How to Care for Your New Halloween Crabs

 Aqualand's inside scoop on Gecarcinus quadratus

 
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Halloween Crab Factoids

Origin Costa Rica
Temperament Nocturnal scavenger that lives in burrows
Diet Omnivore

Temperature

Flexible -- 75 to 85 works fine
Decor Plastic plants, rocks, wood

Life Span

8 to 10 years in captivity

Life Style

Scavenger. Likes to hide. Nocturnal

Threats

Other crabs. Copper.  Long legged shore birds.
Substrate Not too important.  Wet sand easier to burrow in

Foods

Commercial crab food, fruit, dead fish
Supplements Some people recommend a cuttlebone

Container

Needs a covered 10-gallon minimum

LA
Our first batch of Halloween crabs.

Pre-Prologue.  I'm a pretty good researcher.  I can usually find out the basic needs of most critters with a little effort.  In 2007 we got some Halloween crabs out of Chicago.  I planned to build a page on them, but unfortunately, I accidentally caused their premature demise, i.e., I killed them overnight.  I can't really write a page unless I have the actual critters to observe.  I filed the starter page as an "in the works page."  (I've got lots of pages in the works.)  So three years later when I searched for Halloween crabs again, my barely started page came up as #3 on the Bing search.  It just contained a few pictures and some basic factoids.  Anyway, it's time to ramp it up.  LA

Prologue.  Mike ordered a couple of blue moon crabs because he liked the sound of their name.  When Kathy saw them the next day, she said they were Halloween crabs.  I said noway, the Halloweens are really little compared to these huge guys.  Well, it turned out Kathy was right.  I hadn't seen the Halloweens since 2007 (pictures below), so I was way off the mark on the new big guys.

LA
Our first Halloween crabs arrived in a deli cup with air holes and moist peat moss on the bottom.

2007.  We received these little guys back in 2007.  We treated them like patriot crabs and managed to drown them overnight.  The patriots are also land dwellers but have no problem surviving in deep water because they're strong enough and smart enough to climb to the surface for air.  The Halloweens couldn't make the cut.  Then, we couldn't get any more until January, 2010.  Apparently they are sold under a variety of disparate appellations.  They are a strikingly colored crab.  We're glad to see them again under any name.  When we opened their shipping container, every one said "whoa."  They just barely fit into the same shippingcontainers as above.  They looked formidable.  Our first ones were just cute.

LA
This small Halloween crab had no difficulty scuttling out of his container.

LA
Very much on the cute side.  The Jack 'o Lantern look earns them their Halloween name.

LA
Not afraid to defend themselves against larger adversaries.

Temperament.  Scrappy sums it up.  Halloween crabs have those pincers and know  how to use them.  In the wild they prefer to hide in burrows and come out looking for food at night.  They're more active during the rainy season.  In captivity they learn to eat when the lunch bell rings -- day or night.

LA
We put our first Halloween crabs in about six inches of water.  Bad move.  Don't do it.

Land Crabs.  Halloween crabs do not live in the water.  They live on land.  However, they need access to water to keep their gills moist.  You can give them a water dish or provide a 1/2 land, 1/2 water habitat.  No strict rules on the fractions.  But a body of water is easier to filter than a bowl of water.  In the wild, they're also known to climb trees and eat leaves.  This means they'd like something to climb on -- rocks, rough wood, plastic plants, or better yet a piece of cork bark.

LA
The redder ones are likely males.  The orange ones likely females.

Sexing.  Male Halloween crabs tend to be a little brighter (in color, not necessarily I.Q.).  Males tend towards the red spectrum.  Females tend toward the orange.  The best way to sex them tho is to turn them over and discreetly examine their abdomens -- an easier said than done task.

LA
Hefty size blue moon crab also known as the Halloween crab.  Probable male.

LA
Slightly smaller blue moon crab.  Probable female.

LA
The redder one.

LA
The lighter colored one.  They are darned hard to hold.

Sexing II.  Both Halloween crabs looked about the same underneath.  No good way to tell sexes.  Of course, it's a moot point.  Females release their half-zillion eggs into the foamy brine where they float in the planktonic soup and go thru a variety of instars which eventually turn into Halloween crabs.  The ocean is tough to duplicate in your own home.  You won't breed them

LA
Home sweet crabitat.

Basic Container.  Here we see a 10-gallon tank skillfully converted into a luxurious Halloween crabitat.  They have land, filtered water, and a bit more land plus two pre-fab burrows (which may be a smidge small).  You may want to add a food dish to help control food fights.  I just gave them each a deceased goldfish to keep it simple.  If you give them an occasional fish (any species), they shouldn't need a calcium supplement.  Ditto commercial crab foods which will require a food dish.

LA
Giving the pre-fab burrow a quick once over.

LA
Two Halloween crabs crammed into their pre-fab burrows.

LA
Lots of luck picking up one of  these Halloween crabs.

Last Word.  Personally, I preferred the smaller Halloween crabs.  They were cuter.  However, these big guys are cute, too.  But they are nearly impossible to pick up.  As an accredited crab wrangler, I can certify to that.  When you try to grab them, they're trying even harder to grab you.  Anyway, I'm glad to see them again.  LA

LA
Larger one on a 2-inch clay pot.  Glass front makes the picture blurry.

LA
Better picture outside the tank.

LA
Typical pugilistic attitude.

LA
Slightly smaller cage mate in a paler format.

LA
 Much clearer picture with no glass in the way.

LA
Don't try this with a live one.

Laster than Last Word, May 3, 2012.  Got another batch of the bigger guys today.  Both look to be males.  They're housed in the same 10-gallon aquarium, each with its own "cave."

© 2007,  © 2012 © 2014  LA Productions
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