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Red Clawed Crab Care Sheet


Posted January 3, 2012 by

Red Clawed Crab Care Sheet

red clawed crab care

Credit: Bjorn Konig

The Red Clawed Crab has the scientific name Perisesarma bidens, or Sesarma bidens.  It is a species of mangrove crab that is commonly available in the freshwater aquarium hobby.  Although they can survive in freshwater, it is my opinion that these crabs do best in setups with slightly brackish water.  These crabs have a lot of character and personality.  Red Clawed Crabs are fine aquatic additions to your tank, provided that their care requirements (discussed below) are properly met.

It is easy to distinguish male and female Red Clawed Crabs.  Male Sesarma bidens specimens typically have much larger, and redder claws than the females.  The female specimens have small claws that are darker and more subdued in color.

Handling Red Clawed Crabs is not recommended due to their nasty pinching habit.  They’ll gladly latch on to anything they can, including your fingers.  The pinch is painful, though not ridiculously bad.  Nevertheless, avoid direct handling and use a net instead.  This minimizes the risk of injury to both you and the crab.

Common Names:  Mangrove Crab, Red Clawed Crab

Distribution:  Singapore, Thailand

Size:  1.5 inches

Diet:  Shrimp Pellets are a fine choice for this species.  They will readily eat almost anything, including tubifex worms.  As with many other crab species, Red Clawed Crabs are opportunistic when it comes to food sources.  They’ll survive on just about anything.

Temperature:  68-75ºF

pH:  7.4-8.2

Habitat:  Originating from brackish mangrove biotopes in the wild, it is best to replicate this environment for them in captivity.  These crabs do best in light brackish conditions (a little sea salt added to the water – 1 tbsp/gallon).  Despite the brackish water recommendation, I’ve successfully kept specimens in pure freshwater for well over a year.  It is best to keep the water level a few inches below the top of the tank, and to have a few perches above the waterline.  A sandy substrate is ideal for these foragers.  As far as tank size goes, a typical 10 gallon aquarium is fine for a couple of these crabs.  Do not house multiple males together since they may fight (males are easily distinguishable because they have larger claws than females).

Note:  An ideal Perisesarma bidens setup would be a 10 gallon aquarium with water about half way full.  A white sand substrate makes foraging easy for the crabs, and keeps them visible to you.  A nice bogwood, mangrove, or mopani wood centerpiece sticking out above the waterline is perfect.

  • Brackish Water
  • Above-water Perches
  • Sandy Substrate

Final Notes:  Red Clawed Crabs make for excellent pets if their water parameters are properly met.  They are very entertaining to observe, and are definitely escape artists, so a properly secured tank is necessary unless you want to find your little crab crawling around your house one day!

These crabs do best in their own tank, but are relatively compatible with fast swimmers such as most tetras.  It is not recommended to house these crabs with bottom dwelling fish or slow fish.

Here is a short video showing a Red Clawed Crab in action (eating a plant root):

Featured Image Credit: Mean and Pinchy


Corey is the primary author and editor on Critterhub. With over 20 years of pet care experience, his interests lie mostly in aquaria and herpetology. Corey has a degree in Biology, and has completed many research projects involving herpetology and other animals.



    Thanks for this helpful info. I have mine in a larger freahwater tank & she gets along just fine. Actually, there is a crab habitat that can be purchased especially for crabs. It’s great as whenever she needs air, she goes inside. There is even a small plant in there so she can hide.

    She comes out & roams around quite a bit.

    Question that I’m unable to find an answer to…how often & how many shrimp pellets should I feed her & frequency?

    Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.


      I bought mine yesterday and someone said as long as they have other good supplies one pellet every week should be fine. (:


    I was wondering basically, one of the crabs that I have bought has more of a yellow pigmentation to his shell. Is there a certain reason for this, and is there something I should be doing differently for him.

    A.J. Girouard

    Thanks for the info , I just got one.

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