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Unknown Crab

Last Updated: 11/20/14

Scary after being captured on 7/26/08.

My Scary Crab
Crab Photos

My Scary Crab

The last few months before 7/24/08, I had spent too much time looking at my "12 gallon" nano reef. Yet, I was still finding new animals, mostly worms, perhaps a sea squirt. Then, on that day, when I looked at the star polyp colony, there was a "large" (to me) crab, a real crab! I was astonished that I had missed something so large. At the same time, I was petrified he was "bad" and would start to eat my other animals. He looked very scary with hairy legs and a strange body. I was a bit scared. I tried to grab him with tweezers but he kept retreating in to the star polyps which had formed a bridge and cave within their flesh. He was just too fast. I managed to jab the poor coral a few times but no luck with the crab. The next two nights, I put a shot glass against the live rock near the star polyps. I baited it with frozen squid and a sinking shrimp pellet. I caught three of my hermit crabs over two nights.

On 7/26/08, it was Saturday when I clean the tank. I decided I was getting that crab out of there, no matter what. I could not rest until he was out. I had read on-line about the glass trap but also about some guy who ran his live rock under freshwater to flush out the crab. The rock on which the star polyps rest also has my Duncan coral and an SPS coral. I was going to detach them (just epoxy holding them on) but when I tugged on them gently, they were on there good. The star polyps have grown in to the live rock and cannot be detached. I shone the flashlight under the polyps and could see the crab still there.

First, I took some water off the top of the tank and put it in to a green bowl. Then, I removed the water I was going to change out. I put part of it in to the laundry tub with the plug in. I brought the live rock piece (about 3 pounds) to the sink. An astraea snail was still attached that I could not get off but I had removed a few hermit crabs first. The corals closed up. I shook the rock a little, no crab. So, I ran the tap (I have well water so no chlorine) water through the hole in the star polyps where the crab was. Nothing at first. I was about to stop after about 10 seconds, when out popped the crab. He fell down in to the change out water so was instantly back in mostly saltwater (some tap water too though since I was running it in to there). I quickly put the live rock with corals and snail back in to the tank close to where it was supposed to be. Only the star polyps were exposed to freshwater but all were exposed to air. I quickly went back and used a cup to pick up the crab and put him in the green bowl with the saltwater I had pulled off the tank before. I then went back to the tank and tried to get everything back in place, top off the tank, get it up and going again, etc. Back to the crab, I took photos (see below). He was so tiny and did not seem so scary once in the bowl versus in the star polyps. Then, I cleaned out the 3 gallon Eclipse tank which has my Emerald mithrax crab and a few snails (I think they died though but not 100% sure). Once it was cleaned, the "new" crab went in there too. He went to hiding in a fake pink Acropora coral. Since I was so scared of him, I named him "Scary." I do not know if the two crabs will get along but Grabby is much bigger than Scary at this point. Grabby has been living on mostly shrimp pellets but I should expand their diet. I am worried about pollution in the tiny exile tank. I was also worried about the corals exposed to air and freshwater but, within a few hours, they were open as normal so I guess they are okay.

Around 8/5/08, Scary molted; his little exoskeleton was sitting on the coral gravel. On 8/6/08, I moved Grabby and Scary from the 3 gallon Eclipse tank to a new 6 gallon Nano Cube tank.

Scary was sighted on 9/9/08 and seems to have grown! He is still living in the fake pink Acropora coral.

On 11/5/08, I noticed a shed exoskeleton from Scary who I rarely see. I removed it on 11/8/08 to verify it was just the shell, and it fell all apart, all but the main shell (carapace) which I measured at 8 mm across. I saw Scary later in the day when I lifted up the fake Acropora to be sure he was still in there.

By 6/20/09, Scary is almost an inch wide with his legs. He has molted a number of times now, each time getting bigger.

I did not see Scary for a long time and was wondering if he was still around. I finally saw parts of him (a few arms moving, a corner of the body) on 10/11/09.

I had a Scary sighting on 1/24/10. He is strong but has not gotten much larger which is a good thing. He is obviously a small species.

I saw Scary on 4/13/10. His claws are pitch black and nasty looking but he is still very small.

I had not seen Scary in a long time but finally saw him again on 5/19/11.

I saw Scary in early April 2012 including 4/6/12.

I did a 100% cleaning of the 6 gallon tank on 5/10/12. Scary had just molted and was wedged in the live rock. I took photos.

I saw Scary on 6/27/13. He is five years old now! Note on 7/22/14 that I have not seen Scary for a few weeks.

As of 11/20/14, I have not verified seeing Scary in four months. I used to see him at least once a week. For this reason, I am afraid that I have to declare him presumed dead. I never found or saw a body but the shrimp would have eaten any remains (but you would think not the shell).

Crab Photos

Photos are listed oldest to newest.

I took these four photos on 7/26/08 after I caught Scary. He is in a green bowl in the photos.


Scary mostly hides but I got one decent photo out of a series that I took on 6/12/09. As you can see, his color has changed. He is mostly a deep red now.

This photo of Scary is from 1/26/10. He was in the front left corner of the tank for a short time. He looks very red. There is some pink coralline algae in the glass which obscures part of him.

Scary's shed exoskeleton on 9/15/10 next to a ruler so you can see how big he was.

Scary on 9/19/10. To the right of Scary, you can see zooanthids, and to the left is a nice image of a red planaria (flatworm) on the glass.

I took these three photos on 5/10/12 when I did a total cleaning of the 6 gallon tank.
Scary in the live rock when I took it out.
Scary's exoskeleton - that I found in the tank during cleaning, with ruler so you can see how he has grown.
Scary's exoskeleton - no flash, with ruler.

I took some photos of my two new peppermint shrimp on 1/30/14. Scary photo-bombed the photos.
Peppermint shrimp eating - close-up; Scary the crab is behind him.
Two peppermint shrimp and Scary
Two peppermint shrimp and Scary
Peppermint shrimp and Scary - close-up of the previous photo

These photos are from 3/29/14. I was taking photos of the peppermint shrimp but Scary is there too.
Peppermint shrimp, Scary, and astraea snail
Peppermint shrimp, Scary, and astraea snail
Peppermint shrimp and Scary - not in focus
Two peppermint shrimp and Scary

If you know what species he/she is, please contact me. Thanks!

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