Mar 21 2008

Pom Pom Crabs, Lybia tesselata

Published by at 4:05 am under Arthropoda,Invertebrates,Larviculture

We wanted to introduce everyone to a new species we are working with at AZaquaculture – the Pom Pom Crab, Lybia tesselata. Many of you are probably familiar with these odd little crabs, but they are just so unusual we had to share them with anyone who hasn’t encountered them.
Plus, they are SO photogenic!

Pom Pom (Boxer) Crab, Lybia Tesselata
Probably their most distinctive feature, the feature from which they derive their name, is the appearance of “pom poms” held on a pair of their legs. The pom poms are actually a pair of anemones from the Genus Bunodeopsis. Pom Pom crabs use these stinging anemones as a form of defense, assuming a boxer’s posture in response to threats. Even more remarkable, as the crab molts, these anemones must be moved from the old exoskeleton and mounted to the new chelipeds! No wonder these are a favorite organism for reef aquarium owners.

As you can see clearly in the picture below, this specimen of Lybia tesselata is carrying a fine clutch of eggs along the pleopods. This picture was taken approximately 24 hours after the eggs were deposited. With such odd looking parents, we are all quite excited to start working with the larvae. Check back often, we plan to update with lots of pictures as the project progresses.

Pom Pom (Boxer) Crab, Lybia Tesselata with Eggs under telson

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Pom Pom Crabs, Lybia tesselata”

  1. Yisraelon 08 Apr 2008 at 6:15 am


    Do you have a contact mail?

  2. Anonymouson 08 Apr 2008 at 6:25 am

    Yes, and thanks for helping me realize that I don’t have an email link on these pages! You can contact me directly at

  3. Kainoaon 13 Apr 2008 at 3:52 am

    I have a pom pom crab that just released it’s eggs and they are hatching. Little specs just swimming dashing around. I was wondering if you how started to work on the young. I would like to try and raise these young but have no idea how or what is needed to raise them. If you have any any ideas on this, it would be helpful.


  4. Olinon 13 Apr 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Kai, congratulations on the larvae! We have had reasonable success raising them on a mix of rotifers and newly hatched brine shrimp. I haven’t tried just brine shrimp yet, but watching them eat under a scope, I believe it can be done as well. Good luck!

  5. Anneon 23 May 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Hi there,

    Do you have any more pictures of the undersides of Pom-poms? Me and my boyfriend have been trying to sex our 3 Pom-poms and are having a hard time with it.



  6. Fionaon 28 Aug 2008 at 3:36 am


    I’ve just discovered my pom pom crab has eggs….I would appreciate any assistance on how to raise them…he is the only crab I have so not sure if the eggs would be viable…but would appreciate any info.


  7. Jameson 06 Sep 2008 at 4:31 am

    My girlfriend and I have a large specimen and it seems that they not only use the pom’s for defense, but also offense. Ours is rather reclusive except at feeding time, but has shown to be quite aggressive towards it’s tank mates. We have noticed that since we have had this one, our ground loving fish have slowly but surely been taken victim. Most recently our new Red tailed wrasse was taken while sleeping in a rock crevice.
    They are quite funny and amusing, but it seems like in our tank this is the bad apple.

  8. Elleon 20 Sep 2008 at 12:23 am

    I just recently (a month ago) bought a couple of pom pom crabs, and I am smitten. A couple of days ago I found a little corpse, and threw it out right away thinking my little crab had expired, but in the morning come to find out it was his she’ll! He came out all new and pretty, but one anamone shy. I think I may have thrown one out!!! What do I do for my little guy?

  9. […] via: Flickr, AZAquaCulture, AquariaWorld, DeeperBlue and […]

  10. Anthonyon 23 Apr 2009 at 2:17 pm

    So are these experimented crabs like if they were made, or a new species of crabs that you are studying?

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