Sulawesi shrimp is a real challenge to every aquarist even when they are already the masters of shrimp-keeping. This is because this freshwater shrimp is native to the distinctive wild habitat, where ‘unique’ biodiversity exists and water conditions unlikely fluctuate. Hence, the first and very important note you need to take before going into details of the care guide for Sulawesi shrimp is that this kind of shrimp is really not an ideal recommendation for beginners.


Care guide for Sulawesi Shrimp | Sulawesi Shrimp

(Image of Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp)

General information and Appearance

Sulawesi shrimp refer to Caridina dennerli (scientific name) species. Its color appearance varies yet tends to be dark and bold with bright patterns. The freshwater shrimp are relatively small, only reaching an inch in length once matured. Therefore, it somehow could be understood that a minimum tank of at least 10 gallons can keep the shrimp very well. However, since the shrimp’ wild habitat is regarded as distinctive, which is difficult to replicate and maintain stably in a home aquarium, it would be wiser if their tank size is something larger. 

Sulawesi shrimp, like the name, is native to Sulawesi island, Indonesia. The area of the world is well known for its distinctive biodiversity where lakes are home to many brightly-colored shrimp. More importantly, its natural habitats, especially aquatic environments, are almost stable and unchanged. This hints at the sensitivity of the shrimp to any (even small) changes in their living conditions, at the same time demands the high capability of seasoned aquarists in dealing with the tank setup and maintenance.

Interesting facts: Discovered in 2007, Sulawesi shrimp has become popular in the shrimp-keeping community just in a short time. Despite being finicky in terms of care, Sulawesi shrimp are one of the most desired species thanks to their impressive appearance. Yet, sadly speaking, several Sulawesi shrimp species are listed as endangered species on the IUCN Red List, mainly because of increasing water pollution. That is also the primary reason threatening the wild Sulawesi shrimp’s existence as well as affecting the price one has to pay for keeping such a ‘precious gem’.

The dwarf Sulawesi shrimp has many variants and fortunately, almost all variants require similar living conditions, from the warmth to tank parameters to even diets. If a difference must exist, it is probably the purchase price. Those that are considered common in the aquarium market (like Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp) are found to be cheaper than those rare (such as Blue Ghost Sulawesi Shrimps).

Sulawesi Shrimp | Freshwater Shrimp

(Image of white dot Sulawesi shrimp crawling around in a fish tank)

Common types of Sulawesi shrimp

Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp: Of all, Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are the most common in aquarium trade. With a striking dark red (mere a brick hue) body and white tiny dots emerged randomly, it is not exaggerated to say Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are the focal point of your aquarium.

Blue Ghost Sulawesi shrimp: A combination of dark bold blue and black colors is what most people will notice in this species. Blue Ghost Sulawesi shrimp is also an expensive Sulawesi shrimp species according to online stores data.

Tigris Sulawesi shrimp: Tigris Sulawesi shrimp define themselves with two-colored stripes: dark red and white, or brown and white, resembling the tiger-like patterns. Observing the shrimp from a relatively far distance, Tigris Sulawesi may look like tiny candy canes. 

Galaxy Sulawesi shrimp: Being given such a name mainly because the shrimp appearance and galaxy appear to be very much alike. Black body with white or light blue spots is the feature of Galaxy Sulawesi shrimp. When arranging the shrimp tank, it is highly recommended using bright items so Galaxy Sulawesi shrimp could display their optimal color.

Tank setups and maintenance

As a species native to ancient lakes, Sulawesi shrimp require a well-cycled tank environment with stable parameters to survive. Although these freshwater shrimps have dwarf size, it would be better to stick to a large tank aquarium (above 10 gallons). As a good rule of thumb, the bigger the fish tank is, the more stable and easier the water indicators are and can be controlled. 

Notes: It is worth noting that Sulawesi shrimp could do just alright with the 10-gallon tank. However, in that case, you have to check the water quality regularly to ensure the indicators meet requirements. Besides, water changes cannot be neglected (which also need to be carried out frequently). Yet, the large amount of water to be changed at a time, the highly likely shock and stress your shrimp may feel. Eventually, Sulawesi shrimp is easily prone to diseases and illness.

Sulawesi shrimp are often shy when first introduced into a new environment. Hence, setting up the tank that replicates their natural environments is highly encouraged to help your shrimp soon get accustomed to the new surroundings. To do so, you will need a dark carbonate-rich soil/substrate, and rocks. Choose the rock that has relatively large surface area for algae to grow on as Sulawesi shrimp normally favor such life-forms. Adding a few live aquatic plants are also recommended. This helps enhance the natural effect of your tank. Anubias Plants are not the bad choice for creating an appealing Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp tank. 

Once finished sketching the aquascape for your shrimp tank, you then need to equip it with aquarium devices. They are the must-have addition to assist you in controlling the water parameters as well as monitoring the living environment to meet shrimp’s requirements. Heater, filter and air pump are the basic ones. Most Sulawesi shrimp demand for the warm temperature range of 77 - 84oF (25o - 28oC) (with ideal temperature point of 82oF), which is hardly kept constant if lacking an aquarium heater. The same is applied to filter, the device to a certain degree could remove and filter the wastes existing in the shrimp tank. Meanwhile, an air-pump would boost the oxygen circulation, benefiting the shrimp conditions and ecosystem.

Also, paying more attention to water parameters. Sulawesi shrimp are not the species that will accept an average tank. They strictly rely on the distinctive living environment which is difficult to resemble exactly to a home fish tank. Despite the fact, many skilled aquarists have found the following indicators deemed to be appropriate to the shrimp.

Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm

Nitrate: less than 20 ppm

GH: 6-8 dGH 

pH: 7.8 – 8.2

Temperature: 77o - 84oF (25o - 28oC) (with ideal temperature point of 82oF). Do not go for anything below 

Water change: subject to the water quality that small and regular water changes should be performed. Mind that a frequent and large amount of water removal or input at once could stress the shrimp to death.

In addition, be careful with the water source you use for the shrimp tanks, especially the case of Sulawesi shrimp. Sensitive and expensive as they are, we recommend you do not risk using tap water. Instead, you should run the water through a reverse osmosis process for the cardinal shrimp tank so the water quality could be as close as possible to natural water environments.

Tank Setup for Sulawesi Shrimp | Freshwater Shrimp

(Image of a standard Sulawesi shrimp tank)

Get yourself with the water testing kit and test your Sulawesi shrimp tank water frequently to ensure everything is under control and the parameters meet the standard.

If you find the cardinal shrimp is too difficult to keep, you still have many other options. Red Cherry Shrimp could not be more perfect for a consideration.

Sulawesi Behavior and Temperament

If everything goes right, your Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp soon become active members of the aquarium tank and start typical behaviors of most dwarf shrimp species. Cardinal shrimp then spend most of their time scavenging everywhere the substrates, rocks, and plants for food. Often, you can spot them crawling on the rocks and enjoy foraging for algae.

Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are peaceful and welcome the presence of other fish/ invertebrates. They are especially excited if their tank mates also come from their native Sulawesi habitats. So long as the fish or invertebrates you’re going to introduce to the Sulawesi shrimp tank can dwell on the similar living conditions and do not threaten the peace of cardinal shrimp, there is nothing much to worry about a community tank having Sulawesi shrimp.

Notes: As shrimp often tend to be shy in general, it is highly encouraged to keep them in groups, starting with 12-15 specimens (tank size needs to be considered when deciding the right number). This stimulates them to be more active and comfortable in new surroundings.


You could take a relief in this aspect since Sulawesi shrimp are not picky eaters. They eat algae, biofilm, and decaying plant matter in the wild. Hence, they could eat similar food sources in captivity. Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp are instinctive scavengers and will eat at any time of the day or night. Nonetheless, you may find they prefer to forage at night more frequently rather than at day. This could be because cardinal shrimp are quite sensitive to light and may go better with the lights turned off or dimmed.

Red Sulawesi Shrimp with yellow tail

(Image of Sulawesi shrimp)

Be careful of the amount of food you provide your Sulawesi shrimp. Since they are dwarf shrimp, only feed them no more than once a day and do not give them more than they can consume within 2 or 3 hours. Overfeeding or extra leftover food causes lots of troubles when it comes to shrimp’s health and water quality. 

Interesting notes: Sulawesi shrimp tank water should have been kept in clean conditions. Yet, interestingly, you are advised to not over-clean your tank. The explanation is simple, algae. Although algae could somehow affect the tank water quality, it is regarded as one of the primary food sources of Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp to graze on.

Blanched and boiled vegetables are also the most commonly used supplements in cardinal shrimp tanks, especially those raising large colonies. However, when treating them with this kind of food, feed only with great care. Vegetables could be related to the increase of bacteria in the tank environment (which is unlikely to be found in cardinal shrimp wild habitats), causing harm to Sulawesi shrimp.


To breed the Sulawesi shrimp is not difficult as long as your tank has a good ratio of male to female. However, the problem unfortunately is the sexing of cardinal shrimp. Even the most experienced aquarists cannot always succeed in working it out with the naked eye.

If the goddess of luck is on your side and your tank environment is in optimal state, you will soon find the cardinal shrimp breeding happens naturally. The female Sulawesi shrimp will carry 20 to 30 reddish eggs and in 20 to 28 days they will hatch into tiny specimens of the adult shrimp. The babies, given the tank conditions maintained well, will grow very quick and display the coloration similar to the adult cardinal shrimp.


Sulawesi shrimp are fun and fascinating species in shrimp-keeping. With a longevity of up to 2 years and various color appearance compared to other dwarf shrimp, it is hard to resist one’s temptation of having the shrimp in their tanks.

At Splashy Fish Store, we supply a wide range of tank breed Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp which come from reliable sources. We further guarantee that all of our Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp will go through the quarantine process for a period of 14-day before sale. We care about the quality and strive to provide you the best we can. Visit our store to find what surprise is waiting for you.