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Porcelain Anemone Crabs | Care Guide

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These little guys have to be one of my favorite invertebrates of all the marine creatures. I could also be heavily influenced by the fact that my Bubble Tip anemone has set up shop in the top front left-hand corner of my tank, so the Porcelain Crab Anemone is easily in view. I can spend hours just watching the little fellow waving his fans around trying to catch whatever comes his way in the water column.

If an aquarist in this hobby purchases a Porcelain Anemone Crab, it is generally an afterthought after they have settled their first (or even second) anemone into their reef. However for me, I actually think it was the other way round.

One of little Porcelain Anemone Crabs caught my eye while I was ogling all the wonderful creatures in my Local Fish Store (LFS) and I had to know what it was. After asking the staff members, I realized I was a little bit too early on in my saltwater aquarium journey to add these guys (my tank was only 3 – 4 months old at that stage). While the Porcelain Anemone Crab doesn’t necessarily need an anemone to survive, they do prefer it, so I had to get my tank mature and stable enough to house an anemone, and then I could finally have my Porcelain Anemone Crab.

NOTE: this article will be discussing the Porcelain Anemone Crab – NOT the Porcelain Crab. These are two quite different types of crab and require different care instructions. 

Porcelain Anemone Crabs – Origin

In the wild you will be able to find the Porcelain Anemone Crab in the Indo-Pacific regions. As the name implies, you will often see them in and around anemones who have taken up residence in the coral reefs.

They will generally linger around the edges of anemones, as they are a generally peaceful invertebrate and will tend to run away rather. By staying at the edges of the anemone, the Porcelain Anemone Crab has the option to scamper away quickly, or even hide under the anemone for protection.

Porcelain Anemone Crabs – Appearance

When you first see a Porcelain Anemone Crab, the first thing you see are the abnormally large claws that look out of proportion with the body. As they are a generally peaceful invertebrate, the purpose of these claws are more for defensive purposes rather than for hunting.

Here is a picture of my Porcelain Anemone Crab hosting in my Bubble Tip Anemone.

The next physical feature you may see are the beautiful filter feeding fans that they extend to catch food from the surrounding water. They systematically extend them out and draw in particles from the water to their mouths. As I mentioned earlier, this is probably my favorite thing to watch in my tank.

In terms of their body color, they generally have reddish brown spots layered on a white shell. I noticed my Porcelain Anemone Crab has two white small legs at the back of the shell that flick around the body and legs, constantly cleaning and maintaining the shell from any algae and dirt build up.

Diet

These guys are filter feeders – using their fans to filter any plankton or meaty particles from the water column they have settled in. Like many other crabs they are great for maintaining a tank, because they filter and clean up the water from any uneaten food. However, I’m not sure if they would be classified as part of the clean up crew, as they won’t stray far from their anemones or homes (therefore not been too effective in cleaning the tank).

You won’t need to feed the Porcelain Anemone Crab specifically as it should receive enough from the anemone mucus and uneaten food from the times you are feeding the resident fish. The only exception is if you have a Nano tank. In this circumstance, there may not be enough food in the water for the crab to receive enough nutrients, and spot feeding may be required.

Care

Description Specification
Difficulty Easy
Personality Docile
Size 1 - 2 inches
Diet Carnivore
Tank size At Least 30 Gallons
Tank type Marine
Reef Safe Yes

Behavior

Even though the front claws of the Porcelain Anemone Crab look menacing, it is a peaceful creature by nature. If you have one of these in your tank you will find it keeps to itself, scampering around the anemone and putting out its fans to filter the food in the surrounding water.

The only time you will see the crab show aggression is when it is defending it’s territory. It will flail it’s front claws around to ward off any unwanted intruders. And it will even drop it’s limbs and claws if it feels threatened, so it can make a quick escape. This is more of a survival measure, and the limbs will grow back when it sheds it’s skin. It is theorized this is a possible reason for it’s name as a Porcelain Anemone Crab, due to it’s delicate nature.

In fact, if a pair of clowns decide to host in the anemone, the Porcelain Anemone Crab will try to defend its home, however the Clownfish will usually triumph as they are bigger and more aggressive.

Water Specifics

If you have an anemone in your tank, it would be safe to say that you would not need to do any additional specific maintenance for your Porcelain Anemone Crab. The reason being, the anemone is probably more demanding, in terms of water specifics and feeding, than the Porcelain Anemone Crab.

Summary

I would highly recommend any reefer with an anemone in their tank to consider adding one (or even two) Porcelain Anemone Crabs into their tank. They add so much value in terms of variety and entertainment. I often find myself watching them for hours waving their fans around and feeding.

Even though they do not require an anemone to live, as a responsible aquarist I would advise having one for them to host in. Not only does it replicate a more natural environment for them, it also provides nutrients that they will usually receive in the wild.

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