Crab Claw Anemone

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Triactis producta - Klunzinger, 1877
Crab Claw Anemone

Hawaiian Pom Pom Crab with a pair of anemones in its pincers. David Burdick/NOAA


These small anemones live in an unusual mutualistic relationship with Pom Pom Crabs, also known as Boxer Crabs.

The crab constantly carries an anemone in each claw and waves them at a potential threat as if it is boxing.

The crab may also use its “pom poms” to "mop" food or detritus, which it then feeds on. (The anemones benefit from being waved in the water column when food is passing by.)

Curiously, lab studies have shown that a crab that loses one anemone will attempt to split the one it has left into two regenerated clones, a method used by humans to propagate larger anemones.

Identities of the anemones carried may vary. Some sources place the Crab Claw Anemone in the genus Bunodeopsis.

Family: Aliciidae

Other common name(s):

  • Pom Pom Anemone

Native range:

Habitat: Coral reefs, shallow inshore areas.

Maximum length: 1 cm (0 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 8 L (2 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)


Meaty small particles (brine shrimp, Mysis, reef rations, detritus. Will starve in a new, poorly fed aquarium. Regular target feeding to the crab and its anemones is recommended.

Special Care

Pom Pom Crabs may be very secretive when first introduced to a new aquarium. They will remain hidden if predatory fishes are present, and generally disappear in large reef aquariums. Nano tanks are better suited to both the crabs and anemones, where they can be closely observed and fed.

Reference: The 101 Best Marine Invertebrates
Text credit: SWM