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9 Unique Terrestrial, Semi-Terrestrial, Brackish & Freshwater Crabs

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Halloween moon crab

Vastness of Crab Species

There are vast amounts of freshwater crabs available for sale in the aquarium keeping hobby. Crabs can be found all over the world and each crab has different requirements to keep it happy and healthy. Keeping freshwater crabs in a glass enclosure at home is growing in popularity but it’s important to know what habitat they require. Crabs fall into many different categories and this article will discuss freshwater crabs that are either aquatic, semi-terrestrial or completely terrestrial.

1. Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

The Freshwater Pom Pom Crab are relatively small crabs that are fantastic scavengers. They’re unique and great for aquariums because they’re one of few species of crab that are fully aquatic. These crabs do not require any land in there enclosure! Do not mistaken freshwater and saltwater Pom Pom Crabs. They are two different crabs that go by the same common name. I personally have not seen these in stores but you can find Freshwater Pom Pom Crabs for sale online at many different sources.

Pom Pom Crab Habitat & Enclosure

The Freshwater Pom Pom Crab will do great in planted aquariums and will spend most of its day scavenging for food. This species of crab stays smaller than 2″ in length so will do great in aquariums 5 gallons or larger. Beware, because there is a possibility of this crab to try and hunt dwarf shrimp. Also, because of their incredibly small size, they may become a meal for other fish. They are best kept with smaller fish like tetras, rasboras, guppies, and other small fish.

2. Panther Crab

Panther Crabs are another species of crab that are technically fully aquatic. They can be seen climbing out of the water from time to time but they do not necessarily need it. These crabs are primarily orange with black spots all over. It’s a unique color pattern but a very wonderful one! They are great additions to freshwater aquariums but prefer higher temperatures (78-86F) and pH levels (7.8-8.4) to keep them happy. I have not seen Panther Crabs for sale at stores and are also uncommon online. With a little digging you are sure to find a supplier.

Panther Crab Habitat & Enclosure

This species of crab should be kept in aquariums that are 10 gallons or larger. You should be able to keep roughly 5 in a fish tank this size. It is recommended to provide this crab with plenty of places to hide. I would advise to use a variation of wood and rocks to create caves and crevices for this crab to hide in when stressed. Once again, Panther Crabs are fully aquatic. They could use land but it is not a requirement.

3. Vampire Crab

Vampire Crab in Paludarium

Vampire Crabs are an incredibly popular species of crab that are continuing to gain traction in this hobby. They are commonly seen with black, purple and yellow colorations but come in many other varying morphs. They’re a species of crab that spends a lot of time on land but can often be seen in water. You can usually find Vampire Crabs for sale online but not very often in store. Check out the Complete Care Guide to keeping Vampire Crabs for more information.

Vampire Crab Habitat & Enclosure

Like stated above, Vampire Crabs are not a fully aquatic species of crab. They need roughly 70% land and 30% water to be happy. They use the land portion to burrow and hide as well as to graze and feed on plant matter and whatever you feed it. They will often go in water to graze on algae and potentially hunt fish, shrimp and other smaller critters it can grab. This species of crab needs only freshwater and not brackish water which makes keeping it a little easier. In my opinion you will rarely find Vampire Crabs for sale at pet stores so you may have to search online for these beautiful invertebrates.

The Vampire Crab is a social crab and enjoys being with others of the same species. I would not keep them in paludariums smaller than 10 gallons and I would only keep 1 male and 3 females in an enclosure that small. You will need a larger fish tank to keep more males and to help prevent aggression.

4. Red Devil Crab

red devil crab

Red Devil Crabs are very similar to Vampire Crabs in regards to fish tank setup, size and land to water ratios. However, I would not recommend keeping two different species of crabs together because you may see quite a bit of aggression between them. Just like the Vampire Crab, Red Devil Crabs are very social animals and I would recommend keeping 1 male and 3 females in a 10 gallon enclosure. If you’re interested in more information on Red Devil Crabs, check out their complete care guide! In my opinion, you can find Red Devil Crabs for sale more commonly than Vampire Crabs. They are often found online and every so often will pop up in pet stores.

5. Halloween Moon Crab

The Halloween Moon Crab is a large and unique species of crab that can be purchased in this hobby. They are often shades of orange, purple and white/yellow. The top of the Halloween Moon Crabs shell has to dots that resemble eyes. It gives the crab a very unique look. They are some of the larger crab species you can keep. Take a look at the complete care guide of the Halloween Moon Crab if it interests you! You may (rarely) find Halloween Crabs for sale at niche pet stores otherwise the best place to find them is online.

Halloween Moon Crab Habitat & Enclosure

Halloween Crabs are fully terrestrial crabs. They only require enough water to dip their gills in but it’s also important to provide both clean freshwater and marine saltwater. This species of crab loves to burrow. In the wild they dig down up to few feet deep. Providing as much substrate to burrow into is important for Halloween Moon Crabs. I recommend at least 6 inches of substrate.

6. Thai Micro Crab

Thai Micro Crabs are a species of crab that are small and stay small! They should not get larger than half an inch! They are also fully aquatic crabs and will do very well in peaceful freshwater aquariums with small fish. You will have a hard time finding the Thai Micro Crab for sale in stores and even online. They are still fairly new and hard to come by. Regardless, if you can find them consider picking them up!

7. Freshwater Hermit Crab

Freshwater Hermit Crabs are one of the most common crabs that are kept in this hobby. They are often purchased as an easy to care for animal for younger kids dipping their toes into animal care. However, adult supervision is always a must when allowing kids to have pets. Also, just because they are fairly easy to care for, they still have requirements that need to be fulfilled. Freshwater Hermit Crabs are social but may fight for shells as they grow. As keepers you should be provided with varying shells of different sizes so the crab can choose the best one.

Freshwater Hermit Crab Habitat & Enclosure

Freshwater Hermit Crabs are actually terrestrial and only need small amounts of water to keep hydrated. I would provide a dish of clean freshwater and a dish filled with marine salt so the crab can enter and soak itself. Additional misting is highly recommended. A variety of food is helpful for this crab species as well. Good substrate like sand or coco fiber will allow for this crab to burrow when needed. Also, it is important to provide “caves” for this crab to hide in when stressed. This is not really an animal that should be handled often. They should spend most of their time on their own.

8. Fiddler Crab

fiddler crab male

Fiddler Crabs are a gorgeous species of crab that can be kept as a pet. The males of this species normally have one very large claw and one small one. They perform unique dances when mating which is exciting to see. Fiddler Crabs should be kept in small groups with usually one male and multiple females. You can often times find Fiddler Crabs for sale at niche pet shops. From personal experience, I rarely found them in chain stores like Petco or Petsmart. They are also commonly found for sale online! They’re on the cheaper end for pet crabs. If you’re interested in keeping Fiddler Crabs, check out this complete care guide that will provide just about all the information you need to keep these invertebrates.

Fiddler Crab Habitat and Enclosure

Fiddler Crabs are not fully aquatic crabs. Although they spend most of their time in the water they do require dry land to burrow. In the wild they are often found in brackish water marshes and shorelines. Replicating this habitat is ideal. I would recommend providing a pet safe soil and/or sand substrate for your Fiddler Crabs. This will allow them to burrow like they would in the wild. Also, Fiddler Crabs require brackish water, so a little marine salt is needed to keep this crustacean happy! Do not use table salt to create brackish water conditions. The two salts are not the same!

Fiddler Crabs should not be kept in anything smaller than 10 gallons. This will allow you to keep one male and 3-4 females. They’re not incredibly hard to keep but need things like brackish water and some land for burrowing to keep happy.

9. Red Apple Crab

The Red Apple Crab is a semi-terrestrial species of crab that spends most of its days scavenging for decaying leaf litter. These crabs spend most of their time on land but will occasionally enter the water to potentially graze on algae and search for other food items. It is important to provide supplemental food for the Red Apple Crab such as invertebrate pellet food, crickets and more. Although not very common you should be able to find Red Apple Crabs for sale online. I have rarely seen them in stores.

Red Apple Crab Habitat & Enclosure

This species of crab is social, so keeping 1 male and 2 females in a 10 gallon fish tank should be fine. Like most other crabs providing high humidity and lots of leaf litter to hide under is beneficial! This crab should be provided anywhere between 70-90% land and only 30-10% water in its enclosure. It does not require much at all! They’re a vibrantly red crab and I highly consider checking them out!

Final Notes

Crabs are a very unique and growing niche in this pet keeping world. They have very unique personalities and have very interesting shapes, movements and colorations. If you love animals that are more passive and may be seen from time to time, consider keeping crabs for pets! Beware, because most crabs are excellent climbers and escape artists. Make sure whatever enclosure you keep them in have a tightly fitted lid!

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  1. Pingback: Fiddler Crab - Complete Care Guide - ATParium

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