Whether you are a long-time aquarium keeper or just starting out, adding pet crabs to your tank environment can be a fun alternative to consider rather than just including more fish. Pet crabs come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They can be quite entertaining to watch as they climb, scavenge, and burrow.
Perhaps you are concerned that caring for pet crabs is too complicated, but don’t worry! Many types of pet crabs are no harder to take care of than other types of aquarium dwellers. Ready to consider adding a pet crab to your life? Here are 12 popular pet crab types for you to choose from!
The 12 Popular Types of Pet Crabs
1. Rainbow Land Crab
Rainbow Land Crabs come in a wide variety of colors, making them an eye-catching addition to your pet family! As their name suggests, these crabs need both land and water areas in their tank to live happily. They also prefer to be kept in pairs. You can find Rainbow Land Crabs in purple, orange, blue, or cream colors.
2. Vampire Crab
Vampire Crabs are freshwater crabs named for their glowing, yellow eyes. Their unique appearance makes them very popular as pets. These crabs come in bright colors as well, usually purple, orange, or red. Vampire Crabs are sometimes tough to find on the pet market because they are a more recently discovered crab species.
3. Halloween Moon Crab
These crabs come decked out in all the colors of Halloween! Also called the Halloween Hermit Crab, the Halloween Moon Crab has orange legs, a black shell, and purple markings on its claws. Their colors may be inspired by a spooky holiday, but these crabs are truly scary towards each other. Although they are social creatures, Halloween Moon Crabs should only be allowed brief play dates, as too long of an interaction can turn into a not-so-playful brawl, often with serious consequences.
4. Fiddler Crabs
Male Fiddler Crabs, with their recognizable large claw, are a familiar sight to regular beachgoers. There are actually about 100 different species of Fiddler Crabs, all similar in appearance. Males are very territorial, so you should plan to keep only one male per tank, but several female companions are okay. Fiddlers don’t like to be alone, so you should plan to keep at least two. Fiddler Crabs live in saltwater rather than freshwater, which means you will need to add salt to their habitat water.
5. Land Hermit Crabs
Hermit Crabs are another more familiar species of pet crab. These crabs can be a bit tricky to keep as pets because they have a lot of specific habitat requirements that can be difficult to provide in a tank setting. Despite their name, Hermit Crabs actually prefer to live in groups, so you’ll need to plan for keeping more than one if you decide to get a Land Hermit Crab as a pet.
6. Red Claw Crabs
Red Claw Crabs, named for their bright red claws, are a popular and easy-to-find variety of pet crab. They are also simple to care for as crabs go, which adds to their appeal. One thing to keep in mind when considering keeping Red Claw Crabs is that they are known to be talented escape artists because of their climbing ability. You will need to take extra care to keep their tank secure.
7. Panther Crabs
Panther Crabs are popular pet crabs because of their striking appearance, a yellow or orange body covered in black spots. These crabs grow larger than some other pet crab types, often reaching 3 inches long. Panther Crabs, perhaps taking their jungle cat namesakes a bit too much to heart, are often aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. If they aren’t fed on time, Panther Crabs have been known to snack on other crabs or fish housed with them. Male Panther Crabs will fight each other as well, so be sure to choose a female friend for your male Panther Crab.
8. Thai Micro Crab
Thai Micro Crabs, as their name suggests, are extremely small, shy crabs. They usually only grow to about half an inch long! Because they are so tiny and fragile, be very careful when deciding on tank companions for these crabs. They should only live with other very docile species who won’t decide to make a snack out of these crabs.
9. Pom Pom Crab
Pom Pom Crabs get their name because wild ones swim around with anemones held in their claws, making them look like they are holding pom-poms. Rather than cheering on the local sports team, Pom Pom Crabs use the anemones for self-defense, boxing the stinging creatures in the direction of enemies. In captivity, these small crabs are easy to care for, although they may be harder to find because they’ve only recently started to be sold as pets.
10. Thai Devil Crab
Despite their name, Thai Devil Crabs are actually among the more docile of pet crab species and get along well with a variety of calm tank companions. These crabs can grow up to 4 inches long and live as long as 15 years, although 5 years is their average lifespan in captivity. Thai Devil Crabs can be found in many different colors, including purple and red.
11. Matano Crab
Matano Crabs have a unique appearance, combining purple color with white at their leg joints. These crabs are happy to spend all their time underwater, meaning you don’t need to provide a land area for them in your tank. However, the Matano crab has very specific water temperature and pH requirements, which is something to keep in mind when deciding whether to keep one as a pet.
12. Gold Claw Crab
These crabs are named for their large, gold-colored claws. Gold Claw Crabs will live happily scavenging along the bottom of an aquarium. They also enjoy burrowing in the sand, so you will want to make sure their tank has a sandy bottom. Like their Red Claw counterparts, Gold Claw Crabs are particularly skilled at escaping tanks.
How to Choose a Pet Crab
With so many cool and different types of pet crabs to choose from, how will you ever decide which one to get? There are a few questions you will want to consider when selecting the perfect pet crab.
Will Your Crabs Be Joining an Existing Tank or Living Alone?
If you are looking for a pet crab to add to an already bustling tank environment, you will need to choose a type that will get along with your existing aquatic pets. Make sure the fish and other creatures in your tank won’t want to eat your new crab. Choose a pet crab that isn’t territorial and is willing to accept tank mates.
How large is your tank? Some pet crabs, like the Rainbow Land Crab, grow larger than others and need more space. Others are so territorial that they need a larger space in order to prevent fights.
Most of the crabs on this list are freshwater crabs, so if you have a saltwater tank, that will narrow your choices considerably.
How Many Crabs Do You Want?
Many of the pet crabs we discussed are not happy living as solo crabs. Others are so territorial that it is essential that they do! Some, like the Land Hermit Crab, prefer to live in groups rather than pairs. Consider carefully how many crabs you have space for and are willing to care for when deciding which type of pet crab to get.
Can You Provide the Right Habitat?
Each type of pet crab has different habitat requirements. Some are happy to live full-time in the water while others need a land area to take some time out from the swim life. Some, like the Vampire Crab, want to live with lots of aquatic plants. All crabs will take every chance to escape that they can get so whichever type you choose, be prepared to always keep your tank secure.
What Types Are Available?
In the end, your choice of pet crab may depend on what types are readily available to you. Some pet crabs we discussed, like the Vampire and Pom Pom crabs, are harder to find. In contrast, types like the Fiddler and Red Claw Crabs can be very easy to purchase from a variety of sources.
Caring for Your Pet Crab
As we already discussed, each type of pet crab has its own set of specific requirements for proper care. Before you bring your new crab home, be sure you have done your research and determined the right habitat and diet for your pet. Here are some general guidelines for the care and feeding of pet crabs.
The required tank size will depend on the size of your pet crab and how many you are bringing home. The minimum tank size you should use is a 5-gallon tank. Be sure you secure all possible escape routes including piping and the roof of your tank.
If your pet crab needs both a water area and a land area, you will need to make a spot in your tank for them to get out of the water. One way to do this is to add enough sand to one side of your tank to create a beach for your crabs.
Check to see what temperature, humidity, and water pH requirements your new crab has. If your new crab needs to live in saltwater or brackish water, you will need to learn how to add the right amount of salt to keep them healthy.
A tank thermometer can help you keep your crab’s water temperature just right. Other things you may want to add to your crab’s tank are plants, rocks, sticks, or other items that will make their captive habitat as close as possible to where they would live in the wild.
Crabs are omnivores who will need both plant and animal foods in their diet. To keep your crab healthy, it’s a good idea to feed a variety of different foods. Some good food choices to offer your pet crab are:
Make sure you feed your crabs regularly, as some types will try to eat their tank mates if they get hungry. However, you don’t want to overfeed your crabs as you will need to remove any uneaten food. Start with a small portion and give them more if they still seem hungry.
Keeping Your Pet Crab Healthy
An important part of keeping your crab healthy is making sure you keep them in the right environment and feed them the right foods. Another important consideration is making sure they have tank mates who won’t try to eat them! A good way to make sure of this is to ask the breeder or pet store where you get your crab to help you pick appropriate tank mates for them.
Keep your crab’s tank clean by changing the water regularly. Anytime the water looks dirty or is smelly, it’s time for a change. Be sure you only use filtered water for your crab’s tank as chemicals like chlorine are not safe for them. You should also change out their sand and make sure the other items in the tank stay clean as well.
Some signs you should watch for to let you know your crab might be ill or unhealthy are:
Seek professional help from a veterinarian if you are concerned your crab is not doing well.
Pet crabs can make an enjoyable addition to your aquarium so long as you can provide the right conditions for them. With so many different types of pet crab to choose from, you are certain to find just the right one. Just make sure you stay one step ahead of these crafty climbers and block all their escape routes!
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay