Any saltwater aquarium thrives on diversity in species. The closer a tank is to natural reef environments, the better the health of the fish that live in it. They do not just add variety for you to observe but also provide ecological benefits to the tank by adding essential diversity that our abundant oceans have.
In a list of coral dwellers, crabs are often overlooked for salt-water aquariums by beginners. But their benefits cannot be understated. Crabs are decapod crustaceans that make all the world’s oceans their home. Depending on the species, they have a range of diets and can be extremely colorful and intriguing additions to any tank.
The Anemone Crab is one of the first that pops to mind or aquarium enthusiasts. Beautiful, colorful, and useful – they can occupy your reefs and be a great addition to many tank setups. They are versatile, robust, and low maintenance and are a delight to look after.
The Porcelain Anemone crab (Neopetrolisthes maculatus) are indigenous to the indo-pacific waters but are now widely regarded ‘aquarium regulars’ across the globe. They sport a distinctive red polka dot pattern on a bright white shell body. They have one of the most unique feeding patterns in the marine world which makes them very fun to observe.
Anemone Crabs are classified as filter feeders. This means that they feed on organic matter floating in the currents. The Anemone Crab has fan-like filters behind its pincers that it uses like a net. By raising these ‘fans’ into the flowing current, they catch small bits of food which they then pick off using their pincers.
They are known as Anemone crabs because they usually center their habitat around large patches of Sea Anemones and nestle into the tentacles and feed off the scraps that settle on the anemones. Since they spend most of their day in and around anemones, they are named anemone crabs!
These small and beautiful creatures are very docile. Especially when they are raised together from spawn. They also do well as a male-female pair in tanks and are usually docile around their own species.
They also do not attack any tank dwellers. Their pincers are used to feed and rarely used in defense. They are the perfect addition to medium to large tanks as they have plenty of space to move from one anemone to another feeding and looking pretty!
They are so calm and docile that the anemone does not sting them. They share a symbiotic bond. The crab cleans the anemone by feeding on organic matter that is stuck between tentacles and the crab naturally deters shrimp away from anemones and serves as self-defense for their tentacled home.
How to Care for Anemone Crabs
These beautiful coral dwellers are easy to take care of. There is no specific diet for them as they feed on the small pieces of frozen Shrimp reef roids you feed your fish. When these floating pieces settle, the crabs will munch them up. Just remember to add a little extra feed when you have crabs.
Also, Anemone Crabs usually do better in larger tanks and with a few anemones around (though not compulsory). They also thrive with a good filter and electronic pump setup that produces medium currents through the water. This is crucial as anemone crabs love to raise their beautiful fan-like appendages. This behavior is extremely unique and gives you something uniques to look at, study, and enjoy with friends and family.