Vampire Crab Care Information and Profile
If you don't want to limit your fish farming hobby to just fish, you may want to pick up some unusual invertebrates instead, perhaps in a separate tank.
When you mention invertebrates, most people will assume you're talking about shrimp. But in this guide we introduce the vampire crab. These small, beautiful crustaceans are taking the hobby by storm and are a must-have today!
Read on to find out what all the hype is about, and if this fascinating type of crab might be a great choice for you!
Are vampire crabs good for beginners?
Yes! Vampire crabs are really great choices for beginners as they are easy to keep, provided you feed these little critters a healthy diet and keep their tanks clean.
You can even keep a few tank mates with your crabs as long as you pick the right ones.
What are vampire crabs?
Vampire crabs are sold in many fish and pet stores. The scientific name of the crabs is Geosesarma sp. And they make up the entire species.
These crabs are found throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia, from India, Java and Krakatau to Hawaii. Despite the crabs' popularity and the fact that they have been kept as pets for many years, their origins are unknown and the species was not first described until 2006.
Vampire crabs inhabit the warm, slightly alkaline fresh water of lakes and river banks where there is little or no current. This allows the crabs to live both in the water and on land.
During the day, the crabs hide between dense plants both in the water and on land or seek shelter in caves. The habitat in which the crabs live is usually rocky and heavily overgrown.
How long do vampire crabs live in captivity?
Both in the wild and in captivity, these crabs have a lifespan of around two years, provided you feed them properly and provide them with clean water.
Why are they called vampire crabs?
You may be relieved to learn that these harmless little crabs didn't earn their common name because they drink the blood of other creatures! Vampire crabs are so named because they have creepy yellow eyes and purple dracula-cloak-colored bodies.
Can vampire crabs live underwater?
These crabs are classified as semi-terrestrial. This means that the creatures have to spend some of their time on land and the rest in the water. In captivity, you must provide the crabs with a place to get out of the water or they will drown.
You have many opportunities to spot the crabs as they spend much of their days in their preferred spots in the tank. That said, these crabs are primarily nocturnal, so they do most of their feeding and other activities at night.
How often do vampire crabs molt?
Crabs have a protective exoskeleton to keep them safe from predators. This hard shell does not grow with the crab. As the creature grows out of the clam, it must shed it and grow a new, larger one through a process known as skinning.
Vampire crabs molt once a month, although the process may be more frequent when the crabs are younger as they grow faster. Once the old shell has been skinned, the crab will hide in a safe place until its new shell has hardened.
When the crab has finished molting, remove the old shell from the tank and leave the crab alone until it comes out of hiding with its new exoskeleton.
Are vampire crabs aggressive?
Unfortunately, vampire crabs can be aggressive. You can safely keep groups of these crabs together without incident, but they will attack and eat small fish and other species of crabs.
Same goes for keeping vampire crabs with prawns, which they would most likely end up as lunch.
What do vampire crabs look like?
Vampire crabs are truly beautiful animals that make a stunning display in a terrestrial aquarium with just one species.
These crabs have 10 legs, including their little pincers, which are deep purple in color. The crab's shell is indigo in color with white spots that give the creature the appearance of a starry night sky.
The bright yellow eyes of the animal are set on stems that are slightly proud and stand out clearly from the dark and sinister coloring of the vampire.
Vampire crabs grow, including their legs, to about two inches in size. The body of the animal is only about an inch wide.
How to distinguish a woman from a male vampire crab
Male vampires are slightly larger than females and their claws are lighter in color. However, the most obvious difference between the two sexes is the abdominal flap. Take a look under the crab. Females have a wide, rounded flap while the male has a more pointed flap. Sometimes you can spot fertilized eggs under the flap, which means the crab is a female.
How to care for vampire crabs
Now that you know more about these slightly creepy crustaceans, you can start thinking seriously about getting one. Here is all the information you need to know about vampire crab care!
Vampire crabs are very small, so you can keep them in a small tank. We recommend an aquarium of at least 10 gallons for a group of up to six crabs. If you want to keep more than that, you'll need to increase the size of your tank accordingly.
Since vampire crabs live both on land and in water, you'll need to set up a tank with a land to water ratio of 80:20. You can create the land element of the habitat by using shores of the substrate, building rock structures, or even including floating resin wood platforms.
These creatures like to seek protection, especially when they molt. So make sure you have enough hiding spots, especially in the water. Caves, driftwood, and carefully arranged smooth stones are perfect for this purpose.
As mentioned above, the crabs' natural environment is heavily overgrown as you need to take this into account in the trapped habitat. You can use aquatic and semi-aquatic plants – whichever suits your taste better.
The crabs do not damage the plants, although they will most likely eat dead plant material.
Even if you don't have a lot of water to worry about, the little water that is available needs to be kept clean. You need to install a filtration system to purify the water like an aquarium. Water changes are also necessary every week to keep the nitrate content to a minimum.
Vampire crabs are very sensitive to poor water conditions. You will therefore need to test them weekly to identify any problems before they can affect the crabs.
The water temperature should be kept between 70 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH should be between 7.5 and 8.0.
In the crab's wild habitat, the environment is humid, so you'll need a humidifier to keep the humidity around 75 percent.
The lighting in the tank can be chosen to match your plants, as the crabs have no special lighting requirements.
Vampire crabs are mainly nocturnal. So if you want to watch your pets go through their normal routines, you need to choose an LED lighting unit with a moonlight setting.
Maintaining these crabs' tanks is similar to maintaining an aquarium. You will need to perform partial water changes and vacuum the substrate every week to remove debris.
The most time-consuming maintenance of the tank is caring for the plants, removing dead leaves, and reducing overgrowth.
As mentioned earlier, vampire crabs hunt small fish, crabs, and shrimp. However, if you carefully choose the tank mates for your vampire crab, then creating a harmonious community will be possible.
Fish should be larger than the crabs and ideally non-aggressive species. Of course, you must avoid all species known to eat crabs. Similarly, larger species of crabs should also be avoided as they can hunt the vampire species.
Large snails are a safe choice as no species interfere with the other.
Can you keep vampire crabs together?
Vampire crabs get along well when held together, and a small group of them make a beautiful display.
These crustaceans generally do not quarrel, except during the breeding season when males compete for females. You can take steps to prevent this from happening by maintaining a one man to two woman relationship.
If you have more males than females in your setup, make sure the crabs have plenty of room and give them plenty of burrows, overhangs, and dense plants to hide in if needed.
It is important that you give your crabs good, nutritious diet. Good quality foods keep them healthy, promote growth, and help build a strong exoskeleton after molting.
What do vampire crabs eat?
In the wild, these crabs are scavengers, eating dead plant matter as well as meaty foods like insects and small fish. That makes feeding these crabs in captivity pretty easy.
We recommend a mix of live and frozen foods for your vampires with a small number of flakes, seaweed wafers, and pellets. This is better than just giving them dried foods that lose some of their nutritional content during processing. Feed your crabs brine prawns, bloodworms, earthworms, and crickets.
Your diet should be high in calcium, which is critical to developing healthy, strong armor. So vegetables like broccoli and spinach make great additions to the crab diet.
How Often Should You Feed Your Vampire Crabs?
You only need to feed your crabs once a day. Crabs are scavengers and can quickly find litter and organics in the tank if they get hungry between feedings.
Since these crabs are nocturnal, you should feed them just before or after the light goes out at the end of the day. It is good to have an adjustable LED lighting unit with moonlight setting so you can watch the crabs when they are most active. This is also a great way to make sure the crabs are eating properly.
health and sickness
Vampire crabs are generally quite hardy creatures that will stay healthy if you give them adequate tank conditions and feed them a nutritious, balanced diet as described above.
However, if you have to use chemical medication in your tank, don't use anything with copper. Copper is highly toxic to invertebrates and can kill your crabs.
Although crabs do not suffer from many of the most common fish diseases, such as white spot disease, they can be carriers of these and other diseases. For this reason, you should always quarantine the crabs before adding them to any community that contains fish.
However, vampire crabs can be susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections and are sometimes attacked by parasites.
Look out for signs of damage to the crab's shells, which could indicate a calcium deficiency in their diet. If necessary, feed them more fresh vegetables and monitor their condition over time.
Breeding of vampire crabs
Frankly, if you are hoping to breed these crabs to make up for their relatively short lifespan, it will be a major challenge.
Crabs are sexually mature at around six months of age and continue to reproduce for the rest of their lives.
When the female crab bears eggs, the male fertilizes them by climbing on top of the female. The eggs usually hatch in about a month and produce 20 to 80 fully formed baby crabs. Once the teens appear, it is best to remove them and place them in a separate tank if possible as the parents and other tank dwellers may eat them.
If you manage to successfully breed your vampire crabs, we want to know all about it. After all, it is not easy to raise these beautiful creatures. Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Are vampire crabs readily available?
Many pet stores sell vampire crabs, but you can also buy them online. Vampire crabs typically cost around $ 10 to $ 20, with the larger ones being more expensive than the small ones.
Do Vampire Crabs Make Good Pets?
Vampire crabs are extremely easy to care for, which makes them a great choice for beginners looking to keep something other than fish.
Make sure you are providing the crabs with the correct environmental and tank settings, feed them a nutritious and balanced diet that is high in calcium for healthy shell development, and you shouldn't have any problems.
The main disadvantage to keeping these crabs is that while they are generally healthy and robust animals, they do not have a very long lifespan. Plus, it's not easy to grow vampire crabs in the home tank, so you can't just replace your pets when they die.
All in all, vampire crabs are a lovely and very unusual choice for pets that will certainly make a great conversation starter when your friends visit you.