Staghorn Hermit Crab (Manucomplanus varians)


The Staghorn Hermit Crab, also known as the Antler Hermit or Coralhouse Hermit Crab, is a unique crab that demands specialized care, making it best suited for experienced hobbyists. It thrives in biotope systems or deep sand bed (DSB) refugiums and is commonly found in the reef faces and coral rubble zones of the Indo-Pacific, where it scavenges for animal matter and algae.

This hermit crab resides in a branching shell adorned with hydroids and bryozoans. While the crab itself is hardy, its shell requires specific attention. The shell's multiple branches resemble those of the branching SPS coral Acropora. Due to its distinctive shell, the crab may struggle to right itself if overturned and is susceptible to stings and damage from corals and anemones in a reef aquarium.

To ensure optimal care, Staghorn hermits are best housed in a biotope system alongside other filter-feeding invertebrates or in a refugium, where the hydroids and bryozoans on its shell can be nourished with live or prepared plankton foods. This setup minimizes the risk of the shell coming into contact with stinging corals and anemones. The crab's diet primarily consists of algae, and if the supply is insufficient, supplementing with dried seaweed is recommended.