How to Look After a Pet Rainbow Crab 2
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How to Look After a Pet Rainbow Crab 2

Rainbow crabs make fascinating pets, they are very easy to keep and are educational. They also make an interesting topic of conversation at social events, so you will never be stuck for things to talk about again.

Rainbow crabs make fascinating pets, they are very easy to keep and are educational. They also make an interesting topic of conversation at social events, so you will never be stuck for things to talk about again. 

Where are they from?

In their natural habitat they are found along the west coast of Africa, residing in holes or between large stones along riverbanks.

What do they look like?

They have bright orange legs and purple/blue shells (carpace) the colour does fade as they get older and the females tend to be less colourful.

What do they eat?

They will eat almost anything, they are scavengers if you like but foods high in calcium are vital for good shell growth. I put ½ an eggshell in once a week or you can use cuttlefish. They enjoy a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, bits of fish or ham but you can also buy crab pellets from big pet stores, the pellets are made up of different fish and have added vitamins but my crab does well on the natural, fresh diet.

I have seen them in full tanks of water, is this right?

No, they are land crabs and need to be able to get out of water. You could use a tank with 50/50 land and water, these look nice but are harder to clean out. I use a large glass tank, with sand/soil, rocks, a large container of water and half a terracotta plant pot for a hiding place. The tank must also be kept at around 20/24c. I use a heat mat placed under the tank. The use of UV lighting will bring out the colours more but they are not essential. When they are young they are very agile and can climb really well, ours got out of an upstairs tank and we found him jumping down the stairs!! Always check your tank top is shut securely.

How do they get rid of their shell?

Rainbow crabs will moult the exoskeleton every few months when young but when older it may only happen once or twice a year. They will go off their food, sometimes not eating for weeks before a moulting. When they are ready they will find somewhere sheltered and safe. You must not disturb them through the process of the moult or they may die of shock. Mine always does it in the night. After the moult has happened your crab will look black, any lost limbs will have returned. He will be soft at this stage and very vulnerable, he will hide. I leave the exoskeleton in with mine, they eat almost all of it and it’s good for regaining calcium. Within a couple of days they are hard, hungry and coloured again. To see what happens to the crab when it moults have a look at my other article

Do they have to be kept in salt water?

Most are kept in fresh water but you must check how they have been kept when you buy one and keep it the same way. Some people will use brackish water and the crabs do seem to like this. If using tap water you should let it stand for 24hours or use de-chlorine treatment in the water.

How long do they live and how big do they grow?

They live for around 5 to 8 years and the size of the average shell across is about 4/5inches but some do grow bigger.

for more of my article please visit:


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Comments (20)

This is wonderful lilyrose! No one here had ever written a guide on how to take care of pet crabs. Very interesting, informative and helpful :) I'm out of votes but did buzz it up!

You never cease amazing me, Lilly. What an informative article. Thank you my friend.

Crabs are great. Just for long as it doesn't get into ones personality as for that crab mentality, it's good.

Love them. Hope to find them in a pet store near me somehow.

This is the first time I read about having crabs as a pet. I just know that crab is for dinner :) Great article

My daughter-in-law use to have hermit crabs for pets. This seems like a great pet for renters who can't have the furry kind.

It is Judith... mine used to knock on the glass when he wanted dinner! talk about room service LOL

Although I think crabs are kind of creepy, reading your article makes me want one of my own. :-)

I didn't know crabs could be good pets.

Revisited. A great article indeed. I'm happy so many appreciate your work Lilly. Take care my friend.

thank you all for the comments! He is an interesting pet! thank you Francois for revisiting and voting xx


Thankfully I've never had crabs Lilly- although you make it sound pleasurable. I love the way they go all shy when their defenses are down hehe. Excellent article girl - makes you want to go out and get some.

you can have them as pets??? I had no idea:D

Really enjoyable article, and crabs sound like fun pets.



I have a Patriot Crab male. Now he is 4-5 years old. Last year stopped taking of his shell and the last few days his shell became white as white sand. What's happening to my dude? :-/

Please answer me as soon as possible.


Jimmy, I have found a few possibilities for this reason. It could be that he is about to moult, even at that age they would still moult but it would only be once or twice a year. Has he stopped eating? Do you keep him in a full tank of water? As rainbow crabs get old they loose their colour, this could be a possibility with your Patriot crab. Does it look like fungus on his shell? I found this link that may be helpful for your question

We have a pet crab a few months ago but not something like a rainbow crab. I sure want to have this one. Thanks!


thanks a lot! I was supposed to get 2 crabs next week but after reading this, that they will fight to death, I will go to the pet store tomorrow and tell them I only get one... They informed me wrong, saying they liked the company of one another! Glad I read this!!!


Great site just one thing I need to know is do they need a water heater

That is not a Rainbow crab, it is a seperate species. Info is perfect though.