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Vampire Crab: Everything You Need To Know

Keeping some fish in an aquarium is not for everyone. Some people are best suited or may want to own a more exotic pet. Crabs, particularly the Vampire Crab species can be an excellent alternative to fish. The crabs possess a unique look of their own and behave differently.

Enthusiasts who consider keeping a tank that looks different from the average aquarium, consider caring for some Vampire Crabs. These crabs may be small, but they are fascinating and beautiful. Anyone will never get bored looking at them, and they are easy to raise.

This Vampire Crab guide will serve as a mentor that will teach things that aquarium pets aficionados need to learn about Vampire Crab and how to raise them

vampire crab guide

First, take a look at the quick notes about the Vampire Crab:

  • Other Names: Vampire Geosesarma
  • Scientific Name: Geosesarma dennerie, Family Sesarmidae
  • Size: Up to 2 inches
  • Color Form: Purple with yellow eyes
  • Temperament: Peaceful to semi-aggressive
  • Type: Semi-terrestrial crabs
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Lifespan: Up to 2 years
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Compatibility: Peaceful community
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with caves and plants
Quick notes about the Vampire Crab
Quick notes about the Vampire Crab.


The most striking thing about a Vampire Crab is its appearance. It has a similar profile to that of other small crabs. It has ten legs, including the big claws or pincers.

Most vampire crabs that are suitable for tanks or aquariums have deep purple color especially their legs, including the claws. Some species have pincers with a lighter tint of pink.

The carapace or the main body has a darker color than the legs. The carapace is sometimes brownish-purple or black in color with specks of white or yellowish-white – it resembles a starry night sky. The Vampire Crab’s bright yellow eyes stand out against the dark-colored body.

This fascinating crustacean acquired its name due to its yellow eyes that look spooky, and the spots on the back form a shape that resembles a bat. Some people say that it is a marketing strategy to attract interest and at the same time serve as self-promotion.

Vampire Crab Appearance
Vampire Crab Appearance.

The pincers are the defining feature of a crab, but the Vampire crab has small pincers that won’t hurt its owner easily. Their pincers don’t open up as wide as the crabs that are way bigger than them. But this crab is still capable of harming other creatures that have the same size as them or smaller.

Male Vampire Crabs have claws that are lighter in color, and they are a bit larger than the female crabs of their kind. The males have somewhat pointed abdominal flaps that are thin. The female crabs have rounded and wide abdominal flaps. It is easier to identify a female crab if she is carrying some fertilized eggs.


The Vampire Crab measures 2 inches, induding the legs. The carapace itself only measures 1 inch wide. Even though it is small, it does not lack any defining features of a crab. Anyone can recognize it easily at a glance.

When appreciating the beauty of the Vampire Crabs, it is best to take a look at them at close range. Lots of people find it surprising that this crab has a small size. Most pictures of this crab suggest otherwise.

Vampire Crab Size
Vampire Crab Size


The typical lifespan of Vampire Crabs is only up to 2 years – whether in the wild or in captivity Poorfy maintained surroundings or habitats make them sick and can shorten their lifespan. They are easy to care for, but it doesn’t mean that their owners can neglect their living conditions.

Like other creatures, there’s a need to provide them with comfortable living conditions and an environment that suits them.

Food and Diet

Vampire Crabs are not fussy eaters and there’s no need to worry too much about what to feed them. They are omnivores by birth, and they typically eat anything that they can get in the wild. Plant detritus and insects are their primary sources of food if they are in their natural habitat. They can eat the same things even if they are to live in a tank or aquarium.

The Vampire Crabs will be happy to eat some earthworms, larvae, brine shrimp, and bloodworms They can also consume dry commercial foods. They will happily chow down algae wafers, dry flakes, and similar threats.

Feed the Vampire Crabs some calcium-rich foods. They can eat broccoli, peas, spinach, and similar foods. Calcium-rich foods can help strengthen their shells.

It is essential to give the crabs a healthy diet. It helps them grow without so much fuss, prevents diseases from harming them, and help them form a strong exoskeleton that they need after they molt

Live foods and frozen foods are the healthiest options because they can retain the nutrients better than the dried foods, which usually lost some of the nutrients during manufacturing.

It is easy to prepare some homemade meals for the Vampire Crabs using the leftover vegetables from lunch or dinner. Although these crabs will gladly feast on the green vegetables prepared for them they will not consume the live plants in the aquarium where they live. The Vampire Crabs will only eat the dead plant matter or detritus.

It is a must to feed the Vampire Crabs only once each day. If they get hungry, they will scavenge for organic matter that is readily available in the tank.

Typical Temperament and Behavior

Crabs are semi-terrestrial. It means they enjoy being in the water for some time, but they also like to spend time on land. They usually look for a dry area in the tank and rest there for several hours.

It’s not surprising to see the Vampire Crabs being much more active when night comes. They are mostly nocturnal and will naturally enjoy nighttime.

The Vampire Crabs have a hard exoskeleton that can shield them from a potential predator or anything that might inflict physical harm to them. However, the exoskeleton does not grow along with the Vampire Crab. Once a Vampire Crab gets too big for its exoskeleton, it needs to discard the old one by molting. It needs to do this so it can grow a bigger exoskeleton. These crabs usually molt once a month, but you can expect to see frequent molting during their younger years

Vampire Crabs grow faster when they are young. They will be vulnerable to danger after they have grown out of their exoskeleton. They usually find a safe place to hide until the new exoskeleton has fully developed.

In this regard, it is necessary to provide these crabs with a cave or safe place where they can hide as they grow their new exoskeleton while inside the tank. Watch out for the time when molting begins. It is advisable to remove the discarded exoskeleton and avoid touching and disturbing the crab. Leave it alone until it comes out of hiding with a new shell. Leaving it alone can prevent inflicting possible harm to it while it is yet to develop a new exoskeleton.

The Vampire Crabs may display aggression toward fish or other species of crabs. They can agree to live together with other Vampire Crabs, but those that are different from them and smaller are at risk of being eaten or attacked They usually use their pincers to attack their target. However, the caretaker does not need to worry about being pinched because the pincers of Vampire Crabs are small and will not cause any harm.

Crab Care

Providing care for the Vampire Crabs should not be difficult to do. Sadly, the usual information about these crustaceans does not offer much. The owners tend to commit lots of mistakes when providing care for their Vampire Crabs.

While it is true that Vampire Crabs are easy to care for and they can be quite hardy, the owner still needs to provide them with a perfectly crafted environment and the right care. After establishing a suitable environment, it would be easy for them not to depend so much on their caretaker. However, it is still necessary to make sure that the tank is dean.

Do not expect the crabs to remain healthy with substandard conditions of water and basic decor that will not do much for them. The crabs must be kept in a paludarium which is an aquarium that provides both aquatic and terrestrial elements. Keep in mind that crabs do not always stay in the water, and they also need to rest in dry areas.

Maintaining the tank does not require lots of hard work since Vampire Crabs do not create much mess. To avoid performing a major tank clean-up now and then, check the tank regularly and remove any plant debris or exoskeleton that the crabs left behind.

Using a 5-gallon tank for the crabs may be acceptable, but a problem in keeping its healthy condition will occur soon. A small tank cannot provide the amount of water needed in maintaining a healthy tank. If the small tank does not have much water, it is easier for pollutants to accumulate and harm the crabs.

If the tank is small, it needs to change its water more frequently than usual. It could be the reason why some owners of Vampire Crabs say that it is quite challenging to keep and maintain a healthy tank for the crabs.

Each week, it is a must to use a water testing kit to ensure that the conditions remain suitable for the crabs. If there is an issue, it will be easy to fix immediately Things can turn from bad to worse when a problem comes to light only after a couple of months. The immediate response and application of necessary solutions can help the Vampire Crabs to live happily within their lifespan or a bit longer.

It is enough to use a gravel vacuum cleaner to dean the substrate and keep it dirt-free. If there is a need to add chemicals into the tank, make sure that it does not contain copper, which is something toxic to most invertebrates, and it could kill the crabs.

If the shell of a crab sustained damage avoid giving a nutritious diet to the crab. What they need at that moment is a calcium-rich diet. Observe them and see if they are improving. There may be a need to adjust their diet to promote fast healing.

Possible Diseases

Vampire Crabs do not get sick often, but it is still possible for them to get ill. They can contract parasites, fungal issues, bacterial infections, and other diseases that may also harm the fish. They are not susceptible to Ich or white spot disease, which often targets the fish. However, they can serve as carriers of the pathogens that can cause the disease.

It is important to quarantine the crabs that came from the pet shop before transferring them to the tank or allowing them to join their tank mates.

When new tank mates from a pet store join the tank, many pathogens get mixed in. Pathogens thrive in water with poor conditions. The unhealthy state of the water allows the pathogens to proliferate. Keep the tank clean to hinder the pathogens from causing trouble to the inhabitants of the aquarium.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

The Vampire Crabs thrive primarily throughout Krakatau and Java. You can also find them all over South Asia. They also have been spotted in places like Hawaii in the Pacific.

In their natural habitat, Vampire Crabs thrive on the edges of lakes and rivers It gives them the perfect access to land and water that they want. Such areas can satisfy their semi-terrestrial lifestyle

The natural habitats of Vampire Crabs have dense plants, both in the water and on land. When taking care of Vampire Crabs in a tank, it is vital to create a paludarium that mimics their natural habitat.

Vampire Crabs are fond of using caves formed from debris and rocks, which provide them the shelter they need. They also like hiding among the plants which they also regard as shelter. They spend most of their time sitting when they are in these areas.

The water should be warm and a bit alkaline. It should have little water movement. To make the crabs live out their lifespan happily, make sure to provide them with living conditions that are similar to their natural habitat.

Vampire Crab Paludarium
Vampire Crab Paludarium

Tank Conditions

To create the ideal paludarium for the crabs, follow the 80:20 ratio of land to water. It needs to have more land than water. Keep the recommended amount of land and water, because it is already the most suitable paludarium set up for Vampire Crabs in the tank.

There are various ways to create the land portion. The caretaker can start with the preparation of a large platform. He/she should fill it with decorations or rocks, floating perches sand substrate, or other materials that can help create the land portion of the paludarium.

There is no need to put in much water, but it is necessary to make sure that it is always dean to maintain the healthy condition of the tank. The ideal temperature of the water should be between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The suitable water pH level is between 7.5 and 8.0. Every month, it is necessary to perform a mandatory water change to prevent nitrates and ammonia buildup. A filter can help keep the cleanliness of the water before the arrival of the monthly water change.

Vampire Crabs are sensitive to poor living conditions. It is imperative to do something quickly when there are changes in their environment. Never forget to use the water testing kit.

It is necessary to put live plants in the tank. The plants are needed when recreating the habitat of the Vampire Crabs in the wild. The caretaker should choose the plants to put on the land and in the water. It is necessary to maintain the balance within the tank.

The crabs will not eat the live plants but they will surely consume the plant matter. It also helps in maintaining the cleanliness of the tank. However, it is still advisable to check the tank once in a while and remove anything that could make it dirty.

Some use driftwood and rocks to create caves for the crabs to have a place to hide. Some Vampire Crab enthusiasts also use a humidifier to maintain the ideal humidity within the tank.

Tank Size

The ideal tank to use is around 10 gallons. Some may say that it is all right to use a 5-gallon tank, but this will limit the movement of the crabs. A small tank can get dirty fast, which means more work for the caretaker.

Giving the crabs lots of room to roam can make them happy. Even though they are small and do not move much when they are resting, the crabs can be more comfortable in good surroundings with ample room to move around.

Tank Mates and Other Numbers

It is ideal to have about six Vampire Crabs in a 10-gallon tank, it is possible to add more crabs, but it is also prudent to choose a bigger tank. Follow the ratio of 6 crabs for a 10-gallon tank when adding more crabs to compute for the ideal tank capacity.

The ideal tank mates for these crabs include Guppies, Cherry barbs Zebra Danios, and Neon Tetras. Make the necessary adjustments regarding the depth of water when adding some fish to the tank. Do not add other species of crabs inside the tank to avoid fighting among the crabs.


Different species mate in different ways. The best thing to do is to provide the crabs with sufficient food It is also vital to keep their tank clean all the time. They can take their sweet time before they start mating.

It takes about six months for the crabs to reach sexual maturity, and they will continue to reproduce once they start breeding. When ready the male crab will climb on top of the female crab, and the mating will begin. The female will carry 20 to 80 eggs if the mating is successful.

Keep this Vampire Crab guide handy, and it will serve as a quick reference when there is something that needs immediate clarification

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