Porcelain Anemone Crab

(Neopetrolisthes maculosus)

Family: Porcellanidae

"They may be small but they are extremely photogenic, the only problem is you need to find them!"

The Porcelain Anemone Crab (Neopetrolisthes maculosus) is a very attractive crab species that is found in the tropical waters of the Indo - western Pacific region and is a member of the crustacean family Porcellanidae. In Australia they can be found along the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland to the waters of the Solitary Islands Marine Park in northern New South Wales.

Neopetrolisthes maculosus can often be found hiding in amongst its host anemone or occasionally it can be found amongst living corals. Even though they are a common species they are considered to be shy and elusive and can be difficult to find unless a diver actively searches for them in their protective sea anemones. When they are disturbed they will hide underneath the anemone away from predators or divers with camera's trying to take a photo! Pairs of the species can be often seen living in the same anemone and quite often they will try to defend their territory from anemonefish although the anemonefish generally prevails due to its large size.

Porcelain crabs are filter feeders and they filter water with their mouthpart appendages (known as the third maxillipeds) rather than using their antennae. They gather in planktonic food using their feather like appendages. Their body colour is generally cream to brown with distinct red spots/markings on the body. Males will generally grow larger than the females and the crab is generally less than 5cm in width.

One of my favourite locations to find and photograph the Porcelain Anemone Crab is on the wreck of the Aarhus located off Moreton Island in Brisbane - Queensland. It's not often you take a macro lens down on a wreck but the Aarhus is unique for its macro, especially with resident porcelain crabs that can be found hiding and feeding amongst the anemones.

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