Vampire Crab Care 101: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating addition to your aquarium, a Vampire Crab might be just the creature for you! These small, land-dwelling crabs are native to the freshwater streams and rivers of Java and Sumatra, and their distinctive appearance and behavior make them a popular choice for hobbyists.

Vampire Crabs require a tank size of at least 10 gallons, water temperature between 75-82°F, and a pH range of 7.5-8.5. They are omnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality pellets or flakes, vegetables, and occasional live or frozen foods. They also require a hiding place and a substrate that allows them to burrow. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are important for their health.

Despite their name, Vampire Crabs are not bloodsuckers – in fact, they’re omnivores that enjoy a varied diet of plants, insects, and small invertebrates. However, they do have some unusual habits that set them apart from other crab species.

For example, Vampire Crabs are known for their ability to climb, and they can often be found perched on rocks or logs above the waterline.

They also have a unique mating behavior that involves the male carrying the female on his back for several days until she molts and is ready to mate.

Vampire Crab

Species Summary

If you’re considering getting a Vampire Crab as a pet, it’s important to understand everything you can about the species. Here’s a brief summary of what you need to know:


Vampire Crabs are native to the freshwater streams and rivers of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. They are a relatively new species in the pet trade, having only been introduced in the early 2000s.


Vampire Crabs have a relatively short lifespan, living for an average of 2-3 years in captivity. However, with proper care and attention, some individuals have been known to live up to 5 years.


Vampire Crabs are small, colorful crabs that grow to a maximum size of around 1.5 inches. They have a dark brown or black carapace with bright orange or red legs and claws. Their eyes are located on stalks, giving them excellent vision.


As mentioned, Vampire Crabs grow to a maximum size of around 1.5 inches. Males are typically slightly larger than females.

Growth Rate

Vampire Crabs grow relatively slowly, taking around 6-12 months to reach their full size. However, they can continue to grow throughout their lifespan, albeit at a slower rate.

Behavior & Temperament

Vampire Crabs are generally peaceful and can be kept together in groups of 3-4 individuals. They are active and entertaining to watch, with a variety of interesting behaviors such as climbing, digging, and swimming.

However, they can be territorial, so it’s important to provide plenty of hiding places and territory markers to prevent aggression.

Male vs Female

Male Vampire Crabs can be identified by their larger size, broader carapace, and larger claws. Females are typically smaller and have a narrower carapace. Additionally, males have a triangular abdomen, while females have a more rounded abdomen.

When I first got my Vampire Crab, I was amazed by how active and entertaining it was to watch. It’s been a great addition to my aquarium, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a unique and fascinating pet.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

The size of your vampire crab tank will depend on how many crabs you plan to keep. Generally, a 10-gallon tank is suitable for one or two crabs.

If you plan to keep more than two crabs, you’ll need a larger tank. It’s important to provide enough space for your crabs to move around and explore their environment.


Vampire crabs are nocturnal, so they don’t require a lot of light. However, it’s still important to provide some form of lighting for your tank.

A simple LED light can be used to simulate a day-night cycle and help regulate your crab’s behavior.

Filtration & Aeration

Proper filtration and aeration are essential for maintaining good water quality in your vampire crab tank.

A hang-on-back filter or sponge filter can be used to keep the water clean and clear. An air stone can also be added to provide additional aeration.


Vampire crabs require a warm environment with a temperature range of 75-82°F. A submersible aquarium heater can be used to maintain a consistent temperature in your tank.


A substrate of sand or gravel is recommended for vampire crab tanks. This will provide a natural environment for your crabs to burrow and explore. Avoid using sharp or rough substrates, as these can injure your crabs.


Decorations such as rocks, driftwood, and caves can be added to your vampire crab tank to provide hiding places and climbing opportunities. Make sure all decorations are aquarium-safe and won’t harm your crabs.


Live or artificial plants can be added to your vampire crab tank to provide additional hiding places and improve water quality. Live plants can also help to oxygenate the water.

If using live plants, make sure they are compatible with the water parameters in your tank. I remember when I first set up my vampire crab tank, I was so excited to decorate it with all sorts of fun things.

I added a little cave for my crab to hide in, some fake plants for color, and some smooth river rocks for him to climb on. It was so fun to watch him explore his new home!

Water Quality

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to maintain the water quality of your vampire crab’s habitat.

Poor water quality can lead to health issues and even death for your pet. Here are some things you need to know about maintaining the water quality:

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for vampire crabs is between 72-82°F (22-28°C). If the water temperature drops below this range, your crab may become inactive and lethargic.

On the other hand, if the water temperature rises above this range, your crab may become stressed and agitated. It’s important to use a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a consistent water temperature.

Water pH

Vampire crabs prefer slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5. If the pH level is too high or too low, it can affect the crab’s ability to molt and may lead to health issues. You can use a pH testing kit to monitor the water pH level and adjust it if necessary.

Water Hardness

Vampire crabs prefer soft to moderately hard water with a hardness level of 4-10 dGH. Hard water can cause shell problems and may affect the crab’s ability to molt. You can use a water hardness testing kit to monitor the hardness level and adjust it if necessary.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are crucial for maintaining good water quality. You should change 20-30% of the water every week to remove any accumulated waste and debris.

Make sure to use a dechlorinator to remove any harmful chemicals from the tap water before adding it to the tank.

Remember, maintaining good water quality is essential for the health and well-being of your vampire crab. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your pet is happy and healthy.

Personally, I have found that maintaining consistent water temperature and pH levels has helped my vampire crab thrive.

I also make sure to do regular water changes to keep the water clean and fresh. It’s important to monitor the water quality regularly and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that your pet is living in a healthy environment.

Tank Maintenance

Maintaining the tank of your Vampire Crab is crucial for their health and well-being.

Keeping their environment clean and healthy will help prevent diseases and infections. Here are some tips on how to maintain your Vampire Crab’s tank:

Clean the tank regularly: You should clean your Vampire Crab’s tank at least once a week. Remove any uneaten food, dead plants, and debris from the tank. Scrub the sides of the tank with a soft-bristled brush to remove algae and other buildup. Replace 20-30% of the water in the tank with fresh, dechlorinated water.

Monitor the water parameters: Vampire Crabs prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Use a water test kit to monitor the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank. High levels of these chemicals can be harmful to your crab. If the levels are too high, perform a partial water change and adjust the water parameters accordingly.

Check the equipment: Make sure the filter, heater, and other equipment in the tank are working properly. Check the temperature of the water regularly to make sure it’s within the recommended range of 72-82°F. Replace the filter media as needed to maintain optimal filtration.

Provide a proper diet: Feeding your Vampire Crab a balanced diet is important for their health. Offer them a variety of foods, including commercial crab food, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and vegetables. Avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to water quality issues.

Personal Anecdote: When I first got my Vampire Crab, I didn’t realize how important tank maintenance was. I neglected to clean the tank regularly and monitor the water parameters. As a result, my crab became sick and eventually died. I learned the hard way that proper tank maintenance is crucial for the health and well-being of Vampire Crabs.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

If you’re looking to add some fish to your Vampire Crab tank, there are a few species that can coexist peacefully with your crabs. Some good options include:

  • Small tetras
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Corydoras catfish
  • Otocinclus catfish

These fish are generally peaceful and won’t bother your crabs. Just make sure they’re small enough to fit comfortably in your tank and won’t compete for the same food as your crabs.

Incompatible Fish Species

On the other hand, there are some fish species that you should avoid putting in your Vampire Crab tank. These include:

  • Aggressive cichlids
  • Large catfish
  • Angelfish
  • Betta fish

These fish are either too aggressive or too large to coexist peacefully with your crabs. They may even see your crabs as prey and try to attack them.

How Many Vampire Crabs Should Be Together

When it comes to keeping Vampire Crabs together, it’s best to stick to a small group of 3-4 crabs. This will help prevent any aggression between the crabs and ensure that they all have enough space to move around comfortably.

Personally, I have three Vampire Crabs in my tank and they all get along great. They love to explore and climb on the rocks and plants in their tank. It’s fun to watch them interact with each other and see their unique personalities shine through.


Vampire crabs are omnivorous and require a balanced diet to thrive. In this section, we will cover what to feed your crab, how often to feed them, and some tips to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need.

What To Feed

When it comes to feeding your vampire crab, there are a variety of options. You can offer them commercial crab food, frozen or live foods, and even fresh fruits and vegetables. Some popular options include:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Bloodworms
  • Cricket bits
  • Algae wafers
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber

It’s important to provide a variety of foods to ensure your crab is getting all the nutrients they need. You can also supplement their diet with calcium powder to support their shell health.


Adult vampire crabs should be fed once a day, while juveniles can be fed twice a day. It’s important not to overfeed your crab, as this can lead to obesity and health problems. A good rule of thumb is to offer only as much food as your crab can eat in 10-15 minutes.


Here are some tips to ensure your vampire crab is getting the best possible nutrition:

  • Remove any uneaten food after 10-15 minutes to prevent it from fouling the water
  • Offer a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet
  • Supplement with calcium powder to support shell health
  • Don’t overfeed your crab

Personal anecdote: I’ve found that my vampire crab loves bloodworms and gets very excited when he sees me adding them to his tank. It’s important to remember that every crab is different and may have their own preferences, so don’t be afraid to try different foods to see what your crab likes best.

Common Diseases


Vampire crabs are generally hardy and don’t get sick often, but they can still fall ill. Here are some common diseases that your vampire crab may encounter:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites


If you notice any of the following symptoms in your vampire crab, it may be a sign of illness:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Discoloration
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Visible signs of infection or parasites


If you suspect that your vampire crab is sick, it’s important to take action quickly. Here are some treatment options:

  • Isolate the sick crab from other tank mates
  • Consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets
  • Administer medication as prescribed by the vet
  • Provide a clean and stress-free environment for your crab to recover in


Preventing illness in your vampire crab is always better than treating it. Here are some tips for keeping your crab healthy:

  • Maintain a clean and well-filtered tank
  • Avoid overfeeding your crab
  • Quarantine new tank mates before introducing them to your crab
  • Regularly monitor your crab’s behavior and appearance for any signs of illness

Personally, I once had a vampire crab that developed a bacterial infection. I immediately isolated it and consulted with a vet who prescribed medication. With proper care and treatment, my crab recovered quickly and lived a long and healthy life.

Signs of a Healthy Crab

When taking care of Vampire Crabs, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of a healthy crab. Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Active Movement: A healthy crab will be active and move around frequently. If your crab is lethargic or inactive, it may be a sign of illness.
  2. Clear Eyes: The eyes of a healthy crab should be clear and free of discharge. If you notice any cloudiness or discharge, it may indicate an infection.
  3. Intact Limbs: Check that all of your crab’s limbs are intact and functioning properly. If you notice any missing or damaged limbs, it may be a sign of injury or disease.
  4. Healthy Appetite: A healthy crab will have a strong appetite and eagerly eat its food. If your crab is not eating or appears to have a decreased appetite, it may be a sign of illness.
  5. Proper Shell Size: Make sure your crab’s shell is the appropriate size for its body. If the shell is too small or too large, it can cause stress and health problems for the crab.

Remember, it is important to monitor your crab’s behavior and appearance regularly to ensure that it stays healthy.

If you notice any concerning symptoms, it is best to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals.

Personally, I remember when I first got my Vampire Crab and was so excited to take care of it. I was constantly checking on it and making sure it was healthy.

One day, I noticed that it wasn’t moving around as much as usual and wasn’t eating its food. I immediately took it to the vet and it turned out that it had an infection.

Luckily, with medication and proper care, my crab made a full recovery. This experience taught me the importance of being vigilant and recognizing the signs of illness in my crab.

Signs Your Crab is Sick

If you’re a new vampire crab owner, it can be tough to know what’s normal behavior and what might be a sign of illness. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  1. Lethargy: If your crab is lying still for long periods of time or not moving much, it could be a sign of illness. Check the water temperature and make sure it’s within the recommended range.
  2. Loss of Appetite: If your crab isn’t eating, it could be a sign of illness or stress. Make sure you’re feeding your crab a balanced diet and check the water quality to ensure it’s not contaminated.
  3. Discoloration: If your crab’s shell or legs appear discolored or dull, it could be a sign of a bacterial or fungal infection. Check the water quality and consider adding an antibacterial or antifungal treatment to the tank.
  4. Abnormal Behavior: If your crab is behaving strangely, such as walking sideways or upside down, it could be a sign of illness or stress. Check the water quality and make sure the tank is properly set up with enough hiding places and climbing structures.

Personal Anecdote: When I first got my vampire crabs, I noticed that one of them was lying still at the bottom of the tank for long periods of time. I quickly realized that the water temperature was too low and adjusted it, which helped my crab become more active and healthy.


Molting is a natural process in which your vampire crab will shed its old exoskeleton and grow a new one. During this time, your crab will be vulnerable and may hide away or become less active. Here’s what you need to know to help your crab through the molting process:

First, it’s important to keep the water quality in your crab’s tank high. Poor water quality can cause stress, which can make molting more difficult for your crab.

You should also make sure your crab has a variety of hiding places, such as caves or plants, to make it feel secure.

When your crab is ready to molt, it will typically bury itself in the substrate or hide away in a cave.

You should avoid disturbing your crab during this time, as it needs to conserve energy to complete the molting process. It’s also important to make sure the water level in the tank is not too high, as this can make it difficult for your crab to surface for air.

After your crab has molted, it will be soft and vulnerable for several hours. During this time, it’s important to make sure your crab has a place to rest and recover.

You should also avoid feeding your crab until its new exoskeleton has hardened, which can take several days.

Personally, I was worried the first time my vampire crab molted. It was hiding away for days, and I wasn’t sure if it was okay.

But after a few days, it emerged with a shiny new exoskeleton and was back to its active self in no time. Just remember to be patient and let your crab do its thing!


Breeding Setup

Setting up a breeding tank for Vampire Crabs is essential for successful breeding. You will need a separate breeding tank with a volume of at least 10 gallons.

The tank should have a heater, a filter, and a lid to prevent escape. The water temperature should be maintained between 75-80°F, and the pH level should be between 7.0-8.0.

You can use a substrate of sand or gravel, and provide hiding places using rocks, caves, or driftwood.

How To Breed

Breeding Vampire Crabs is relatively easy, but you need to ensure that the conditions are right. You will need a male and a female crab, and the female should be mature and ready to breed.

The male will court the female by waving his claws and performing a dance. Once the female is receptive, the male will mount her and fertilize her eggs.

After mating, the female will carry her eggs in a special pouch called the marsupium. The eggs will hatch in about 2-3 weeks, and the larvae will be released into the water.

The larvae will go through several molts before they reach adulthood, and they will need a constant supply of food and clean water.


Once the larvae are released into the water, you will need to provide them with a constant supply of food.

You can use commercial crab food, algae wafers, or small pieces of vegetables. You should also perform regular water changes to ensure that the water is clean and free of toxins.

As the larvae grow, you can gradually increase the size of their food. Once they reach adulthood, you can move them back to the main tank. It is important to note that Vampire Crabs are territorial, so you should avoid keeping too many crabs in the same tank.

When I first tried breeding Vampire Crabs, I was nervous about the process. But with the right setup and care, it was a success! Watching the tiny larvae grow and develop was a truly rewarding experience.

Just remember to be patient and provide the right conditions, and you will soon have a thriving colony of Vampire Crabs.

Product recommendations for Vampire Crab:

  1. Zoo Med ReptiTherm Under Tank Heater – This under tank heater is perfect for Vampire Crab, providing a warm and comfortable environment that will help your crab thrive.
  2. Aqueon LED Aquarium Light Fixture – This high-quality LED light fixture is perfect for Vampire Crab, providing bright and energy-efficient lighting that will help your crab thrive.
  3. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum – This substrate is perfect for Vampire Crab, providing a natural environment that promotes healthy growth and reproduction.
  4. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter – This powerful and efficient canister filter is designed for small aquariums and is perfect for keeping the water in your Vampire Crab tank crystal clear.
  5. Tetra Whisper Air Pump – This powerful and reliable air pump is perfect for Vampire Crab, providing a steady flow of oxygenated water that will keep your crab healthy and happy.
  6. API Stress Coat Water Conditioner – This aquarium conditioner is perfect for Vampire Crab, reducing stress and promoting healing in your crab by forming a protective slime coat on their shell.
  7. Hikari Crab Cuisine – This specialized food is perfect for Vampire Crab, providing a balanced diet that is high in protein and essential nutrients.
  8. API Freshwater Master Test Kit – This comprehensive test kit is perfect for Vampire Crab owners, allowing you to monitor the water quality of your aquarium and ensure that your crab is healthy and happy.


If you’re considering getting a Vampire Crab, you probably have a lot of questions about their care. Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q: What do Vampire Crabs eat?

A: Vampire Crabs are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods. You can feed them commercial crab food, as well as vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of protein like shrimp or bloodworms.

Q: How often should I feed my Vampire Crab?

A: You should feed your Vampire Crab once a day, and remove any uneaten food after a few hours to prevent water quality issues.

Q: Do Vampire Crabs need a heater?

A: Vampire Crabs are tropical animals and need to be kept in water that is between 72-82°F. A heater can help maintain a consistent temperature.

Q: Can Vampire Crabs live with other animals?

A: Vampire Crabs are territorial and should be kept alone or in pairs. They may attack or even kill other animals in their tank.

Q: How often should I clean my Vampire Crab’s tank?

A: You should do a partial water change and clean the tank once a week to maintain good water quality.

Q: Can Vampire Crabs climb out of their tank?

A: Yes, Vampire Crabs are good climbers and can escape from tanks with low water levels or inadequate lid security. Make sure your tank is secure and has a tight-fitting lid.

Personally, I learned the hard way about the importance of a secure lid. One of my Vampire Crabs escaped from his tank and I found him wandering around my living room. Luckily, I was able to find him before he dried out or got hurt.


Now that you have read this article, you should have a good understanding of how to care for Vampire Crabs. Remember to keep their habitat clean and well-maintained, and provide them with a varied diet that includes both plant and animal matter.

It’s important to monitor the temperature and humidity levels in their enclosure, as these factors can greatly impact their health and well-being.

Additionally, make sure to provide them with plenty of hiding places and things to climb on, as they are active creatures that enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Overall, Vampire Crabs can make great pets for those who are willing to put in the effort to properly care for them. I personally have found them to be fascinating and entertaining creatures to watch, and I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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