Vampire Crab 101: Care, Habitat, Dietary Requirements & More

image of Vampire Crab

You’ve heard of vampires, but have you ever heard of vampire crabs? Vampire crabs are fascinating freshwater crabs that you have to see to believe!

With dark purple bodies and bright yellow eyes, vampire crabs are not easily forgotten. Because of their unique appearance, they’re becoming more and more common in home aquariums. 

If the idea of raising vampire crabs intrigues you, we’ve got you covered. 

In this article, we’ll talk all about:

  • What They Are
  • Tank & Dietary Requirements
  • Tank Mates
  • Common Diseases and Illnesses

To learn more about caring for some amazing vampire crabs, read on!

What Are Vampire Crabs?

As we said before, vampire crabs are small semi-terrestrial crabs known for their unique appearance. Those that are tired of ordinary fish and crustaceans may want to get some vampire crabs thanks to their spooky visuals.

With eight legs and two giant pinchers, vampire crabs certainly have an intimidating appearance. Compared to other crabs, however, vampire crabs are actually quite harmless.

Their claws don’t open much, and their pinch isn’t too strong. It seems this species of crab skipped arm day.

The scientific name for vampire crabs is Geosesarma dennerle. Typically, these crabs are found in the wild around various islands in the Indian Ocean. They can also be found in some areas around eastern Asia. 


If taken care of properly, vampire crabs can live up to 2 years. Though this isn’t very long, they can still make interesting little pets during their lifespan. 

Overall, they make a great addition to any tank due to their:

  • Inability to cause much harm with their pinch
  • Spooky yellow eyes
  • Lower time commitment level
  • Bright purple and pink shell
  • Small size

Read on to learn more about their specific care requirements!

Vampire Crab Care

Tank Requirements

Though vampire crabs don’t have extremely difficult care requirements, it can still be a challenge to raise them as there isn’t much reliable information out there about their care. It’s easy to find misinformation about these little crustaceans on the internet, which can lead to inadvertent harm to your crabs.

Vampire crabs in general are quite hardy as long as the conditions are mostly right, but they need as good of an environment as possible to really live to their full potential. Overall, vampire crabs require the following:

  • A 10-gallon tank (minimum)
  • A monthly 40% water change
  • 70 – 82 ℉ water
  • 7.5 – 8 pH
  • 0 – 10 dKH water hardness
  • 75% humidity
  • A land:water ratio of 80:20
  • A water filter
  • Dense aquatic plants

As a general rule of thumb, bigger is always better when it comes to tank size. You don’t want to cramp up your vampire crabs – they might suck your blood. 

Just kidding. They still won’t like it though.

You also need to remember that vampire crabs are not fully aquatic. They enjoy quite a bit of time on land, so you need to replicate this by creating a paludarium. 

Big word, I know. Stay with me.

A paludarium is a tank that incorporates both terrestrial and aquatic components. Which is basically a vampire crab paradise.

Your vampire crab tank should mostly be terrestrial with about 20% of it being water. This means less intense water changes and often means easier upkeep!

Keep in mind you’ll still need a water filter for the rest of the month so it doesn’t get too dirty!

You should use mostly sand as your substrate since your crabs will want to burrow. You should also use a thermometer and a humidity gauge to ensure the temperature in the water remains between 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit and the tank has at least 75% humidity. 

To top it off, vampire crabs love to hide in dense plants like they do in the wild. Fill the terrarium part of your tank with dense, leafy tropical plants for them to hide in. 

Plus, they’ll eat any plants that die. Talk about easy maintenance!

Food and Dietary Requirements

Vampire crabs, like other crustaceans, love to eat. They’re omnivores, so they like to eat a combination of smaller organisms and plants. 

In general, your vampire crabs will likely enjoy eating:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Earthworms
  • Shrimp flakes
  • Vegetables

Since vampire crabs in the wild have a varied diet, you’ll want to give your crabs a combination of these different foods. 

Brine Shrimp

Crustaceans like vampire crabs love brine shrimp. These teeny shrimp are small and easy to eat and are packed full of protein which can help your crabs grow strong.

You’ll have to decide how you want to feed your vampire crabs brine shrimp. Usually, crab food such as brine shrimp comes in three ways:

  • Live
  • Freeze-dried
  • Frozen

Typically, we don’t recommend live feeding. Introducing live organisms into your tank puts you at high risk of accidentally introducing bacteria or parasites that may harm your crabs. 

Instead, we recommend either freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp. While frozen brine shrimp retain more nutrients, freeze-dried brine shrimp have a longer shelf life. 

Choosing freeze-dried also means you won’t have to see the brine shrimp when you get your pizza rolls from the freezer. 

Either way, your vampire crabs will be sure to snack on these nutritious little crustaceans. 

Bloodworms and Earthworms

Bloodworms and earthworms are also a nutritious part of your vampire crabs’ diet. Bloodworms and earthworms are full of protein and additional nutrients that will help your crabs stay healthy. 

These worms can be fed the same way as brine shrimp. We still recommend avoiding live feeding in the event the worms have any sort of parasite.

If you’re concerned about the size of the worms, freeze-dried bloodworms and earthworms are easier to break apart as needed, though they have only a fraction of the nutrients frozen ones do. 

When in doubt, you can always offer your crabs a combination of both.

Shrimp Flakes

Shrimp flakes are typically the primary food offered to shrimp in captivity. Since shrimp flakes are more common than crab flakes, they’re often used to feed crabs too.

Shrimp flakes are designed for omnivores. They contain a combination of animal products and plant products, so your vampire crabs can get a well-rounded meal from them. 

Plus, they have a long shelf life since they’re dry!


Finally, crustaceans like vampire crabs love vegetables. In the wild, they’ll often feed on dead or dying vegetation on land.

For a real treat, vampire crabs will like to eat vegetables like spinach, peas, cucumber, and broccoli. You’ll have to blanch the veggies first to soften them up so your crabs will be able to eat them easily.

Vegetables like these are a great way to give your crabs extra calcium to help them harden their shells!

If you don’t want to cook veggies for your vampire crabs, you can always get your crabs some algae wafers or veggie tablets. These hard tablets are made of small pieces of multiple vegetables and will break apart easily if added to your crabs’ water. 

Vampire Crab Tank Mates

In general, the best tank mates you can get for vampire crabs are more vampire crabs. This species will get along with one another and shouldn’t have many issues.

If you really want a tank mate of a different species for your vampire crabs, some potential options include:

  • Freshwater aquarium snails
  • Cherry shrimp
  • Neon tetras
  • Zebra danios
  • Dwarf suckers (Otocinclus) 

Keep in mind that some of these creatures may make good snacks for your vampire crabs, so you can’t always expect perfect harmony. However, if you stick with larger species (that aren’t big enough to gobble up your crabs), you have a higher chance of success in a community tank!

Common Vampire Crab Diseases and Illnesses

Since vampire crabs are crustaceans, they aren’t susceptible to the same illnesses as fish. There also isn’t much research done on illnesses specific to vampire crabs compared to other crustaceans.

It is generally understood that vampire crabs are susceptible to any illnesses other crabs can get. This would include:

Most of these issues can be prevented by performing regular maintenance on your tank and being careful with what you feed your crabs. If you don’t clean your tank regularly, bacteria can build up that can make your vampire crabs sick. Yuck!

You should also be careful what plants you put in your tank to avoid introducing any foreign parasites that way as well. When in doubt, quarantining any new living thing before putting it into your vampire crab tank is a responsible thing to do.

Ready To Start

Now that you know about all of the basic care requirements for vampire crabs, you’re ready to set up your tank! Remember to carefully follow all of the tank requirements to keep your vampire crabs happy and healthy throughout their lives.

The most important thing to remember is to regularly maintain your tank. By making sure your crabs have the right substrate, access to both land and water, proper humidity, and safe food, you should be good to go.

If you’ve ever raised vampire crabs, let us know in the comments what your experience was like. If you have other questions about your home aquarium, ask below and we may write about your question next!

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