can red claw crabs live with shrimp

The Definitive Guide to Keeping Red Claw Crabs with Shrimp

Red claw crabs are a popular freshwater species known for their bright coloration and feisty personalities. Shrimp also make excellent tank mates adding diversity and activity to the aquarium. But can these two creatures coexist safely? With proper precautions, red claw crabs and shrimp can live together harmoniously. This guide covers everything you need to know about this unique pairing.

Red Claw Crab Overview

Native to tropical and subtropical climates, red claw crabs belong to the genus Perisesarma. They are named for the reddish tips on their pincers. Other key facts:

  • Average size around 2-3 inches.

  • Require 20+ gallon aquariums given their semi-aggressive nature.

  • Prefer warm water between 75-82°F.

  • Omnivorous; enjoy protein-rich foods along with some vegetation.

  • Burrowers who need pools of water and ample land space.

  • Can be territorial toward perceived threats.

With proper housing, most red claw crabs thrive in captivity. But their potential aggression means certain tank mates can be incompatible. How do shrimp fare?

Red Claw Crab and Shrimp Compatibility

In the wild, red claw crabs likely prey upon small shrimp they encounter as food sources. In aquariums, a hungry red claw may attack shrimp if given the chance.

However, with planning and precautions, red claw crabs and shrimp can coexist safety. Here are some key tips:

  • Choose larger shrimp species that are less vulnerable, like amano shrimp. Avoid tiny varieties like cherry shrimp.

  • Give shrimp plenty of foliage, caves and decor for hiding spots to evade crabs.

  • Feed both species well to reduce predatory behavior driven by hunger.

  • Introduce juveniles together so they grow up accustomed to each other.

  • Add tank divisions if needed to separate crabs from shrimp for vulnerable molting periods.

With extra effort, red claw crabs can live successfully alongside shrimp tank mates. It’s also possible to keep red claws alone for less complicated care.

Ideal Shrimp Species for Red Claw Tanks

If attempting a red claw crab and shrimp combo, select shrimp breeds that can hold their own. Recommended options include:

Amano Shrimp – One of the larger freshwater shrimp species, amanos can reach 2 inches long. Their size makes them less likely to be viewed as prey.

Bamboo Shrimp- Reaching over 3 inches, bamboo shrimp are one of the largest shrimp available. They actively swim making them harder targets.

Ghost Shrimp – Semi-transparent bodies help ghost shrimp blend into planted tanks, escaping notice.

Vampire Shrimp – At around 5 inches, these shrimp are too large for red claws to hunt successfully. Their size and speed are effective defenses.

With their larger statures and increased mobility, these shrimp species stand the best chance of cohabiting safely with red claw crabs. Still, provide plenty of hides and never leave shrimp molts in the tank.

Setting Up the Perfect Red Claw Crab and Shrimp Tank

A thriving freshwater community with red claw crabs and shrimp relies on an ideally configured tank setup. Use these tips to create an environment suitable for both species:

  • Minimum 20 gallon tank, though 30+ gallons is better. This allows space to create multiple habitat zones.

  • Sand or fine gravel substrate at least 2 inches deep for burrowing. Pool areas in the back work well.

  • Driftwood, rock structures and terracotta pots create hiding spots and territorial markers.

  • Dense live plants like java fern, anubias, java moss and floating hornwort provide shrimp shelter.

  • Appropriate filtration like a sponge filter that won’t harm shrimp or small crabs.

  • Water parameters: temperature 75-82°F, pH 7-8, hardness 8-12 KH.

Take time preparing the tank foundation. Once set up properly, maintaining stable conditions will be much easier.

Feeding Red Claw Crabs and Shrimp

Hunger is one factor that can trigger red claw crab aggression. Ensure both species remain well-fed with a nutritional diet.

For red claw crabs offer:

  • Protein-rich foods like shrimp, mussel, mealworms, fish.

  • Vegetables including cucumber, zucchini, spinach, carrots.

  • Occasional wood chips, leaves or supplements.

For shrimp provide:

  • Shrimp pellets, algae wafers, blanched veggies.

  • Calcium-rich foods like spinach and kale for molting.

  • Natural grazing on biofilm, plants and algae growth.

Separate food sources if crabs show territorial behavior around meals. Target feed shrimp in planted areas. Perform regular water changes to prevent buildup.

Adding Tank Companions

Beyond shrimp, certain tank mates can increase chances of success keeping red claw crabs. Consider adding:

Snails – Nerite and mystery snails with protective shells aren’t viewed as prey. Their algae eating habits also help water quality.

Otocinclus Catfish – At 2 inches long, otos are generally ignored by red claw crabs but aid algae control.

Corydoras Catfish – Bottom-dwelling cory cats and red claw crabs mutually avoid each other’s territories.

Guppies – Quick-moving fancy guppies are less likely to become a crab snack.

Other crabs – Extra red claws spread aggression and increase hiding spots.

Peaceful community fish – Varieties like tetras and rasboras use the upper tank leaving crabs space below.

Do ongoing observation and adjust stocking accordingly. Never add anything red claw crabs can swallow.

Maintaining Tank Harmony

Once your thriving red claw crab and shrimp community is established use these upkeep tips:

  • Check water parameters frequently and perform partial water changes as needed to maintain pristine conditions.

  • Clean intake sponges weekly to ensure equipment runs properly.

  • Wipe down glass to remove algae buildup.

  • Prune plants to provide clear sight lines.

  • Remove fallen plant debris, uneaten food and waste frequently.

  • Watch for signs of stress or aggression and separate offenders if needed.

The work involved will pay off in a beautifully balanced freshwater ecosystem where your red claw crabs and shrimp can live their best lives!

Can Red Claw Crabs and Shrimp Be Happy Together?

While not the easiest multi-species pairing, red claw crabs and shrimp can coexist together when properly researched and prepared for. Keys to success include:

  • A spacious, well-decorated tank with plenty of hides.

  • Selecting larger shrimp species that can defend themselves.

  • Providing well-rounded nutrition to curb aggression.

  • Adding supplemental tank mates for increased balance.

  • Maintaining high-quality water conditions and tank sanitation.

  • Separating immediately if any creature becomes stressed or threatened.

With conscientious effort by aquarists, red claw crabs and shrimp can live harmoniously together, adding diversity and intrigue to the freshwater aquarium environment. Just be sure to put the creatures’ health first if issues arise.

Have you kept red claw crabs with shrimp successfully? Share your experience and tips in the comments below!


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