Red Reef Crab

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Atergatis subdentatus - (de Haan, 1835)
Red Reef Crab

Atergatis subdentatus.jpg

Red Reef Crab photographed in Chuuk, Micronesia. Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR.


The Xanthid crabs include a number of known poisonous species that are highly toxic and not to be eaten. (See: Hawaiian Pom Pom Crab.) The neurotoxin is reportedly similar to that found in certain pufferfishes and is not destroyed by cooking.

Small specimens of this species sometimes make their way into the aquarium trade or into aquariums hitch-hiking on live rock. They can be quite destructive in a reef aquarium, but fascinating to watch in a setting without vulnerable invertebrates.

This reddish-brown crab may have symmetrically distributed red or yellow splotches, and its claw tips may be dark or black. Its carapace has a texture similar to that of an orange peel.

Family: Xanthidae

Other common name(s):

  • Dark-finger Coral Crab

Native range:

Habitat: Rocky reefs, inshore areas, 3 m to 30 m deep (10 to 98 ft.).

Maximum length: 8 cm (3 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 209 L (55 gal)

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

General swimming level: Bottom.


Scavenger. Will take most meaty foods. May graze on coral polyps.

Text credit: JL