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FAQs about Pom Pom/Boxer Crabs

Related Articles: Crabs, Arrow CrabsHermit Crabs

Related FAQs: Marine Crabs 1, Marine Crabs 2Marine Crabs 3, Marine Crabs 4, By Species/Group:  Arrow CrabsEmerald Green Crabs, Decorator Crabs/Sponge Crabs, Fiddler Crabs, Sally Lightfoots, & FAQs on: Marine Crab Identification, Crab Behavior, Marine Crab Selection, Marine Crab Compatibility, Marine Crab Systems, Marine Crab Feeding, Marine Crab Reproduction, Marine Crab Disease, Emerald Green, Mithrax/Mithraculus Crabs, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Hermit Crabs, Shrimps, Cleaner Shrimps, Banded Coral Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Anemone Eating Shrimp Crustacean Identification, Crustacean Selection, Crustacean Behavior, Crustacean Compatibility, Crustacean Systems, Crustacean Feeding, Crustacean Disease, Crustacean Reproduction,

Wanna box?

Mixing crustaceans in a bucket         3/12/14
Can I house a sexy shrimp and pom pom crab in a 1 gallon hob refugium with rock rubble, Chaeto, and Mysid?
<Maybe... the crab may eat the shrimp if it gets the chance, becomes hungry. Bob Fenner>

Hitchhiker crab ID     8/6/12
Hi WWM crew.
<Hello Ray>
I'm happy to be in the legions who find Wet Web Media the very best source for practical aquarium knowledge.  Most everything I learn about aquarium keeping starts with research on WWM!
<Always good to hear.>
I found a beautiful little crab hitchhiker on a piece of live rock, and would love to know family/species, if possible.  (See attached image.)
It's roughly 1" from leg-tip to leg-tip.  I couldn't find a similar crab looking through the FAQs.
<A wonderful hitch-hiker indeed! You have a Lybia tesselata aka Boxer or Pom Pom crab. Read more here--
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PomPomCrabF.htm?h= >
Thank you, and keep up the great work!
<Quite welcome>
Ray Sundstrom
Seattle, WA.
 Baton Rouge, LA>

Hitchhiker crab ID     8/6/12
You folks are even better than I imagined.
Immediately after sending the original email, an open browser window on my desktop had an image of a Lybia edmondsoni (Hawaiian Pom-Pom crab,)
<Definitely a Lybia sp. I suspect species tesselata but you have a better vantage point.>
that absent the Triactis producta is a twin of my little guest. 
<Their nems are often lost in transport.>
How did you do that? :)

re: Hitchhiker crab ID 8/6/12

Thanks Jordan!  That was an incredibly fast and concise response.
It's been a while since I have visited Louisiana.  I sure do miss it.
<It's still hot and humid but the fishing is great.>
<Back at ya.>
re: Hitchhiker crab ID 8/6/12

I'd bet your species ID is more on the money.
<I'm fairly certain it's a L. tesselata but I'll let you be the final judge. In any event, it's a great hitch-hiker.>
Thanks again!
<Quite welcome.>

Pom pom crab pair  8/27/11
Hello, I recently special ordered a pom pom crab from my LFS. I have planning on getting one for quite some time, but the last 2 that were ordered were DOA from the supplier.
<They don't ship well at all>
The manager of the store decided to order 2 pom pom crabs for me and both arrived in healthy condition. I tried to tell the genders apart like regular crabs, but it's very difficult since they are so tiny- in the store, however, their plates looked different (but again, I couldn't really tell due to their size). One has both anemones and is much bigger.
<Mmm, could be just size difference...>
The other is lacking both anemones (probably dropped them during shipment?) and is quite a bit smaller. After acclimating them, I added them at the same time on the sandbed. This was a very, very stupid move on my part, because they immediately locked together and started wrestling!
I broke up the fight and they went their separate ways, one scurrying off deep into the rockwork and the other hiding at the base of my xenia. This is in a 20g tank. Is it possible that I accidentally got 2 of the same gender?
Or will pairs fight as well?
<Possibly. Best collected as an actual pair>
Could it have been a territorial dispute or one trying to steal anemones?
<May be a factor>
It seems clear at this point that each alright has their own "favorite spot"- one in a very, very small cave in the middle of my tank, and the other behind my xenia at the front right of my tank- but I'm not sure if it's too soon to tell, since I have only had them for a day. I'm worried that they might fight to the death- however, after I broke up the fight, neither was worse for the wear and I didn't see any punching, ripping etc.
I couldn't get a photo of the one hiding in the cave, but I was able to get a photograph of the bigger one (which hid at the base of the xenia). From what you can see in the picture, is this a male or a female?
<Likely a male>
I was also wondering if it is true that they are completely reef safe-
<Mmm, close; though no organism is actually completely reef safe; and decapods are surely opportunistic>
I'm not so concerned with their anemones (as the impact from a sting would be minimal), but more so the fact that they are crabs. With my moonlights on, I saw the smaller one jump down from his cave and quite aggressively snatch my harlequin shrimp's small starfish leg! Please let me know what you think. Thank you for all of your help.
<Again... if food is scarce, the two come in contact... there could definitely be trouble. If they were mine, I'd house them separately. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pom pom crab pair  8/27/11
Thanks, Bob! I only have one tank at the moment and, as you can imagine, the two are quite difficult to find (although I know their whereabouts), so I think I will keep them but spot feed them and make sure they are well-fed. Hopefully I don't have any trouble - they made it through the night fine and I believe one walked near the others "space." Fingers crossed!
<Mine too! BobF>

Pom pom crab sex? 5/27/10
Hi I have a sixteen gallon salt tank with two sea horses, a scooter dragonet, four or five hermits,, and a fire red shrimp. I'm wondering how to tell the sex of my new pom pom crab.
<Because of size, very hard to do, though there are morphological differences twixt the sexes, as with all decapods... and not likely to be able to keep two individuals in such a small volume (they fight)... and the young have a complex life cycle... as planktonic larvae... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/swcrabreproduction.htm
I was eventually hoping to breed this crab and was curious as how to do so thank you
<Could be done with a bit of planning... culture of foods... culture vessel. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pom pom crab sex?
Thank you for the info. What about the porcelain crab, I have read that they live in pairs. Is this necessary or is this just a recommendation?
<Makes for more interesting displays>
And is there a way to find the difference between sex with these crabs?
<Yes... the same... telsons...
Best to let them pair themselves, acquire them as such. BobF>

Attn: Sara -Lybia tesselata Qs 09/06/08 Hi Sara (or whoever takes this), <Hi Paul :-)> Sara, you've helped me out in the past - Now, I've got (what I believe are) easier questions. I put 2 "Boxing / Pom-Pom" crabs in my tank. They've molted twice, and appear to be doing extremely well. <cool> Here's the question - What kind of anemones are on their claws? and if the crab(s) die will the anemones attach to the rocks and continue to grow? <The anemones are of the genus Bunodeopsis, please see at the way bottom of the page here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/swcrabs.htm I honestly don't know for certain if the anemones could/would survive without the crab. I imagine that the two could get separated (if maybe the transfer during molting does not go so well or if the crab loses a claw). The likely advantages for the anemone (of being on the crab) are 1) opportunity to get food (found by the crab) and 2)mobility (i.e. when the crab runs from a predator, it takes the anemones with it). Thus, in an aquarium, if there are no predators (and plenty of food to go around), I would guess that the anemones might have a chance of surviving without the crab.> Paul <Best, Sara M.>

Boxing crab.  5/5/08Putting all of my livestock into a bigger tank, including this pom pom crab. I was just wondering, is this little guy carrying eggs? <Appears so, yes> When I bought the guy, I didn't see the red pouch underneath him. Had him for about 3 months, so is it even possible they would be fertilized? <With only one specimen? No> And also, where can I find anemones for him/her? Thanks!
<... your dealers? Etailers? Bob Fenner>

Pregnant Pom Pom Crab? Stocking errors in small SW volume  4/13/08 Hello, You guys (and girls) rock! I just bought a Pom Pom Crab. I have done a lot of research about them on the web and they looked like a great addition to my nano ten gallon tank, which is currently holding my fire/dart fish, a black Brittlestar, and a sexy anemone shrimp, with a few coral frags. He (or she?) is acclimating right now as I type. When I placed the bag into the tank I could see the little guy a lot better and I noticed a mass of red eggs on the stomach. They look just like the eggs of a glass shrimp, but they are red and a little smaller. I was wondering if indeed they are eggs and if so is there any possibility of me being able to hatch and raise these awesome little guys? <Mmm, yes> I know a lot of crabs go through a free floating "zooplankton"-like phase. <A few actually> Is it the same with the Pom Pom Crab? <A variation on the theme, yes> Also I was wondering about my fire dart fish. <Microdesmids need more room than this... Nemateleotris is a social species...> He used to be in my larger tank with a yellow tang, an ocellaris clown, and a starry dragonet. The ocellaris clown fish picked on him mercilessly over the past week to the point that I pulled him out into my nano tank. It was my belief that the ocellaris clown fish was more peaceful then others in the clown fish family. Is this not true? <Are territorial...> Im I not feeding enough or maybe not the right food (Formula 1 from ocean nutrition)? Thank you for all your help! Sincerely, Michael J. <Mmm, please see WWM re the care of the species you list... you've got some errors to correct. Bob Fenner>

Squat lobster and pom pom crab  2/2/08 Would you like some photos for your website? The squat lobster was labeled "Allogalathea elegans" when I bought it, but I'm skeptical of that ID. The second image is a shot of the underside of the squat lobster. <Good pix> The pom pom crab's anemones are a little droopy in this photo, but he was just out of the shipping bag. 6 months later, his anemones are gorgeous. You don't have to reply, but feel free to use the photos if you'd like. Just wanted to share. ~Felicia <Again, thank you for your efforts. BobF> Felicia, might I ask... are you a content provider in our interest? You seem to be more than a casual hobbyist... Are you interested in writing articles, selling image work in this field? Bob Fenner.

Crab Question, ID Likely a Boxer Crab (Lybia tesselata)   5/13/07 <Hi Jason, Mich here.> I have seen a crab in my tank and it looks like it has feather duster tips for arms and he waves them at his mouth like he is eating stuff. <The "feather dusters" you refer to are likely small anemones in a mutually symbiotic relationship with a Boxer or Pom pom crab.> He has small claws too. Do you know what kind it is? It is maybe a quarter inch in size. <Sounds like a Boxer Crab (Lybia tesselata). A picture here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/swcrabs.htm and more on Google images.  They are generally reef safe, can be fed minced meaty foods and should not be kept with aggressive tankmates.  A delightful little addition!  Do enjoy!>     Thanks for your time. <Welcome!  My pleasure to assist.  Mich> Jason

Here's her crab, missing one of this anemones.

Decorator crab with eggs 03/26/07 Hi, I recently read on your forum where a person had small free swimming crustaceans in his tank and he thought they were baby somethings and not copepods (Question of reef babies and Follow up on... were the titles). I was doing this research because my wife believes our own decorator crab to be pregnant. How do I know for sure she is pregnant? She is carrying a pouch inside her folded under tail area with very small red balls in it. <Sounds pregnant to me.> She seems to spend a lot of time 'nursing' them. Are there known breeding techniques for spider crabs. <Not for spider crabs. I'd try breeding them like any other crab. Have a look at http://www.aquahoito.info/sesarma/index.html (thanks to Neale). Different species, but probably similar care, although your crabs will need marine water all the time. > I'm sure that many will be eaten by the tank inhabitants. <They probably all will.> Is there any type of breeding system set up for such occurrences (such as the breeding nets in freshwater setups)? <No, larvae are too small. You need a small extra tank with an air driven sponge filter.> While I do not want a hundred baby spider crabs, seeing a few grow to adult hood would be fascinating. <Not more than a few will likely survive, if at all. Crab larvae are cannibalistic. If you are propagating crabs for the first time, chances for failure are high. I'd try it anyway, you'd learn a lot.> My wife is curious as to how the crab became pregnant as well, we have had her nearly a year and there have been no other decorator crabs coming over to visit. <Some crabs possibly can store sperm for a long time. Had similar experience with a fiddler crab, who was alone for 8 months.> Thanks for your time. I read your forums frequently. Jon. <Enjoy! Cheers, Marco.>


Pom Pom Crab - Lybia tesselata 11/24/2005 Great site, guys.  <Thank you Steve> I've searched the site as well as the web and have been unable to find an answer to my question. What type of anemone does the Lybia tesselata crab carry?  <The Pom Pom Crab will normally arm himself with anemones of the Bunodeopsis species (Beaded Anemone). Shouldn't be too hard to find as San Diego declared them a pest as swimmers were complaining of being stung by them in Mission Bay.  They are not native to Mission Bay, just got there someway.>   <<Likely got there the same way Batiguitos Lagoon got its Caulerpa taxifolia.  MH>> My friend's crab has lost one of his.  <James (Salty Dog)> Thanks a lot. Steve Wright

Raising Pom Pom crabs Hello, I would first like to thank you for compiling all of the information you have collected, it has been extremely helpful. < Big thanks to Bob on this one. > I have been in this hobby for ~ 3 years, saltwater (reef) for 2.  I have two tanks a 58 gal. lionfish tank, and a 55 gal. reef, mostly soft corals (xenia, Shrooms, zoos, etc).  My saltwater sweet tooth is unusual inverts.  I have kept 3 Pom Pom crabs (Lybia tesselata, I believe) for some time.  About every 3 months I will see one of them w/ a large pile of red eggs on her underside (similar to the picture on your site, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swcrabreproduction.htm).  I have wanted to try and attempt to raise them but could never catch her before she released her eggs. Yesterday I was at my LFS, and they had two Pom Pom crabs for sale which were carrying eggs.  I couldn't resist and purchased them both ($10 a piece, unusually good price).  I set them up in a 10g tank, w/ no substrate, a sponge filter, and some live rock.  Tonight I noticed that there were free floating/swimming 'dots'.  I captured a couple and took a look at them under a microscope.  AMAZING.  What I saw resembled the Zoeae stage.  There is a good picture listed here, http://www.blue-crab.org/lifecycle1.htm, taken of a blue crab.  The Pom Pom zoeae were similar except with a larger 'tassel' and had redder coloring.  I was under the impression that some inverts hatch w/ an 'egg sack' to eat off of, maybe this is wrong? < That is correct.  But it is certainly a good idea to keep green water growing in their tank and be adding small rotifers. > Either way I did not witness any such sack. Knowing that feeding would be the most difficult I had assembled a number of foods to attempt, including Kent Marine PhytoPlex, Two Little Fishes PhytoPlan, and Hikari First Bites (all appeared to be appropriate sized for the expected larvae and on hand from the reef tank).  I am also culturing some live phyto I plan to use, and eventually live rotifers and baby brine shrimp.  < This sounds perfect, just what I would be recommending. > I placed some food next to the larvae under the microscope and although I have not witnessed them eating anything I am seeing evidence of food being taken in through their translucent bodies.  This amazed me as I have not yet fed any live food to them. I will keep this board posted.  If you have any advice, or anyone has any experience please let me know. < May want to search breedersresgistry.com and see if there is more info there.  Please do keep us all posted.  Awesome! > Tony Krause <  Blundell  >

Pom Pom crab eggs? Thanks for the help and for the great site. I have 3 Pom Pom Crabs in my reef tank. I noticed recently that one of them has what looks like an orange ball attached to it's underside. I pulled it out in a specimen container and it appears they may be eggs. I have pictures included. Do you know if these are in fact eggs? <Can't make out the pix very well (small objects in large frames), but I would not be surprised if these were indeed eggs> Have you ever seen these breed in captivity? <Yes> Do you know if I would be able to raise them? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Shane <A germinal question is whether the eggs were/are actually fertilized. My general advice here: 1) Use the common name to find this animal's scientific name (on the Net) and 2) Use that name to look for what is known re its reproductive biology (on the Net or a large/college library). This may help you in your search: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Lybia tesselata question Hi! Is it true that a pompom boxing crab (Lybia tesselata) is going to eat a starfish and that I have to choose between getting a pompom crab or a starfish (was thinking of a Fromia) in my system? Thanks! Dominique <I suspect Lybia spp. may indeed be opportunistic omnivores as most decapods... but if kept well fed, you're likely facing better then 50:50 odds here. Bob Fenner> 

Re: more feeding <<JasonC here...>> I also got a Blue Boxer Crab, I could not find much Information about them. Any ideas what they eat. <<just about anything they run into, or that runs into them...>> My LFS said brine shrimp <<that would work. Cheers, J -- >>

Pom Crab- A Pom Pom with One Arm? Dear crew of WWM,     I would like to thank you again for helping me out with my lighting question I had earlier, but I had bought 2 Pom Pom crabs and they are really fun to find when I get home.  Well, any ways, my question is that will crabs regenerate their legs if they are bitten off, and if they do how long do would you say it will take? <Hi, Ryan with you.  It depends on the frequency of molting- Regular water changes will help to keep this process regular.  They almost always grow back!> Thanks again    -Randy

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