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Pet World Visit
Origins. Apparently these tiny (under an inch) crabs grow all over the islands of Japan. We got ours out of Chicago. They called them Mandarin crabs, an obvious misnomer for a crab from Nippon. They also called them Geosesarma aristocrateseosis, anothe misnomer. Anyways (as the kids say), when we see a new critter on our availability lists, we have to have one or six to see exactly what they are and what they do.
Japan Info. Japanese marsh crabs are called sawagani in Japan -- sawa = marsh plus gani=crab. They are popular in sushi restaurants (lightly fried in oil). We couldn't sell them at the Iowa State Fair because they're too small to fit on a stick. A U.S. Geological Survey found a colony in Las Vegas, NV. They attributed their introduction to a local sushi restaurant.
Reproduction Info. Most female crabs produce incredible numbers of tiny nauplii that float among the other tiny critters that inhabit the plankton layer of the ocean. Japanese marsh crabs change sex during their lifetime. Females then give birth to fully developed baby crabs.
Attitude. Most crabs of any size assume a pugilistic stance -- fists (or in their cases, pincers) up and ready to fend off all adversaries. These little Japanese marsh crabs usually face the other way and retreat if at all possible. Meanwhile, they're looking right at you.
Climbers. When our "mandarin crabs" first arrived, I put them in a small aquarium mostly full of water and continued putting away several other boxes of fish. Looking at them 20 minutes later, I saw one was clinging to the top lip of his aquarium -- several inches above the water level. He had climbed up the aquarium sealer that held the sides together. At this point, I decided they were land crabs (like most other freshwater crabs) and changed their crabitat.
Japanese Marsh Crab Foods. Most crabs do not subscribe to the Epicurean Gazette. They pretty much eat whatever they can find.. Probably any fish food will suffice. HBH makes a Crab Bites food, but most crabs will eat anything. Since these little guys don't eat much, be careful not to overfeed your Japanese marsh crabs. The next day they ate small cichlid pellets.
Compare and Contrast. Japanese marsh crabs look like a mini-version of the red claw (often called red Thai crabs). You could probably treat them the same. Don't mix them tho. The larger red claws consider Japanese food delicious. An aside: red claws are considerably cheaper and much easier to find. Speaking of delicious, deep-fried Japanese marsh crabs are considered delicious by some gourmets -- not so much in Des Moines.
Water Conditions. Any critter with an exoskeleton will prefer harder water -- not a problem in Des Moines. Aged tap water works great. We like to add a bit of salt to most crustacean tanks. You need not worry much about pH. Hard water prefers to stay on the alkaline side. Just make sure you keep their water clean.
Sexing Japanese Marsh Crabs. You're not likely to breed your Japanese marsh crabs. Go to Mini-Crabs for a way to sex crabs. By the way, crabs are similar in needs and actions to shrimp. Both are little scavengers. Crabs differ mostly in the way their tails fold under. Shrimp sport long flexible tails that enable them to swim backwards rapidly -- much like our crayfish. Just remember that your male Japanese marsh crab will turn into a female Japanese marsh crab.
How to Pick up a Japanese Marsh Crab. Fear not these little guys. One might pinch you, but they'd rather avoid you than clamp on. They rarely pinch. And they're not big enough to hurt or run away fast.
Not Hiders. Most crabs flinch (kind of duck down or rare up to fight) when approached by humans. Japanese marsh crabs mostly ignore human activity. They accept hand feeding from day one. Just move slowly.
White sand has some
disadvantages, but it really shows off your crabs. In any event,
they pretty much disappear over red, orange, or brown. Bare
habitats work fine and clean more easily.
Container. Keep well covered. Japenese marsh crabs insist on climbing out. They also like access to air every so often. Within 15 minutes of housing a brace of them in a foot high tank, one of them had made his way to the top and was hanging on the lip of the tank. He had climbed up the sealer in the corner. They will bail on you.
Last Words. Crabby people will like these guys. Just remember, they are very small LA
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