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What am I doing wrong? Too many deaths, I NEED help (LONG)

Discussion in 'General questions about care.' started by Gaby, Oct 26, 2004.

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  1. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Okay, I am a little sad, but more disturbed by what is happening here. I am going to apologize for the lengthiness of this post ahead of time. I don't necessarily want to bore all of you with my entire crabbing history, but I don't think my survival rate is "normal". I need help to find out if there is anything I am doing wrong or maybe there is something I am not doing... I don't want to be killing hermies here. I have put a stop to buying new hermies till I get things under control and we go a couple of months without a death. Is that unreasonable?

    My son got his first hermie in May 2004. We knew enough to get a tank, calci sand, water and food dish, temp gauge hidey hut, climbing toy, and that was about it. Luckily he was a pp, so salt water wasn't a necessity. I reseached hermies online after that and realized they needed humidity and friends in addition to what we had, so we added a top, a humidity guage, and two more pp's. We still have the original hermie and one of his friends.

    When I realized there were different species I knew I needed my own hermies and tank so we got a 20 Long and salt water dishes for both tanks, even though we only had pp's. Slowly we added more hermies, every 3 weeks or so, not realizing that a quarantine period was a good idea (in some peoples opinion anyway). I lost one of my original 3 pp's within 10 days. After that I lost an indo within 12 days of purchase that was in the end of July, I lost a jumbo that I rescued (his shell was full of huge holes and he certainly would have died at the pet store, instead he lasted 11 days at my house, that was in August. I ordered 2 strawberries to be shipped to me and one died after about 4 weeks, that was in the end of August or maybe the beginning of Sept. About a week after Ann the strawberry died, her companion a little cavipe we got in the middle of August (one of 10 hermies we got 8-22-04 and iso'd for 2 weeks after purchase) died. About 3 weeks later one of the Es I got on 8-22-04 died. Then about 3 to 4 weeks ago one of my son's ruggies we got on 8-22-04 died under the water fountain in his tank. A few days later I found Storm, one of the original 3 crabs dead after what might have been a shell fight since he had one leg ripped off and his pinchers were open and he was shell up when I found him. Last week a large pp died. We got him and another pp his size about 4 weeks ago or maybe 5, and iso'd them for about 18-20 days. Then just a couple days ago I found the other little cavipe we got on 8-22-04 naked and dead in the tank, and one of the Indos we got about 2-3 weeks ago dead too.

    In the effort to get the combination of hermies we want we have been adding hermies every 3-6 weeks, not necessarily by a plan, but when we find some hermies like we have been talking about getting, we buy them. We iso hermies 2-3 weeks in their own tank after purchase. We have upgraded tanks along the way, we started out with a 10 gal, added a 20 gal long, then the 46 gal bowfront, then the 40 gal acrylic. I have kks I use for isos in the 10 gal and also in the main tank if it is appropriate. The 20 long serves as the newbie tank for now since it has lots of room. The 10 gal is strictly for molting crabs it seems. We have playsand mixed with calci sand in the 10 gal iso, we have calci sand and repti sand in the 20 gal long, we have aragonite and beach sand in the 40 gal, and we have beach sand in the 46 gal. I sifted, rinsed and baked the beach sand, so I know it is clean - it took me forever! We have added decor along the way too, we use glass dishes or repti rocks or shells for waters, and shells for food, plastic or or fake silk plants in the crabitat with suction cups as adhesion. Coco huts, cork structures for hiding in, terra cotta flower pots for hiding in, oak branches from our tree in our back yard, coral, an aquarium decoration climby hut thing, a natural grapevine wreath, a haba tree on a stone, a plastic palm tree, we have used fish nets at times for climbing on.

    I know enough to bake or boil everything before putting it in the crabitat, and I do. I sift the sand of poop regularly, and clean or replace the sand every few months. We have used gladware dishes of Forest Bedding at times burying the dish so the terrain is level. The crabs seemed to like it. I boil extra shells every couple of months so they are always clean. I use Crystal Geyser bottled water for the hermies or dechlor water from my hubbys work (he is the water distribution guy there so he knows there is nothing bad in the water) I was using zoomed food that had ethoxyquin, and switched to crab island food about a month ago. I feed plan popcorn, dried coconut, kaytee healthy toppings, cuttlebone, as well as fresh fruit like apples, grapes, and bananas and fresh veggies like romaine lettuce and carrots to the hermies occasionally in addition to the crab island food (not in the same dish or shell). I have had humidity and temperature gauges the whole time and have checked their accuracy regularly. Our humidity and temp don't fluxuate much during the day, but as the weather changes so does the temp and humidity but I make sure it never dips below 65 degrees but it did get up to about 85-86 degrees in the summer and the humidity is usually in the 70-80% range. I don't have too much trouble keeping humidity since we have good plexiglass lids with just the right number of holes drilled in them for air flow. If for some reason (like if I just replaced the sand) the humidity is low, I spritz the entire tank to make it "rain" in there to give the humidity a boost. I don't mist the individual hermies. We bathe hermies every week or two, but not any more often than that. I haven't had a problem with mold in months (since I figured out one of the gauges was about 20% off). I did have ants in the tank a couple of weeks ago, we moved everyone into tanks upstairs and did a deep clean in the crabitat and sprayed a bit downstairs to keep the ants away. I saran wrapped the tank to keep the fumes from getting in there, then I aired out the room for a week with the tank wrapped, then I unwrapped the tank for about 5 days and let it air out before putting the hermies back in. We haven't had any ants since. I use UTHs when necessary. I try to iso for molts, but some little crabs have snuck molts in the main tank successfully. I don't know what else to add. If anyone can offer any suggestions or insight to what might be happening I would be ever so greatful. I just feel like I am losing too many hermies here and I want it to stop and I need to figure this out. 11 hermies dead between mid July and mid October, it can't all be pps can it?
     
  2. SuperMom

    SuperMom "First Molt In Progress"

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    [​IMG] Gaby I'm so sorry to hear about your hermies that have passed. I wish I could tell you why this was happening. You seem to be doing everything right. It sound to me like you just haven't had much luck with PPS. I think you should be happy that if they had to go atleast it was while they were in good conditions with someone who loved them, rather than at a pet store where knowone cares. [​IMG]

    I went through a time where I lost a lot of crabs in a couple months. I did know what was wrong, I tend to buy the saddest little crabs in the store. I just bought 2 that are missing their BP and one is barely moving. I just can't help myself. [​IMG]

    Anyway good luck and I hope it gets better sorry I couldn't be of more help...
     
  3. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    It's okay, I just don't want to keep buying hermie and have them die if I am doing something wrong. I think a period of a couple of months with no changes on my part would be a good "start over" kind of thing where I can look back if a problem arrises and say, well everything was going fine at this point, so what changed. Ya know? 7 of the 11 died within the first 3 weeks so one would have to assume that was pps. 3 only made it a couple weeks longer. Storm was the only one we had for several months and although I didn't see anything bad happen, something about the positioning of him when I found him said battle to me. His leg was far from him, his pincher was half open, his legs were half out and he was shell opening up. He just looked like he died defending himself. [​IMG] Maybe I am trying to read too much into this, but I really don't want to ignore a problem if there is one. Someone at LHC thought I might have a disease working through my tanks. Is there any way to know more definately if that is the case? And if it is the case, will I certainly lose all my hermies within 6 months or so? Oh, I don't even want to think that this could possibly happen!! [​IMG]
     
  4. simone

    simone Hi, I'm New Here!

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    I would agree that it sounds like much of it is related to PPS. Fights are possible, as are difficulty molting- when a crab has had poor nutrition/been subjected to extreme stress in captivity, it often has difficulty molting even months later. You just never know what they have been exposed to before we get them.

    And sometimes just a molt alone can do a crab in, even the ones in the wild- it's a natural process that helps keep over-population down.

    As far as the ants, if they were in with the crabs it's possible they were getting into the shells and eating on the soft abdomen, causing stress and death. Also, when I have had to fog or spray my house, I have completely removed the crabs, and not returned them until all was aired out. I use platic wrap on the fish, and they seem fine, but I won't risk it on the crabs as they are easy enough to move.

    As far as disease, I personally have heard only 2 instances, so while I believe it's possible, I tend to look at all other aspects.

    I would refrain from buying anymore, just to get yourself stabilized, and to try to keep healthy the ones you currently have- but I don't really think it's anything you are doing, just bad luck.

    I'm not big on quarantining, but given your troubles I would keep any new crabs separate- so you can keep track or the health of the 'old' guys, and the new guys.

    I know it's heartbreaking to lose one, let alone so many- I wish you and your crabbies lots of luck!
     
  5. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Thanks. As much as I have read and talked about hermies, I like to think I know what I am doing. I haven't had any molts gone bad that I am aware of. The strawberry crab that died might have been preparing to molt, she sure showed lots of pre molting signs but I didn't have her long enough to really know for sure.

    As to the ants in the crabitat, my hubby sat for a couple of hours going through the crabitat by hand making sure there were no ants in the crabitat, then we sealed the crabitat with saran wrap after moving all the hermies upstairs and sprayed a few areas where we saw the ants coming in the house in the living room. Like I said before, I aired out the living room for a week then unsealed the crabitat and aired for an additional 5 days before returning the crabs. The room upstairs had the door closed while we sprayed. I understand this was probably not fool proof, but it was the best we could do, and luckily we haven't had an ant in the living room since.

    Thank you simone, for your opinions. I really appreciate it. I am really hoping that I don't have a disease here, and it is likely bad luck like you said.

    May I ask why you aren't big on quarantine?
     
  6. simone

    simone Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Oops! I wasn't reading right, I didn't realized you removed the crabs before you saran wrapped the tank. That makes more sense [​IMG]


    As far as quarantining.... If I have a crab that seems overly stressed, or seems like he might need to molt, then I ISO him. Otherwise, I bathe them, and put them in the big tank. I know not everyone agrees with this, but I have never had difficulty. I don't disagree that disease isn't possible, I just think it highly unlikely- I believe most (new)crab deaths are due to suffocation from being dehydrated for extended periods of time, or PPS. Some crabs may have weaker immune systems that may make them more prone to disease, but again I trace that back to poor nutrition, and I still find it highly unlikely. Then again I'm no marine biologist, and I know some people aren't willing to take that risk.
     
  7. kuplakrabs

    kuplakrabs "Second Molt, A Success"

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    Gaby, I am so sorry to hear of such heartbreaking trouble with your hermies. [​IMG] I was wondering, though, perhaps it is not you. Do you buy all of your hermies at the same store? Maybe it is something they are doing wrong-perhaps cleaning tanks with windex, etc. and by the time they are just settling in with you, they are finally overpowered and can fight no longer. Just a thought.
     
  8. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    I do buy most of my hermies from the local Petco. I have bought 3 from the mall, 2 are "my" original crabs (from 7-3-04) and 1 is our jumbo Fredrico who we bought in early September, or was it August, anyway. I went on an E hunt 8-22-04 when I went to the San Jose area and went to 2 fish stores and 3 petcos in that area and got 10 hermies. 6 were ruggies and 2 were Es and 2 were cavipes. One of the Es (the one I lost) came from deplorable conditions. He was a go getter so I couldn't leave him and I was not too suprised that those conditions had an ill effect on him, even if it took a while to show up. The other E I still have today and I got from the other fish store. They only had a kk, but it was Perfect! It was the most luxurious kk I have ever seen. The ruggies all came from the petcos and 2 of those stores had okay conditions, but one had bugs and crickets and stuff in their tanks. I got the 2 cavipes and one ruggie that died from this bad petco. Do you think that the pet store conditions can really have that much of an effect on a hermie? I never really gave it much thought because I figured they weren't there very long. What do you all think?
     
  9. simone

    simone Hi, I'm New Here!

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    It's not just the bad petstore conditions..... It's the stress of being taken from their natural habitat, shipped to a distributor, then a warehouse, then a petstore. This can take weeks before they get from the wild to the actual petstore, being deprived of humidity, fresh water, and food most of the time. Then, if they aren't provided with food and water at the store, that length of time increases.

    When they are deprived of humidity and water, their modified gills dry up, and they begin to slowly suffocate. This can be a very slow process, most damage done to a crab's system can take weeks to kill them- which is why they often don't die until a few weeks after you get them home. Even if they do recover, the damage cannot be repaired until the next molt, and sometimes it makes it too difficult to survive a molt. The ones who die quickly (in transit), are the ones who give in to stress before they give into suffocation.
     
  10. hermielove

    hermielove Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Hi Gaby,

    First let me say that I'm so sorry to hear about the deaths of your hermies. It's heartbreaking, I know.

    Secondly.. where in your tanks are the gauges located at? I skimmed through and didn't see that you mentioned "where". This could be an issue. Gauges should be at terrain level. There is often a big difference in readings when gauges are up higher ... especially in large tanks.

    Do you use sponges in your water dishes? Change them regularly? Bacteria can build up if not changed out and rinsed on a regular basis.

    I've noticed in my own tanks and in others.. that death comes in cycles. You may not have any mystery deaths for months... then have four or five that are just unexplainable. I've been very lucky the past six months. *knock on wood* Pet store setups is one thing... stress levels due to being removed from their natural habitat (PPS) or something that is not just right in the captive environment (which you sound like you are on the right track with their care).

    I'm not sure what you mean about the possibility of a disease working through your tank. True there could be a bacterial issue.. but I'm not aware of any diseases per say. But then I've been outta the loop for a few months.

    Quarentine is good. Some don't do it... I do. Usually only a couple of weeks but longer if from a bad setup/store. Just long enough to destress. I also don't bathe them right home from the store. I believe that this adds to the stress levels... so I wait a couple of weeks until they are ready to head to the main tanks.

    Sadly... death..it just happens sometimes. Take a break from buying for a while.. watch your guys.. dechlorinate ALL water sources regardless (as a precaution) and see how it goes.

    Lucky
     
  11. kuplakrabs

    kuplakrabs "Second Molt, A Success"

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    Gaby, another thing I wanted to point out is the fact that you do seem to be doing things right. The other huge common denominator is the pet store. You have no control over their conditions and remember when people come in to "look" at hermit crabs and possibly handle them, they could have hand lotions, cleaning chemicals, etc on their hands. These types of things, along with not getting enough oxygen or salt water definitely have an adverse affect on them before they come home to your house.

    Also, I agree with the above post about not bathing as soon as you get them home. I wait (unless I see nasty ol' mites on one). I, too, think it adds to the stress level-especially if they are a new shipment that the store has just gotten in. I let them destress in ISO for at the VERY least 2 weeks. Usually 3 or four if they had mites depending on how they seem to be getting along. I am glad that I do-since on a few occasions, I have found mites on a crabbie that I could not see in the store-can't imagine them being released into the main!
     
  12. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Thanks guys, I am taking this all in. My gauges are a couple of inches at the most above the sand. I have a sloped terrain. I change the sponges weekly, should I do it more often? And yes, I always use sponges, at least one, and usually 2 in the freshwater only. They are probably 2-3 inches across, each, size wise. One thing this has make me think about is that although I have my gauges down low, the Petco where I get a lot of my hermies has them in the top 1/3 of the tank. It is one of those huge octagonal freestanding reptile things. They have mister in there and humidity and temp gauges and I know they feed their hermies prepared and fresh foods daily and provide water, but I don't know about salt water. I have seen them misting their crabitat on occasion if the mister doesn't seem to be keeping up because they have had the doors open getting crabs out a lot. They have some nice people there, but they have to stick to the petco guidelines they say, so they don't really listen much to what I say. They carry strawberries too now, so I hope they offer saltwater. I haven't noticed 2 water dishes and last time I went I was so amazed to see all the strawberries and different species that I wasn't looking - kinda like a deer in the headlights.

    I don't know what to do, I totally hear the reasoning for isoing newbies up to 3-4 weeks, and yet I have iso'd new hermies 2-3 and still have this problem. My husband is ademate that isoing new crabs makes no difference. With the 2 large pps that we got and iso'd 3 weeks one died recently, and with the 6 new (2 straws, 2 indos, 1 cavipe, 1pp) we iso'd a week and 1 has died. It figures it was the indo. They seem so shy to me and I haven't had any success keeping them. I have had 3 total and 2 have died, and the other one seems okay but that isn't much of an indicator for me these days.

    I don't want to give the impression that I am discouraged or close to giving up. I am not. I just want to make sure that I am doing things right and not contributing to these hermies deaths. If there is anything I can do to help the hermies I will. I truly believe I nursed a tiny ruggie back to health from deaths door recently, (I almost buried it but saw a twitch and started feeding honey and iso'd it - it's healthy as ever now) so I must know something.

    Sounds like there might be a couple of small things I can tweak or do better, but I am definatly on the right track, with not so great luck. Does that sound right to all of you? Please be honest. Hermies lives are at stake here.
     
  13. kuplakrabs

    kuplakrabs "Second Molt, A Success"

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    Honestly. I do think you are right on track. What you are describing sounds like what I am doing too. I am baffled. Maybe make a list of every single item in your crabitat. And the foods you serve.?. I know you know what you are doing and what should be in there and what should not, but sometimes we forget to see something that is right in front of us. I don't change my sponges out constantly-once a week on tank tidy up night. I agree with your husband about ISO to some extent. IMO I think they would destress better if put into proper conditions right away and I HAVE put crabbies directly into the main tank as long as they didn't have any bugs. I would think that it would be stressful to be taken from the pet store and then again put into a small enclosure with only one or two other crabs and no luxuries. There have been plenty of crabbers who do not ISO and they have had success with their methods. I don't absolutely, strictly adhere to one particular method of crabbing. A lot of what I do is based on what I have read and my gut instinct. Granted, I am a fairly new crabber myself, and have only suffered one death so far(knock on wood) due to horrid store conditions, but I truly believe that you are doing everything properly to care for your hermies. I wish I had better advice to give.
     
  14. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    I am willing to try anything so here is a list of what is in my crabitat.

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE>*Fake plants (from Michaels)
    *terracotta flower pots (from Michaels)
    *natural grapevine wreath (from Michaels)
    *plastic hanging plant w/suction cup from hermits-direct
    *coco huts
    *repti rock dishes (1 large 1 small)
    *food shell (tiger clam shell)
    *1 hidey hut climing thing that is an aquarium decoration from Wal-Mart
    *Oak branches from my back yard
    *natural sea sponges I ordered online from either HD, or petdiscounters
    *barnicles
    *coral cluster
    *I used to have a fountain on and off but the pump quit (about the same time as typhoon died under the fountain)
    *Cork structures occasionally
    *Drift wood
    *fake palm tree for hermies/reptiles you can get at Petco
    *plastic hermie palm tree
    *Occasionally I will bury down a ziplock container and fill with forest bedding
    *Occasionally I bury a dish of smooth aquarium gravel and put the water dishes on that if the sand is getting over saturated
    *beach sand
    *analog gauges
    *A fake vine with suction cups and pink flowers for hermies/reptiles from Petco
    *Natural sea sponges
    [/list]
    I can't think of anything else besides shells and hermies. I bake or boil or run very hot water over everything I put in there. The sand we got from the beach in bodega bay and it's extremely clean there and I sifted the sand, rinsed it and baked it till dry. I used to feed zoo med food, but due to ethoxyquin, now I feed crab island food along with kaytee healthy toppings, a tropical dried fruit combo for birds that has coconut and green and pink and yellow fruits too, cuttlebone, and occasionally plain popcorn, fresh banana, romaine lettuce, carrots, apple bits, grape bits. I can't think of anything else I feed them. I use instant ocean, and doc wellfish sea salts - I have both. I have fed raw honey to a couple of hermies, one made it and the other didn't. I have fed peanut butter once, but no one touched it. I guess that is it. Oh, and in my son's tank he has aragonite sand mixed with beach sand. The 20 gal iso has repti sand and calci sand and the 10 gal iso has play sand mixed with calci sand.<LI>
     
  15. kuplakrabs

    kuplakrabs "Second Molt, A Success"

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    Really the only things that I can even think might be problem would be maybe the driftwood. Perhaps it is a type of wood that they shouldn't be around??? Also maybe (and this is stretchin' it a bit) the plastic plants from Michaels-is there a wire inside them that may be exposed? And I know nothing at all about terra cotta pots, but are they treated with something perhaps?..all of these things seem really, really doubtful that they could cause so many hermie deaths so soon.

    Have you checked your hygrometer to make sure it is accurate? MMM...maybe I read that you have...I use EE and all replica driftwood and the flexi-branches because I had mold on the genuine driftwood once and that was all it took for me to get rid of the real stuff. GEEZ Gaby I wish someone had an answer for you. Anyone esle? Any ideas at all????
     
  16. Gaby

    Gaby Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Thanks Wendy, Yes the fake plants from Michaels have some wire in them, I kinda doubt the terra cotta has anything on it, it feels really natural - no glaze or anything, and the drift wood is natural from the beach, I boiled the heck out of it and use very little of it and it's only in my son's tank which has had a much better success rate than mine so I doubt it's the culprit. I have checked my hygrometers, we have 4 and I compared them all 3 were really close and 1 was wayyyy off so I kind of averaged them. Probably not the most scientific method of checking, but next order I put online for hermie stuff I am getting a digital one so I KNOW it is right.

    The more I read and think about this, I am starting to think it might be luck and pps combined. I don't always go for the rescue crabs but a couple of them were. I am still sticking to my no new hermies plan for a while, and I am going to try and not introduce any new stuff either. If I have to add something I will make sure it is exactly like something I already have, like a new fake plant same brand with same suction cup I have in there already.
    I am not going to change foods, but I might try some FMR if I can find some online, that should be safe I would think. I have a good selection of treats I have already tried so I will stick to that for a while. I hope that will stop all the deaths.
     
  17. banana

    banana Hi, I'm New Here!

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]That is so sad,did you have the humid
    up to high or to low?It is suppose to be at 60
    degrees. [​IMG]

    Banana [​IMG]
     
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