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Species Information

Spanner Crab

Ranina ranina

Other Names
Frog crab, red frog crab, Kona crab (USA).

Family
Raninidae (spanner crabs).

Description, Location, Habitat and Harvesting Information
Available wild-caught, these marine dwellers are found from close inshore to at least 100m, usually buried in sand from where they attack small bottom-dwelling fish. Their long, almost goblet-shaped, bright orange shells (even when uncooked) and spanner-shaped front claws are quite distinctive. Found around most of the Australian coast from NSW north to southern WA, they are caught commercially, mainly using dillies, but also as a bycatch of Prawn trawling, off southern Queensland and northern NSW. The fishery has increased greatly since the early 1980s.

Season
Available from January to October, peaking from July to October with the fishery closed for most of December.

Size and Weight
Commonly about 8.5cm in carapace width and 400g, but can grow to 15cm and 900g.

Price
Low-medium priced (though price is increasing as popularity increases).

Relations
Only commercially fished member of the Raninidae family.

To Buy
They are usually sold cooked, but are occassionally available live. It is best not to buy dead uncooked Spanner Crabs, as it's difficult to tell how long they've been dead. Crabs should feel heavy for their size and have their legs and claws intact. Look for firm, intact shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. If possible, give them a gentle shake to ensure there’s no sound of sloshing water. Males are larger and more common than females. Females with eggs are protected.

To Store
Live Crabs should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the crisper (optimum 5°C). Once cooked, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months below 18ºC. Picked crabmeat can be stored in the same way.

To Cook
The shell is burgundy-orange even when uncooked, turning a brighter orange when cooked. Average yield is 25% (from claws and body). The flesh is translucent when raw and white when cooked, it has a distinctive, sweet flavour, low oiliness and is soft and moist. The most humane, and easiest, method of killing any crustacean is to chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it becomes insensible (but not long enough to freeze it). Once chilled, it should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into rapidly boiling water. See www.rspca.org.au for more details.

Cooking Methods
Steam, poach, boil. Do not recook cooked Crabs, pick the meat and use it in salads, sandwiches, as a garnish for soups, or in dishes where it is just gently warmed, such as pasta, risotto, Crab cakes and omelettes. Given its thick top shell, Spanner Crab is best used for its meat rather than presented in the shell.

Goes Well With
Anchovies, black pepper, butter, chilli, coconut, cream, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, herbs (such as chervil, coriander, dill, French tarragon, parsley), lemon, lemongrass, lime, mayonnaise, nutmeg, onion, soy sauce, tomatoes, turmeric.

Alternatives
Blue Swimmer Crab, Marron, Mud Crab, Redclaw, Rocklobsters, Yabby.

Imports
None; however a lot of Australia’s catch is exported (mostly live).

Recipes
Print this fact sheet
Further information

Can't find the information you're after?  Email  fishline@sydneyfishmarket.com.au with your questions.

Species Groups
Learn about the following species groups (including their most common members, as well as purchasing, storage and cooking information), or select a specific species from the species list below.
Species List
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Albacore
Thunnus alalunga

Atlantic Salmon
Salmo salar

Australian Bass
Macquaria novemaculeata

Australian Salmon
Arripus trutta (Eastern Australian Salmon)
Arripus truttaceaus (Western Australian Salmon)

Australian Sardine
Sardinops neopilchardus

Bailer Shell
Livonia mamilla (False Bailer Shell)
Melo species (Melon Shell)
Other members of the Zidoninae subfamily (Bailer Shell)

Balmain Bug
Ibacus peronii (Eastern Balmain Bug)

Banana Prawn
Fenneropenaeus indicus (Redleg Banana Prawn)
Fenneropenaeus merguiensis (White Banana Prawn)

Barramundi
Lates calcarifer

Bay Prawn
Metapenaeus bennettae (Greentail Prawn)
Metapenaeus insolitus (Greasyback Prawn)

Bigeye Trevally
Caranx sexfasciatus

Bigeye Tuna
Thunnus obesus

Black Bream
Acanthopagrus butcheri

Black Pomfret
Parastromateus niger

Blacklip Abalone
Haliotis rubra

Blue Grenadier
Macruronus novaezelandiae

Blue Mackerel
Scomber australasicus

Blue Mussel
Mytilus galloprovincialis

Blue Swimmer Crab
Portunus pelagicus

Blue Warehou
Seriolella brama

Blue-Eye Trevalla
Hyperoglyphe antarctica (Blue-Eye Trevalla)
Schedophilus labyrinthica (Ocean Blue-Eye)

Bluespotted Flathead
Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus

Bonito
Australian Bonito (Sarda australis)
Oriental Bonito (Sarda orientalis)
Leaping Bonito (Cybiosarda elegans)

Brook Trout (‘Saltwater Charr’)

Salvelinus fontinalis


Chinook Salmon (‘King’ Salmon)

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Commercial Scallop
Pecten fumatus

Cuttlefish
Sepia apama (Giant Cuttlefish)
Sepia pharaonis (Pharaoh’s Cuttlefish)

Dart
Trachinotus botla (Common Dart)
Trachinotus baillonii (Smallspotted Dart)
Trachinotus blochii (Snubnose Dart)
Trachinotus coppingeri (Swallowtail Dart)
Trachinotus anak (Giant Oystercracker Dart)

Deepwater Flathead
Neoplatycephalus conatus

Diamondscale Mullet
Liza vaigiensis

Dusky Flathead
Platycephalus fuscus

Eastern Rocklobster
Jasus verreauxi

Eastern Shovelnose Ray
Aptychotrema rostrata

Endeavour Prawn
Metapenaeus endeavouri (Blue Endeavour Prawn)
Metapenaeus ensis (Red Endeavour Prawn)

Frypan Bream
Argyrops spinifer

Giant Trevally
Caranx ignobilis

Goldband Snapper
Pristipomoides multidens (Goldband Snapper)
Pristipomoides typus (Sharptooth Snapper)

Golden Perch
Macquaria ambigua

Golden Trevally
Gnathanodon speciosus

Gould's Squid
Nototodarus gouldi

Greenlip Abalone
Haliotis laevigata

Grey Mackerel
Scomberomorus semifasciatus

Jack Mackerel
Trachurus declivis (Common Jack Mackerel)
Trachurus murphyi (Peruvian Jack Mackerel)

Jackass Morwong
Nemadactylus macropterus

John Dory
Zeus faber

King Dory
Cyttus traversi

King George Whiting
Sillaginodes punctata

King Prawn
Melicertus latisulcatus (Western King Prawn)
Melicertus plebejus (Eastern King Prawn)
Melicertus longistylus (Redspot King Prawn)

King Threadfin
Polydactylus macrochir

Loligo Squid
Loligo formosa
Loligo chinensis

Longtail Tuna
Thunnus tonggol

Marron
Cherax tenuimanus (Margaret River Marron)
Cherax cainii (Smooth Marron)

Mirror Dory
Zenopsis nebulosus

Moreton Bay Bug
Thenus orientalis (Sandbug)
Thenus indicus (Mudbug)

Mud Crab
Scylla serrata (Giant Mud Crab)
Scylla olivacea (Orange Mud Crab)

Murray Cod
Maccullochella peelii

Native Oyster
Ostrea angasi

Northern Calamari
Sepioteuthis lessoniana

Ocean Jacket
Nelusetta ayraudi

Octopus
Octopus aegina (Baby Octopus)
Octopus tetricus (Sydney Octopus)
Octopus australia (Southern Octopus)
Octopus maorum (Maori Octopus)
Octopus pallidus (Pale Octopus)
Octopus graptus (Scribbled Night Octopus)

Pacific Oyster
Crassostrea gigas

Periwinkle
Littorinidae species (‘True’ Periwinkle)
Neritidae species (Nerite) 
Turbo species (Turban Shells)

Pikey Bream
Acanthopagrus berda

Pink Ling
Genypterus blacodes

Pipi
Donax deltoides

Queenfish
Scomberoides tol (Needleskin Queenfish)
Scomberoides tala (Barred Queenfish)
Scomberoides lysan (Lesser Queenfish)
Scomberoides commersonnianus (Giant Queenfish)

Rainbow Trout ('Ocean Trout')

Oncorhynchus mykiss


Red Emperor
Lutjanus sebae

Redclaw
Cherax quadricarinatus

Redfish
Centroberyx affinis

Ribaldo
Mora moro

Rock Ling
Genypterus tigerinus

Royal Red Prawn
Haliporoides sibogae

Samsonfish
Seriola dumerili (Amberjack)
Seriola hippos (Samsonfish)

Sand Whiting
Sillago ciliata

Saucer Scallop
Amusium balloti (Ballot’s Saucer Scallop)
Amusium pleuronectes (Northern Saucer Scallop)

School Mackerel
Scomberomorus queenslandicus

School Prawn
Metapenaeus macleayi (School Prawn)
Metapenaeus dalli (Western School Prawn)

School Whiting
Sillago flindersi (Eastern School Whiting)
Sillago bassensis (Southern School Whiting)
Sillago robusta (Stout Whiting)

Sea Mullet
Mugil cephalus

Silver Dory
Cyttus australis

Silver Perch
Bidyanus bidyanus

Silver Trevally
Pseudocaranx dentex (Silver Trevally)
Pseudocaranx wrighti (Skipjack Trevally)

Silver Warehou
Seriolella punctata

Snapper
Pagrus auratus

Southern Bluefin Tuna
Thunnus maccoyii

Southern Calamari
Sepioteuthis australis

Southern Rocklobster
Jasus edwardsii

Southern Sand Flathead
Platycephalus bassensis

Spanish Mackerel
Scomberomorus commerson

Spanner Crab
Ranina ranina

Spotted Mackerel
Scomberomorus munroi

Striped Marlin
Tetrapturus audax

Surf Clam
Dosinia caerulea

Swordfish
Xiphias gladius

Sydney Rock Oyster
Saccostrea glomerata

Tarwhine
Rhabdosargus sarba

Tiger Flathead
Neoplatycephalus richardsoni (Tiger Flathead)
Neoplatycephalus aurimaculatus (Toothy Flathead)

Tiger Prawn
Penaeus monodon (Black Tiger Prawn)
Marsupenaeus japonicus (Kuruma Prawn)
Penaeus esculentus (Brown Tiger Prawn)
Penaeus semisulcatus (Grooved Tiger Prawn)

Trochus
Trochus niloticus

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