Vampire Crab: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

vampire crab in aquarium.

When it comes to creatures other than fish that you can raise in your aquarium, the Vampire Crab serves as a highly popular option.

Vampire Crabs have a striking and unique appearance that makes for a delightful sight. However, their care isn’t for beginners, as there are certain care requirements that many owners can’t come to terms with.

However, if you want to learn, we’ve got your back!

This helpful guide is designed to teach you everything you need to know about caring for Vampire Crabs, including their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more!

Species Overview

The Vampire Crab belongs to the Sesarmidae family and has the scientific name Geosesarmadennerle. They are known to be quite mysterious and intriguing, and not many people know much about their history.

Most aquatic experts state that these crabs have been a part of home aquariums for several decades. Apparently, they were officially discovered and identified in 2006.

CategoryRating
TemperamentSemi-aggressive
Life SpanUp to 2 Years
FamilySesarmidae
DietOmnivore
Color FormPurple with yellow eyes
Care levelEasy
CompatibilityPeaceful creatures
SizeUp to 2 Inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with vegetation
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons

These crabs are native to the small islands of the Indian Ocean. Apart from this, they have also been spotted in places like Java, Riau, Sulawesi, and Krakatau. They are spread out over a much larger area throughout Asia and the Western Pacific.

Although they have been in the aquarium trade for decades, they have become popular once again recently. Since little is known about their origin and history, you might find a lot of inaccurate information regarding their care and habitat.

However, we will guide you regarding the unique care requirements that Vampire Crabs have so that you will be able to decide whether you want to make them a part of your aquarium or not.

Lifespan

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to enjoy Vampire Crabs for a long time, even if you breed them yourselves. This is because they have one of the shortest lifespans among aquatic creatures.

On average, this species of crab can only live up to 2 years, regardless of whether they are kept in a home aquarium or their natural habitat.

Just like other aquatic creatures, their lifespan also depends on the quality of care and diet you administer to them, as well as the water quality that you maintain in their tank.

Appearance

Vampire Crabs steal the show with their appearance, and they are quite fascinating to watch. They resemble smaller crabs of other species, having eight legs and two big pinchers.

Since they are smaller in size, they aren’t as mighty and lethal as the larger crabs that you may have seen. Their claws are quite small and don’t open up too much. Therefore, you can even handle them without worrying about getting pinched or injured.

Of course, these crabs won’t be able to harm you since they are smaller in size, but they can easily inflict a lot of damage on creatures that are much smaller than them.

Vampire Crabs have a dark purple body, with the color becoming more vibrant as you move from their body towards their claws. Some crabs may also have a light pink hue on their claws.

The body may also be a shade of brownish-purple or black, and they also have white spots all over their carapace, which refine and enhance their appearance.

Another striking feature of their feature is their beautiful and bright yellow eyes. Most aquatic experts suggest that the ‘Vampire’ part of their name comes from the fact that their eyes are menacing, and their entire body also incites fear in other creatures.

Although the male and female species are quite similar, there are some distinguishable features that you can easily identify. Males are slightly larger than females, and their claws are also lighter in color.

You can also tell them apart by their abdominal flap, for which you can turn them over. The males have thin and pointy abdominal flaps, whereas the females have an oval-shaped flap.

Size

Vampire Crabs are quite tiny as compared to other types of crabs you may have seen, and their average size is no more than 2 inches wide. This means that you will have to watch up close if you want to see exactly what they are doing inside the tank.

If you have looked at pictures of these magnificent creatures, you may be mistaken about their size, which appears much larger in the images. Moreover, the size of these crabs also includes the size of their legs; otherwise, their carapace is much smaller.

Vampire Crab Care

In essence, caring for Vampire Crabs is quite easy. It is the lack of authentic care information and guidelines that causes confusion among aquarium owners.

Generally, they are quite hardy and resilient, provided that you give them the level and quality of care that they deserve.

You have to maintain a fine-tuned environment for these crabs in order for them to grow healthy and stay comfortable. They require better and more stringent conditions than most other aquatic creatures.

Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into Vampire Crab care and tell you all that you need to know.

Tank Size

The capacity of the aquarium that you get for Vampire Crabs plays a major role in their care. Ideally, they require a tank size of 10 gallons, as it will help them roam around freely and also cohabitate the tank with nearly half a dozen crabs of their kind.

If you have a friend or acquaintance who has a 5-gallon tank with several of these crabs, you shouldn’t follow suit. Although they are quite small and don’t require a lot of space to move around, they will be more comfortable if they have a larger area for roaming around freely.

Water Parameters

When it comes to water parameters for Vampire Crabs, you would be surprised to know that you won’t have a lot of water to worry about.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about the water quality or conditions. Generally, these crabs thrive in slightly alkaline and warm tropical freshwater.

Just like several other creatures, they also respond to sudden and extreme changes in water quality, which is why you always need to monitor the water inside the tank.

This also means that you should change the water partially every month, as this would reduce the ammonia and nitrate levels in it.

To make sure you provide your crabs with a healthy environment that feels like home, keep the water temperature between 70°F to 82°F and the pH levels between 7.5 and 8.0. Last but not least, the water hardness should be between 0 and 10 dKH.

What to Put in Their Tank?

If you want to keep your Vampire Crabs happy and healthy in their tank, you need to give them the impression that they are still in the wild.

Since they are semi-terrestrial creatures, these crabs don’t need an aquarium – rather, you need to maintain a paludarium, which combines elements of aquatic and terrestrial environments.

The crabs prefer spending more time on land as compared to water, which is why they need a platform that allows them to move from water to land. Ideally, you should maintain a land-to-water ratio of 80/20.

This makes it perfect for aquarium owners, as they have much less water to worry about. In their natural habitat, these crabs are used to living in forest rivers and lakes, so you should add vegetation to both the land and water parts of the paludarium.

You should start with a soft sand substrate since Vampire Crabs are used to burrowing every now and then. Plus, the sand will also provide a platform for the crabs to move to the dry part easily.

Most paludarium owners also add integrated shelves to make it easier for these crabs to climb up to the surface, and you can also set up a floating perch to build the land part.

Both the areas should be filled with live plants of different types, as well as hiding spots, caves, driftwood in the water area.

Filtration is another key portion of the paludarium, and you can make do with a hang-on-back canister filter or under-gravel filter.

Ideally, you should also install a tank heater and humidifier, as this would keep the water warm and also keep the humidity of the land portion at the right levels.

Common Diseases

Due to the lack of information about Vampire Crabs, little is known about the diseases they suffer from.

One thing is for sure: they don’t suffer from the same issues that fish do. Although they are immune to Ich, or white spot disease, they can very easily carry it to other fish in the tank.

There is a general idea that these crabs are prone to get infected from the same diseases as other freshwater crabs. These include fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections, but there aren’t any conditions specific to their species.

Although there aren’t any common diseases that these species face, the best you can do is to maintain and monitor the water quality from time to time. If the water quality and tank conditions are poor, they will cause your crabs to become stressed.

What do Vampire Crabs Eat?

Another thing that makes the care of Vampire Crabs easier is the fact that they aren’t particularly picky eaters. Since they are omnivores, they eat whatever they find in the wild, including smaller creatures, insects, plant detritus, and much more.

You can also provide them with plant and animal-based protein in their tank, which includes live food like bloodworms, brine shrimp, larvae, and earthworms. Apart from this, you can also feed them with dry flakes, algae wafers, and other commercial foods.

You should also consider adding more calcium-infused foods to their diet, including green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and peas. By munching on these foods, Vampire Crabs will be able to achieve stronger shells.

Behavior & Temperament

True to their name, Vampire Crabs are nocturnal and stay away from the light as much as possible. Therefore, they are more active after sunset.

They will spend a lot of time on both land and water, provided that you set up the paludarium for them. They are also used to staying still in one place for a long time, so don’t be afraid when you see them like this.

These crabs also shed their old shells and grow new ones a couple of times throughout their lifespan, particularly every month after the first six months of their life.

While their shells are molting, they would look for hiding places, which is why you should arrange caves and hiding spots for them. Plus, the sandy substrate and live plants will also provide the perfect hiding place for them.

When it comes to their temperament, Vampire Crabs can be a bit aggressive towards other aquatic creatures. They get along well with the same species, but they will act territorial and try to fight off any creatures that encroach on their space.

Vampire Crab Tank Mates

As mentioned above, Vampire Crabs are used to cohabitate tanks with their own kind, and they also thrive in groups.

Moreover, you should place one male for every two females, as this would help them during the breeding process. If you want to set up a paludarium with several creatures, you can consider placing freshwater aquarium snails, such as the Assassin Snail with them.

Plus, they can also do well with certain types of shrimp, including Cherry Shrimp. Basically, you should keep them with similar-sized and peaceful species of fish and other creatures.

If they are smaller, the crabs will eat them, and if you choose larger creatures, they will attack your crabs.

Therefore, you can choose Neon Tetras, Zebra Danios, and other types of small and peaceful species of fish to cohabitate the tank with your Vampire Crabs.

Breeding

Generally, there is no specific or unique breeding method that Vampire Crabs use, and they are known to breed on their own time when they please.

When the time comes for mating, the male crab will lay on top of the female and fertilize her eggs. Once this is done, she will hold anywhere between 20 to 80 eggs for up to a month, after which you will notice several full-sized grown babies moving around.

Very few of the newborn crabs will stick close to the mother, while the others will roam around freely, both on land and in water. However, it would be wise to remove the babies from the tank for a while since the adult Vampire Crabs may try to prey on them.

Final Thoughts

By now, you would have understood that caring for Vampire Crabs is much different as compared to other aquatic creatures, mainly because they are semi-terrestrial beings.

Moreover, there isn’t a lot of authentic information to go about it, which is why you must try to follow the advice and recommendations that we have provided in this guide.

Generally, Vampire Crabs are quite easygoing and peaceful species unless you pair them with other creatures that won’t seem to get along well with them. If you like how they look, just follow our guide and buy them from your nearest pet store today!

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