Emerald crabs are, like their name implies, green crabs that are fantastic tank cleaners. They live with an overly healthy appetite for algae, which makes them a priority for those who don’t have as much time to clean their tanks. Crabs, generally speaking, molt periodically throughout their lives. So, how often can you expect your emerald crab to molt?
There’s no way to say for certain when or how often an emerald crab will molt. Probably a few times a year, but that’s by no means set in stone. Emerald crabs, like many other crab species, molt when they are ready to and they may do so between 10 and 20 times throughout their life.
In time, you will notice that their pretty green color is becoming a bit pale. There’s no reason to panic, at least not yet, as your emerald crab is probably starting the process and will soon shed its outer shell because crabs can’t grow linearly, and have to shrug off their shell from time to time.
Why is My Emerald Crab Turning White?
It probably won’t make it to a pure white color but if your emerald crab is starting to molt, it will indeed look as if it is starting to turn white. It’s less the color white, however, and more like what you would see if you were looking through a translucent sheet.
As the outer shell is shed off, the shell takes on this appearance because it is separating from the body and away from the emerald crab’s distinct, green coloring. Of course, as the exoskeleton molts and eventually falls off, the emerald crab will be a little larger, with its exoskeleton hardening once again.
How Often Do Crabs Molt Per Year?
On average, crabs molt about once per year but emerald crabs molt a little more. During the entirety of their lifespans, emerald crabs are capable of molting up to 20 times. There’s no way to pinpoint how often they will molt, however.
It’s not always the case that crabs molt once per year and you certainly shouldn’t look to it as a definitive answer or be concerned if your emerald crab hasn’t molted in a little while.
Environmental conditions can also contribute to how often your emerald crab molts as well. How rapidly your emerald crab grows, how much food is available, and the water conditions in your aquarium.
What Does an Emerald Crab Molt Look Like?
An emerald crab’s molt looks like a slightly translucent, slightly smaller version of itself. It will also lack the green look of your crab and, of course, it won’t move.
Even though it may look a little unnerving for some, you shouldn’t remove the molt from your tank. Leave it there, as your emerald grab will gobble it down to replace some of the nutrients that it lost throughout the process.
Other aquatic life might dine on the molt as well, so you should consider it to be a light little snack for your aquatic friends and they will happily clean it up for you. Shedding their exoskeleton also helps emerald crabs get rid of any harmful bacteria and parasites that are clinging to the shell.
None of that should hurt your water or tank, however, so it’s safe to leave it in there.
Is My Emerald Crab Dead or Molting?
You may be looking at nothing more than the exoskeleton and your crab is off hiding somewhere. They will generally seek cover while they are molting as it makes them kind of vulnerable as the process goes on.
If you have any doubts, grab your net scoop and pick it up. If your crab is dead, it certainly won’t mind, and if it’s the exoskeleton only, you don’t have anything to worry about. If your crab is halfway through the process, it will move around if it’s still alive.
The act of molting is energy-intensive but it shouldn’t be anything bad enough to kill your crab. If it does, there was something wrong with the crab from the very start. A crab is very vulnerable when it finishes molting as its new shell is a lot softer.
The crab will attempt to hide out while it is waiting for its shiny new exoskeleton to harden up again. You may mistake your crab for being dead if you can’t find it and all you see is an exoskeleton. It’s far more likely that your emerald crab is just hiding though and will eventually get around to eating its shell.
What is the Lifespan of an Emerald Crab
An emerald crab can live up to four years and seeing as they can molt up to 20 times throughout their lives, that means they may molt two or three, maybe up to four or five times in a single year.
The better you care for your emerald crab, the longer they will generally live, which means more molts and more hiding throughout the year as they grow and expand. Some crabs live a lot longer and the emerald crab is not going to break any records in terms of longevity.
However, you can maximize their potential by keeping them in a well-maintained environment, with plenty to eat and plenty to do. While your emerald crab may not make it to four years, you can do a lot to ensure that you and the crab get the most out of their short amount of time.
When fully mature, the emerald crab will average about 2 inches across, so the molts that they leave behind throughout their short lifespans will be pretty small.
All Things Considered
Emerald crabs are known for molting up to 20 times over their lifespan. Since they don’t live any longer than about four years, they have a lot of molting to do in the meantime. Of course, emerald crabs are also known for molting on the low end of ten times per year.
If that’s the case, you may see it molt twice per year, maybe three times at most.