Vampire Crabs [Care, Setup, Habitat, Tank Mates, Size]

Vampire Crabs Introduction

Vampire Crabs are one of the most stunning creatures you will be able to confine in captivity. Their colors are unique and something that you usually get to see to believe it!

Keeping fish in an aquarium is not for everyone; some folks want something a little more exotic. Crabs make a superb alternative for fish because crabs behave very differently. They have their own unique and stunning look.

The tank will look very different from a typical aquarium, these semi-terrestrial creatures wander around in the water and on land.

If you want some crabs and already have decided, Vampire Crabs might be an ideal option for you. They are very beautiful and small, and that is the reason why they have become so famous.

For those people who haven’t kept crabs before, vampire crabs might be a great entry point for them because they’re so easy to care for. All they need is a very clean aquarium and a good healthy diet.

This guide will help you with everything you would like to know and understand about Vampire Crab care. Here You will know about the special tank setup they require and a variety of facts that you’ll surely find helpful for crab ownership!

Here we’ll run you through all the necessary information you want when it comes to caring for this type of attractive crustacean. This information includes how to set up their aquarium, how to feed vampire crabs, their potential tank mates, and much more.

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Purple with yellow eyes
Lifespan:Up to 2 years
Size:Up to 2 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater with plants and caves
Compatibility:Peaceful community


If you are looking to start a new tank of crustaceans, then you have come to the right place. Vampire Crabs are a superb choice, they are extremely popular.

It is said that they have been around the aquarium trade for a few decades. They are commonly sold in pet stores globally, but outside of the aquarium trade, they are referred to as Geosesarma sp., since they create the genus.

The word “vampire” isn’t used here due to their feeding habits or behavior, it’s only because of their bright yellow eyes and purple colors.

The Geosesarma genus belongs to the Sesarmidae family. This type of crab lives all around Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It stretched from India all the way to Hawaii.

Vampire Crabs have a very strange history. Though they’ve been kept as pets for a long time, nobody knew the fact where they came from.  They were first described in the year 2006.

The vampire crab crustaceans are very easy and simple to care for, however, you must learn their particular needs before buying any.

Where to buy vampire crabs?

All pet stores do not sell crabs, and if they sell, they may not have the type you need. So you may need to find around a vampire crab stock near you.


Vampire Crabs For Sale: They cost in the range of $10-$20; larger individuals tend to be more expensive.


The maximum Vampire Crab lifespan is around 2 years at most. 

If they keep fit and healthy, they should live for 2 years, which is equal to their lifespan in the wild environment.

Even though their lifespan is too short, they are surely worth getting. They are stunning creatures that make a decent change from keeping fish.

As you’d expect, their lifespan is decided by several factors. A poorly maintained environment can cause disease and shorten their lifespan by quite a bit.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

These crabs have a really fitting name. They’re largely nocturnal and can spend most of their days hiding far away from the sunshine. It’s when the sun goes down that they’re truly active.

They will roam the tank and spend time on the ground and in water. Usually, they’re going to lay motionless in a very preferred spot for hours on end. this is often completely normal, so don’t be alarmed.

Crabs spend part of their time in the water and the rest on the land, so they are called semi-terrestrial. Typically, they find a place in the pond or tank and sit there for several hours.

Mostly Vampire Crabs are nocturnal, that’s why they’re very active at night.

Molting is a key behavior that is to be aware of. For protection, crabs have a very hard exoskeleton, however, it doesn’t grow with the remaining of them.

Once they become very big in size, they must discard the old exoskeleton so that they can improve a larger one. 

Every month the molting process occurs. This process could be more frequent when they’re relatively young because they’re growing faster than other crabs.

Your crabs will be particularly vulnerable once they’ve discarded their shell, they will hide away until the A new one has grown.

Keep an eye out for when the molting process is taking place. Leave the crab alone and remove the old exoskeleton until it emerges with a new shell, otherwise, it might be harmed.

As for temperament, Vampire Crabs can show quite a little bit of aggression toward other creatures. Aggression can be a problem for Vampire Crabs.   attacked or eaten.

They use their claws to do this, but the pincers are very small, so you can handle them without fear of being pinched.


Vampire Crab Purple

The most interesting thing about Vampire Crabs is their appearance, without any doubt!

Their look is probably the reason why you are considering getting some Vampire Crabs. This can’t be denied that they are stunning creatures that add beauty to whichever aquarium they are in.

In the business of aquarium trade, most specimens sold are a deep purple, particularly on their ten legs (including the pincers).

The carapace or the main body is darker. Sometimes it is even black, with some white spots, which may look like the dark night sky.

The other bits of color are their yellow bright eyes. It actually stands out against the deep darker body. These are raised a little bit above the body on stalks.

Although they are small, The Vampire Crabs still possess the key features of a crab and are truly recognizable. Probably pincers are the primary feature of any crab. A Vampire Crab’s pair is so small. So they are not able to hurt you very easily.

There are a few points to tell male and female differences. Only by looking at them, you will notice that males have lighter-colored claws and are slightly larger.

The most obvious difference is their abdominal flap. If you notice the underside of the crab, a female is rounded and wider whereas the males have a pointed flap.

Some fertilized eggs might also be carried by a female crab, which is another obvious potential giveaway when sexing them.

Average Size

The average vampire crab size of a Vampire Crab is about 2 inches, including their legs. The carapace itself is only an inch wide. If you wish to observe all their beauty you will have to get in close!

Habitat and Tank Conditions

These types of crustaceans are available throughout the Indian Ocean, in regions like India, Krakatau, and Java. 

Vampire Crabs can be found all around Southeast Asia. They have even been noticed in the Pacific, in areas like Hawaii.

Vampire Crabs survive on the river banks and lakes. This provides them access to the land and water to satisfy their semi-terrestrial lifestyle.

Typically these type of habitats is dense with plants, both in the water and on land. Many aquarists add these crabs to vampire crab aquariums because of their requirement for plants in their atmosphere.

They spend most of their time using caves from debris and rocks or hiding among the aquatic plants as shelter.

With a little water movement, the water itself is slightly alkaline and warm.

You should have to recreate these natural conditions if you want the crabs to live out their 2-year lifespan as best as you can at your home.

Tank Conditions

How do you set up a vampire crab tank? 

The setup of your aquarium is based on the condition that some wet and dry areas are required. My recommendation is to have a land-to-water ratio of 80:20 respectively.

There are so many ways to create a portion of the land. You can use sand or any other substrate, make floating perches, or make a big platform with decorations or rocks.

There isn’t plenty of water that you want to maintain, but it must be kept crystal clean and healthy.

The temperature should be in the range of 70°F to 82°F and pH should be 7.5-8.0. In order to prevent a buildup of nitrates and ammonia, perform water changes regularly. A filter is the most essential thing to help keep the tank water clean.

Vampire Crabs are very sensitive to poor water conditions. If there are any changes in their atmosphere they react very quickly. Aquarium water testing kits are helpful for ensuring the water conditions are consistent and perfect.

Live plants play a vital role in recreating Vampire Crab’s habitat in the wild environment. Almost in all areas of the aquarium, they are required, however, you’re free to choose a variety of so many species.

Although Vampire Crabs like to eat plant matter, they will not eat the live plants, just dead pieces that fall away.

Particularly in the water, the shelter of the crabs is very important. For your crabs to hide in, you can use rocks and driftwood to form caves.

For your tank setup, a humidifier is a decent idea. Vampire Crabs would leave the water in the wild environment, however, the Vampires still be in a humid environment. A humidifier will help you to maintain a humidity of 75% on the land.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Vampire Crab Tank Size: The ideal tank size for Vampire Crabs is about 10 gallons to ensure they have plenty of space. This will help you to keep a small cluster too. This may offer lots of room to roam and can allow you to keep half a dozen together with no issues.

You’ll see tons of owners keeping them in tanks as small as 5 gallons (and care guides recommending this tank size as well). We disagree. although these crustacea are very small and don’t need much space, giving them a little extra room goes an extended way.

How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon?

A cluster of about six vampire crabs can be kept in a 10-gallon tank. If you need more, you will have to increase the size of the fish tank accordingly.

Vampire Crab Tank Mates

The best tank mates for Vampire Crabs are getting to be other Vampire Crabs.

In fact, they are doing best in groups. As we mentioned earlier, fighting others of a similar species isn’t too common.

We recommend keeping one male with two females. this may prevent any aggressive behavior around mating season.

If you would like to combine Vampire Crabs with another species, making a peaceful community should be your main goal. Avoid any tank mates having an aggressive or boisterous reputation.

If you wish to add some fish to the fish tank, make sure they are of a similar size to the crabs so that neither eats the other.

Tiny shoaling species perform better and the reason is they may get away if they want to. The Zebra Danios, Neon Tetras, Cherry Barbs, Guppies, etc. fall under this.

It is good to avoid mixing Vampire Crabs with other crab species because fighting might be common. Since these crabs are quite small, they’re going to likely be the victims.

This doesn’t mean that you must avoid all invertebrates though. Big-sized snails and most shrimp must pair up nicely. A slight possibility of injury is always involved there, but it is very rare.

Keeping Vampire Crabs Together

Keeping Vampire Crabs in groups is completely fine and probably the best and doubtless idea. They enjoy being around their own species, so fighting among them is rare.

Aggressiveness only intends to appear at the time of the mating season. At this period males are trying to compete with females. Purchasing your crabs in a ratio of two females per male will be useful to keep the aggression low.

If you possess more than one male crab in the aquarium, then the more tank area you have the better. Make sure that there are lots of hiding spaces so they can stay away from each other if needed.

Food & Diet: What do Vampire Crabs Eat?

A healthy diet is so important for lots of reasons. A quality diet helps a crab to grow, protect it from disease, and form a strong exoskeleton after the molting process.

Vampire crabs are not picky eaters at all. They are omnivores, so they will eat both meaty foods and plant matter. In the wild environment, they are scavengers and eat whatever object happens to come their way, like pieces of dead plants and insects.

The scavenging nature of crabs makes feeding time very smooth because there is such a variety of foods to select from. However, some foods are relatively better than others.

The best alternatives are frozen and live foods. They contain the nutrients that are usually lost at the time of the manufacturing of dried foods.

The same can be done in your aquarium as well. 

You can pick earthworms, crickets, brine shrimp, or even bloodworms.

Vampire Crabs can accept and eat pellets, flakes, and algae wafers. But ensure that these dried foods are supplemented by live/frozen foods to provide them with a range of various nutrients.

Calcium is of particular importance to crabs because calcium helps to produce a strong shell. We recommend providing some green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, lettuce, etc.) to the tank will help with this. You may utilize your unconsumed vegetables to prepare some homemade foods.

Although vampire crabs can happily eat green vegetables, you don’t have to worry about them while eating the live plants in the aquarium. They’ll only eat dead plant matter (detritus).

Feeding only needs to happen once per day. In case the crabs get hungry then they’ll start to find an organic matter that may already be inside the aquarium anyway.

Vampire Crab Care

The care for Vampire Crab does not have to be challenging. Caring for these crustaceans is simple. Their nature is not very demanding. They only want to have a healthy diet and a very clean environment. It is the same as any other pet.

However, the lack of information about these critters has led to many mistakes by the crab owners. We have already explained how to set up the perfect tank, which they need in order to thrive.

Maintenance of the aquarium isn’t a big problem because Vampire Crabs don’t create a lot of mess. Check your tank regularly and clear up any debris from the plants or any shells from molting.

If you don’t have much water due to using a small tank, it can be difficult to maintain healthy conditions since it’s easier for pollutants to build up.

The ultimate solution is to perform more regular aquarium water changes. Every week use a water testing kit to ascertain that all conditions are ideal, you could then fix the problems fast.

To keep the substrate clean in the aquarium, a gravel vacuum cleaner is the easiest way.

If any requirement arises to add a chemical to the fish tank, check the bottle properly for any signs of copper. It’s toxic to most invertebrates and might be fatal to crabs.

If you ever notice that your crabs in the tank have damaged shells, then you should not be feeding your crabs a nutritious diet. They require a lot of calcium. You have to switch up the diet of the crabs and notice improvements over time.

Possible Diseases

Not much is known about the diseases that the Vampire Crabs could get. Vampire Crabs are hardy creatures. They don’t tend to get sick easily, but this may happen. The crabs may get fungal issues, bacterial infections, and parasites like fish.

These crabs aren’t susceptible to typical fish diseases though, like Ich. However, they can easily carry these pathogens, so keep your crabs in quarantine when you bring them back from the pet store.

When adding new tank mates in your aquarium, so many pathogens are placed in a pet store. In poor water conditions pathogens can thrive, so keeping a crystal-clear aquarium is a simple way to keep the crabs at bay.

The good news is that each one of these issues can easily be avoided by just maintaining your tank. In most cases, stress from poor water and quality is the main culprit for diseases.

Water Parameters

Due to their unique tank setup requirements, there likely won’t be plenty of water for you to take care of (more on it within the section below).

But no matter what proportion of the water you utilize, it’s still important to remain on top of quality.  Tropical freshwater is essential for vampire crabs that are slightly pretty warm alkali.

Like other invertebrates, Vampire Crabs are very sensitive to extreme changes in water quality.

You will have to perform partial water changes each month. We recommend changing up to 40 percent of the water whenever to keep ammonia and nitrate levels low.

To keep your crabs healthy, follow the following parameters:

Water temperature: 70°F to 82°F (somewhere within the middle is best)

pH levels: 7.5 to 8.0

Water hardness: 0 to 10 dKH

Vampire Crab Breeding

Because not plenty of data is known about Vampire Crabs, there aren’t any established breeding methods around. In the majority of cases, the crabs will only breed on their own perfect time.

If you want to breed crabs, then these species might not be the best option for you. This is more due to the lack of proper information available on Vampire Crab breeding, rather than their refusing to mate.

Different species mate in different ways. One good thing you can do is keep the crab’s tank clean and feed them well. They will start to mate in their own time.

Almost six months are required for a crab to become physically mature and these crabs will reproduce for the rest of their mature life.

When ready to reproduce, the male crab will climb atop the female crab to fertilize the eggs. After that, the female vampire crab will carry from 20 to 80 well-fertilized eggs until they hatch after one month or so.

The young crabs emerge fully formed, but they are very small. Sometimes they can become cannibalistic, so it would be safe to separate them from the parent crabs.

Provide small crabs with lots of hiding spaces so they can keep away from each other if necessary.

Since the baby Vampire Crabs are completely formed, they can be independent. Again they can look after themselves.

If you are able to breed them successfully, it could be helpful to write down how you did it since little info is available on how to increase the chances of them mating.


Are vampire crabs aggressive?

Vampire crabs can be quite aggressive. They can be kept in groups without any issues, however, they are known to attack and consume small fish, as well as other crab species. Similar to keeping vampire crabs and shrimp, which they will most likely eat for dinner.

Why do vampire crabs get the name vampires?

The vampire crab Geosesarma dennerle, a tiny land crab that is native to Indonesia is a favorite animal in the aquarium market (its name is derived from an aquarium supply firm Dennerle) The owners decided to give it an appealing name to help increase sales and are most likely attracted by its black and purple hue.

What is the average lifespan for a vampire crab?

The average lifespan of a Vampire Crab is about two years, at the most. The same is true when the animal is kept in captivity, and in nature.

What is the disease in the vampire crab?

The health of the vampire crabs could be affected by different parasites, including flukes, nematodes, and ciliates. Fungal infections and bacterial problems are also common. Due to their inverted composition, they are not prone to the common diseases of fish such as white spot syndrome (ich).

Do Vampire Crabs actually give live birth?

Females carry anywhere from 20 to 80 eggs within their abdomens, based on their size. There aren’t any larval stages as the eggs are big enough to allow for direct development. After hatching, females give babies tiny crabs fully matured. These babies were born into fresh water and have a length of 1 to 2 millimeters at birth.

Are The Vampire Crabs Suitable for Your Aquarium?

Anyone can look after Vampire Crabs; they are some of the easiest crabs to care for, so they won’t use up much of your time. 

Of course, there are some amazing things that you should know, however after reading this most informative article you will feel ready for the next commitment.

The main things to consider are their perfect aquarium setups and the ideal diet. It would not be much of an issue, but it can be a confusing matter if you haven’t kept vampire crabs before and you do not have any experience.

Picking the right tank mates is important too, but there are plenty of options out there for you to start your own peaceful community.

The Vampire Crabs are very beautiful and look attractive. You might have made a decision to get some crabs the moment you laid your eyes on them. These are some amazing animals that can keep you transfixed.

As you’ll see, Vampire Crab care may be a bit different. Unlike tons of the other animals you see in the aquarium scene, these semi-terrestrial critters have their own set of rules.

However, their beauty makes it all worthwhile.

Hey, do you like Vampire Crabs? Let us know why you like them in the comment section below.

If you have any tips, stories, or photos that you’d wish to see added to this guide, just let us know! We are fascinated by these creatures and wish to produce the most effective resource possible.


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.

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