Sulawesi Shrimp - Planted Tank Mates
sulawesi shrimp care

Sulawesi Shrimp


Sulawesi Shrimp is a Caridina species that is slowly gaining popularity in the aquarium hobby.  Their attractive colors and patterns make them really unique and an absolute feature in any aquarium.  Native exclusively to the lake regions of Sulawesi, Indonesia, they’re considered endangered or possibly extinct in the wild. Conservation groups are taking strides to restore the natural habitat and extra care should be provided when they’re kept in captivity.  Their sensitive and distinct water parameters are not for beginners, but don’t let that deter you from slowly learning and taking up the challenge.  

Tank Setup

Sulawesi shrimp prefer warm and dark water conditions.  A heater is a must have, and avoid intense, bright lighting.  Unlike other Caridina species that prefer soft, acidic water under 7 PH, Sulawesi shrimp require hard, alkaline water conditions above 7.5 PH.  Use an inert substrate like volcanic rock because planted tank substrates tend to buffer and keep the PH too low.  Avoid almond leaves, cholla wood and alder cones as they will also lower the PH and make the water too acidic.  Consider using shrimp salt specific for Sulawesi shrimp like Sulawesi Mineral 7.5 or 8.5.

These shrimp are generally shy and require some cover to hide, just like other dwarf shrimp species.  Include rocks, branches and landscape to help provide them with some shade and relief.  Their tank mates can actually be other Sulawesi shrimp species as they have similar water parameters and will not cross breed.  Rabbit snails are super cool and also native to Sulawesi as well, but they can eat plants and have a greater bioload, thus polluting the water quicker.  It’s possible to keep them with Neocaridina shrimp as they can tolerate a higher PH, but Sulawesi shrimp are so unique a lot would recommend keeping a species only tank.  

Mosses and algae are your best plants.  There are many other plants like Anubias, Java fern and Anacharis that can handle the high PH, but mosses and algae are hardy and can regenerate quickly for them to feed.  Sulawesi shrimp may not eat common shrimp pellets and food.  They prefer micro-organisms and biofilm as their primary food source, hence the added benefits of mosses and algae.  Fine powder foods that stick to moss hairs like GlasGarten shrimp dinner make great ways for them to graze.

Types of Sulawesi Shrimp

Cardinal Sulawesi is the most popular of the Sulawesi species, probably the one that caught your attention.  They have deep red coloration with dainty white spots. Their whiskers quickly fade from their red body to a bright white.  The front pincers are also bright white, which makes it easy to see when they’re grazing and eating.

cardinal sulawesi shrimp profile
Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp

White Orchid Sulawesi are wild with patterns.  Unlike Cardinal Sulawesi, their body is super transparent with dark red-brown spots all over.  They also have bright white spots and bands universally across their body and legs.  

white orchid sulawesi shrimp profile
White Orchid Sulawesi Shrimp

Blue Leg Poso Sulawesi Shrimp may not be as vibrant as the others, but they still have some distinguishing features.  Their bodies tend to be more clear, but they have blue legs, a long blue nose, and orange whiskers.  Variants of this species include blue and orange spots on their tail and body.

blue leg poso sulawesi shrimp side profile
Blue Leg Poso Sulawesi Shrimp

All Things Considered

Provide at least a 10 gallon tank.  This isn’t because Sulawesi shrimps need the area to swim, but because a larger body of water is more stable and minimizes PH swings.  Whether your tank is established at 7.5 PH or 8.5 PH, consistency is key.  Consider investing in a high range PH test kit.   Make sure your tank is fully cycled (2-3 months) and well established well before introducing new livestock.  Like all shrimp tanks, some algae is great to have.  It is a plant after all, so when you groom and clean your tank, leave a little behind for your shrimp.  Raising Sulawesi shrimp is technically not difficult, but the challenge is in managing the proper water settings and environment.

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