What Do Red Claw Crabs Eat? The Ultimate Feeding Guide

Did you know red claw crabs have a diverse and fascinating diet? These intriguing creatures are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant matter and meat. This comprehensive guide will enlighten you about what exactly these colorful crustaceans consume, how often to feed them, plus some useful tips on maintaining their health through balanced nutrition.

Let’s dive in and uncover the mysteries of the red claw crab menu!

Key Takeaways

  • Red Claw Crabs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant matter and meat.
  • Their diet should include proteins like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and uncooked fish/prawns, as well as vegetables such as blanched peas and algae.
  • Feeding frequency for Red Claw Crabs should be once a day with small portions multiple times throughout the day to mimic their natural scavenging behavior.
  • Proper tank setup and care is crucial for the health of Red Claw Crabs, including providing a minimum tank size of 10 gallons, maintaining suitable water parameters (temperature, pH level), and ensuring proper filtration.

Overview of Red Claw Crabs

Red Claw Crabs thrive in shallow rivers, estuaries with sea access, and aquariums. They have a balanced diet that includes both plant and animal food sources. Male and female Red Claw Crabs exhibit distinct physical characteristics, and they can live for several years if properly cared for.

Natural habitat and behavior

Red Claw Crabs thrive in their natural habitats of shallow rivers and estuaries with sea access. Known for their scavenging behavior, these crabs are active explorers that showcase an omnivorous diet; they consume anything from plants, algae to small fish.

In the wild, they exhibit predatory prowess, hunting down brine shrimp, worms and even small fish. As fascinating creatures with semi-aquatic lifestyles, Red Claw Crabs can also be found in aquariums where their unique behaviors continue to captivate enthusiasts.

Despite changes in environment when kept as pets or showcased in aquariums, it is critical that owners mimic the conditions of their natural habitats as much as possible for optimal health and survival.

Lifespan and physical characteristics

Red Claw Crabs, also known as Perisesarma bidens, have an average lifespan of about two to three years in captivity. These vibrant and fascinating creatures can grow up to 2 inches in length, with males being slightly larger than females.

They are easily distinguished by their distinct bright red or orange claws, which give them their name.

In addition to their eye-catching claws, Red Claw Crabs have a hardened exoskeleton that provides protection and support for their bodies. Their bodies are typically dark brown or black with lighter markings and patterns on the abdomen.

With a set of small pincers at the front of their body and four pairs of walking legs, they are well-equipped for both scavenging food and navigating underwater environments.

Male and female differences

Male and female Red Claw Crabs can be easily distinguished by their physical characteristics. Males are generally larger in size compared to females, with a broader carapace and elongated front claws.

The shape of the abdomen is another way to differentiate between the two sexes, as males have a triangular-shaped abdomen while females have a rounded or oval-shaped one. Additionally, male crabs may often exhibit more vibrant coloration and markings on their bodies compared to females.

These visual differences between male and female Red Claw Crabs help enthusiasts identify their gender with ease.

Feeding Red Claw Crabs

Red Claw Crabs require a balanced diet that includes both proteins, such as bloodworms and uncooked fish, and vegetables like blanched peas.

Balanced diet including proteins and veggies

Red Claw Crabs require a balanced diet that consists of both proteins and vegetables. Here are some key food choices to include in their diet:

  1. Proteins:
  • Bloodworms: Rich in protein, bloodworms are a favorite among Red Claw Crabs. They can be offered as freeze-dried or frozen to ensure they are safe for consumption.
  • Brine shrimp: Another excellent source of protein, brine shrimp can be fed to Red Claw Crabs as part of their regular diet.
  • Uncooked fish or prawns: Small pieces of uncooked fish or prawns provide additional protein and variety in their diet.
  1. Vegetables:
  • Blanched peas: Red Claw Crabs enjoy blanched peas as a vegetable component in their diet. Peas are nutritious and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Algae and plant matter: In the wild, Red Claw Crabs feed on plants and algae. Including these natural food sources in their captive diet helps simulate their natural feeding habits.

Feeding frequency

Feeding frequency is an important aspect of caring for Red Claw Crabs. These creatures should be fed once a day, providing them with enough food to sustain their nutritional needs without overfeeding them.

It is recommended to feed them in the evening or at night, as Red Claw Crabs are predominantly active during these times. By offering their meals during their peak activity hours, you can ensure that they will readily consume the food and reduce any potential waste.

It’s also crucial to observe your crabs while feeding to determine how much they eat within a few minutes. If there is still uneaten food after this time frame, it’s advisable to remove the excess to maintain water quality and prevent any potential fouling issues.

Remember that overfeeding can lead to digestive problems and negatively impact the overall health of your Red Claw Crabs.

Red Claw Crab Tank Setup and Care

Red Claw Crab tanks should be spacious enough to accommodate their active nature, with a minimum tank size of 10 gallons recommended.

Tank size and requirements

Red Claw Crabs have specific tank size and requirements to ensure their optimal health and well-being. Here are the key factors to consider:

  1. Tank Size: Provide a tank with a minimum capacity of 10 gallons for a single Red Claw Crab. If you plan on keeping multiple crabs, increase the tank size accordingly, allowing at least 5 gallons per additional crab.
  2. Water Parameters: Maintain a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C) in the tank, as Red Claw Crabs thrive in tropical conditions. Use a heater to regulate the water temperature consistently.
  3. Substrate: Use fine gravel or sand as the substrate for your Red Claw Crab tank. This will mimic their natural habitat and allow them to burrow and scavenge comfortably.
  4. Decorations: Add plenty of hiding spots such as caves, rocks, and driftwood in the tank. Red Claw Crabs are excellent climbers, so provide some vertical structures such as branches or plants they can climb on.
  5. Filtration: Install a good quality aquarium filter to maintain clean water conditions in the tank. The filter should be able to handle the tank’s size and remove any excess waste or toxins effectively.
  6. Lighting: Although not essential, providing low-level lighting helps simulate day-night cycles and creates a natural environment for Red Claw Crabs.
  7. Enjoyable Environment: Create an interesting and stimulating environment by adding live plants that are compatible with freshwater tanks. This will provide hiding spaces as well as serve as a source of natural food (e.g., algae) for your crabs.
  8. Water Quality: Regularly monitor water parameters such as pH, ammonia levels, nitrate levels, and salinity if using marine salt mixtures. Ensure these parameters remain within acceptable ranges for freshwater crab species.
  • Red Claw Crabs are adaptable to different water conditions but prefer slightly brackish water with a salinity level around 1.005-1.010.
  • They are excellent climbers and will often climb out of the tank if given the opportunity, so ensure that there is a secure lid to keep them contained.
  • Red Claw Crabs need a mix of land and water areas in their tank to mimic their natural habitat, so provide various levels or platforms for them to move between.
  • Avoid introducing aggressive or territorial fish species as tank mates, as they may harm or stress the Red Claw Crabs.
  • It’s important to monitor the water quality regularly and perform necessary maintenance tasks to prevent any health issues or stress in your Red Claw Crab’s environment.

Water parameters and heating

Maintaining proper water parameters and heating is crucial for the health and well-being of Red Claw Crabs. Here are some important points to consider:

  • Water temperature: Red Claw Crabs thrive in freshwater aquariums with a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C). It’s essential to use an aquarium heater with a thermostat to maintain a stable and consistent temperature.
  • pH level: The optimal pH range for Red Claw Crabs is between 7.5 and 8.5. Regular testing of water parameters using a reliable test kit is necessary to ensure that the pH remains within this range.
  • Ammonia and nitrate levels: Red Claw Crabs can be sensitive to high ammonia and nitrate levels in the water. It’s crucial to regularly test the water for these compounds and keep them at low levels through regular water changes and proper filtration.
  • Salinity: While Red Claw Crabs are primarily found in freshwater habitats, they can tolerate slightly brackish conditions. However, it’s important to avoid sudden changes in salinity, as it can stress or harm the crabs.
  • Filtration: A good filtration system is essential for maintaining clean water conditions in the crab’s aquarium. A combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration methods should be employed to remove waste, toxins, and impurities from the water.
  • Oxygenation: Adequate oxygenation is vital for the well-being of Red Claw Crabs. This can be achieved by using an air pump or powerhead to create water movement and facilitate gas exchange.

Substrate and decorations

The substrate and decorations in a Red Claw Crab tank play an important role in creating a suitable and stimulating environment for these fascinating creatures. Here are some key considerations when it comes to substrate and decorations:

  • Substrate:
  1. Use a fine – grained substrate like sand or small pebbles to mimic the natural riverbeds where Red Claw Crabs are found.
  2. Avoid using gravel with sharp edges, as this can harm their delicate legs and claws.
  3. Maintain a depth of at least 1 – 2 inches of substrate to allow the crabs to dig and burrow.
  • Decorations:
  1. Provide hiding spots using driftwood, rocks, or caves, which will give the crabs a sense of security.
  2. Live plants such as Java fern or Anubias can create a lush underwater landscape while also helping to maintain water quality.
  3. Avoid using plastic decorations with sharp edges that can cause injury to the crabs.
  4. It’s essential to regularly inspect the decorations for any signs of damage and remove any broken or sharp pieces promptly.

Compatibility and Breeding

Red Claw Crabs are best kept in a species-only tank as they can be territorial and aggressive towards other crustaceans. Breeding Red Claw Crabs can be challenging due to specific environmental conditions required for successful reproduction.

Discover the secrets to creating the ideal breeding environment and overcoming common obstacles in our comprehensive guide. Keep reading to ensure your Red Claw Crabs live happily and reproduce successfully!

Suitable tank mates and breeding challenges

Red Claw Crabs can be kept with certain tank mates, but it’s important to choose companions that are compatible with their behavior and requirements. Here are some suitable tank mates for Red Claw Crabs:

  1. Freshwater snails: Snails like Mystery Snails or Nerite Snails make great tank mates for Red Claw Crabs. They help keep the tank clean by eating algae and decaying matter.
  2. Guppies: Guppies are colorful and active fish that can coexist peacefully with Red Claw Crabs. However, ensure that the guppies have ample hiding places to avoid getting nipped at.
  3. Amano shrimp: Amano shrimp are known to be peaceful and hardy, making them suitable companions for Red Claw Crabs. They also help in maintaining a clean aquarium by eating algae.
  4. Malaysian Trumpet Snails: These snails burrow into the substrate, adding to the aesthetics of the tank. They help in preventing gas pockets in the substrate while also being scavengers.
  5. Bristlenose Plecos: Bristlenose Plecos are bottom-dwelling fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. They consume algae, making them beneficial for maintaining a clean aquarium environment.
  • Molting issues: Female crabs need to shed their exoskeletons (molting) before mating, but this process can be stressful and may lead to complications if not properly managed.
  • Male aggression: Male crabs can exhibit aggressive behavior towards females during mating attempts, which could potentially harm or stress out the female crab.
  • Successful mating environment: Creating an appropriate environment with ample hiding spots, proper water quality, and temperature is crucial for encouraging successful mating behavior.

Common health issues

Red Claw Crabs, like any other pets, can face health issues at some point. It is important for crab owners to be aware of these common health problems and take the necessary steps to prevent or address them. Here are some of the most common health issues that Red Claw Crabs may experience:

  1. Shell Problems: Red Claw Crabs have a soft exoskeleton that they periodically shed as they grow. Sometimes, this process can be hindered due to poor nutrition or improper water conditions. This can lead to difficulties in molting and result in a deformed or incomplete shell formation.
  2. Parasites and Infections: Red Claw Crabs can be susceptible to various parasites such as mites, fleas, and worms. These parasites can cause irritation, damage the crab’s shell, or affect their overall health. Bacterial and fungal infections can also occur if the tank water is not properly maintained.
  3. Stress-Related Issues: Red Claw Crabs are sensitive creatures that can experience stress if their tank conditions are not suitable or if they are housed with incompatible tank mates. Stress can weaken their immune system, making them more prone to illnesses.
  4. Vitamin Deficiencies: Inadequate diet or lack of variety in their food choices can result in vitamin deficiencies for Red Claw Crabs. This can lead to poor growth, weakened immune system, lethargy, and other health problems.
  5. Water Quality Issues: Poor water quality with high ammonia or nitrate levels can have negative impacts on a crab’s health. It is crucial to regularly test the water parameters and ensure proper filtration and water changes to maintain optimal conditions.
  6. Injury from Aggressive Tank Mates: Red Claw Crabs should not be kept with aggressive tank mates such as larger fish or territorial crustaceans. They may become victims of aggression which can cause physical injury or stress.
  7. Temperature Fluctuations: Sudden changes in temperature or exposure to extreme temperatures can be detrimental to Red Claw Crabs. It is important to maintain a stable and suitable temperature range for their well-being.

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, understanding the diet and feeding habits of Red Claw Crabs is crucial to their overall health and well-being in captivity. These fascinating creatures are omnivores by nature, meaning they enjoy a varied diet consisting of both plant and animal food sources.

Providing them with a balanced meal plan that includes proteins like bloodworms or uncooked fish, as well as vegetables such as blanched peas, is essential for their nutritional needs.

Remember to create a suitable tank setup with proper care to ensure their optimal growth and development. By offering a diverse menu and maintaining their habitat diligently, you can enjoy the beauty of these unique crabs while ensuring they thrive in your aquarium.


In conclusion, understanding the diet and feeding habits of Red Claw Crabs is crucial for their overall well-being in captivity. A balanced diet that includes proteins like bloodworms and uncooked fish, as well as vegetables such as blanched peas, is essential to meet their nutritional needs.

By providing them with a diverse range of food options, we can ensure that these fascinating creatures thrive and lead healthy lives in our aquariums. So remember, when it comes to feeding Red Claw Crabs, variety is key!


1. What is the typical diet of red claw crabs?

Red claw crabs are omnivorous and their natural diet consists of a variety of foods including algae, aquatic plants, small invertebrates, and decaying organic matter.

2. Can I feed my red claw crab commercial fish food?

Yes, you can feed your red claw crab commercially available fish food that is formulated for crustaceans. However, it is important to supplement their diet with other foods such as vegetables or protein-based options to ensure they receive a balanced nutrition.

3. What vegetables can I offer to my red claw crab?

Leafy greens like spinach or kale, zucchini slices, carrots, and peas are all suitable vegetable options for feeding red claw crabs. Remember to blanch or steam the vegetables before offering them to your crab.

4. Can I give live or frozen food to my red claw crab?

Yes, you can provide live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, or small insects as occasional treats for your red claw crab. These types of foods mimic their natural prey and can be beneficial for their overall health and stimulation.

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