How to Keep your New Red Claw Crabs

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Red Claw Crab Factoids

Origin

Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong

Maximum Size

1.5 inches plus claws most likely but up to 2.0 inches

Longevity

Probably 1.5 to 2 years

Housing

Prefers about a square foot

Security

Burrows under anything

Temperature

Prefers 72 to 82 but flexible both ways

Attitude

Hider.  Active at night.  Likes to climb out and run like a roach.

Foods

Beach-combing scavengers.  Not even slightly picky.

Water

Needs clean water .  Add a "pinch" of salt

Threats Herons, bullfrogs, turtles, other crabs

LA
Red claw crab.  Mean and pinchy.  Likes to hide even more than most crabs.  Pretty.  Male

LA
Males sport larger and redder claws.  You can sex them from here.

Origins.  No one really breeds these nippy little critters, so they still come from Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong -- major fish exporting areas.  We usually get ours out of Chicago (east of here but not far east).  We used to call them “red Thai crabs” because we were brought up that way.  However, since they’re not really “red,” the red claw appellation seems more apropos. And if you search for “red Thai crabs” on the web, you’ll find 69,000 ways to cook red saltwater crabs from Thailand.

LA
Red CLAW crab because these guys are not red.  Only their claws are really red.

Attitude.  If you have a rock, piece of wood, or ceramic ornament in your tank, your red claw crab will zero under it pronto.  Males like to argue.  Both sexes like to explore at night.  They work harder to escape than Steve McQueen.  Red claw crabs shinny up your air line tubing and hit the ground running.  Ditto if you net them.  They scurry right out of your net and skitter across your floor and away from you.  If you grab yours by hand, they usually grab you right back.  Then you give them a JATO and they still hit the ground running.

LA
Red claw crabs proving the "Crabs in a bucket can't escape" legend.

 

LA
We watched this little red claw crab pick off and eat tiny pieces of wood.

LA
Here's a red claw crab running off with a piece of green bean.

LA Pic
And fish belong on every crab's menu.

LA
Doctors recommend seafood at least twice a week.

LA
Here's a romantic seafood dinner for two.

Red Claw Crab Foods.  These little guys and gals eat both flotsam AND jetsam PLUS the salad bar.  Whatever they find, they try to eat.  They may have preferences, but they pretty much eat whatever you give them.  Do not fall asleep on their beach.  You can mix them with most community fish.  Avoid long-finned fish, slow-moving fish, and bottom-dwelling fish.

Compare and Contrast.  Think of these cute little guys as Thailand’s version of our American crayfish.  The contrasts are their shape, price, accessibility at your local bait house, and a dash of salt in your red claw crab water.  If you can keep crawdads, you can keep red claw crabs. 

LA
Careful how you grab red claw crabs.  They'll grab you back (hard) if they can reach you.

Water Conditions.  Any critter with an exoskeleton will prefer harder water -- not a problem in Des Moines.  Red claw crabs will get along without salt but seem to do better with it.  Add a teaspoon of salt per gallon -- approximately -- we’re not talking rocket surgery here.  Artificial sea salt has lots of ingredients and could be better than plain salt.  Avoid table salt.  It clouds the water, and as Mike says, “we don’t sell table salt.” 

LA
Remember, the bigger the pincers, the bigger the pinch.  Can you see the tiny "hairs?"

LA
Males in foreground.  Females in background.

Sexing Red Claw Crabs.  It probably machts nichts, because you’re unlikely to breed your red claw crabs.  However, males have larger and redder claws and slightly larger bodies.  Females have smaller claws (but still pinch).  

LA
And if you just have one red claw crab, your chances of breeding decrease considerably.

LA
Best way to pick up a red claw crab.  Don't try this at home.

How to Pick up a Red Claw Crab.  In spite of these pictures of a highly trained specialist grabbing and holding onto these picnchy pests, you’ll be way ahead to use a net.  Red claw crabs don’t latch on like a baseball-size hermit crab ... but they CAN startle you and cause you to fling or drop your crabby little buddy.

 

LA
Pick a red claw crab that looks perkier than this.

LA
You want red claw crabs that scamper away from you, not mopey ones.

Hiders.  Red claw crabs zip under any objects in their area.  Seems you can always find the most intriguing critters under rocks and fallen logs.  If you want to see these crabs in action, you need to keep several in spite of the “two per ten gallon tank” rule that appears in public parlance.  Fuhgettaboutit.  Live life on the edge.  Put a half dozen in there and enjoy.

LA
Brand new white sand floats for days.  Plan ahead.

Substrate.  Immaterial to your red claw crab, however you want to put them over something they do not blend into.  White sand has some disadvantages, but it really shows off your crabs.

LA
Red claw crab biotope with no hiding places.  Those strands of Java moss won't last long.

LA
Two days after introduction, 11 red claw crabs generated this much crab crap on the white sand.

LA
Close up of the bogwood in their tank.  It does not float and offers access to the surface.

LA
He's red claw crab "king of the hill" -- at least for an hour.

Container.  You will need a working lid.  Red claw crabs want to climb out.  They also like access to air every so often.  However, with a little homemade ingenuity, you can come up with housing that keeps the little rascals visible -- at least most of the time.  

LA
Pugnacious little rascals.

Last Words.  Try red claw crabs.  They’re fun..  LA

© 2004, © 2007 LA Productions

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