Cardinal shrimp

Scientific name:

Caridina dennerli¹

Official common name: (accepted by ESA)

Cardinal shrimp

Unofficial synonyms:

Matano Blue Dot shrimp, White Socks shrimp, White Gloves Red shrimp


The species name dennerli is a dedication to the German company Dennerle, which funded research into the species of the ancient lakes of Sulawesi.¹


C. dennerli is a lacustrine species endemic to Lake Matano, Sulawesi, Indonesia; where it is widely distributed.¹

The image below show the distribution of the species within the Malili lake system.¹


C. dennerli is found on hard substrate, specifically on, under or between rocks. It can be found in shallow water to a depth of about 10 metres.¹


20 – 25 mm


The cephalothorax and abdomen are red (deep purple-red to bright red). Bright blue-white spots line the abdominal somite joints and the base of the pleura, and are scattered on the carapace. A larger spot is found on the sixth abdominal somite, at the base of the telson. The third, fourth and fifth pairs of pereiopods are completely red, whereas the chelae and carpi of the first two pairs are bright white. Concerning the antennae and antennules, the peduncles are red and the flagella are clear.  The scaphocerite is both red and brilliant white. The third maxillipeds are red and notably elongated, usually resting on the substrate as if functioning as an extra pair of pereiopods. The tail fan is arrow-like, with each exopod and endopod of the uropods bearing a large white spot.


C. dennerli is a timid species. It will often be out in full-view in the aquarium, foraging for food, but will retreat at any sign of movement from outside of the aquarium. In my experience wild-caught specimens are more prone to this than tank-bred specimens.

C. dennerli grooms its exoskeleton using its fifth pereiopods. When carrying eggs, females will clean them with the second pair of pereiopods.


C. dennerli species is extremely delicate and sensitive. I recommend only experts in shrimp keeping try this species. It is my opinion that wild-caught specimens should be avoided completely due to their fragility and the environmental impacts.


C. dennerli can be a challenge to feed. Very often, specimens will only eat algae and biofilm that grows in the established aquarium, rejecting all food offered to them. This species quite often accepts spirulina powder and other powdered food, however.


Male C. dennerli have longer antennules than female C. dennerli, but this is only noticable by comparison. (This observation has been confirmed by two other aquarists).

Following their first parturial moult female C. dennerli have deeper and wider abdomens than the males, and also have deeper and more curved carapaces. This is only present in female C. dennerli that have experienced a parturial moult.

Mature females can be differentiated from males reliably by infrared radiation. When exposed to infrared, the saddle (ovaries) of the females are visible through the cuticle.


C. dennerli reproduces entirely in freshwater, involving no larval stages. The eggs take roughly 3 weeks to hatch. Juvenile C. dennerli immediately assume a benthic lifestyle after hatching.

As typical for shrimp, reproduction is stimulated by the moulting of the female. As the female undergoes apolysis, she begins to release pheromones that attract males, which wait around the female in anticipation. Following apolysis, the female attempts to escape the males to moult alone in safety, but is pursued. She then undergoes ecdysis, frantically flicking her uropods to separate herself from the old exoskeleton. Following moulting, the female releases more pheromones that induce restless swimming in the males. When a male finds the female it mates with her and then resumes normal behaviour. The other males continue to swim for a short while until resuming normal behaviour also, presumably coinciding with the decrease in pheromones as the female ceases to produce them.


  1. von Rintelen, K. & Cai, Y., (2009). Radiation of endemic species flocks in ancient lakes: systematic revision of the freshwater shrimp Caridina H. Milne Edwards, 1837 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Atyidae) from the ancient lakes Of Sulawesi, Indonesia, with the description of eight new species. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology57(2).
Chris Lukhaup

One Response to Cardinal shrimp

  1. Dennis Macklin says:

    Hello all,

    I am an American relatively new to the hobby but getting quite passionate. I currently have Orange Eyed Blue Tigers and CRS tanks. I would love to get involved with these Sulawasi Cardinals but they are almost impossible to get. Any ideas on dependable US distributors ??? TIA


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