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Malawa Shrimp Care: Diet, Lifespan Breeding, And Tank Specs

Malawa Shrimp Care: Diet, Lifespan Breeding, And Tank Specs

Welcome to the exciting Malawa shrimp care guide! Today we want to talk about all-things shrimp! 

So, you will learn everything you need to know to keep your shrimp happy and healthy, from what to feed them, to how to breed them, and even what kind of tank setup they need. 

These pint-sized powerhouses may be small in size, but they sure make a unique addition to any aquarium! 

Without further ado, I present to you the mesmerizing Malawa shrimp! 

Malawa Shrimp Species Overview

You may think that these little creatures are native to the clear waters of Lake Malawi in Africa, but that’s far away from the truth. 

These shrimp actually originate from the Sulawesi region in Indonesia, similar to where the Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp comes from. 

This is why you can often find them under the name “Sulawesi Malawa shrimp”. 

They live in freshwater and like to hide among the rocks and sand where they munch on algae and small crustaceans. Yes, they’re omnivores! 

These little critters may not be as flashy as some of their cousins, and perhaps that is why they are often overlooked in the aquarium hobby despite being in the market for more than 15 years. However, they are packed with personality and easy-to-handle characteristics. 

Let’s get to know these shrimp better, so that you can see why they deserve a special spot in your tank. 


Malawa shrimp species are semi-transparent and may not steal the spotlight with their flashy colors.

In fact, their semi-transparent bodies blend in seamlessly with the background, adding a touch of subtle motion without diminishing the beauty from the overall tank scenery. 

Just like any other shrimp, it comes equipped with two long antennae and two shorter ones, as well as two pairs of legs and two dark-colored eyes that really stand out!

If you look closely at them, you’ll discover a world of patterns and color variations on their dot-covered bodies, from rusty reds to bluish blacks. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, these shrimp also have a lot of pattern variations that can range from subtle to bold, adding an extra layer of visual interest to your tank. They’re simply born beautiful! 


Sulawesi Malawa shrimp typically grow up to 1 to 1.2 inches in length, making them the perfect size for nano tanks or as a complement to larger fish species. 

They’re not only cute and unique, but also a great addition to your aquarium’s clean-up crew. 

So if you’re looking for a shrimp that won’t take up too much space, but will add a lot of fun and personality, you should consider this fun-tastic shrimp!

Malawa Shrimp Male Vs. Female 

When it comes to Malawa shrimp, it can be a bit tricky to tell the males apart from the females. However, there are a few key differences to look out for. 

Generally, males tend to be smaller and more slender than females. They also tend to have thicker antennae than females, as well as a more colorful appearance.

In addition, males tend to have more pronounced “thickened” pleopods (swimmerets) on their undersides, while females have wider bodies to accommodate for carrying eggs.

It’s worth noting that these gender differences are not unique to this shrimp, but are also present in many other freshwater shrimp species.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all species have distinct differences and in some cases, it may require a closer examination to be able to identify the gender of the shrimp.


If you plan to introduce the Malawa shrimp into your tank, then be ready for some peace and tranquility. 

These small creatures are very peaceful and calm. They don’t mean any trouble! 

They spend their days leisurely grazing on algae and small crustaceans (if available), and they’re happy to share their space with other peaceful tank mates.

Additionally, they’re not known to be aggressive towards other shrimp species, so you can keep multiple types of shrimp in one tank without any issues.


In the wild Malawa shrimp typically live for about 1-2 years. But in captivity, with proper care and optimal living conditions, they can live for up to 3 years!

Their lifespan can vary depending on a few different factors, most of which are linked to water quality parameters, healthy diet and friendly tank mates. 

So, if you want your new shrimp buddy to live a long and happy life, give them a clean and comfortable tank, keep them at the right temperature, feed them a balanced diet, and make sure they’re not stressed out!

Since we’re talking about the wellness of your new shrimp, it would be a good idea to introduce you to some of the most common health problems. 

Common Health Problems

Besides fungal infections that can cause cottony growths on the shrimp’s body, these shrimp may be prone to bacterial infections. 

This can occur if you purchase Malawa shrimp from unreputable breeders or when you introduce new fish to your shrimp tank. Those new fish may carry certain bacteria, fungi, or viruses, and can spread them to the shrimp. 

This is why it is a good idea to put new tank mates into quarantine prior to introducing them to the shrimp. 

Parasites such as Planaria and Nematodes can also infect shrimp and make them feel like they have an infestation of tiny monsters. 

While stress isn’t necessarily described as a “disease” it is a very common health problem with Malawas that are not living in optimum conditions.

So make sure to keep the shrimp’s tank clean and comfortable, and provide them with a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment to keep them healthy and happy.

Malawa Shrimp Care Guide

malawa shrimp in aquarium
Photo: YouTube

Are you ready for some shrimptastic fun?

Malawa shrimp are not only beautiful, but they’re also easy to care for and make a great addition to any freshwater tank. 

Here’s a quick guide on how to keep them happy and healthy.

Diet And Feeding Habits

These shrimp are tiny cleaning machines, eating algae and detritus while keeping your tank looking spotless. 

Malawa shrimp are omnivores which means that they thrive on a varied diet that includes algae, plant-based food, and small amounts of protein-rich food. 

Algae And Wafers

Algae is the primary food for Malawa shrimp in nature, but also in captivity. It’s important to ensure that there is always a good supply of them in the shrimp tank.

You can add a few algae wafers or even grow some live plants in the tank to provide them with a natural source of food. These algae will also provide proper hiding places and make your shrimp feel safe and secure. 

Shrimp Pellets 

You can also supplement their diet with high-quality shrimp pellets, which contain a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals that are essential for their growth and development. Think of it like a multivitamin for shrimp! These pellets are like shrimp candy, they’ll love it.

It’s important to feed them small portions, twice a day. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and also can cause competition with other tank inhabitants.

Water Requirements

When it comes to the water requirements for Malawa shrimp, think of it like a spa day for them! They prefer water temperatures between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to oxygenation, make sure that the tank has a good filtration system to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.

Here is a quick table of water requirements for the Sulawesi Malawa shrimp:

Water temperature:72-78F
Water hardness:7-8 dGH
Water pH:6.5-7.5
Water quality:well-oxygenated, clear water

It’s also important to keep in mind that shrimp are sensitive to high levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If you’re worried because it takes longer to cycle a tank, there is a way to cycle it in as little as 24 hours. However, you’ll have to be extra cautious before introducing this shrimp into it.

So, making sure to do regular water changes and testing the water parameters is like giving them a health checkup.

Malawa Shrimp Breeding

When it comes to breeding Malawa shrimp, it’s like a shrimp love story! These little critters are quite easy to breed, and with the right conditions, they’ll be reproducing like crazy.

Females carry their eggs for around 30 days, and during this time, they’ll look like they have a little orange-pink saddle on their backs. 

To get the shrimp in the mood for breeding, you’ll need to provide them with the right conditions. You’ll also need to make sure that the tank is well-oxygenated, and that there is a good supply of algae and other food for the babies to eat once they hatch.

When the eggs hatch, the babies will look like tiny versions of the adults. It’s like a shrimp family reunion! And they’ll grow quickly, reaching maturity in around 2-3 months.

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

Natural Vs. Breeding In Captivity

When it comes to Malawa shrimp, there’s a big difference between those found in the wild and those that are bred in captivity.

In the wild, these shrimp have to contend with all sorts of natural challenges, such as predators, variable water conditions, and limited food sources. It’s what I like to call survival mode! 

However, in captivity, they’re living the life of luxury. They have a comfortable environment, with optimal water conditions, and an endless supply of food. It’s like they hit the shrimp jackpot!

So, it’s obvious that captive-bred shrimp are also generally healthier and hardier than wild-caught shrimp, because they’ve been bred specifically for life in captivity.

Factors That Affect Malawa Shrimp Breeding

One interesting fact about Malawa shrimp breeding is that the water temperature plays a significant role in determining the gender of the shrimp.

At lower temperatures, more females are produced, while at higher temperatures, more males are produced.

But, that’s not all! Another thing to keep in mind is that the pH level of the water can also greatly affect the breeding success rate. If the pH level deviates too far from this range, it can lead to breeding problems such as low hatching rates or deformed shrimp. 

Basically, water quality is the most important thing to look out for when breeding these shrimp. Tank size also plays a huge role, so why don’t we say a few words about it!

Tank Requirements And Tank Mates For Malawa Shrimp

When it comes to Malawa shrimp tank size, it’s important to note that there are different requirements for breeding tanks and quarantine tanks. 

Tank Parameters

Malawa shrimp will do fine in a regular 5 to 10 gallon tank. 

For breeding tanks, a larger tank size is generally preferred. This is because a larger tank allows for more stable water parameters, which is important for maintaining the health of the shrimp and increasing breeding success. 

Some aquarists even recommend having a breeding tank that is 40 gallons or larger if you plan to keep multiple pairs of shrimp.

On the other hand, a quarantine tank should be smaller. This is because a smaller tank allows for better control of water parameters and makes it easier to spot and treat any potential health issues with the shrimp. 

Tank Plants

Tank plants are like the ultimate wingmen for Malawa shrimp! Not only do they make the tank look lush and beautiful, but they also provide a whole host of benefits for our crustacean friends. 

In other words, plants = privacy. Tank plants provide the perfect hiding spots for the shrimp to retreat to when they need some alone time. 

Plus, it’s always fun to watch the shrimp darting in and out of the plants, like they’re playing a game of hide-and-seek!

Some good options for tank plants include:

Tank plants act like a natural filter for the tank, helping to absorb excess nitrates and phosphates that can be harmful to the shrimp. 

Moreover, they are yummy which is why the shrimp can nibble on the leaves and even the roots of the plants, getting a little extra boost of nutrition in the process.

Tank Substrate

When it comes to Malawa shrimp tank substrate, it’s all about choosing the perfect “dance floor” that will make them feel like they’re swaying in their natural habitat!  

Choose a soft and silky sand, that’s easy on the shrimp’s delicate body and legs. It’s also easy to keep clean, so your shrimp can keep dancing the night away without any interruption. 

The color of your tank substrate does not matter much, as long as your shrimp is happy with it. If you want it to stand out more, you can go for a darker color of sand or gravel. 

Tank Mates

Get ready to choose some of the best dancing partners for your Malawa shrimp! Yes, the time has come – we need to find the perfect tank mates that will complement the shrimp’s moves and not step on their toes!

If you are adding fish into your shrimp tank, make sure to go for peaceful ones. Think of species like: 

  • Neon Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Danios

They are a great addition to any aquarium as they are peaceful and also add color to the tank.

You can also choose a bunch of snails that will also help clean the tank and provide company to your shrimp! 

Think of species like: 

  • Nerite snails
  • Mystery snails

They are great for eating algae and also add some fun to the tank.

Finally, choose other peaceful shrimp species such as:

They’re fun-loving and always down for a good time!

It is important to avoid aggressive fish or invertebrates that can be dangerous and can cause stress to the shrimp. Examples of these species are Cichlids, some catfish and crayfish which can be aggressive and will harm the shrimp or eat them. 

That said, don’t forget to research the tank mates you want to add and make sure they are compatible with your shrimp and also with the other tank mates in your tank.

Malawa Shrimp For Sale

You can find these little gems from a variety of sources, from online retailers, private breeders, to local pet stores. Keep in mind that it is very important to look for a reputable trader or breeder who can provide information about the shrimp’s origin and care requirements.

When buying Malawa shrimp, it’s important to look for a live arrival guarantee, which ensures that the shrimp will arrive alive and in good condition. 

This guarantee can give you peace of mind that the shrimp you receive are healthy and well-cared for, and that if something goes wrong, you can ask for a replacement or a refund.

So, put on your treasure hunting hat, grab your map, and set out to find the perfect Malawa shrimp colony for your tank. And don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

Final Thoughts

Keeping Malawa shrimp in your tank is like having a fun-loving, foodie, long-term partner who also happens to be a baby-making machine (if you want to breed them)! 

When it comes to tank size, bigger is better, but not too big. Don’t forget that plants are like the ultimate wingmen for your shrimp, providing shelter, nutrition, and natural décor all in one package. 
With the right tank setup, including the right size, plants, substrate, and tank mates, you can create the perfect environment for these fun-loving crustaceans to thrive. These little guys will definitely bring a lot of joy and entertainment to your tank!