Pom pom crabs are a popular & fairly new aquarium pet that can be found at many fish stores. They’re easy to care for and make great pets for children, but they do have some specific needs in order to thrive. If you want a happy and healthy pom pom crab, then this is the article for you!

There are not much to be known about the Pom Pom Crabs, so it’s best to treat the information that we collected with a grain of salt. We’re working very hard to update newly discovered information about this amazing specie.


Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

Pom Pom Crabs (scientific name Ptychognathus Barbatus) are fresh water crabs that can be easily found in many pet fish stores. They can grow to about 1″ (some can be larger) hand and have a pom pom on their back that makes them easy for young children to spot in tanks. Pom poms are very active crabs, so make sure they always have room to climb around inside their tank.

Pom Pom Crab is considered a new specie to the fish keeping community, they share a lot of similarities to the common “Blue Claw Crabs”. The only difference between pom poms and blue claws are that Pom Poms have a rounder body.

Pom Pom crabs require fresh water, which can be easily found in any fish tank with an aquarium filter and heater. Pom Pom crabs are small creatures and they don’t require a large aquarium, a 5 gallons aquarium can house 10 pom poms without any problem.

Freshwater Pom Pom Crabs shouldn’t be confused with saltwater Pom Pom Crabs (scientific name Lybia edmondsoni). They share a lot of similarities, but come from different species.

Scientific NamePtychognathus Barbatus
OriginSoutheast Asia, Taiwan, Japan
Tank levelBottom
Care levelEasy
ApperanceOrange – brownish, with white sides & dots
Lifespan1 – 2 years
Minimum tank size5 gallons (20 litres)
Water temperature68° – 78° F (20° – 25° C)
pH level6.2 – 7.2


Pom Pom Crabs are natively found in Southeast Asian countries, such as The Philippines, Vietnam, some parts of Taiwan & Japan. They’re fresh water creatures and often found in fresh water streams.

Appearance & Lifespan

Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

The pom poms are generally orange or brown with a white underside and they can grow up to 2 inches (or 5cm) in size! But you will find pom pom crabs in pet store with the size of roughly 1 inch (or 3 cm). They live an average lifespan of 2 years which is considerably shorter than most crabs. But in a closed system, their lifespan can be much lower depending on their living conditions.

The freshwater pom poms crab gets its name because its claws look like pom-poms or boxing gloves.


Freshwater Pom pom crabs are rather peaceful and kind of shy. They do tend to get a little feisty when they are handled and can pinch you with their claws.

They like to burrow in the sand or mud, but won’t hesitate to make themselves at home on your tank floor either. So you want to be careful to move things around in your tank as you can accidentally crush your pom pom crabs.

Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

They have been known to scavenge for food outside of their tanks as well so be sure that there is plenty of food in there if you want them fed already!

They are often seen pouncing on smaller tank mates and trying to pinch them with their claws. This behavior is especially prevalent when they’re during their molting period, so you may want to be more careful about adding anything to your tank during this time that could get pinched!

Molting can occur every few months or even up to a year for some Ptychognathus Barbatus crabs. When they do molt it’s important not only handle the water carefully but also keep an eye on any new crustaceans in the area as while most of them will stay away from other animals at first, they will eventually join back into the group without hesitation.

Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

This species does really well being communal living since males reach sexual maturity and they’re required to mate in order to produce offspring.

Natural Habitat & Living Conditions

A freshwater pom pom crab is a hermit crab that lives mainly in freshwater. There are many different species of these crabs all over the world; they usually live close to shorelines as well as deep underwater. The most common type is Ptycho (Ptychnaths). A typical Pom Pom Crab will have a shell on their back which they use for protection from predators or other threats. They will also find themselves hiding under rocks or pieces of wood where the waves cannot reach them.

Ptychognathus barbatus have an average lifespan of one year but this can increase if you take good care of them by providing clean water and fresh food sources.

Pom pom crabs has natural habitat requirements such as plenty of hiding places and rocks where they can climb out onto dry land from time to time – these habitats also need to provide enough space for their population numbers.

Tank conditions

Freshwater Pom Pom Crab

They are a very active animal and they need to be kept in tanks with plenty of hiding places. As mentioned above, shallow or nano tanks are perfect for pom pom crabs as they don’t require a large body of water, but they like to be able to move around.

Freshwater pom poms need a tank that is at least six gallons in size, though more may be needed depending on how many crabs are in the tank and if they have any other pets or fish with them.

The tank should also be filtered and heated around 68° – 78° F (20° – 25° C), but they should be fine with warmer water. The pH level should be kept between 6.2 – 7.2.

They are a very sensitive animal, so the water is not to be changed often – once every week or two should do it unless you notice that something seems off with your crab’s behavior, in which case you may need to change the water more frequently.

A pom pom crab tank needs plenty of live plants for them to climb on and explore, as well as hiding spaces like hollowed out logs and fake rocks where they can crawl into when they feel threatened (they will also enjoy exploring these as well). There should also be some aquarium gravel at the bottom that supports their weight without being too shallow for them if they want to take a break from climbing around.

It is important for owners of freshwater pom poms to remember their environment needs: with this in mind, the substrate used should contain no pesticides or fertilizers since these can harm them. Some good options include sand, aquarium gravels (these shouldn’t be sharp), pebbles (again avoid those that are too large) or mosses (dead pieces only). The tank itself doesn’t need much lighting! However if you want your home décor to match your crab habitat then


Their diet is similar for other crabs, meaning that you will also find them eating fish flakes or pellets. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also a healthy snack for your pom poms.

In natural habitat, pom pom crabs will feed on plant material, which includes algae. They are also known to eat small aquatic animals like shrimp and worms. So depend on your tanks and the species that you keep inside your tank, you can choose the best food available for your pom pom crabs as they’re not picky about their foods.

The crabs need to be fed three times per day; this is usually done at breakfast, lunch, and dinner time if you want to mimic the human eating schedule with them!


There’s not much to be known about the breeding process of Ptychognathus Barbatus, as they are oviparous and their eggs hatch out to be larvae.

Some had reported that the breeding process of these crabs does not involve a male. The eggs are fertilized by being in contact with algae when they are shed from the female crab’s body, which means it doesn’t matter what kind of water you’re keeping them in – as long as there’s some type of plant life around for their eggs to merge with.

Breeding freshwater pom poms can be tricky and stressful on any potential mates because they often end up mating before molting process, so pay close attention! They will typically find each other through chemical cues or visual cues like coloration. You may notice males following females about prior to courtship and trying to make physical contact before she has finished molting her exoskeleton.


Towards other pom pom crabs

Ptychognathus barbatus is very tolerant and seldom fights. However, if there are other species of crabs in the tank, then pom poms may fight as they will see each other as competition for food. The fights between fellow pom-poms are usually ended not fatal, but it will be an interesting thing to watch.

Towards other species

Ptychognathus barbatus is not aggressive towards other species of crabs. It may fight if there are no pom-poms in the tank, but this will be rare and they usually end up just ignoring each other afterwards.

There have been reports with Ptychognathus Barbatus attacking smaller fish, however it’s still unsure about whether or not this behaviour is natural for them to do since they’re more used to eating worms than any type of living creature that swims around in tanks (besides water beetles).

They don’t seem interested when put near larger sized creatures like goldfish so your goldfishes should be safe from these freshwater pom poms even though their claws can reach up to a few inches in size.

However, larger creatures may pose a potential threat to your pom-poms as they’re not as agile and they may be startled by a sudden movement. Pomm pom crabs like areas with rocks or plants for cover so you should try putting some decorations near the side of your tank if possible so they can have a place to hide.


Freshwater Pom Pom crabs are great addition to your aquarium. They’re friendly (most of the time), they are not picky with their food, they look cute. They are perfectly fine with nano or shallow tank, but they will do fine in larger tanks.

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