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Hermit Crab Basic Care

Updated on September 26, 2017
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Brittany Banks loves animals. She has experience with this type of animal and likes to share how to take care of it.

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Enclosure Requirements

Size

Two hermit crabs will need a 10 gallon tank or more. It has to have an enclosed lid to help with humidity and temperature. Make sure there is some air flow coming in and out of the tank. They have to have space to roam around and also have enough room for all the requirements.

Substrate

Three inches of substrate is needed to help with molting. During molting, they will dig. We will talk more about molting later in the article. Keepers have found that a combination mix of coconut fiber and silica based play sand is good substrate to house hermit crabs on.

Plants

You will need to provide fake plants through out the tank to provide shade and hiding areas. The hermit crabs might even fall asleep in them.

Temperature

To make sure you have the right temperature, you need to purchase a temperature gun. This will ensure you are taking accurate temperatures. The tank will need to be 75F- 80F. To achieve this temperature, you need to purchase a under tank heater. This under tank heater needs to be placed on the back of the tank with a thermostat set to the correct temperature. If additional heating is needed, you can use a ceramic heat emitter, but on a thermostat of course. A thermostat will control the temperature and will turn the heating devices on automatically when needed.

Lighting

The tank will need to have 12 hour lighting. You can achieve this by using a clear white light house bulb. Hermit crabs can benefit from UVB lighting, but it isn't required. Shut the light off before you go to bed and turn it on when you wake up.

Humidity

This part is very important to keeping your hermits crabs alive. You need to have 70- 80% humidity a 100% of the time. This can be hard to do, but is needed. You need to purchase an automatic fogger and a hydrometer to make sure you are doing this accurately. Check the hydrometer every day to make sure it is the right percentage. Hermit crabs live in a humid environment and need it to stay alive. Create a mossy area inside the tank as well. You can use sphagnum moss and this will also help with humidity.

Hideouts

Your hermit crabs will need areas to hide away and sleep. Fake plants will achieve this or you can find hide outs at your local pet store. Just make sure the hermit crabs can easily go in and out. Some keepers use non-painted flower pots tipped on their side.

Shells

You will need to provide at least 10 shells for each hermit crab. These shells have to be different sizes. After molting, they will choose a different shell. Leave the original one in there just in case. These shells have to be non-painted or not glazed. Any type of paint is toxic to hermit crabs. Those shells you see at the pet store that are painted, are bad for hermit crabs. Keepers never understand why they sell them in the first place. You can find shells that are safe at your local craft store.

Dishes

You need to provide three different dishes. A food dish, water dish, and a salt water dish. The water dish needs to be non-chlorinated water. Chlorine is toxic to hermit crabs, so no tap water can be used. Bottled water is required. This water dish needs to include a sponge that is drenched as well. This will prevent the hermit crabs from drowning. This sponge needs to be changed every other day to prevent mold and bacteria growth. The dishes or anything else inside the tank can not be made of any type of metal. Metal is also toxic to hermit crabs. Now the salt water dish has to have salt water made for salt water fish. This is the only type of salt water you can use. You can't just make some of your own, because too much salt can kill them. Also have a sponge for the salt water dish. The food dish also needs to be provided.

Additional Decorations

Hermit crabs love to climb and will do so if they have something to climb. Branches can be provided, but they have to be pesticide free and non-toxic. Below is a list of safe wood you can use:

  • Birch
  • Mangrove
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Pear
  • Pecan
  • Sycamore


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Cleaning The Enclosure

No chemicals can be used while doing this, because it is toxic to hermit crabs. Sea salt can be used to disinfect the tank and anything inside it. Use non-chlorinated water and some sea salt to clean everything inside the tank besides the hermit crabs of course. This needs to be done once a month to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

Hermit crabs need fruit and protein daily to survive. They will eat any fruit, but it can't be citric. Dried kelp and shrimp are great proteins that they can eat daily. They love seafood and will be happy and healthy. www.crabstreetjournal.org provides great diet recipes can you can feed daily and will give you more information on what you can feed your hermit crabs. Cuttlebone or egg shell needs to be provide for a calcium source. Place the cuttlebone or egg shell in the food dish.

Molting

If you believe you see a dead hermit crab, don't worry, because it can be going through a process called molting. A hermit crab will dig and shed their old outer shell. You may find the exoskeleton. Most hermit crabs will molt every 15-18 months, but younger ones can do it more often. During this process, do not touch or mess with your hermit crab, because it can kill it. You will know when a hermit crab is molting, because it will dig. It could also take months to molt.

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Hermit crabs make awesome pets can live up to 40 years. In captivity, 10 to 20 years is more common. They can be held, but be gentle and yes, they can pinch. Once their set up is done, they are easy to care for. While they are being held, make sure there is supervision. Hermit crabs love to have friends as well, so if you are thinking about getting one, think about getting more than one and have fun!

Check back once in awhile for any updated information.

Information Gathered From:

“The Crab Street Journal.” The Crabstreet Journal, The Crab Street Journal, 2001, crabstreetjournal.org/. Accessed 26 Sept. 2017.

Wilkin, Christa. “BASIC CRAB CARE.” HERMIT-CRABS.COM, Christa Wilkin, 2011, hermit-crabs.com/care.html. Accessed 26 Sept. 2017.

Wise, Ashley, and Rachel Hamilla. "Hermit Crab Association." HCA: Hermit Crab Association About Us, 2004, www.hermitcrabassociation.com/pages/aboutus.html. Accessed 26 Sept. 2017.

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© 2017 Brittany Banks

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