Home » Fish Guides » Malawa Shrimp (Caridina pareparensis parvidentata) Care |11 Interesting Facts |

Malawa Shrimp (Caridina pareparensis parvidentata) Care |11 Interesting Facts |

Sulawesi malawa shrimp, or simply Mlawa shrimp, is a rare shrimp species in the aquarium hobby.

Originating from the Sulawesi region in Indonesia, these shrimps are underrated in the aquarium industry because of their less coloration than caridina and neocaridina species.

But, unlike other shrimps, these shrimps are very active and curious species that are fun to watch.

They are an excellent addition to the community tank because of their ease of Care and peaceful temperament.

Further, these species do not interbreed with dwarf shrimp species. Therefore, you can house both neocaridina and caridina species together with Malawa shrimps in a community tank.

If you are looking for a ghost shrimp alternative, Malawa shrimp would be a good option.

Malawa Shrimp

One look Care guide

Scientific nameCaridina pareparensis parvidentata
Common nameMalawa Shrimp,
Sulawesi Malawa Shrimp
Care levelEasy
Native toSulawesi region in Indonesia
Type Shrimp
Color Semi-transparent with various coloration (reddish, rusty, brownish, bluish, dark, etc.)
Tank size5-gallon minimum,
10-gallon optimum
Preferred temperature75 – 80 cF (24 – 27 °C)
Other water parameters (ammonia, etc.)pH level: 7.0- 8.5
Hardness: 1-10KH, 4-15
Preferred salinityNo salinity, Freshwater species
Size of the Malawa shrimp2.5 to 3cm (1-1.2 inches)
Life Span1.5- 2 years
Temperament Peaceful
Recommended tank matesSmall peaceful creatures, No aggressive and/or larger fish species, No crabs or crayfish
Preferred foodBiofilm
fish food (pellets, flakes, etc.),
blanched vegetables
Feeding frequencyOnce per day or once per 2 to 3 days

What is malawa shrimp?

Scientifically named as Caridina pareparensis parvidentata, Malawa shrimp are an extremely rare shrimp species in the aquarium hobby.

Like Sulawesi shrimp, these shrimps also hail from the Sulawesi region.

But, Malawa shrimp are very hardy, easily breedable, and adaptable to various water conditions, unlike Sulawesi shrimp which are very sensitive and can not breed in captivity.

These shrimp are first introduced to Germany by Rainer Masche ( a person who personally collects animals) and then distributed around Europe. Sulawesi shrimps were introduced to North America in 2008. 

These shrimps come with many color variations with a transparent body. But these colors are not super flashy like other neocaridina and caridina species.

So, despite their ease of Care and breed, Malawa shrimps are not popular in the aquarium hobby.

How big do malawa shrimp get?

Like many other aquarium shrimp species, Malawa shrimps also reach about 2.5 to 3 centimeters in length. They are small but unafraid creatures that roam around the tank all the time.

Is malawa shrimp aggressive?

Mala shrimps are not aggressive as well as not territorial. They do not care or bother other species in the tank. Although the shrimps love to stay in groups, they don’t show any territorial behavior either.

Malawa shrimp behavior

Malawa shrimps have pretty interesting behavior. Unlike other shrimp species, these shrimps are not shy.

They are fearless, pretty bold, and active most of the time. Watching these species is not boring as they constantly roam around the tank searching for food.

They are peaceful and harmless to any other species in the tank, making them a perfect companion in a community tank.

They prefer to be in groups, but there is no alpha in the group. So, they are not territorial either.

Malawa shrimps are omnivore scavengers. They continually scavenge for food from the bottom, and they will eat pretty much anything that fits into their mouth.

Since these are small shrimps, they can not feed on other species you house with them. They will mostly scrape biofilm in the tank and clean your aquarium all the time.

How long do malawa shrimps live?

Like most other dwarf shrimp species, these shrimps also live for around 1.5 to 2 years.

Malawa shrimp care

Malawa shrimps are extremely easy species to care for. They are very adaptable to various water conditions as well as temperatures.

So, you can house them on your regular community tank with other peaceful fish.

Let’s learn how to set up their tank, their preferred water conditions, and other tips to keep these shrimps in optimum conditions.

Malawa shrimp size

Like many other freshwater shrimp species, Malawa shrimps are small shrimp species. They grow up to 2.5 to 3cm (1-1.2 inches) in length.

Malawa shrimp tank size

These shrimps require only a small space to thrive like other dwarf shrimp species. The minimum tank size for Malawa shrimps is 5 gallons.

The optimum size, however, is 10 gallons. Generally, it is hard to keep the optimum water conditions in a smaller tank. Therefore we recommend keeping them in a large aquarium.

How many malawa shrimp should be kept together?

Malawa shrimps prefer to stay in large groups. Therefore we recommend keeping at least 4 to 5 shrimps in one tank.

Tank setup

Malawa shrimps don’t have any special requirements when it comes to the tank setup. However, there are some preferences for Malawa shrimp. So, we’ll talk about them here.


Caridina shrimp species usually require an active (buffered) substrate in their tank.

But Malawa shrimps do not require an active substrate like other Caridina shrimps. They actually prefer an inert substrate that doesn’t change the pH level of water.

Some suitable choices are sand and gravel.


Malawa shrimps do not require hiding places as they are fearless and active creatures.

But they will appreciate it if you provide some hiding places like driftwood, caves, and rocks in their surroundings.

These decorations help collect more biofilm and algae in their surroundings. So, adding some decorations is recommended.


Malawa shrimps don’t have any lighting requirements. Lighting should be adapted to the needs of your plants and other fish species.


Adding some plants in any shrimp tank is recommended as they provide both shelter and food.

Shrimps prefer to eat biofilm and algae build up in the plant leaves. And also, plants provide the necessary oxygen and absorb harmful nutrients to shrimps such as Ammonia and Nitrite.


If you have only shrimps in the tank and your aquarium is densely planted, you may not need any filtration as plants naturally do the job.

If the shrimp amount is large or you house more species together, you will have to install a filtration system. As these shrimps are small, the best option would be a sponge filter.

Water quality condition

Malawa shrimps are pretty hardy species that can adapt to various water conditions. Therefore, they can also survive in tap water.

However, we recommend using RO/DI water with remineralizers to ensure you provide the best quality water for your aquarium species.

Be sure to fully cycle the aquarium before introducing your shrimps. You should also carefully acclimate them to be safe. Generally, acclimating for 2 to 3 hours is enough.


Malawa shrimps can survive in a wide temperature range of 21 – 32 oC (70 – 89 oF). Even so, the optimum water temperature of these species is about 24 – 27 °C (75 – 80 °F).

Warmer temperatures help them thrive and breed successfully.

pH level

Malawa shrimp’s natural habitats have higher pH levels in the water. But, surprisingly, these shrimps can tolerate lower pH levels too.

But, they prefer more alkaline water to thrive. So, the optimum water pH level is about 7.0- 8.5.

Water Hardness

The optimal KH level for Malawa shrimps is about 1-10KH, and the optimum GH level is about 4-15 GH. They can live in the water with a TDS level of less than 100TDS.

Malawa Shrimp

Malawa shrimp breeding 

Malawa shrimps are one of the easiest to breed shrimps in the aquarium hobby.

Since these shrimps can adapt to various water conditions, they do not have any specific water condition requirements for breeding and the fry.

Malawa shrimp reproduction is pretty much the same as other dwarf shrimp species.

Malawa shrimp male or female identification 

Sexing malawa shrimps is easy, just like dwarf shrimp species, since these shrimps also have a transparent body.

Males are usually less transparent with some faint black markings. Sexing is not possible until they mature, as all young shrimps are fully transparent.

The female shrimp are generally larger than the male shrimp. They also have a saddle on the upper body, behind the head, where eggs are stored before fertilization.

This saddle is more visible when the female shrimp is buried (pregnant). The abdomen of the female shrimp is wider and larger than the male shrimp

The male shrimp is thinner than the female shrimp.

Identify pregnant malawa shrimp and malawa shrimp pregnancy stages

We call pregnant malawa shrimp “berried” shrimp. Usually, the berried shrimp’s abdomen is larger than other shrimp’s.

And also, a berried shrimp has a more prominent saddle formation. After the shrimp is berried, she finds a partner and spawns with him.

Shrimps practice internal fertilization.  When the eggs are fertilized, the female carries the eggs in a “clutch.” This is an internal organ like the “bag” of Kangaroos.

Inside this clutch, fertilized eggs incubate. About 4 to 6, fully grown shrimplets come out of the clutch after hatching. Hatching time may change due to temperature changes.

Malawa shrimp breeding

Breeding Malawa shrimp is extremely easy. Although these shrimps reproduce in any survivable water conditions, providing them optimum water conditions with warmer temperatures will induce reproduction.

Your breeding tank should be well established with enough biofilm for your shrimp and the babies.

You can also add some plants to the breeding tank. And also, it should have a sponge filter.

If you are using a HOB (hang on back) filter or a canister filter, you should cover the intake with a sponge to prevent shrimplets sucking up.

When the female shrimp is berried, she will spawn with a male and fertilize the eggs. Shrimps reproduce via internal fertilization.

After the shrimp fertilize the eggs, the female shrimp carry these eggs in her “clutch” for about 4 to 6 weeks.

The hatching time changes, depending on the temperature. This is called incubation, and after this period, she releases fully grown shrimplets into the water.

These shrimplets are about 2 mm in length at most and are independent. In their first few days, they will only feed on biofilm in the tank, so your tank should have enough biofilm for their needs. 

How many babies do malawa shrimp have?

Malawa shrimps release about 30 shrimplets in one spawning period. They are about 2 mm in length and are mini versions of adult malawa shrimps.

Malawa shrimp fry care

You may not have anything to do with your shrimplets in the first few days as they only feed on biofilm in the tank.

You must ensure that no carnivore species are present in the breeding tank as they may prey on shrimplets due to their tiny size.

The filters should be covered with a sponge to prevent them sucking up.

And also, make sure the water condition is stable and clean until they grow up. It takes about 60 days for the shrimplets to become juveniles.

When they become juveniles, you can feed them powdered fish food if you feel the biofilm is insufficient.

Special tips

Never use any medication, fertilizers, or food that contains copper of any form. Copper is highly toxic to malawa shrimps and can kill the shrimp even in small concentrations.

Although these shrimps do not interbreed with Caridina and Neocaridina species, they may interbreed with Caridina Sulawesi (Sulawesi Shrimp).

So, we advise not to house Sulawesi shrimps and Malawi shrimps together.

You can keep Caridina and Neocaridina species with Malawa shrimps. But, Malawa shrimp may outcompete other species of shrimps for food and outbreed them.

How to feed malawa shrimp?

Malawa shrimps are scavengers and omnivores. They will eat anything they would find in their surroundings. And also, these shrimps are pretty aggressive eaters.

In a well-established aquarium, Malawa shrimps will find enough food through biofilm and algae.

But, you can supplement them with shrimp food, algae wafers, fish flakes, pellets, mosquito larvae,  blanched zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, and spinach.

However, you shouldn’t overfeed them as overfeeding may lead to stomach problems, causing death. Feeding them once per day or once per two to three days is enough.

And also, remove any uneaten food after about 3 to 6 hours to avoid overeating and to keep the aquarium clean.

What fish can live with malawa shrimp?

Malawa shrimps are peaceful shrimp species. Therefore, their tank mates should also be peaceful. You should not house them with aggressive and/or larger species.

They are compatible with shrimps, snails, and small peaceful fish. However, you should avoid housing malawa shrimp and Sulawesi shrimp together as they may interbreed.

Some suitable tank mates are,

  • Cherry shrimp
  • Snowball shrimp
  • Caridina cf. Babaulti
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Blue Bolt shrimp
  • Vampire shrimp
  • Crystal shrimp
  • Bamboo shrimp
  • Cardinal Shrimp
  • Red Nose shrimp
  • Japanese trapdoor snails
  • Ramshorn snails
  • Nerite snails
  • Malaysian Trumpet snails
  • Black Devil Snails
  • Asolene spixi
  • Rabbit Snails
  • White Wizard Snails
  • Pygmy Cory Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish

Never house these shrimps with all kinds of crabs and crayfish as they can, and will try to prey on the shrimp whenever it is possible.

Related questions 

Are malawa shrimps rare?

Malawa shrimps are rare in the aquarium trade. They are not popular because they do not have flashy colors like caridina and neocaridina species. Therefore, shrimp breeders do not breed these shrimps often.

How long does a malawa shrimp live?

Malawa shrimps live for around 1.5 to 2 years at most.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.