Cardinal Shrimp – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

One of the currently popular options for shrimp keeping hobbyists is the cardinal shrimp. This was discovered in 2007 in the Indonesian region of Sulawesi and is thus at times called the Sulawesi shrimp. It is also known as the white glove shrimp and scientifically as the caridina dennerli.

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The breeding difficulty of the cardinal shrimp is intermediate. This makes it an ideal choice for professional and experienced aquarists. The IUCN red list includes the cardinal shrimp as an endangered species owing to the rising levels of water pollution that endangers it.

As such, the fish might no longer be part of the wild population in a few years. Keeping it in your aquarium ensures the conservation of the species.

The following are guidelines that are sure to ease the rearing of cardinal shrimp in your fish tank.  

Cardinal Shrimp Appearance

The cardinal shrimp grows to lengths of 1.5-2.5 cm that converts to approximately 0.5-1 inch. It has varying red shades ranging from a light to a deep tint.

The tint of the red will vary among different fish and is in no way an indicator of the fish’s gender. Cardinal shrimp will have contrasting white dots throughout their bodies though some dots might have blue outlines.

One element conspicuous to cardinal shrimps is their white forelegs. The fish move these white legs rapidly when feeding. This movement sets apart this shrimp from the other fish species found in the Sulawesi region.

The female cardinal shrimp is differentiated from the male by a saddle under its carapace for its eggs. This saddle is only visible under infrared light because the shrimp’s outer shell is quite dark.

Cardinal Shrimp Tank Requirements

When keeping cardinals shrimp, your fish tank should be not less than five gallons. Being small in size, cardinal shrimp will ordinarily feel comfortable and safer when in large numbers.

It would help if you started with a population of 15-25 fish, thus the sizeable fish tank. Opt for low and faint lighting in the tank because this pet fish is shy.

Cardinal shrimps will constantly scavenge plants for food and swim around rocks and substrate in their natural environments. You can mirror the same in your aquarium with driftwood, rocks, and a carbonate-rich dark soil substrate.

The ideal rocks are porous ones with sufficient surface area to support the growth of algae for the fish tank to feel and look as natural as possible for cardinal shrimps. You can also introduce a few plants into the aquarium.

Cardinal Shrimp Water Conditions

Cardinal shrimps might be somewhat more fragile compared to other shrimp species. You thus should be careful to get the ideal water conditions for them to thrive. For the water conditions aim for the following:

  • Temperature: 78-88 degrees Fahrenheit
  • PH: 7.8-8.2
  • General water hardness: 7 dGH
  • Total dissolved solids: 87 ppm
  • Oxygen: 6.9 mg/l
  • Carbonate hardness: 3-10 dKH

Water temperatures below 77 degrees Fahrenheit can stress the cardinal shrimp to death. It is, therefore, imperative to include a heater in your aquarium to keep the fish alive.

Cardinal shrimp is also quite sensitive to the levels of nitrates, ammonia, and nitrites. To guarantee the levels of these minerals do not affect your pet fish, fully cycle the tank before adding them.

Cardinal Shrimp Diet and Feeding

Cardinal shrimp is an omnivore though algae make a primary element of its diet. It is a detritus feeder that will not respond to food as strongly as the other types of dwarf shrimps.

To counter this, include very fine and powdered feeds in your cardinal shrimp’s diet. Boiled and blanched vegetables are also ideal supplements in your fish’s diet.

The cardinal shrimp is naturally a scavenger that will feed when food is present. Feeding in an aquarium is nonetheless best done once daily.

Your portion should be one that the shrimp can finish within 2-3 hours. Excess food should not be left lying in the tank since it poses a risk of overfeeding the fish and its death.

Cardinal Shrimp Tank Mates

The cardinal shrimp is among the most expensive and fragile dwarf shrimp species available. As such, it is best to only keep it with the same species for its safety.

Even so, aquariums hosting cardinal shrimps are generally set up as biotopes. You thus can choose tank mates that live with the shrimp in the wild.

Sulawesi snails from the tylomelania genus, also called rabbit snails, live alongside cardinal shrimp in the wild. You can, therefore, choose them as tank mates for cardinal shrimps.

Shrimps species like the Malawa shrimp found in the Sulawesi region can also work for your tank.

Cardinal Shrimp Breeding

Cardinal shrimps live for about two years, which is longer compared to other dwarf shrimps. Breeding of the shrimps is quite easy, provided the water parameters in your fish tank are optimum.

When you properly feed the male and female shrimps, they will also probably breed. The breeding primarily happens in freshwater.

There exists no larval stage for the breeding of cardinal shrimps. The females carry 20-30 eggs in their back legs (swimerettes) until they hatch into shrimplets in 20-28 days under optimal conditions.

The hatched shrimps are the same color as the adults and will grow quite fast in water tanks with enough food. In fact, with optimal conditions, cardinal shrimp fry will grow as quickly as those of neocaridina shrimp. The hatched shrimp is, however, smaller compared to that of other shrimps.

Wrapping Up

Though you are well-prepared to raise cardinal shrimps with the above tidbits, getting the fish is not easy. This is because most fish stores get them directly from the wild.

Even so, some breeders sell some from their growing colonies. Either way, ensure you get yours from a reputable fish store or breeder.

Photos will do no justice to the magnificence of the cardinal shrimp. You only need to get this fish in your fish tank for you to appreciate its exceptional beauty.

Irrespective of the location you choose for your aquarium, you are sure that it will instantly light up with a school of cardinal shrimp.

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