vampire crab

Vampire Crabs 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping these Unique Crustaceans!

Vampire Crabs are a unique species of crustacean that have gained quite a bit of popularity in the past few years. As captivating as they look, keeping them as pets comes with its own set of challenges. Before you consider adding one of these astoundingly colored creatures to your home-aquarium, there are some facts and details you need to be aware of.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to not only properly care for a Vampire Crab but also create the best environment for them, understand their feeding and diet needs, learn about their tank mates, and lastly, know when and how to handle them.

Vampire Crab

Species Summary

Vampire Crabs are scientifically classified as Geosesarma dennerle and are natively found on small islands located in the Indian Ocean, such as Java, Sulawesi, Riau, and Krakatau. Over the years, through distribution, these crabs have further spread throughout Asia and the Western Pacific.

These enigmatic crustaceans, who were once shrouded in mystery and unknown to science, are now available for many hobbyists to keep in their aquariums. However, there is still much to learn about the specific care needs of the Vampire Crab, making its care somewhat challenging for most beginner aquarists.


Assuming proper care is provided, the average lifespan of a Vampire Crab is two years. The same can be said for those that live in the wild.

A poorly maintained tank or environmental conditions, however, can drastically reduce their life expectancy.


When it comes to looks, Vampire Crabs are truly remarkable. Their body is covered with a deep purple hue, while their pincers and other legs usually take on a lighter pink color. On occasion, they will have creamy white spots dotting their carapace, adding to their stunning appearance.

The most notable aspect of their bodies, however, are their oversized, bright yellow eyes that give off a somewhat eerie vibe, hence their name.

The most interesting fact about these animals is that males and females look almost identical. The most helpful way to sex them is by flipping them over and looking at their abdominal flap. A male’s flap will be thin and pointed, whereas a females will appear more oval-shaped.

Average Size

Vampire Crabs are quite small; when taking into account their leg span, they measure up to two inches!

It’s not uncommon to be surprised by how tiny they are when you first look at them, as pictures can make them seem bigger than they are in reality.

Vampire Crab Care

Inadequate care for Vampire Crabs is often caused by a lack of information about them. Fortunately, these critters can be very hardy if given the right environment and parameters.

Creating a suitable habitat setup for your Vampire Crab is essential to its well-being. A tank that’s around 10 gallons in size should be large enough for half a dozen of them, though it’s recommended to have a much bigger tank (20+ gallons) if keeping a larger number of the same species together.

Having a paludarium setup, which is an enclosure that has both land and water areas, is best for these animals. A simple glass aquarium can be used, but it must be slightly modified so that part of the tank is dry land. A few inches of water and sand should be added to one side, while the other should be filled with moist soil and live plants.

In terms of temperature and lighting, the ideal conditions are around 76°F-80°F and a few hours of direct sunlight each day. The water should also be kept at around 74°F-82°F, with a pH of 7.0-7.5 and a hardness level between 3-9 dKH.

Feeding And Diet

Vampire Crabs are omnivores and benefit from a varied diet. They should have access to several calcium supplements, such as calcium powder, cuttlebone, or a fine-grade fish food.

If you’re looking for dry food, there are some specialized types available specifically for Vampire Crabs. But please keep in mind, it’s best to feed them occasional supplemental meals only.

These crabs also love having treats, such as banana slices, cucumber chunks, and spinach leaves, which are natural snacks. Processed food, like chips and fries, should be avoided.

Possible Diseases

Vampire crabs are relatively hardy, but they can be susceptible to bacterial infections if the water quality is poor. They may also develop shell rot if the water is too alkaline or if they are kept in dirty water.

Author Tip: Regular water changes and maintaining proper water parameters can prevent most diseases from occurring.

Tank Mates

Vampire crabs are relatively peaceful and can be kept with a variety of tank mates. However, it’s important to ensure that their tank mates are compatible in terms of size, temperament, and water parameters.

Here are some suitable tank mates for vampire crabs:

1. Small fish such as guppies, tetras, and danios.

2. Snails such as nerite snails and mystery snails. They can help keep the tank clean by eating algae and leftover food.

3. Shrimp such as cherry shrimp and ghost shrimp. They can coexist peacefully with vampire crabs, but it’s important to make sure that the vampire crab is well-fed, as they may attempt to eat smaller shrimp.

4. Other small invertebrates such as dwarf crayfish and freshwater clams.

5. Live plants such as java moss, anubias, and hornwort. Not only do they provide a natural environment for the vampire crab, but they can also help improve water quality.

It’s important to monitor the interactions between the vampire crab and its tank mates and make adjustments as necessary.

Tip: If the vampire crab becomes aggressive towards its tank mates, it may be necessary to separate them.


As with any other invertebrate, Vampire Crabs should not be handled as much as possible, as stress can cause them to die from shock. If you need to move them around or inspect them, you can pick them up carefully and bring them over the tank.


Breeding vampire crabs in captivity is possible, but it can be challenging. Males have larger claws than females, and they use them to attract females during breeding. The female will lay her eggs in the water, and the male will fertilize them.

The eggs will hatch into larvae, which will need to be moved to a separate rearing tank. Raising the larvae can be difficult, as they require specific water parameters and a specialized diet.

Author Tip: If you’re interested in breeding vampire crabs, it’s best to do research beforehand and ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and equipment to successfully raise the larvae.

In conclusion, vampire crabs are a fascinating and unique addition to any aquarium. With proper care, they can live a long and healthy life. They require a fully aquatic setup with a land area, a varied diet, and suitable tank mates.

Overall, caring for Vampire Crabs requires dedication, patience, and an understanding of their basic needs. Though they may be challenging to take care of, their distinctive colors and captivating personality make them a rewarding pet for any aquarist.