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Hermit Crab FAQ

Discussion in 'Frequently Asked Questions' started by jasso, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. jasso

    jasso Guest

    How many crabs should I get?

    Hermit crabs live in large colonies (sometimes over 100).  Because of this, they love to have other hermit crabs around.  So typically the more crabs you have, the happier they will be.  Just make sure that you can take care of them all and that they have plenty of space and hiding spots for all of them.  The general rule of thumb is 1 medium sized crab per 2 gallons of tank.  Larger crabs will need more room for them to run around in.  Smaller crabs can be kept in smaller “crabitats,” but should not be in tanks less than 5 gallons.
    *- caution: crabs are very unique and individual. As such, they may have a different preference in terms of space. Where one crab may be satisfied with the 2 Gal. tank ratios, some crabs may not. This can be determined by their behavior. If they are constantly behaving territorially (not to be mixed up with pre-molt), or are constantly aggressive towards other crabs, they may need more space! So it is always good to practice moderation!

    Should I bathe my crab, and how often should I do it?

    Bathing a crab is a way to make sure that the gills remain moist and to rinse off any parasites or oily residues.  Some hermit crab enthusiasts will keep a small pool in their tanks with a way for the crabs to climb in and out so that the crabs can give themselves a bath.  But if you don’t have a pool, bathing a crab once a week in dechlorinated water is highly suggested.  Or you may also use dechlorinated salt water.  The level of the water should be high enough that it completely covers the hermit crab.  Even though they have gills, hermit crabs cannot breathe under water, so do not leave them in for more than 30 seconds.  Always make sure that your water does not have chlorine in it.  If it does, use a dechlorinator that does not promote slime coat, the additives could get on the gills and suffocate your crab.  And never use table-salt, it has preservatives in it that are toxic to hermit crabs.

    Why is it important for hermit crabs to be able to dig?

    Hermit crabs love to dig.  They will dig just for the heck of digging.  Or they might dig to destress themselves.  In general, hermit crabs need to dig in order to get away from other crabs.  It’s a way for them to feel safe and secure if they feel stressed out.  A crab that is close to molting will start digging down so that it can make a little chamber for it to molt in.  A crab that cannot dig will die from stress, or may be eaten by other crabs if they molt on the surface.  Crabs need to be able to dig in a deep enough layer to completely cover themselves, usually twice their height.  The type of material they dig in is also very important.  It should be able to hold its shape so that it doesn’t cave in on a digging crab.

    Help! My crabs’ leg fell off!

    Dropping limbs is a sign that your hermit crab may either be very stressed out or sick.  Look for things that might be the cause.  Overly aggressive crabs or shell fighting will almost always cause other crabs to stress out and lose limbs.  Other causes might be improper conditions, or improper diet, the list is endless.  The best thing to do is to isolate the crab from the others and give them a nice deep layer to dig down into.  Keep them in a dark quiet place away from areas of high activity for a few weeks and make sure that the temperature and humidity are within the optimal range for your species.  With a little patience the hermit crab may molt and regenerate the lost limb(s).  In some cases of extremely high stress, the crabs may lose many limbs at one time; which is almost always a point of no return.

    What is an iso and do I need one?

    An iso is a good thing to keep around, but is not required.  It is the nickname hermit crab enthusiasts give for an isolation chamber.  They are used to keep certain crabs away from the main community.  Many use them when a crab is sick or infested.  They are also used before a new addition is put in the main tank to let it destress after the journey home.  They are also used to isolate a crab that is soon to molt from the other crabs so that it does not get disturbed while molting.

    Why does a crab need to molt and how often to they need to?

    Crabs have a hard exoskeleton, which means that they have to shed it in order for them to grow.  When a crab molts, it will not be able to move until its exoskeleton (exo) hardens up a little.  So it will first eat and drink a lot so that it can store up nutrients while it molts.  It stores this in a “bubble sac” that can sometimes be seen just behind the legs on its left side.  When they feel ready they will usually start to dig down to make a cave so that they can be left alone by other crabs.  Molting is a stressful time for hermit crabs, especially for the larger ones.  Hermit crabs can take a long time, sometimes up to 3 months.  Try not to uncover crabs that are buried or they may stress out to the point of death.  Not all crabs will molt at regular intervals, each one will molt when it feels the need to. The time between molts is mostly determined by the amount of nutrients that the crab gets and the size of the crab, but sometimes a crab will molt early so that it can regrow a missing limb.  A large sized crab will molt approximately once every 18 months.  Some smaller ones may go as quickly as 4 times in a year.

    What kind of water should I give my hermit crabs?

    Hermit crabs need water like every other living thing on the planet.  Despite what some may say, all hermit crabs need salt.  Some types need it more than others.  It is always a good idea to provide both saltwater and freshwater for your hermit crabs.  That way they can regulate the amount of salt they get by choosing which to drink.  Hermit crabs not only use water to drink, but they also use it to help them breathe.  Hermit crabs don’t have lungs, they breathe through moistened gills.  Their water cannot have any chlorine in it, or else it may burn their gills.  If you are using tap water, ALWAYS dechlorinate it before it even touches the hermit crabs.  This includes water for spray bottles.

    What is a substrate and what should I use for one?

    A substrate is what sits on the bottom of the tank.  Hermit crabs use it to dig around in.  The most common substrate is sand, sold in hardware stores for sandboxes.  It keeps is shape well when moist, it helps to regulate humidity and is gentle on the exoskeletons of the crabs.  Another type is Forest Bedding, or FB.  It is a favorite among die hard enthusiasts.  It boosts humidity a great deal and it holds its shape better than sand.  Gravel is another choice, but because of its roughness and because it can’t be burrowed into, a separate area would need to be provided to let the crabs dig down if they need to.  Because of that, it is slowly being phased out.  A big no-no is anything from evergreen tress, anywhere.  The resins are fatally toxic to hermit crabs.  The main things to consider when selecting a substrate are how well it can be dug into and how well it will keep the humidity.

    What should I keep my hermit crab in?

    The natural environment for hermit crabs is a warm and humid place with plenty of places to dig and hide in.  This has proven to be the best way to keep hermit crabs in captivity.  Any one who is serious about keeping hermit crabs should set up a roomy tank with a lot of places to hide and a deep enough substrate to dig around in.  The temperature needs to be with 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity needs to be within 70 and 80% relative humidity.  All-glass tanks, like an aquarium, are well suited for this and are easily obtained from just about any pet store.

    Why is my hermit crab bubbling?

    A bubbling hermit crab is a sign that your tank is too hot and/or too dry.  They will blow bubbles over their gills to try to keep them moist or to try to cool them off.  Unfortunately, when they show this symptom the crab is usually beyond help and is fatally sick.

    My crab left his shell and won’t go back in!

    Like a lot of other abnormal behavior, a naked crab is usually a sign of either sickness or stress.  It is important for a hermit crab to get back into a shell, but it can be difficult to get it into one.  One of the more common methods used is to scoop up the hermit crab and put it in a small area, like a cup, with a lot of shells to choose from.  Look for things that would stress out the crab.  Things like shell fights, overly aggressive crabs, and improper conditions all contribute to streaking.

    How do hermit crabs behave?

    Hermit crabs live in large colonies in the wild, sometimes with more than 100 crabs.  This means that hermit crabs have developed social systems and will interact with others.  They are also natural climbers and will explore every inch of wherever they are.  Because of that, they have a tendency to get into a little mischief, almost always finding a way out of a tank if possible.  The varied social interaction they display is often comical, and will provide plenty of entertainment.

    What do hermit crabs eat?

    Like any other scavenger, hermit crabs have a wide range of foods in their diet.  They will eat anything that they can.  Some things are poisonous to them, while others are necessary foods.  Hermit crabs need a source of protein and calcium, as well as vitamins and other minerals.  Many die hard fanatics will mix their own hermit crab food from regular organic foods.  Preservatives must be kept away from hermit crabs as some of them can be toxic.  The website http://www.epicureanhermit.com/, by Julia_Crab, has a list of many edible and non edible foods and will be updated as new findings come out.

    Why do they have those shells, and do they need more?

    Hermit crabs are dependant on external shells to protect them from predators and from the environment.  They need it to regulate the humidity around the gills and to carry around a store of water to prevent them from drying out and to keep themselves at a steady temperature.  As a hermit crab grows, it will need bigger shells.  Some can be very picky about which shell they live in while others will change into every shell they find.  So it is always a good idea to provide a number if different shells and sizes for them to choose from.

    Do hermit crabs get parasites?

    Sometimes a crab will become infested with mites.  This is usually because of poor conditions, such as neglect from a pet store.  The common form of treatment is putting the crab in iso and giving it a double strength saltwater bath 2 to 3 times a day until they don't find any more mites.  Almost all forms of mite control attack the chitin in the exoskeletons of the mites; and because both hermit crabs and mites have exoskeletons made of chitin, they would also attack the exos of the hermit crabs.  Predatory mites, http://www.crabstreetjournal.com/mo...e=article&sid=166&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0, is one of the few methods to kill off unwanted parasites that does not harm the crab.

    If you have any concerns, questions, or comments, please feel free to PM me.
  2. kellie_1324

    kellie_1324 Guest

    Hey, looks good Jasso! :thumbsup: Maybe Bold or caps the title part for the new sections though, to make them more obvious? :dontknow:
  3. vckums

    vckums Moderator

    Dec 20, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Awesome job! :sunny:
  4. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Looks Awesome! You put alot of work into this, you get my :icon_thumleft: :icon_thumleft:
  5. putertutor

    putertutor Guest

    Terrific job!!!! Thank you for your hard work! :hello2:
  6. CrabbyChris22

    CrabbyChris22 Hi, I'm New Here!

    Dec 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Montgomery Village, MD
    Jasso, that is a fantastic FAQ. So fantastic in fact that I just copied that out and into a Word document for a friend of mine to take to someone who doesn't have internet access at this time. I agree with kellie though in that you might want to either bold or underline the questions to make them stand out a little. That's what I did in the document I created from your FAQs and it helps a bunch.

    Great work and it's nice to see some info. I wish more folks would post ideas so that I could write the article that I wanted to write but I haven't received much information to work with. I wanted to contribute a little also to this site since I call it "home" now, lol.
  7. Hermies

    Hermies Guest

    Hey Man Awsome job! Oh by the way if you are ever curios about something thet your hermit crab is doing, just ask and I'll do my best to answer. But the answers probally on there. Heh heh heh heh. Any way, excellent job :icon_thumleft: :wav: :wav: :wav:
  8. shmama

    shmama Guest

    :thanks: :blowheart: :clever66: :giverose: :dogkiss: You ROCK Jasso! I just printed this off to add to my own reference folder I'm making. Thanks so much for all the great info.! :petals:

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