9 of the Best Marine Hermit Crabs for Reef Aquariums

Calcinus laevimanus (Hawaiian hermit, dwarf zebra hermit crab) - with sponge

Not all hermit crabs are suitable for reef aquariums. Many hermit crabs have been observed destroying corals, eating other invertebrates, and even eating fish. Some choices, on the other hand, can cohabit in a reef tank. These hermit crabs are little and won't bother the other tank inhabitants. They may consume algae and other detritus that would otherwise pollute the tank water since they can fit into gaps and crevices that larger crabs can't.

Here are nine hermit crab species that are safe for marine reef tanks.


Hermit crabs that are growing or are constantly looking for a larger shell to dwell in, thus huge snails in your tank may not be completely secure. Make sure there are plenty of empty shells for the hermit crabs to pick from.

  • 01 of 09

    Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab

    blue leg hermit crab

    The dwarf blue leg hermit crab, which is native to the Caribbean, is an excellent addition to a saltwater aquarium since it eats a variety of algae, including red slime algae (cyanobacteria). It also sifts and aerates the sand. This little crab prefers to dwell in abandoned snail shells, so unless you feed it with empty shells, it might pose a hazard to a snail in your tank. Because both claws are the same size, members of this crab's genus are frequently referred to as equal-handed hermit crabs.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 1.5 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Blue legs with red banding and white tips; both claws are of equal size

  • 02 of 09

    Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crab


    The dwarf red tip hermit crab is found in Central American coastal waters. This hermit crab loves to scavenge and burrow in sand in home aquariums. It is recognized for its scavenging abilities and will clean all of the cracks in a tank to reduce algae development while aerating the sand.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 2 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Bright red face and legs; both claws are of equal size

  • 03 of 09

    Dwarf Yellow Tip Hermit Crab

    The stunning miniature yellow tip hermit crab is found in the Vietnamese coastal waters. Because of its tiny size, it can fit into every nook and cranny of a reef tank. It's a voracious algae eater who enjoys digging in sand. As a result, it thrives in an established aquarium with plenty of algae to feed on.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 1 inch

    Physical Characteristics: Bright yellow bands on green to black legs; both claws are of equal size

  • 04 of 09

    Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab


    Because of its unique colors, the dwarf zebra hermit crab is popular in home aquariums. It's found in the Pacific Ocean's intertidal zones. This hermit crab is an avid algae scavenger, particularly of red slime algae. If there isn't enough algae in the tank, dried seaweed should be added to the diet.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 1 inch

    Physical Characteristics: Colored pincers; white or orange bands on otherwise dark legs; brilliant blue eyestalks fading into an orange-tinged upper half; larger left claw

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  • 05 of 09

    Polka Dot Hermit Crab

    Another algae and leftover food scavenger that may fit into small portions of a tank to keep it clean is the polka dot hermit crab. Corals will not be bothered by this hermit crab. It may, however, assault a snail for its shell. As a result, make sure your tank has lots of empty shells. But, for the most part, it's a calm crab.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 1 inch

    Physical Characteristics: Larger right claw; red body with white dots

  • 06 of 09

    Electric Orange Hermit Crab


    The electric orange hermit crab is a fantastic addition to a saltwater aquarium since it eats uneaten food, various types of algae, and other trash and waste. It is native to the Hawaiian Islands. As it forages, it also sifts and aerates the sand. When there isn't enough algae in the tank for it to eat, give it dry seaweed.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 2 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Vivid orange legs with brown bands; blue eyes

  • 07 of 09

    Halloween Hermit Crab


    The Halloween hermit crab is also endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and gets its name from its bright orange and red leg bands, which make it seem like a Halloween decoration. It feeds on algae such as green hair algae and cyanobacteria, as well as leftover food and other waste. It may grow rather large in comparison to certain dwarf hermit crabs, which means it might potentially harm corals in a reef tank. However, it coexists harmoniously in a tank.

    Species Overview

    Length: 2 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Alternating orange and red bands on legs; orange eyestalks

  • 08 of 09

    Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab


    The scarlet reef hermit crab is called by its beautiful red body, which is found in the Caribbean and Indonesia. The red reef hermit crab is also known as the red-legged hermit crab. This sturdy tiny crab lives in reef aquariums and feeds on algae and detritus. In fact, it prefers the sorts of algae that might be troublesome in tanks. This hermit crab is also noted for being amicable to the other tank residents.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 1.5 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Bright red legs; yellow face

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  • 09 of 09

    Elegant Hermit Crab


    This huge hermit crab is native to Hawaii. It will not consume corals, but it may harm them by dragging its large, heavy shell over them. If you don't give empty shells, it may attack an aquarium snail for its shell. However, it will perform a good job of controlling algae growth and cleaning dirt and trash from the tank.

    Species Overview

    Length: Up to 3 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Blue, red, or yellow knuckles on brown legs; long eyestalks with blue on the lower half and orange on the upper half; larger left claw