Water crabs have grown as an increasingly popular ingredient of exotic dishes. Their rich flavour and high source of nutrients have won the hearts of local foodies alike.
Due to their high demand in the food market, most businessmen have taking this opportunity to breed their own water crabs to export to many food establishments. In addition to their market potential, breeding water crabs have been proven to be a relatively low cost investment – in terms of financially and time wise.
So if you’re thinking of joining this business opportunity, be sure to read through this article to find out 13 things to consider before raising your own water crab farm.
1. Living Spaces and Their Location
The first step that is often underestimated by other breeders is to designate a good amount of living space before investing on your animals. Breeders are advised to corner a location far from pollution with low chances of being affected by natural disasters – such as earthquakes and flooding. Though the size of said living spaces would vary according to the size of your farm, the general rule of thumb states that the height of your water crab pond should have a height of 20-30cm.
Before relocating your water crabs into their new living spaces, be sure to sun dry the area from harmful chemicals that is used to sanitise the pond’s surface. After 5-7 days, and when the surface has tinted to a natural brown, breeders should cover the surface with organic chalk that adjusts to the natural pH of the land. An ideal pH level of the pond should reach up to 7-8 pH.
After layering the surface, be sure to build a fence that protects your farm from any potential predators that could sneak into the living spaces. Breeders would build the fence using plastic, but any other sturdy material should suffice as well.
2. Water Quality
As most living creatures do, water crabs – undeniably – require water to survive. For their habitat, it is advised that breeders routinely change the water once a week to sanitise the area from harmful bacterias and illnesses. The water should also reach a certain temperature (usually below 26 degrees) in which they could live and move around comfortably.
3. Extra Supplements To Boost Immune System
Aside from the water quality of their habitats, breeders should atleast take into account on investing extra supplements that could help their farm reach the optimal level of health. Most breeders would mix in 2-4 gr of vitamin c into their feed to boost their immune systems. However, if there are certain circumstances where the breeders are unable to invest extra costs on over-the-counter vitamin supplements, breeders could do prior research and consult medical professionals to prescribe their farm with a cheaper and organic alternative.
4. Investing on the First Pair
To start a big farm, breeders should invest on at least a pair to reproduce first. Though trusted breeders could provide more accurate advice that tailors to your individual needs, most breeders start with water crabs that weighs about 30-50 grams and are 3-4 cm wide. Most breeders would also pay attention to any deformities, social skills, and overall colour.
When finally introducing the pair together, place them in an area that has been disinfected from any harmful bacterias and parasites. It might take some time for them to adjust to each others presence, but there are many ways to make the process seamless; the two most common ways are called the caging method and the floating method.
5. The Caging Method
As previously mentioned, some breeders have utilised the caging method to help their first pair adjust into a new environment. To commit to this, breeders would construct a cage made out of bamboos 1-2cm in width and 1.7m in height where they would place one crab in the surface of one. Place the cage 30 cm deep inside the pond and leave them to slowly walk out from in-between the pillars when they feel comfortable enough to.
6. The Floating Method
An alternative method to help water crabs adjust to their environment is the floating method. In doing this, breeders should construct a floating net that is made out of nets, bamboo trees, and a floatie/foam that helps them float to the surface.
After constructing the tool, place your crabs one at a time on the net, and gently lower your net overtime – until your crab is well adjusted and moved out of the tool on its own completely. This might take patience, but it is done to prevent stress and other potential health drawbacks that could have been caused by shock.
7. Feed and Nutrients
When feeding water crabs, breeders are granted multiple options to choose from – since the animal is relatively low maintenance. Though prescribed nutritional pellet may be a safe choice, some breeders may not have the funds or time to purchase them. In this case, breeders would often their farm a more organic alternative.
Water crabs can be fed small fishes, chicken organs, cow/goat skin, worms, and small snails. A quintal of small fishes could feed around 400 water crabs, as long as they are cut up into edible pieces. To prevent breeders from overfeeding or underfeeding their farm, breeders should monitor the rate and time spent for each farm to feed on a certain amount of feed.
8. Healthy Weight Gain
An underweight farm might be a concerning sight to see. Underweighted animals are correlated to sicknesses and vulnerability. To prevent your farm from catching illnesses due to the lack of nutrients that helps maintain their immune system, breeders should have a routine feeding schedule and sanitise the pond area that could have had affected their appetites.
9. Offsprings and Pregnancy
The next thing breeders should consider is the offsprings their initial pair can produce. Typically, a healthy water crab would lay their eggs 5-10 days post copulation. Female water crabs would also weigh around 150 gr when expecting, so it is wise that breeders commit to a routine check up to regulate the needs of each farm.
10. Harvesting Crab Meat
Breeders could start harvesting their crab meat when each individual crab weighs around 3-4 kg. Though the requirements may differ for every farm, it is advised that breeders routinely check up on their overall health to determine the right time to harvest.
After marking which individual crab is ready to be harvested, breeders would package their crabs by binding their claws and feet together to avoid sudden movement and hostile attacks. However, as wise breeders, it is ethically advised that you do this as painlessly as possible. On another note, most consumers and food establishments value this painless binding, as crab meat tends to be more rich in flavour when they are raised ethically.
11. Cleaning Leftover Messes
Before selling your harvest to the markets, be sure to clean your crabs from their messes one last time. To do this, gently dip each crab in sanitised pond water for 5 minutes and carefully shake off their messes. Instead of doing it by force, water crab messes would slide off naturally with this gentle procedure.
12. Maintain Moisture
Despite it being ready to be harvested, packaged water crabs should be able to maintain its moisture. Sun dried crabs tend to have drier and paler crab meats, which would market less than their healthier and hydrated water crabs. To retain its moisture and water levels, place your harvested crabs in a cool container and routinely spray them with water 2-3 times for every 6 hours. The ideal conditions harvested water crabs should be in is of temperatures below 26 degrees with a 95% humidity.
13. Spot Unhealthy Water Crabs
More often than not, breeders could spot unhealthy water crabs after harvesting them – and this could be an a business drawback when they are sold to demanding customers. To spot this before it’s too late, unhealthy water crabs have several distinctions that includes: pale exterior, unmoving, and passive. In such case, breeders should immediately place them back into the pond and foster extra care to get them better.
So there you have it, 13 things to consider before raising a water crab farm. Breeders should understand that these are just general notes, and that each farm may require different needs. Knowing this, breeders should have access to medical professionals and do their prior research to tailor the best care practices that would be a greater beneficial to their own farm.