Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Scylla
(mud crab)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Scylla (mud crab)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Scylla
  • Preferred Common Name
  • mud crab
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Crustacea
  •         Class: Malacostraca
  • Overview
  • Crabs of the genus Scylla, commonly called mud or mangrove crabs, are the largest of the Portunid or swimming group of crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura: Portunidae) and are universally regarded as a quality food item due to their large size and m...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Crab (Scylla sp.) seed.|Crab (Scylla sp.) seed. Vietnam.
TitleCrab (Scylla sp.) seed
CaptionCrab (Scylla sp.) seed.|Crab (Scylla sp.) seed. Vietnam.
Copyright©Tran Ngoc Hai
Crab (Scylla sp.) seed.|Crab (Scylla sp.) seed. Vietnam.
Crab (Scylla sp.) seedCrab (Scylla sp.) seed.|Crab (Scylla sp.) seed. Vietnam.©Tran Ngoc Hai
Crab pen in an earth pond ready for stocking Scylla sp. mud-crabs. Note in-pond pens. Bangladesh.
TitleCrab pen in an earth pond
CaptionCrab pen in an earth pond ready for stocking Scylla sp. mud-crabs. Note in-pond pens. Bangladesh.
Copyright©Mohammad Zafar
Crab pen in an earth pond ready for stocking Scylla sp. mud-crabs. Note in-pond pens. Bangladesh.
Crab pen in an earth pondCrab pen in an earth pond ready for stocking Scylla sp. mud-crabs. Note in-pond pens. Bangladesh.©Mohammad Zafar
A mangrove pen for rearing mud crabs (Scylla species) in the Philippines.
TitlePen for rearing mud crabs
CaptionA mangrove pen for rearing mud crabs (Scylla species) in the Philippines.
Copyright©Donald J. Macintosh
A mangrove pen for rearing mud crabs (Scylla species) in the Philippines.
Pen for rearing mud crabsA mangrove pen for rearing mud crabs (Scylla species) in the Philippines.©Donald J. Macintosh
Mud crab seed caught in mangrove channels ready for stocking in mangrove-aquaculture ponds in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
TitleMud crab seed
CaptionMud crab seed caught in mangrove channels ready for stocking in mangrove-aquaculture ponds in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
Copyright©Donald J. Macintosh
Mud crab seed caught in mangrove channels ready for stocking in mangrove-aquaculture ponds in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
Mud crab seedMud crab seed caught in mangrove channels ready for stocking in mangrove-aquaculture ponds in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.©Donald J. Macintosh
Mud crab culture ponds lined with bamboo and net fencing (to prevent crabs escaping) in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.
TitleMud crab culture ponds
CaptionMud crab culture ponds lined with bamboo and net fencing (to prevent crabs escaping) in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.
Copyright©Donald J. Macintosh
Mud crab culture ponds lined with bamboo and net fencing (to prevent crabs escaping) in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.
Mud crab culture pondsMud crab culture ponds lined with bamboo and net fencing (to prevent crabs escaping) in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh.©Donald J. Macintosh

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Scylla

Preferred Common Name

  • mud crab

International Common Names

  • English: mangrove crab

Local Common Names

  • Philippines: alimango

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Crustacea
  •                 Class: Malacostraca
  •                     Subclass: Eumalacostraca
  •                         Order: Decapoda
  •                             Family: Portunidae
  •                                 Genus: Scylla

Overview

Top of page

Crabs of the genus Scylla, commonly called mud or mangrove crabs, are the largest of the Portunid or swimming group of crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura: Portunidae) and are universally regarded as a quality food item due to their large size and meat flavour and texture. They have a wide distribution extending throughout the Indo-West Pacific region inhabiting sheltered estuarine areas. As their name suggests they are predominantly found in muddy and mangrove forested areas. Scylla serrata (Forskål, 1775) is the most widespread of the four recognized Scylla species. The others are S. paramamosain (Estampador, 1949), S. tranquebarica (Fabricius, 1798) and S. olivacea (Herbst, 1796). Throughout its distribution S. serrata is an important fishery and aquaculture species on a trade and subsistence level for coastal communities.

Historically there was much confusion internationally regarding the taxonomy of the genus Scylla and the name S. serrata was broadly used across all species and confounds literature interpretation. It should be noted that the methods for culture of the different mud crab species are essentially the same and in some areas farmers grow more than one species depending on the composition of the seed supply.

The lifecycle, encompassing a sensitive larval phase, has meant that to date aquaculture has been dependant on capture of seed stock from the wild. Mud crabs of all sizes down to postlarvae have a value if collected and a significant supply chain has been built up based on the supply of wild caught mud crabs to aquaculture.

Aquaculture of the mud crab has been practiced for many decades (Yalin and Qingsheng, 1994) but in many areas of Southeast Asia their cultivation has only occurred due to development of brackish water shrimp and finfish aquaculture (Chandrasekaren and Perumal, 1993). Mud crab aquaculture has recently grown in popularity as shrimp farmers who experience severe production problems search for alternative species (Lin, 1994; Overton and Macintosh, 1997).

The fact that mud crabs of all sizes can be readily accessed from the environment and transported live has facilitated the development of aquaculture of the species and it is traditionally a small-scale activity practiced by low income families (Overton and Macintosh, 1997). Additionally the species is appropriate for low input, low technology aquaculture due to its apparent high resistance to stress and disease and tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions. It also consumes a wide range of feed types and a variety of containment systems are suitable for culture. Aquaculture of mud crabs is an activity that can be practiced at different intensities by poor fishermen through to holders of large earthen pond facilities.

In its traditional and simplest form, market size crabs that have low meat content and in the case of female crabs, low roe content, are fattened for a short period in small cages, pens or ponds to greatly increase their value. Growout of small juvenile size crabs, also called crablets, collected from the wild is now common in earthen ponds. Yields are typically modest but operations are profitable. Commercial production of crablets in hatcheries occurs but is yet to have a significant impact on the supply to the growout industry.