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Champagne Crab Photographs and Information

Champagne Crabs (Hypothalassia armata) have a mottled pale brown to cream shell with spiny edges, black tips on their claws and spines along their legs.

Champagne crabs are mainly caught using crab traps.

In champagne crab species, the males grow considerably larger than the females. The legal minimum sizes of 92 mm carapace length for champagne crabs and 140 mm carapace length for giant crabs, together with the voluntarily agreed minimum of 120 mm carapace width for crystal crabs, offer significant protection for the female portion of the populations. Furthermore, preliminary evidence shows that sizes at maturity for males and females of both crystal and champagne crabs are well below the minimum sizes in both. Therefore, the brood stock is well protected.

Carapace smooth; anterolateral margins with numerous very sharp spines of differing sizes. Surfaces of legs and chelae with numerous sharp, brown-black spines of differing sizes. Carapace reddish brown to brown, especially on anterior part; spines black to brown; fingers black.

Exported in Taiwan and Singapore, where live specimens commands premium prices.

Did you know?
Crabs have blue blood, Worms have green blood, and Starfish have clear

How a Crab Sheds its shell or "Moults":
A crab’s growth isn’t continuous, but results from a series of moults that happen when it reaches the size of its current shell. Moulting is triggered by hormones. A new ‘cuticle’ (hard protective layer) is secreted under the old shell. The crab rapidly absorbs water, splitting its shell along suture lines, then backs out of the old shell. Substances stored within the crab’s body are rapidly redeposited to harden the new cuticle into a larger shell. The fluid in the body is replaced with meat during a period when the crab feeds voraciously.

Don't take home a crab that has recently moulted their shell if you want a lot of meat! For a Meaty crab choose one that has a shell with maybe some scaring or algae growth, blunt teeth on their claws and if you gently press the shell, there should be no movement.


ChampagneCrab.jpg (28069 bytes)



Scientific Name Hypothalassia armata
Hypothalassia acerba
Location demersal; marine; depth range 20 – 540m
Season .
Size .
CAAB Code 28 916901
Taste, Texture Delicate sweet taste.  Medium to firm texture.


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Crab meat.

Kilojoules na
Cholesterol 58 mg
Sodium na
Total fat (oil) 0.9 g
Saturated fat 22% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 20% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 57% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 137 mg
Omega-3, DHA 90 mg
Omega-6, AA 86 mg

Other Crab Links:


Recipes using Crab and Crabmeat from How To Cook Fish

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Champagne Crab Information:

CSIRO Marine Research - Relative abundances and size compositions of champagne crabs, Hypothalassia acerba, on two coasts and in different water depths and seasons:

Hypothalassia acerba was sampled seasonally using traps at depths of 35, 90, 145, 200, 255, 310 and 365 m on the west and south coasts of Western Australia. Catch rates peaked at depths of 200 m on the west coast and 145 m on the south coast but at similar temperatures of 16.1–17.1°C. The west and south coast catches contained 69% and 84% males respectively. The carapace length of H. acerba declined significantly by 4 mm for each 100 m increase in depth. The maximum carapace length of males was greater than females on the west coast (135 v. 113 mm) and south coast (138 v. 120 mm). Furthermore, after adjustment to a depth of 200 m, the mean carapace lengths of males were greater than females on both the west coast (96.6 v. 94.6 mm) and south coast (101.5 v. 91.4 mm), with the difference on the south coast being significant (P < 0.001). Thus, in summary, (1) distribution was related to depth and temperature; (2) body size was inversely related to water depth; and (3) males grew larger and were caught in greater numbers than females. There was also evidence that the distribution changed slightly with season and of spatial partitioning by H. acerba and other large deep-water invertebrate predators.

Male and female crab identification:

crabsex.gif (12357 bytes)

Cooking Champagne Crab:

Regardless of the type of Crab, look for ones which feel heavy for their size and have their legs and claws intact. With dead Crabs, if possible, give them a gentle shake to ensure there’s no sound of sloshing water. Live Crabs should be vigorous. Females with eggs are always protected, and in Queensland catching any female Crabs is prohibited (except for Spanner Crabs without eggs).

The RSPCA has guidelines for the humane killing of all crustaceans. The most acceptable, and easiest, method is to chill them in the freezer for about 45 minutes until they become insensible (but not long enough to freeze them). Once chilled, they should be killed promptly by splitting them in half or dropping them into rapidly boiling water.

It is recommended that all crustaceans are immersed in a salt water/ice slurry for a minimum of 20 minutes before boiling, broiling, pithing or cutting. This ensures the animal is immobilised before procedures that may cause pain are carried out.

The salt water/ice slurry is made by first filling a suitable container (such as an esky) with normal crushed ice, then adding salt water (sea water salinity). The ratio of normal ice to salt water should be 3:1, which will give the consistency of wet concrete and a temperature of –1°C. It is important that enough ice is provided to maintain the temperature of the slurry.

Keep live Crabs in a cool place with a damp cloth over the container, ensuring that the cloth remains damp. Cooked or dead Crabs should be wrapped in plastic wrap or foil and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen, at -18ºC or lower, for up to 3 months. Picked crabmeat can be stored in the same way.

Crabs can be steamed, poached, deep-fried, stir-fried, pan-fried, grilled or barbecued. Don’t try to pick raw crabmeat, it’s almost impossible as the flesh is too watery.

If you need crabmeat, place chilled whole Crabs in a large pot of rapidly boiling water, that has been well salted (½ cup table salt to 2.5 litres water), for 8 minutes per 500g up to 1kg, or 5 minutes per 500g for larger specimens (timed from when the water returns to the boil). Refresh them in iced water then twist off legs and claws, crack and remove the meat with a Crab pick, skewer or crochet hook. Tip the body of the Crab over and, from underneath, lift off the top shell, most of the inedible organs will come away attached to the shell. Break off the eyes and the shell holding them in place. Lift out and discard the grey feathery gills (deadman’s fingers) from the body, use a small spoon to remove the internal organs, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Some people like to keep the yellow ‘mustard’ (liver) to add a deeper flavour to the dish. Quarter the Crab and pick out all the meat from the body.

If stir-frying or marinating Crabs, it is easiest to work with uncooked (green) Blue Swimmers as they are already dead, clean as above without removing legs and claws, quarter the body and crack legs and claws with nut crackers so flavours can penetrate.

Cooking Tips: For live crabs allow 10 minutes per 500g to cook. Steam or boil in salted water.

Pan Fried Soft-Shell Crab BBQ Shrimp w Crab Meat Stuffing Singapore Chili Crab Crab Cakes

Commercial Fishing for Champagne Crab:

CAAB (Codes for Australian Aquatic Biota) Code for Champagne Crab: 28 916901



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