The Benefits of Freshwater Aquarium Crabs

Aquariums have the option to house much more than fish. Freshwater aquarium crabs can be a fun and beneficial addition to any fish tank!

The crabs you get from pet stores are small, averaging between one and four inches. Each crab should have one square foot of aquarium floor. If you put too many in your tank they will become territorial and fight. You will find two types of freshwater crabs sold in pet stores: real and fake. True crabs are characterized by a flat shell and five pairs of legs, the first two of which are claws. Their abdomens are folded under their cephalothorax (the main part of their body). Examples of true crabs are Fiddler (most popular with aquarists) and Horseshoe. False crabs keep their bodies in a seashell. They are classified with true crabs in pet stores because they are short crustaceans with hard exoskeletons and ten legs.

Crabs are great for aquariums. They are scavengers and will eat organic matter such as decaying plants, dead fish, or decaying food. Since they walk and climb but do not swim, they also stir up the substrate. Like land plants, underwater plants also need their soil or mallet to be cultivated. Having crabs in your tank will nurture your aquarium vegetation and help it grow. The most important benefit crabs offer is probably their appetite for algae. If you have an algae problem, get a crab or two to control it. These critters, in addition to snails, make meals out of the material. Keep in mind that there is no substitute for maintaining the aquarium yourself.

Another benefit of freshwater crabs is the playful behavior they display! These guys will climb, sneak and hide. If you put some sort of decoration on your tank, they won’t hesitate to explore every inch of it. They’ll even climb up the side of tanks and try to escape if they find a hole in the hood! The intriguing behavior is perhaps why fiddler crabs are one of the most popular. They are nocturnal and sneak around quite a bit. The males have an interesting appearance because they have one small claw and the other is large! Adding crabs to your aquarium will make it that much more unique.

Keep in mind that crabs require slightly more maintenance than some fish. Your water should be kept at 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Crabs help keep the water clean, probably because they can’t live in it if it gets too dirty. Make sure your crabs live in clean water and test them often. Not all crabs can live in the water forever. Most need to visit the mainland. You can give them the dirt by putting a mound of gravel in your tank. Make it sit on top of the water and tilt under the water.

Crabs crave a varied diet. Switch your diet between flaked, frozen, and live foods. They will still snack on dead fish and feces between meals! Lastly, think about the fish that are already in your tank. Some fish like to eat crabs, and the crabs will eat small fish that live on the bottom. It doesn’t do an aquarium any good if its inhabitants eat each other! Do your research carefully before you accidentally turn your aquarium into an underwater version of Lord of the Flies.