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13 Freshwater Crabs You Can Add to Your Aquarium (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

purple vampire crab

If you want a cool addition for your freshwater tank, look no further than these 13 freshwater crabs. Although most people associate crabs with saltwater, there are tons of small crabs that thrive in freshwater. Much like saltwater crabs, freshwater crabs make great additions to your aquarium because they are small, entertaining, and add a lot of diversity in the water.

To learn about the 13 best freshwater crabs to add to your aquarium, read on. At the end, we provide tips about which type of fish are the best tankmates for freshwater crabs. Let’s dig right in.

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The 13 Freshwater Crabs For Your Aquarium

1. Fiddler Crab

fiddler crab
Image Cedit: jenniecoyote, Pixabay

The Fiddler Crab is a great choice if you’re looking for a crab to spend most of its time in water. Unlike most land crabs, Fiddler Crabs love to burrow along beaches so that they can hide out in the water. They primarily eat nutritional flakes and pellets, as well as zucchini, bloodworms, plankton, and brine shrimp.

Only expect your Fiddler Crab to be about 2 inches in size, but they need a bit more space than other crabs. Anywhere from one to four Fiddler Crabs requires at least a 10-gallon aquarium. Any more than four will require an additional 10 gallons.

2. Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

The Freshwater Pom Pom Crab is one of the weirdest but oddly cutest crabs on this list. It is named because they have little patches of hair growing out of their claws. These patches of hair make them look like they are holding pom poms. Not only are these pom poms cute, but they allow the crabs to eat different food, such as algae.

Freshwater Pom Pom Crabs spend all their time in water. So, you do not need dry land. Make sure to have low water levels since these crabs are notorious escape artists. Luckily, Freshwater Pom Poms are very peaceful and get along with most other crabs and fish.

3. Gold Claw Crab

Gold Claw Crabs are technically a type of Fiddler Crab, but they are slightly different from the traditional Fiddler because they have a golden yellow claw. These claws are also different from traditional Fiddler claws because they don’t work with plants very well.

Instead, Gold Claw Crabs like to dig, burrow, and climb. It’s crucial to have a secure lid on your tank or else these little crustaceans will easily get out. As far as temperament and diet, the Gold Claw Crab acts the same way as the regular Fiddler.

4. Marble Batik Crab

The Marble Batik Crab is perfect if you want a creature to help keep your tank clean. It is a great scavenger that will eat all dead matter it comes across. Make sure not to pair the Marble Batik Crab with other crab species, but it gets along fine with other fish and other Marble Batik Crabs.

As for its appearance, the Marble Batik Crab has a head that almost looks like a smooth, square-shaped marble. The body tends to be green, but it can have different patterns and shades. In comparison to some of the other crabs, this crab spends about half its time on land, which is much more than many other freshwater crabs.

5. Matano Crab

Matano Crabs aren’t necessarily the most popular because they can be very aggressive and phenomenal escape artists. Nevertheless, these crabs are very pretty. Their main coat is bright purple, but they have white joints that match their white eyestalks.

Plus, feeding Matano Crabs is super easy. These scavengers will eat just about anything they find on the floor, such as dead organic matter. Never house Matano Crabs with other males (even of other species) because they are highly territorial and will become aggressive very quickly.

6. Orange Arm Borneo Crab

The Orange Arm Borneo Crab is super gorgeous. Their bodies are typically a deep brown, but they have bright orange or golden claws. Female claws are especially beautiful to look at because they’re hairless. Most of the time, these crabs like to sunbathe on the dry terrain, but they let their legs dangle into the water.

On top of being gorgeous, the Orange Arm Borneo Crab is very easy to care for and is very social. They get along great with most other species, but don’t pair them with larger species because their docile nature makes them an easy snack.

7. Panther Crab

The Panther Crab is easily one of the most striking freshwater crabs. It is named because of its orange and black spots. Not to mention, these crabs have very feisty personalities that allow them to further stand out in the tank.

Because of their more aggressive behavior, you must be very careful when putting the Panther Crab in a tank with other species. If Panther Crabs are not fed consistently and to their liking, they will try to eat their tankmates. Make sure to provide some dry land for the Panther Crab, but it will spend most of its time in the water.

8. Rainbow Land Crab

rainbow land crab (Cardisoma armatum)
Image Credit: Guillermo Guerao Shutterstock

Rainbow Land Crabs are pretty large but absolutely gorgeous. These crabs are named because of the bright colors on their coat. They are also recognizable because of their eyes that almost look like goggles.

Rainbow Land Crabs can be a bit difficult to have in an aquarium because they are known to be aggressive. They’re not very social and require a solitary tank. You must be careful to provide a frequent enough feeding schedule too because they will destroy terrestrial tank plants inside whenever they are hungry.

9. Red Apple Crab

Red apple crab and black background
Image Credit: Usha Roy, Shutterstock

The Red Apple Crab is easily one of the coolest on this list. Depending on its mood, the Red Apple Crab will actually change its colors. Whenever the crab feels happy, its shell will turn bright red. However, feelings of stress and uneasiness result in a rust-brown coloration.

Red Apple Crabs tend to get along fine with many other species. However, do not pair Red Apple Crabs with other crabs, even within its own species, because it becomes aggressive. Provide the crab dry pats to burrow in and fruits and vegetables to eat.

10. Red Claw Crab

red claw crab on rocks
Image Credit: Ambady Sasi, Pixabay

As you would expect from this crab’s name, the Red Claw Crab is known for its red claws. If you are just looking for an easy to find and accessible crab, this is the option for you. This is easily one of the most available freshwater aquarium crabs on the market.

At first, Red Claw Crabs can be a bit shy, but they will eventually come out of their shell. Make sure to house Red Claw Crabs in a large aquarium because they can be very territorial. Additionally, don’t place very small bottom feeders with this crab because it will gobble up the fish.

11. Thai Devil Crab

Thai Devil Crab
Image Credit: Chayanon Chewkit, Shutterstock

Despite its name, the Thai Devil Crab is a very calm and gentle critter. What makes it stand out is its fascinating appearance. These crabs have a bright purple body, allowing them to stand out amongst other fish and crabs. You can even find some Thai Devil Crabs with different shades of red and orange.

One reason why Thai Devil Crabs are named as such is that they have antenna like eyes that make them look very aggressive. However, these creatures are actually very calm and have a slow temper. They typically only become aggressive if they are messed with.

12. Thai Micro Crab

Little Spider dwarf crab or Thai micro crab
Image Credit: SritanaN, Shutterstock

The Thai Micro Crab is one of a kind. It looks much more like a spider than a crab. These creatures are highly rare, making them expensive and hard to find. They are only located in one river in Thailand.

The Thai Micro Crab doesn’t need any dry space because they spend all their time in the water. Their super small body also means that they don’t need a large aquarium. Of course, you have to be careful with this crab because it is so small. Many other species will view it as an easy snack.

13. Vampire Crab

Purple vampire crab
Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock

The last freshwater crab on our list is the Vampire Crab. This crab is scary looking with its glowing yellow eyes and dark purple body. You might also find white splotches and pink claws on these creatures, but these patterns certainly don’t take away from the striking overall appearance.

The Vampire Crab is actually very likable and calm with other fish. Be careful not to add it to an aquarium with larger fish because these larger fish will view it as a snack. Make sure to provide a dry, sandy area and both protein and plant matter for food.

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Best Tankmates for Freshwater Crabs

Most freshwater crabs can be paired with other species and crabs of their own kind. There are always the occasional species that do better on their own. The Rainbow Land Crab, for instance, is better off completely by itself, whereas the Matano Crab does great with all species except their own.

Whenever picking out tankmates for freshwater crabs, always keep the individual crab species’ personality and size in mind. For best results, select fish that are about the same size as the crab. If they are the same size, neither will turn the other into a snack.

Ghost shrimp, Neocaridina shrimp, and various types of snails all make great tankmates. All of these creatures are pretty non-aggressive but the same size as crabs.

In contrast, most Goldfish, Angelfish, and Cichlids make terrible tankmates because they are larger than the crabs and tend to be aggressive around other species.

Image Credit: Nicholas-Toh_shutterstock

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If you are looking to add a freshwater crab to your aquarium, any of the above 13 will work great. We always recommend researching the creatures you already have before bringing a freshwater crab into the mix. After all, certain crabs and fish can be crabby around other species. With a bit of research, you should easily be able to find the best freshwater crab for your tank.

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Featured Image Credit: Dan Olsen, Shutterstock

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