Hemigrapsus crenulatus is an abundant and frequent decapod crustacean inhabiting estuarine environments, where it must tolerate large shifts in salinity. The present study evaluates the effect of salinity (5, 13, 21 and 30 psu) on the adult physiological processes related to the energy balance. The growth potential (SFG) and the respired oxygen:excreted nitrogen ratio were used as indices of stress. Ingestion, excretion and respiration rates showed a significant dependence on salinity, being higher at low salinities. The assimilation efficiency remained constant along the studied salinity gradient. The assimilation and ingestion rates were inversely related with the salinity. Given this scenario, the growth potential remained constant within the studied salinity gradient, as did the oxygen:nitrogen ratio. The results suggest that the increased energy losses at low salinity due to respiration and excretion are compensated by an increment in the ingestion rate, contributing to the success of H. crenulatus in dynamic habitats such as estuaries.