Smiths Xanthid – Facts and Photographs


Smith's xanthid Eriphia smithii

Smith’s xanthid Eriphia smithii is a commonly found crab on the East coast of Africa.


Smith’s xanthid  grow to a maximum carapace width of  of 60 centimeters and have proportionately large nippers. One claw is generally larger than the other and has rounded tubercles, while the smaller claw bears sharper projections. The color is reddish orange with a purple- brown carapace. The eyes are an orange color.

Smith's xanthid Eriphia smithii


They have powerful nippers and are often seen on the rocks at night dismantling mollusks or scavenging. They will usually retreat into a crevice or hole when they see a person.


Smith’s xanthid are found across the Indo Pacific area. They are found on eulittoral rocks and are commonly seen at low tide.

Smith's xanthid Eriphia smithii


Smith’s Xanthid has powerful nippers that they use to open mollusks and they will scavenge on the rocks. Their nippers are powerful enough to pull limpets off the rocks. They are likely to eat small fish caught in rock pools.


Smith’s Xanthid have separate sexes and little is known about their mating habits. At maturity they begin breeding and copulation takes place just after molting or in hard shelled condition. Males deposit a sperm packet on the underside of females. Females hold the eggs between the abdominal flap and the body. The eggs start off bright orange and as they develop so they go a dark muddy brown color. Once the eggs hatch they become planktonic, free floating in the water table for a few months until they mature. Very few of the larvae survive until adult stage.

Smith's xanthid Eriphia smithii


They are not harvested commercially but they are eaten by subsistance fishing communities.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Eriphiidae
Genus: Eriphia
Species E.smithii


The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates
East and South Coasts of Southern Africa
Dennis King & Valda Fraser


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