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White Mites - But more a question about bathing...

Discussion in 'Emergency Care - 911.' started by Allauque, Mar 28, 2006.

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  1. Allauque

    Allauque Hi, I'm New Here!

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    I have 4 crabs, two medium-sized ones that my sons got for Christmas, and two smaller ones that I just purchased two weeks ago. They are in a 10 gallon tank, with a mesh lid that I have covered with platic wrap, and coconut fiber substrate. I have a couple shells, two pieces of driftwood, and an aquarium hollow head statue/hut (Anghkor Wat style). I do have an UTH, but have it against the back wall to allow them some "cooler" areas to dig in (I also have recycled one of those windshield reflective covers to cover the bottom and back of the tank to maintain an appropriate temperature - it's usually 72 degrees). Humidity usually runs between 65 - 80%, I try to keep it between 70 and 75 by misting. I have both a saltwater (made with aquarium salt) bath and a fresh water (bottled water) area. I feed them nuts, dried fruit, some fresh fruit and veggies, and commercial food (try to keep a variety). I change dry food every other day, fresh food daily, water when it's dirty (every 1-2 days).

    Now on to my problem...

    I purchased three new shells on Friday and put them into the tank (did not boil them since the guy at Petco said it wasn't necessary...now I'm thinking I should've). Sunday night as I was changing food and sterilizing the wood (I do that weekly since I have a problem with the wood being too wet and getting fungus on it), I noticed a few (less than 10) little white mites crawling around in the substrate. It was too late at night to sterilize the whole tank, and I didn't have an ISO tank prepared for my crabs, nor the necessary water to rehydrate enough coconut fiber, so I decided to do some research on the matter and put it off. The crabs looked fine, and I couldn't see any mites on them, my husband was telling me not to freak out...so I didn't jump to action.

    Monday morning I came down to find that one of the medium-sized crabs (Bruce) had changed shells. The other medium-sized crab (Clark) was very interested in Bruce's old shell. I didn't do anything before work, but purchased the necessary water on my lunch to be prepared for sterilizing the tank. During the day on Monday my husband says there was a "crab party" going on. Everyone was very active, and Clark moved into Bruce's old shell, tried it out, and then moved back into his old shell.

    Monday night (last night) I pulled all the toys out and sterilized them by boiling them, I also microwaved the wood again. I set everything aside and plan on completing the tank cleaning tonight (had to take my sons to the doctor and couldn't do the whole tank). I did pull out a nut that had been buried that was covered with about 30 of the little white mites. I still haven't seen any on my crabs.

    Tonight (Tuesday) I will be sterilizing the tank using boiling water, putting in the new substrate, and bathing my crabs (I was planning on doing a half bottled/half saltwater bath). But I'm slightly concerned about bathing Bruce and Clark, who just changed shells yesterday. And I also wonder if Bruce molted, as his coloring is much more vibrant than I remember (he had been a dull brownish-red, but now he's a brighter, deep red). If he did, it must've happened fast as I just checked on him Sunday and he was hiding in his usual area. I didn't notice any clouding of his eyes, his coloring hadn't changed since we got him, and his behavior didn't really change either...he's always been the least active of my crabs (unless he was already in pre-molt when we got him). He was out and about, climbing around yesterday, so I'm assuming things are going well. I just need to get feedback on the bathing issue. Is it o.k. to bathe Clark (who just changed shells as far as I can tell), and Bruce (who possibly molted, but definitely changed shells)? I will definitely be bathing the other two smaller crabs. If I can't bathe Bruce, how long should I wait before I do? I have the small plastic carrier that he came in to use as an ISO, but I hate to leave him in that for long, plus I'd need to figure out a way to heat it and I don't have temp. or humidity gauges for it. Thanks for the feedback.

    Christi
     
  2. Allauque

    Allauque Hi, I'm New Here!

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    An update...

    I spoke with Petco, and the guy there is pretty sure those mites came from the millipede tank (located directly above their hermit crab tank - I did just get the two new crabs from them a couple weeks ago) and says they will probably just starve and won't pose a risk to my crabs (although he seemed surprised that I found a bunch of them on a nut that had been burried, he didn't think they would be interested in something like that). He says I should do nothing, and shouldn't bathe my crabs. I'm thinking I'm still going to change out the substrate (since I've already rehydrated it and am all set to do it). Anyone have thoughts on the bathing issue?
     
  3. moire_eel

    moire_eel "Second Molt, A Success"

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    Hi, and welcome to the forum! I don't have any experience with mites myself, so I can't say much there, execpt that many kinds of mites are only interested in the food, and not the crabs. But bathing is a reasonable precaution, and I would probably do it myself even though I never bathe crabs normally. If Bruce is up and active (it sounds like he is) then it's fine to give him a bath with the others. Clark too. I wouldn't dig anybody up, or bathe a crab that obviously molted topside, but anybody else is fair game. I think from what I've read, if there are mites on the crabs, you should see them floating on the water after the bath.

    As for sterilization ... boiling is a good option, but you can put stuff you can't boil int the freezer. I'd definitely replace the substrate. If you're not already doing so, you should prepare the coconut fiber using boiling, (sea) salt water. Boiling kills the buggies, and salt will help with mold control. Also, you might want to soak the wood with the mold problem in a strong seasalt solution for a few days.

    You say your humidity is at 70 to 75, but you're getting mold, which makes me think that your gauge could be inaccurate. Here's a link explaining how you can test an analog gauge:
    http://www.cheaphumidors.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Sto...reen=howto_calibrate

    If your gauge is accurate, you might need to cover more of the top of your tank. Usually coconut fiber gives you humidity galore! It's better to get humidity stable if you can, and not rely on misting.
     
  4. Allauque

    Allauque Hi, I'm New Here!

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    Thanks for the response. I did change out the substrate and sterilize the tank, but as the Petco guy suggested, I didn't find any mites in the substrate. I bathed three of the crabs, with no sign of mites, so did not bathe Bruce (I try to avoid bathing them as well).

    I've always used room temperature bottled water to hydrate the substrate, never thought of boiling saltwater. I'll have to try that next time. I did bake the new substrate last night (I usually "preheat" it before I put it into the tank so I don't have to wait too long to get the tank back up to temp., although I forgot that the oven was on, so it was nice and toasty when it came out...had to wait for it to cool).

    I'll have to look into checking my humidity gauge, I've had my suspisions about it's accuracy. Although, as soon as possible I'm wanting to get a new, larger tank (and more hermit crabs...they're so addictive!), so I'll need to buy new gauges anyway. :0)

    Christi
     
  5. moire_eel

    moire_eel "Second Molt, A Success"

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    I reccomend the digital gauge from Pet Discounters:

    http://petdiscounters.com/product.php?productid=1092002&cat=277&page=1

    They have a long battery life and seem to stay accurate -- some digital gauges won't when their batteries start to go.

    Depending on the size of your tank, you might want to have more than one. I have one at each end of my 75 gallon -- one at mid-level, and one about three inches above the substrate. I used to have the lower one at mid-level too (my large Straws would rip it down nightly otherwise) and when I moved it lower I was suprised to find that it was like 10 to 15 percent more humid at that level! My tank humidity might have been too high for the crabs that like to sit on the sand.
     
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