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Phylum Arthropoda > Subphylum Crustacea > Class Malacostraca > Order Decapoda > Brachyurans > Family Xanthidae
Smooth spooner crab
Etisus laevimanus

Family Xanthidae
updated Dec 2019
Where seen? This large crab with typical spoon-tipped pincers is commonly seen on our Southern shores among coral rubble and near living reefs. 'Laevi' in Latin means 'left', while 'manus' means hand. Indeed, the left pincer is usually larger than the right.

Features: Body width 8-10cm. Body fan-shaped, rather flat, with 4 blunt teeth on the edges of the shell. Colours and patterns in a wide variety; basically brown, beige or grey. Plain or with patterns which include pale or yellow mottles, with one or more white or yellow stripes from the front between the eyes to about half way down the body. The walking legs are fringed with long hairs and end in pointed tips. Pincers long, slender and smooth (no pimples) with black spoon-shaped tips. The left pincer usually slightly larger and longer. These are probably used to scrape off algae.

Sometimes confused with Rock crabs (Leptodius sp.) which have pincers which are more squat, with bumps on the elbows.

Pincers long, smooth (not bumpy).
Pulau Sekudu, Jun 05

Tips of the pincers are spoon-shaped.

A mating pair.
Pulau Hantu, Jun 10

Sisters Island, Dec 05

Pulau Semakau, Apr 08

Crab eating, Terumbu Pempang Laut, May 2019
Smooth spooner crab (Etisus laevimanus)

Smooth spooner crabs on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi, Aug 20
Photo shared by Kelvin Yong on facebook.

Pulau Sekudu, Jul 16
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Pulau Semakau, Jan 12
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Terumbu Raya, Feb 14
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Pulau Semaka (East), Aug 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Dec 14
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Terumbu Semakau, Jun 11
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Terumbu Pempang Laut, Apr 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Berkas, Feb 22
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

With grateful thanks to Ondrej Radosta for identifying the species of the crabs on this page.


  • Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
  • Jones Diana S. and Gary J. Morgan, 2002. A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed New Holland. 224 pp.
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