Keeping and breeding Vampire Crabs

Vampire Crabs are a group of semi-terrestrial freshwater crabs native to Indonesia. They’ve existed in the pet trade for a decade or so, but the species was only officially discovered last year. They live in tropical rivers on the island of Java — an environment that can be easily (and attractively) replicated in an aquarium.

Photograph by Chris Lukhapu

Care & Maintenance

Caring for Vampire Crabs is extremely straightforward. One feeding per day is usually sufficient as they will eat graze at organic matter in the aquarium when hungry. They don’t make a great deal of mess, so tank maintenance is minimal. If the tank has good filtration, a partial (25-40%) water change each month is usually enough. You should also use a gravel cleaner to remove any food waste or feces from the substrate once or twice a month. With good care, they will live for three to four years.

“Crabitat” by Job for a Cowboy

Tank Setup

Vampire Crabs of the Geosesarma genus are among the few species of true freshwater crab. They spend about half their time outside the water, where they like to hide among rocks, plants and driftwood. They are not territorial or aggressive to one another, so will live happily in a small group. Roughly half a dozen crabs can be kept together in a 10 gallon (40 litre) aquarium. The water should be heated to 70F (21C), but are flexible to within a few degrees either way.


Vampire Crabs are omnivorous and will happily eat many different foods. Live food such as crickets, earthworms, or brine shrimp are good sources of protein. They will also eat small amounts of vegetables, leafy greens and plant-matter growing in the aquarium. Commercial fish flakes, pellets and meat will also be consumed. Vampire Crabs should be fed a good variety of different foods to make sure all their nutritional requirements are being met.


There isn’t a great amount of information on breeding Vampire Crabs available. They seem to reach sexual maturity at around six months of age and continue reproducing for their entire adult life.

The female carries the eggs for several weeks until they hatch. After hatching, they look just like miniature versions of their parents and are fully independent immediately. Young crabs will usually hide among rocks and plants and can be difficult to spot. Keepers report that between 3-10 young are produced at a time.

Closing Thoughts

Vampire Crabs are weird. They’re tiny little freshwater crabs that existed in the pet trade before scientists even knew where they came from. They chill out on land or in the water, they’re bright purple (purple!) and they live-bear their young. If you’re looking for a pet that’s a bit different; but also easy to look after, there are few better or stranger options.

27 thoughts on “Keeping and breeding Vampire Crabs”

  1. Hi, I am getting vampire crabs and I was wondering where I could buy a seapora twelve gallon 24x12x10 inch aquarium. That would be the crab’s home, and I was wondering how many I could keep in it. Also, what are the best veggies for them? And could I feed them a mix of fish flakes, veggies, earthworms, and crab cuisine? Also, what are the best frozen foods for them? Thanks

    • I’ve had then for a while and all of my plants are completely fine. They seem to like the Anubias though, because they can climb up it and stare at me haha.

  2. I’ve had mine for a year now never had a heat lamp or pad. Tank sits at 20’ and I have just found babies. The are great little weirdos with lots of character.

  3. My only question is do they need any specific lighting or can I keep their tank without a light bulb and just use natural light?

    • No, Vampire Crabs are semiterrestrial. Which means they live mostly on land and go into the water when they need/want to. Hope this helps! 🙂

    • i tried that once and it does stay alive.
      Saw it change it’s shell once in the full water aquarium and then after a while it disappeared

  4. Hey these guys are pretty basic to care for, I’ve just started keeping them and have had a huge success! All theye need from you are a minimum of a 10 gallon pauldurarium wich is a half land have water aquarium, theye will not benefit from a heat lamp at all! Heat lamps can drive out your crabs! If your crabs are in a cold area in your house I recommend maybe getting a heat pad sold for reptiles at the bottom of the land area. Aquatic Section: theye need clean freshwater with some kind of filtration, theye need some kind of substrate like gravel or sand for them to grip onto, live aquatic plants are recommended because theye are always giving crabs a constant food source, lastly some king of rock or wood for the crabs to easily climb back onto land or into the water. Land Area: some kind of soil or dirt for crabs to nibble at and excavate in, lots of rocks and wood for crabs to hide In and live plants. Thats about it, hope this helps you 😃🤞🏼

  5. Amazingly I have just bred mine!!!
    I keep then in a basic soil/peat terrarium with a large dog water bowl full of water, this has a number of rocks in, this is to allow the crabs to come and go as they please, land area is large and decorated with logs, bark and various rocks, they are nocturnal and shy away from light, I also have woodlice and spring-tails in the terrarium.
    They must have clean fresh water regularly.
    Feeding seems simple, I give fish pellets, mealworms (usually crushed) small crickets and the occasional piece of mussel, they will also graze on moss and eat various greenery.
    They are usually found on the land area , only occasionally venturing into the water.
    I found a number of babies in the water and also wandering about on the land area.
    Heating is provided with a heat mat placed underneath, this has a thermostat attached for temperature control and safety.
    Hope this is helpful
    Good luck.

  6. I have been trying to keep vampire crabs alive in my tank for awhile now and am struggling tremendously. Are heat lamps a bad idea? It’s hard for me to keep humidity and temp up without it. Could you give me a list of a basic small setup so I can just get a feel for it. I’ve spent over 400$ now and nothing is working.

    • Yes heat lamps are a bad idea if anything use a heat pad but even that is not that necessary, I’ve had my crabs without one and there fine. All theye need is a minimum of a 10 gallon pauludarium with half water and half water.


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