This slower reproductive pace highlights the need for patience and attention to detail when breeding these unique dwarf shrimps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big are Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp?

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp are typically quite small, with adults reaching an average size of around 1 to 1.2 inches (2.5 to 3 centimeters). Their diminutive size makes them a popular choice of shrimp for nano aquariums and shrimp enthusiasts.

What is the red Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp?

The “red” Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp typically refers to a color morph or variation of the Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp. These shrimp feature a striking red coloration, which sets them apart from the more common white or transparent Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp.

What is the rarest Sulawesi shrimp?

The rarest Sulawesi shrimp species often include variations or morphs with unique colors. While rarity can vary, some of the more uncommon varieties include the Red and Yellow Orchid Sulawesi Shrimp and the Blue Leg Poso Sulawesi Shrimp. Rarity can also depend on geographic distribution and local availability.

What is the habitat of the Sulawesi cardinal shrimp?

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp are native to the freshwater lakes and streams on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. They thrive in these aquatic habitats, which are characterized by slightly alkaline water, a pH range of 7.5 to 8.5, and a temperature of 77 to 86°F (25 to 30°C). They are often found near rocks and vegetation, where they can graze on biofilm and algae.

Are Sulawesi Shrimp hardy?

Sulawesi Shrimp, including Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp, are generally considered to be more delicate and sensitive compared to some other shrimp species. They require stable water parameters, specific water chemistry, and careful attention to detail.

While they may not be as hardy as some other shrimp, experienced aquarists can successfully keep them with proper care and a well-maintained aquarium.

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