If you are looking for a unique addition to your tank, the red claw crabs are an excellent choice. Not only are they visually pleasing, but they also provide a fun element to home aquariums. Unfortunately, not much is known about this species.

Thus, this article is devoted to explaining the most important facets of the red claw crab, ranging from red claw crab habitat to their feeding behaviors. Keep reading and see why these animals are such a favorite!

Red Claw Crab Habitat

The natural habitat of the red claw crab is brackish water. They are native to Asian waters, especially shallow estuaries, rivers, and ponds.

You are most likely to come across red claw crab when you reach the boundaries between freshwater and seawater.

Given the origin of the red claw crab, replicating its environment in captivity requires the addition of brackish water. Mixing both freshwater and seawater increases crabs’ chances of reaching adulthood and thriving.

That said, if you cannot find seawater easily, letting these invertebrates live in freshwater tanks will suffice. The only difference is that the crabs will take a longer time to grow.

red claw crab on rock

Red Claw Crab – What You Need To Know


Red claw crabs have a relative lifespan of roughly 2.5 years. However, if kept in the wrong conditions, expect your red claw crabs to last a much shorter time.

There are rare cases where these crabs cannot tolerate the environment created by aquarists, thus dying only after a few months.

Hence, should you want your crabs to live as long as possible, make sure to take care of them properly.


As the name already indicates, red claw crabs stand out with their bright red claws. Due to changes in lighting conditions, the color red may appear to be slightly orange or yellow sometimes.

Their main shells are covered in black and brown, which are useful for camouflage when needed. Like all other species of crabs, red claw crabs have 10 legs for easier transportation. Most of the time, these legs are in a mixture of black and red.

Regarding the differences between male and female crabs, the former tends to have a much brighter and more vivid color range. Also, you will see that female crabs are not as meaty as their male counterparts.

red claw crab on sand


Red claw crabs are small creatures. If you count their leg span, they can be around 4 inches in total length. But if you remove the legs, their main body does not exceed 2 to 2.5 inches in width.

The small size of red claw crabs makes it much easier for aquarists to put them inside home tanks.

Tank size

For animals smaller than 2.5 inches in width, a small tank of no more than 10 gallons of water will suffice. If you do not intend on building a community tank, you can even make do with a 5-gallon tank.

However, it is much better to put a few crabs together somewhere they can freely roam around. Lacking personal space can be the source of frustration and aggressiveness among red claw crabs.

Water conditions

You are highly recommended to replicate the natural water parameters for red claw crabs to thrive. This requires the addition of marine salt and a minimal amount of alkalinity to the water. Slightly salty water is the best, as it resembles the brackish water of Asia the most.

As for the temperature, red claw crabs do best when the water is slightly warm. A range between 75 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit will best suit their needs. The pH level should be between 7.5 and 8.5, while the water hardness should be between 8 to 25 dGH.

Tank setup

Crabs enjoy digging and burrowing. Therefore, putting in some sandy substrate will provide them with enough ground for such activities. Feel free to add more decor such as rocks, hollow caves, and driftwood.

Not only do they increase the overall beauty of your tanks, but they are also a perfect place for crabs to hide.


1. How long do red claw crabs live in freshwater?

If left in a purely freshwater environment, red claw crabs may not be able to survive more than a few months. They require a bit of water salinity to thrive.

Hence, being forced to live somewhere different from their natural habitat will be detrimental to their health.

2. How often do you feed a red claw crab?

Red claw crabs need to be fed anywhere from 3 to 5 times per day. Their diet consists of both protein-rich food and plant matter, so you need not be too picky about the food.

Common aquarium food such as brine shrimp, brine shrimp eggs, and bloodworms will suffice. If you want to balance their diets with veggies, go for leafy greens. Or, even better, you can put some plants directly inside the tank for crabs to chew on.

3. Do red-clawed crabs need a filter?

Yes. A filter is necessary to maintain the water conditions and quality of red claw crabs. If the water cannot be treated properly, expect your crabs to develop diseases and even die.

That said, you have to be careful when placing a filtering system inside your home tank. This is because red claw crabs are known to crawl inside filter tubes.

If not detected on time, they can be pushed out by water currents or worse, get stuck inside the filtering system.


Learning about red claw crab habitat enables you to understand their characteristics before taking them in. Remember, red claw crabs are not that difficult to take care of once you get used to them.

Make sure to follow these tips and tricks should you wish to start nurturing these invertebrates.

Alex is a pet freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. He attended Colorado State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, which was where he first got some experience in animal nutrition. After graduating from University, Alex began sharing his knowledge as a freelance writer specializing in pets.

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