More and more people are starting to keep crabs in their tanks and out of the more commonly kept species of crab, the emerald crab is seeing a surge in its popularity right now.
Due to the emerald crab molting process often causing people who keep emerald crabs in their tanks to worry, we wanted to publish this dedicated article on the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Please note, the majority of healthy emerald crabs that are kept in a tank with optimal water parameters shouldn’t have any problems with their molting process.
We know that a number of people do post on social media about their emerald crab having problems molting but as with most things, people tend to only talk about the negative sides of things, the majority of people shouldn’t have any problems with their emerald crab molting so there is usually no need to worry.
How Do I Know If My Emerald Crab Is Molting?
There are a few telltale signs that your Emerald Crab is getting ready to molt:-
- The crab will stop eating and become more reclusive.
- You may notice the crab’s exoskeleton starting to look dull and shedding.
- The crab may climb to a high point in the aquarium and stay there for a day or two.
In some cases, your emerald crab may start to turn white but there are other potential causes of this that we covered in our article on why your emerald crab is turning white.
What Is the Emerald Crab Molting Process?
The Emerald Crab will molt in stages.
First, it will shed its exoskeleton (the outermost layer of its shell). The crab will then retreat into its new exoskeleton, which is still soft. The new exoskeleton will harden and the crab will emerge, looking good as new!
During the molting process, the crab is vulnerable to predators. It is important to make sure that there are no fish or other animals in your aquarium that could take advantage of this and eat the crab while it is molting.
You may also notice that the water in your aquarium becomes cloudy during the molting process. This is because the crab sheds a lot of exoskeleton during the process and it can take a while for the water to settle.
How Often Do Emerald Crabs Molt?
Emerald Crabs molt approximately every 6-8 weeks when they are young but this time frame will slow down as they get older.
The molting frequency for an older emerald crab will actually depend more on the diet and conditions of the crabs tank rather than a set number of weeks.
Molting is a stressful process for the crab and it needs time to recover after molting before it molts again. If you notice your crab molting more often than every 6-8 weeks, it could be a sign that something is wrong with the conditions in your aquarium.
What Do I Need to Do to Help My Crab Molt Successfully?
There are a few things you can do to help your crab molt successfully:-
Provide Hiding Places
The crab will feel more secure if it has somewhere to hide while it is molting. You can provide hiding places by adding rocks, caves, or other decorations to your aquarium.
Turn Down The Lights
The crab may appreciate it if you turn down the lights during the molting process. This will help it feel more secure and less exposed.
Leave The Crab Alone
It is important to leave the crab alone while it is molting. Do not try to remove the shed exoskeleton from the aquarium as this could disturb the crab and cause it to abort the molting process.
What Happens if My Emerald Crab Doesn’t Molt Successfully?
If your emerald crab doesn’t molt successfully, it could die. This is because the molting process is essential for the crab to grow and shed its old exoskeleton. A unsuccessful molt can also leave the crab’s new exoskeleton damaged, which can make it more susceptible to predators and diseases.
As we mentioned back at the start of the article though, the vast majority of pet emerald crabs shouldn’t have any problems during their molting process though so this is usually nothing to worry about.
If your emerald crab does have an injury to it, shell rot, or it is fed a poor diet then the chances of the emerald crab not being able to molt correctly will start to increase.
How Long Does It Take For Emerald Crab To Molt?
The molting process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The crab will usually stay hidden away during this time so you may not even notice that it is molting.
Once the crab has shed its old exoskeleton, it will often climb to a high point in the aquarium and stay there for a day or two. This is so that any excess water can drip off the crab’s new exoskeleton and help it to harden.
After a few days, the crab will be back to its normal self and you’ll be able to see it scuttling around the aquarium as usual.
A healthy emerald crab that has gone through the molting process a number of times before is sometimes able to molt in less than an hour but this does tend to be rare so keep that in mind.