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Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Care Guide For Beginners

Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Care Guide For Beginners

Introducing the Sulawesi malawa shrimp into your aquarium is an exciting venture that promises a world of fascination and discovery. With their engaging personalities, and intricate behaviors, these captivating crustaceans offer a unique and rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts of all levels.

In this article, we will delve into the essential aspects of providing a suitable habitat, ensuring proper nutrition, and fostering a thriving environment for these remarkable creatures. From understanding their natural habitat to creating an ideal aquarium setting, we will explore the key considerations necessary for their well-being and happiness.

Key Takeaways

  • Originate from the freshwater lakes and rivers of Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia
  • They have engaging personalities and intricate behaviors.
  • These shrimps are peaceful creatures that get along with other small, peaceful fish or snails but should not be kept with aggressive fish.
  • A varied diet including algae, biofilm, plant matter, and occasional protein helps keep Malawa shrimp healthy; overfeeding should be avoided.
  • Breeding Malawa shrimp is straightforward if you maintain good water conditions and provide plenty of hiding spots for females to carry their eggs safely.

Malawa Shrimp Overview

  • Common name: Sulawesi Malawa shrimp
  • Scientific name: Caridina pareparensis, Caridina parvidentata
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: Up to 2 inches (up to 5 centimeters)
  • Lifespan: Up to 2 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore/Algae eater
  • Minimum tank size: 5 – 10 gallons (20 – 40 liters)
  • Water temperature: Between 75°F – 80°F (24°C – 27°C)
  • Water pH levels: Between 7.0 and 8.5
  • Water hardness: 1 10 dKH

Malawa shrimp live in freshwater rivers on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Their natural home has fast-flowing streams and ponds with lots of plants. The waters here are warm and have a particular chemistry, which makes these shrimp very adaptable to different tank conditions.

They often hide under rocks or driftwood in the wild.

In an aquarium, they can do well if you give them a similar environment. This includes clean water with gentle flow and plenty of places to explore and hide. 

Appearance & Size

Even though their bodies are semi-transparent you will still see shades of reddish, bluish, and even rustic brown hues. Their appearance can change depending on the environment they live in.

These small shrimp stand out thanks to white stripes running down their backs.

Males and females have subtle differences in looks. Females often appear larger and carry a distinctive feature known as the saddle.  This saddle is visible on their upper body and looks like a cluster of eggs behind the head. This is where eggs get stored before fertilization.

A female will display a wider abdomen with her saddle feature seen through her semi-transparent shell.

Males stay smaller and slimmer than their female counterparts. Both genders are about 2.5 to 3 centimeters long, which makes them perfect for nano tanks or as part of a community aquarium setup.

Personality & Behavior

These shrimps are peaceful creatures and don’t fight with others in the tank. They move around without bothering fish or other shrimp.

They spend their time scavenging for food on the tank floor and plants. You’ll see them picking at algae, biofilm, and leftover fish food. They like places to hide but will come out often to explore and eat. I find their busy nature makes them a lot of fun to watch.

They get along well in groups and add life to any community aquarium.

Life Span

Malawa Sulawesi shrimp typically have a lifespan of 1.5 to 2 years.  Good care will help them reach their full life span. These shrimp breed often, which helps their population grow fast in your tank.

If you give them the right water conditions and food, they’ll be healthy and active. Their quick breeding also makes them a great choice for new shrimp keepers.

Malawa Shrimp Care & Tank Setup

Proper care and the correct tank setup are crucial for your shrimp’s health and happiness.

Tank Size

These shrimp thrive in a tank that holds at least 5 gallons of water. A 10-gallon tank is even better for a group of Malawa shrimps as it gives them more area to explore and helps keep their environment stable.

Bigger tanks make it easier to manage water parameters. They provide enough space for decorations and plants that Malawas love. Always choose a tank that can support the tiny ecosystems these shrimp need to be happy and healthy.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your shrimp. It’s essential to regularly monitor and adjust these settings to create an optimal environment that closely mimics their natural habitat.

Water Temperature

Maintain the water temperature between 77°F and 86°F (25°C and 30°C) to ensure the well-being of the shrimp. Dropping below 77°F can be detrimental to their health. These shrimp thrive in warm waters akin to their natural habitat, Lake Matano, which averages around 84°F.

Water pH Levels

Keep the water pH levels between 7.0 and 8.5. This range is crucial for their health and well-being. Use a quality pH testing kit like the API pH TEST & ADJUSTER KIT to ensure the levels are where they should be.

Without this stable environment, your shrimp may become stressed or sick.

Ensure regular checks of the water’s pH are part of your routine. Small changes can affect Malawa Shrimp quickly since they are sensitive creatures

Water Hardness

In their natural Lake Matano habitat, these shrimp thrive in specific water hardness levels. For aquarium care, it’s smart to mimic these conditions as closely as possible.

Maintain a water hardness between 1 and 10 dKH to avoid stress on your shrimp. Use a test kit like the API GH & KH TEST KIT Freshwater Aquarium Water Test Kit to check the hardness regularly and adjust if needed to keep your shrimp happy and active in their home.

What Malawa Shrimps Need In The Tank

Creating a tank environment that mimics their natural habitat is essential for the well-being and happiness of these shrimp.


Choose a dark, carbonate-rich substrate as this kind of soil mimics their natural habitat and helps maintain the water conditions they thrive in. A proper substrate also encourages healthy plant growth which is vital for the shrimp’s well-being.

Adding this specific type of soil creates a comfortable environment. It stabilizes pH levels and provides necessary minerals. With the right substrate, your shrimp can dig and forage just like they would in the wild, keeping them happy and active.


Include items like driftwood, rocks, and caves which offer hiding places for these skittish creatures. These elements help the shrimp feel secure and reduce stress.

Make sure any decoration is safe for aquarium use to keep your shrimps healthy.


Live plants are also great for Malawa shrimp tanks. They use plants to graze on biofilm and algae. Java ferns, anubias, and mosses can create a lush green space where shrimp can explore and play.

These plants do not need much light or care, making them perfect for beginners.

Shrimps benefit from the microorganisms that grow on plant surfaces. Plants help keep the water clean by absorbing nutrients that could harm your shrimp. Include fast-growing species to soak up excess nutrients quickly.

Also, don’t clean your tank too often; let some algae grow for shrimps to eat.


These shrimp prefer dim lighting, they feel safer and more at home in a tank with soft lights. To keep them happy, use low-level aquarium lights or position the tank in a room with natural but not direct sunlight.

Turn the lights down if you see your shrimp hiding often; this means they may be uncomfortable with bright surroundings. By adjusting the lights, you help these shrimps behave normally, which is good for their health and can even encourage them to breed.


Set up a stable heater in the aquarium to manage the warmth. This keeps your shrimps cozy just like they are in Sulawesi’s hot springs. Always check the temperature with a reliable thermometer to be sure your tank is just right for these little creatures.


Use a gentle filtration system as these shrimp prefer calm waters. A sponge filter works well for these little creatures as it keeps the water moving without creating a strong current.

Make sure the filter you choose doesn’t suck up baby shrimp. You can cover the intake with a fine mesh or foam to protect them. Clean filters keep the water clear and remove harmful waste products.

Change or rinse your filter media regularly to help your shrimp thrive.

Malawa Shrimp Tank Mates

When it comes to creating a harmonious community tank, selecting the right companions is crucial. Malawa shrimp thrive in peaceful environments with certain species that share their calm demeanor, ensuring a stress-free coexistence.

Ideal Tankmates

Shrimp: Cherry shrimp, Ghost shrimp, Snowball shrimp, Vampire shrimp, Amano shrimp, Blue tiger shrimp, Cardinal shrimp, Blue Velvet shrimp, Blue Bolt shrimp, Crystal shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, etc.

Snails: Ramshorn snails, Nerite snails, Malaysian Trumpet snails, Japanese trapdoor snails, Black Devil snails, Rabbit snails, etc.

Small and peaceful fish: Small Rasboras, Tetras, Pygmy Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish.

A happy community tank has creatures that respect each other’s space and don’t fight over food or territory. Always pick tank mates that match their calm nature and thrive in the same water conditions.

Tankmates to Avoid

Steer clear of aggressive fish such as cichlids and arowanas, as they may pose a threat to your shrimp, either through attacks or predation. Similarly, large fish could mistake your shrimp for food, leading to potential harm. 

Be cautious of species that grab food quickly, as they may leave little for the shrimp. Additionally, avoid fish that disturb the tank excessively, as Malawa Shrimp require calm waters to feel secure and forage effectively. 

Make sure any new tankmates won’t bully or frighten your peaceful shrimps.

Food & Diet

Malawa shrimp are omnivores and thrive on a varied diet that includes algae, microdeposits, and fish food remnants. They also do well with special shrimp food designed for their needs. Twice a week, offer them protein to keep them healthy and active.

These shrimps love natural snacks too; try giving them brown autumn leaves they can graze on.

Algae wafers are a great option for additional nutrition. Always check the tank to make sure all food is eaten and remove anything left uneaten to prevent water pollution.

These shrimp enjoy natural snacks like brown autumn leaves for grazing. Algae wafers offer additional nutrition. 

Feeding Frequency

Feed them once each day. Give them enough food that they can eat within two to three hours. This stops too much food from being left over in the tank. A lot of leftover food can make the water dirty and harm your shrimp.

If you have many shrimp, it’s important to set a regular feeding schedule. Stick to this plan so all your shrimp stay healthy and don’t get too hungry or eat too much. 

Regularly monitor the tank to ensure all food is consumed, removing any uneaten portions promptly to prevent water contamination.

Breeding Malawa Shrimps

When breeding Malawa shrimps, knowing which are males and which are females is key to success. However, without obvious signs like colorful patterns or big size differences, breeders must use subtle cues to sex their shrimp.

Looking for behavioral changes during mating times may also help pinpoint which shrimp are male and female in your tank.

Breeding Process

Breeding Malawa shrimp is an exciting part of keeping these creatures. The process is straightforward and offers a quick increase in population.

  • Identify healthy adult male and female Malawa shrimps. Look for the thicker, rounded underbelly in females for an indication they are ready to breed.
  • Make sure your tank conditions are optimal for breeding. Maintain stable water temperature, pH levels, and cleanliness to encourage mating.
  • Watch for the mating ritual. Females release pheromones into the water, which attracts males for breeding.
  • After mating, check females for eggs. They carry 20 – 30 eggs underneath their tails, referred to as being “berried.”
  • Provide plenty of hiding spots with plants or decorations. These give berried females places to rest and feel safe during incubation.
  • Wait 2028 days for eggs to hatch. During this period, ensure the tank remains peaceful and stable.
  • When shrimplets emerge, offer fine foods they can eat. Powdered food or crushed flakes work well for tiny mouths.
  • Keep an eye on water quality more than ever after hatching; clean water is essential for the survival of newborns.
  • As shrimplets grow, adjust their diet accordingly. Introduce larger foods as they become capable of eating them.

Care for Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Fry

Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp fry are tiny and need a tank of 5-10 gallons to grow well. Set up their home with clean water and gentle filtration to keep them safe. Feed these little shrimp small amounts of food they can finish in 2-3 hours.

In about three weeks, you’ll see new shrimplets swimming around. Make sure the water stays fresh for these young ones to thrive. Keep an eye on their growth and health every day.

Common Health Issues

Malawa shrimps can get sick if their water is not clean. They might catch bacterial infections or suffer from parasitic infestations like scutariella. These tiny parasites attach to the shrimp’s body and look like white dots or threads.

Change water regularly and keep it filtered to prevent diseases.

Another problem for Malawa shrimps is molting issues caused by poor water conditions or lack of calcium. Shrimps need calcium for strong shells, so add crushed coral or cuttlebone to the tank.

Watch out for signs that a shrimp struggles to shed its old shell, which could be deadly without quick help. Keep your tank healthy to stop these common health troubles in Malawa shrimps.

Tips for Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Care

Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp care is straightforward and rewarding. Here are some tips to help you care for them:

  • Keep the tank clean by performing regular water changes.
  • Test the water often to monitor pH levels and hardness.
  • Plant your aquarium with live plants like Java moss for natural food sources.
  • Use an inert substrate like sand or fine gravel that won’t affect water chemistry.
  • Introduce plenty of hiding spots using rocks, driftwood, or decorations.
  • Avoid adding fish that might be aggressive towards shrimp.
  • Choose tank mates like small snails or peaceful fish that won’t stress the shrimp.
  • Feed a balanced diet of algae wafers, blanched vegetables, and high-quality pellets.
  • Give them enough space; a minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended.
  • Limit light exposure to mimic their natural environment and reduce stress.
  • Install a gentle filter system to keep the water clear without creating strong currents.
  • Provide a stable environment by using heaters to maintain consistent temperatures.
  • Be cautious with chemicals; never introduce copper as it’s toxic to shrimp.


What is a Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp?

A Sulawesi Malawa shrimp, also known as Caridina pareparensis parvidentata, is a small freshwater shrimp that can add color and life to your aquarium.

Are Sulawesi Malawa Shrimps Rare?

Yes, they stand out in the shrimp hobby as rare gems. Enthusiasts hunt for these exotic creatures to add to their collections. Their scarcity makes them special, and they bring a touch of uniqueness to any aquarium.

As more hobbyists discover them, they slowly gain popularity despite being less common than Neocaridina or other Caridina species.

How big do Sulawesi Malawa shrimps get?

These shrimps grow up to about an inch in size and can be seen zooming around the tank once they feel at home.

What do I feed my Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp?

You can feed them a variety of foods since they are scavengers and omnivores; this includes biofilm in the tank, algae, fish flakes, and special shrimp pellets.

Can Malawa Shrimps Live With Other Shrimp Species?

They should have their own space because they could interbreed or compete for food with common shrimp-like Neocaridina species.

How Many Babies Do Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Have?

A female Sulawesi Malawa shrimp can carry around 30 eggs. These eggs are tiny and need about 20-28 days to hatch. After hatching, the baby shrimps, called shrimplets, start their life in the tank.

How Often Do Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp Spawn?

If happy in their environment, female shrimps will carry eggs under their bellies every few weeks; when ready, they will release tiny juveniles into the aquarium.

Wrapping Up

Caring for Malawa shrimp offers enthusiasts a rewarding experience. These captivating creatures, with their unique personalities and lively demeanor, bring an element of charm and intrigue to any aquarium setting.

Their inquisitive nature and busy activity make them delightful to watch, providing endless entertainment and fascination for aquarium hobbyists. Their small size and peaceful disposition make them excellent inhabitants of community tanks, adding vibrancy and diversity to the aquatic ecosystem.

Overall, the experience of caring for Malawa shrimp offers a deep appreciation for the delicate balance of nature and the joy of observing these fascinating creatures in their element.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...