What Is The Difference Between Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, and Dwarf Shrimp?

What Is The Difference Between Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, and Dwarf Shrimp

When it comes to identifying sea creatures, there are plenty of them that seem incredibly similar. Crustaceans are known for their collection of specific traits, but they do actually offer a wide range of variances among them. Though some of them are fairly easy to tell apart, it can be a bit confusing to remember what separates these creatures.

Of course, in the event that you have a desire to keep any of these animals for pets, you might be wondering where they differ from one another and how they might fit into your aquarium. Understanding what these creatures bring to the table can help you to make an educated decision regarding your purchase.


The Panther Crab (Parathelphusa Pantherina)Crabs are known for their distinctive short tails and rounder bodies alongside some rather impressive claws. These creatures come in a variety of forms ranging from hermit crabs to full-scale crabs of more intimidating varieties. There are known to be over ten-thousand different types of crabs, making it easy for you to assume that at least one of them might be a good addition to that big tank that you have been planning.

These medium-sized crustaceans are known for their ability to scavenge and enjoy a variety of food options, with some even relying entirely on a plant-based diet. The majority of them require seawater, but freshwater variations do exist if you are committed to finding them.

Read my article “7 Freshwater Crabs For The Tank”.

Depending on what else you intend to put in your tank, you might just find that certain types of crabs are a better fit than others. Understanding the needs of the individual types can help you to ensure the safety and security of your crabs and other animals. Each variation is a little different and will require different things, so understanding these differences prior to making your purchase is imperative.


LobsterLobsters are not an animal that people generally consider to be pets, but there are actually quite a bit of aquatic enthusiasts who find that these creatures are great at adding a little something extra to the right tank. In fact, lobsters can make for an exciting addition to your tank if you know how to manage them.

Out of these four crustaceans, lobsters are certainly the largest. They are identifiable by their signature layered tail and five pairs of legs.

If you have ever been to a seafood restaurant or anywhere near the coast, you probably know how to identify these fascinating and favored beasts, but there are probably a lot of things that you don’t know about them as well.

Despite their size, Lobsters are known to be nocturnal, which tends to catch some people off guard. In the event that you do plan keeping one or more as a pet, it is important to remember that they can live only in saltwater.

They are carnivorous creatures and able to eat prawns, snails, and small fish, so finding ones that won’t end up drifting down to become dinner is another important consideration.


Introduction to the Crayfish Care - Setup, Diet, and FactsCrayfish are creatures that are known for their distinctive relation to lobsters. Most people who are unfamiliar with these tiny beasts confuse them for smaller lobsters, and while it is an understandable point of confusion, they are actually entirely separate creatures.

Actually, if we place them side by side, most people will never tell the difference between a lobster and a crayfish, except for the difference in size and water preferences.

If it lives in saltwater, it is technically a lobster. Therefore, if it lives in freshwater, it is a crayfish.

These tiny crustaceans are known to inhabit freshwater rivers, ponds, swamps, etc. They do come in their own variety of forms and colors as well. Many find out the hard way that their claws are not only active but potentially dangerous in many cases.

While it might be one thing for a crayfish to snap at your finger, this act could prove lethal to certain kinds of fish within your tank. It is for this reason that it is imperative to spend time researching compatibility when it comes to housing these creatures with other animals.

Read more about it in my article “Can You Keep Crayfish With Other Fish?”.

Crayfish are known to eat a variety of different things. In general, they are omnivorous. However, some species tend to be more herbivorous (for example, Procambarus clarkii).

You might be surprised by how much fun they can add to the right tank if you are looking for a little something extra. As is the case with any animal, do your research before bringing one to your tank.

Dwarf Shrimp

Crystal red shrimpIf there is one creature that looks great in a variety of tanks, the dwarf shrimp takes the cake. These small creatures are great at scurrying around and looking busy for all the world to see.

They come in a variety of different styles and designs that can add a beautiful pop of color to the right tank. However, you do need to make some special considerations when it comes to adding these friends to your favorite setup.

Dwarf shrimp enjoy the diet of an omnivore, meaning it is easy for you to feed them, so they don’t think of their tank mates as food. However, depending on what is in your tank, these creatures can easily be prey themselves.

Many people are partial to owning dwarf shrimp because they are entertaining to watch and easy to maintain. They will feast on algae and other plant-based food options, but also enjoy food from the pet store to bring a more balanced approach to their diet.

They are generally considered to be friendly as far as sea creatures go, and they are incredibly easy to come by. Since all animals are prone to react to their environment, you will want to make sure that you are providing them with a good home, but these ones really do make great pets.


Though these four kinds of creatures are all crustaceans, they are all quite different in appearance and temperament. This is what makes it so important to avoid generalizations that could result in problems down the line.

Any time you are considering the addition of a new creature to any tank, you will want to make sure that you effectively research their needs when it comes to diet and environment. This is important for making sure that your tank is always balanced and functioning in a way that keeps all of its inhabitants healthy. Let us be the first to say that crustaceans make great pets, so we would absolutely encourage you to find the right one for your tank.



Dwarf shrimp


Crayfish and PVC pipes




Matano Crab (Syntripsa Matannensis)


Average Size 1 – 4 inches (2.5 – 10 cm) 2 – 6 inches (5 – 15 cm) at least 8 inches (~ from 20 cm) 1 – 6 inches (2.5 – 15 cm)
Shape Slim and cylindrical body. No or small claws Cylindrical body, big claws Cylindrical body and massive claws Short tails and rounder bodies with big claws
Color range Huge Medium Small Medium
Water type Freshwater and saltwater types  Freshwater Saltwater Land, freshwater, brackish, and saltwater types
Typical Diet Scavenger. Omnivorous (dead plant and animal matter, detritus, algae). Scavenger.
Live and dead plants, insects, worms, and just about anything else they can find
Small fish, prawns, clams, snails, and other small ocean animals. Scavenger.
Omnivorous (dead plant and animal matter, detritus).
Temperament Generally peaceful Aggressive Very Aggressive Tend to be aggressive

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2 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, and Dwarf Shrimp?

  1. In my part of the world ( Tasmania ) a Crayfish is also called a rock Lobster and they live in coastal SALT water I suggest a Google search of Tasmania rock lobster crayfish Cheers Ross

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