Pom Pom Crab

Pom Pom Crab
Latin name:
(Lybia sp.)

Care Level





Tan, White



Preferred Conditions

sg 1.020-1.025, 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4

Avg. Max Size


Minimum Tank Size


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Have you ever heard of the fascinating creature known as the pom pom crab? These tiny crabs, also known as boxer crabs, possess unique characteristics and behaviors that make them a captivating subject for marine enthusiasts and casual observers alike. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of pom pom crabs, exploring their intriguing features, habitat, diet, and captivating symbiotic relationships.

Pom Pom Crab: A Marine Oddity

Pom pom crabs, scientifically classified as Lybia tessellata, belong to the family Portunidae. They are small crabs, typically ranging in size from 1 to 2 inches across. Their most distinctive feature is the pair of enlarged chelae (claws) that resemble fluffy pom poms. These pom poms are not just for show; they play a crucial role in the crab’s life, serving as both a defense mechanism and a means of communication.

Pom Pom Crab’s Unique Defense Mechanism

The pom poms on the crab’s claws are covered in tiny stinging hairs called cnidocysts. These cnidocysts contain venom that can cause intense pain and irritation to predators. When threatened, the crab waves its pom poms, releasing the venom into the water. This serves as a warning to potential attackers, deterring them from pursuing the crab.

Communication Through Pom Poms

In addition to their defensive purpose, the pom poms also play a role in communication. The crab uses its pom poms to communicate with other crabs, particularly during mating season. By waving their pom poms, crabs signal their availability and attract potential mates. The size and color of the pom poms can also indicate the crab’s sex and maturity level.

Habitat and Distribution of Pom Pom Crabs

Pom pom crabs are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. They prefer shallow waters with sandy or muddy bottoms, often near coral reefs or rocky shores. These crabs are adept at camouflage, using their coloration and pom poms to blend in with their surroundings. This helps them avoid predators and ambush their prey.

Symbiotic Relationships with Anemones

One of the most fascinating aspects of pom pom crabs is their symbiotic relationship with anemones. Many species of pom pom crabs carry anemones on their pom poms, forming a mutually beneficial partnership. The anemone provides the crab with protection from predators and helps capture prey. In return, the crab provides the anemone with a mobile platform, allowing it to access food and sunlight.

Diet and Feeding Habits of Pom Pom Crabs

Pom pom crabs are opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide variety of small invertebrates. Their diet includes worms, shrimp, mollusks, and even other crabs. They use their pom poms to capture prey, waving them enticingly to attract curious creatures. Once the prey is close enough, the crab quickly grabs it with its claws and devours it.

Pom Pom Crabs as Aquarium Pets

Due to their unique appearance and fascinating behavior, pom pom crabs have gained popularity as aquarium pets. However, it’s important to note that these crabs require specialized care and a carefully designed habitat. They need a tank with plenty of space, hiding places, and a variety of live food. Additionally, the water quality must be maintained at optimal levels to ensure the crab’s health and well-being.

FAQs About Pom Pom Crabs

  • Q: Are pom pom crabs dangerous to humans?
    A: No, pom pom crabs are not considered dangerous to humans. Their venom is primarily used for defense against predators and is not potent enough to cause significant harm to humans.
  • Q: Can pom pom crabs be kept as pets?
    A: Yes, pom pom crabs can be kept as pets, but they require specialized care and a carefully designed habitat. It’s important to research their needs and ensure you can provide the proper environment before acquiring one.
  • Q: What is the lifespan of a pom pom crab?
    A: The lifespan of a pom pom crab in the wild is typically around 2 to 3 years. However, in captivity, with proper care and nutrition, they can live for up to 5 years or more.


Pom pom crabs are captivating creatures that showcase the wonders of marine biodiversity. Their unique pom poms, fascinating symbiotic relationships, and intriguing behavior make them a delight to observe. Whether you encounter them in the wild or in an aquarium, these tiny crabs are sure to leave a lasting impression.