5 Cheapest Crabs to Keep as Pets

Written by Alanna Davis
Published: February 22, 2024
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If you’ve been thinking about getting into the hobby of keeping crabs, don’t let the price deter you. Despite what you might think, many pet crabs are low-maintenance and cheap! In truth, the most expensive part of caring for these animals is the purchase cost of your initial setup. After this, the cost of caring for pet crabs is really up to the owner’s personal preferences. Larger, more complex tanks that are home to multiple different aquatic animals will cost more. In contrast, single-species tanks with a single pair of crabs will be much more affordable. Let’s discuss five of the cheapest crab species that both beginners and experienced crab owners will enjoy keeping as pets.

1. Thai Micro Crab

Limnopilos naiyanetri, Freshwater Aquarium Thai Micro Crab

Thai micro crabs are docile and get along with a variety of tankmates.


When it comes to low-maintenance crabs, Thai micro crabs are among some of the best. In addition to being very affordable at roughly five dollars per crab, they are easy to feed and care for. They enjoy eating a wide variety of foods, so owners can choose to feed them fish flakes. pellets, algae, or crab feed. These crabs are small in size and have a translucent appearance. They get along well with a variety of tankmates, but dwarf shrimp make excellent companions.

Despite all their positives, Thai micro crabs can be sensitive to water quality issues in the tank ecosystem. Because of this, it’s essential to make sure you’re changing the water filter routinely and cleaning the aquarium on a schedule. In addition, they also have a rebellious streak and may engage in escape attempts. To combat this, ensure the lid of your tank is properly sealed at all times. With all things considered, these qualities combine to make Thai micro crabs one of the cheapest pet crabs on the market overall.

2. Panther Crab

Parathelphusa pantherine isolated on black background. Panther crab. Leopard crab.

Keeping panther crabs in their very own tank is usually the best option.

©Chayanon Chewkit/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to beautiful crabs to keep as pets, few compare to the panther crab. However, unlike Thai micro crabs, Panther crabs are a bit higher maintenance. Before purchasing panther crabs, it’s important to consider the kind of tank environment you’d like to set up. First off, it’s important to mention that purchasing two male panther crabs is a recipe for disaster. This species can be aggressive and territorial, so fighting is highly likely. It is best to keep one male and one female or keep panther crabs alone. There are few suitable tankmates for this species for these same reasons. However, dwarf shrimp are likely the best option as they may be fast enough to escape if the panther crab tries to capture them.

It’s important to note that panther crabs can live for roughly a decade in captivity. Because of this, purchasing one to keep as a pet is a long-term commitment. Owners should be absolutely positive that they are able to care for their panther crabs for their whole life. Despite this, they are still very affordable at roughly $25 per crab, they are easy to feed, and many are hardy to slight changes in tank conditions. If you’re up for a little more of a challenge, panther crabs are a great option.

3. Pom Pom Crab

Boxer crab, pom pom crab _ Lybia tessellata

Pom pom crabs live for roughly one year.

©Jung Hsuan/Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking for a pet crab that you can interact with frequently, a pom pom crab might be the best fit for you. Compared to other pet crabs, pom pom crabs tend to be more “social” so to speak. Throughout the day, they can be found bouncing around their aquariums and exploring their environment. In addition, they generally get along well with their tankmates and have the ability to mesh with a variety of different fish. Similar to Thai micro crabs, many owners say that these crabs are mischievous escape artists as well. It’s best to keep the lid sealed tight before walking away from the tank unless you want to find your pom pom crab has gone overboard!

Pom pom crabs are very affordable at roughly $20 per crab. However, a common complaint is that these pets may be more fragile than other pet crab species. Because of this, owners may pay a bit more to replace any crabs that die prematurely.

4. Vampire Crab

Vampire crabs are native to Southeast Asia.

©Dan Olsen/Shutterstock.com

When you look at a vampire crab, what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Some people find these little creatures adorable while others are put off by their striking appearance. However you feel, one thing is for certain: vampire crabs are cheap, low-maintenance pets. As their name suggests, this species is primarily nocturnal, so owners won’t be able to catch many glimpses of them throughout the day. Despite this, they have many wonderful qualities.

Vampire crabs are low-maintenance pets. Although they are on the shier side, it’s best to keep them in opposite-gender pairs within the tank they’re in to avoid aggressive behavior. As for tankmates, these crabs get along well with dwarf shrimp and snails. Vampire crabs are omnivores, and they enjoy eating a variety of different foods, making them very easy to provide for. At just $15 per crab, you really can’t go wrong with these interesting and quirky little creatures.

5. Rainbow Crab

Underwater closeup picture of the mangrove ( rainbow ) crab in the ocean coral reef.

Rainbow crabs are also sometimes called patriot crabs or moon crabs.


Although there are many beautiful crab species suitable for pet life out there, none can quite compare to the rainbow crab. Unlike some of the other crabs we’ve discussed today, rainbow crabs are semi-aquatic. This means that you can set up your tank to be half land and half water and get creative with decorating and providing them with different hiding spots. Their diet is varied and easy to source, In fact, you can get many of their staple foods from standard grocery stores. The best part is that these crabs are very affordable at roughly $20 apiece.

However, rainbow crabs share some similarities with panther crabs. They are also prone to aggressive behavior, especially among males. They don’t get along incredibly well with tankmates, so if you’ve set your heart on adopting some of your own, a dedicated tank is recommended. According to iNaturalist, “Their diet consists mainly of fruit, vegetation, and carrion. They are known to be cannibalistic, and consume smaller crabs, small reptiles and amphibians, mollusks, fish, and insects if they can catch them.” In addition, rainbow crabs have a long lifespan, and many live for about five years. It’s important to remember that this is a serious commitment before jumping in and purchasing some of your own.

Summary Table Of 5 Cheapest Crabs To Keep as Pets

Thai micro crab~$5 per crab
Panther crab~$25 per crab
Pom pom crab~$20 per crab
Vampire crab~$15 per crab
Rainbow crab~$20 per crab

The photo featured at the top of this post is © VladiMil/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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