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How to Properly Feed Hermit Crabs

Updated on June 6, 2013
Hermit Crab In His Shell
Hermit Crab In His Shell

How To Properly Feed Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crab Diet

You want to feed your Hermit Crab a well balanced diet keeping in mind that Hermit Crabs are omnivorous. In the wild their diet includes plants, animals, algae, and fungi. They will really eat almost anything but you want to use care with what you feed them in order to keep them healthy.

In general Hermit Crabs are seen as a throwaway pet. Most people think that Hermit Crabs will only live for a few months but you should know that some species of Hermit Crab can live 25 years or more and some have even lived as long as 32 years in captivity.

Ideally you should feed your Hermit Crab a good quality commercial Hermit Crab food and treats on a once or twice a week basis.

You can supplement their diet with spinach, carrots, and romaine lettuce. You can also give the Hermit Crab coconut, mango, banana peels, and papaya. Don't give your Hermit Crab citrus fruits. Nuts, brine shrimp, fish flakes, and seaweed can be offered as a treat.

Despite Their Name Hermit Crabs Are Social Creatures

Despite its name Hermit Crabs are social creatures and do well in a large aquarium or enclosure with 4-5 other Hermit Crabs. You want to be sure that you offer your Hermit Crabs a calcium and carotene supplement on a regular basis. Just ask for these items at your local pet shop.

Tips For Feeding Your Hermit Crab

Your Hermit Crab should always have clean chlorine free water. I use bottled water for my Hermit Crabs. I have artificial water falls in the enclosure and a couple of pools that they can get into and out of easily. Make sure they can easily get into and out of any water or you'll end up with a drowned Hermit Crab. Most Hermit Crabs are going to want to drink their water off plants or out of a sponge. Water pools should not be over one inch deep. With a water fall or two you'll be able to keep the humidity up in your Hermit Crab enclosure. You need the humidity in the Hermit Crab enclosure to be at 70 - 80 percent.

Feed Your Hermit Crabs Only What They Will Eat

Remember when your feeding your Hermit Crab that they have very small stomachs and they don't need a lot to eat at any one time. Leave the food in with your Hermit Crab for a few hours and remove anything not eaten after a few hours. Do not leave uneaten food in the enclosure as it can mold and could make your Hermit Crab sick.

You should always crush any commercial Hermit Crab food that comes in pellets before you feed it to your Hermit Crab and you should always feed at night. Some people will argue that it doesn't matter when you feed Hermit Crabs but I really think it does. In the wild they eat mostly at night and I think you'll find that your Hermit Crabs will prefer to eat at night.

Keep in mind that Hermit Crabs like a variety in their diet. But again be careful to only give them what they will eat and don't leave excess food laying in the enclosure.

Summary Of How To Properly Feed Your Hermit Crab

Make sure that if your using a commercial Hermit Crab food that comes in pellets that you crush the pellets with a spoon before you give the food to your Hermit Crab.

Only give the Hermit Crab what they are going to eat in a few hours. Keep in mind that Hermit Crabs will only eat small amounts at any one time.

Be sure not to feed your Hermit Crab citrus fruit. Sometimes they will eat it and citrus fruit can harm or kill your crab.

Feed your Hermit Crab treats of brine shrimp, fish flakes, nuts, and seaweed as treats. You can also feed them small amounts of coconut, mango, and papaya. You can also give them small amounts of spinach, romaine lettuce, and carrots. These should be in small amounts. Remove anything not eaten after a few hours. Never allow food to mold or even just lay there.

Always keep fresh water in for your Hermit Crabs. You need both chlorine free fresh water and salt water. I never use water from the spigot to water my hermit crabs with. And you shouldn't either. You need to use bottled water or filtered water to provide all of your hermit crabs water needs. Never use tap water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals and it can kill your hermit crab friend.

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Photos Of Hermit Crabs

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A Hermit Crab outside his shell. Two Hermit Crabs Fighting Over A Shell. A Hermit Crab Sealed Up Inside His Shell.
A Hermit Crab outside his shell.
A Hermit Crab outside his shell.
Two Hermit Crabs Fighting Over A Shell.
Two Hermit Crabs Fighting Over A Shell.
A Hermit Crab Sealed Up Inside His Shell.
A Hermit Crab Sealed Up Inside His Shell.

Housing Your Hermit Crabs

It is recommended if your going to keep one Hermit Crab it will need at least a 10 gallon aquarium. For two or more Hermit Crabs you need a 20 gallon aquarium or larger. You'll want to provide branches for climbing, safe plants, and places for the Hermit Crabs to hide. You'll also need water bowls and a shallow food dish. If you don't have an artificial water fall in your aquarium you'll need to mist your Hermit Crab enclosure several times daily. Ideally you should have a humidity meter and a thermometer. Remember that the humidity needs to be at 70-80 percent and the temperature needs to be at 70 - 80 degrees with a under tank heater as a heat source. Set your enclosure up and check the temperature and humidity level for at least 4 -6 times over the next 24 hours before you put the Hermit Crabs into the enclosure.

Keep in mind that the humidity must be at 75 - 80 percent and the temperature must be at 70 - 80 degrees. Change and keep changing your enclosure until you get the right temperature and humidity level. An artificial water fall will help to get the humidity level up and keep it up.

Plants For Your Hermit Crab Enclosure

Bromeliads and spider plants are ideal for the habitat if your going with live plants. You can always ask what plants they suggest where you purchase your Hermit Crabs. I use both live and artificial plants in my crab enclosure. Be very sure that any plants you add to their enclosure are safe for the hermit crab. You don't want to use plants that can be toxic to your hermit crabs.

You should use a substrate like coconut fiber and sand mixed together in the bottom of your Hermit Crab tank and it should be 3 - 4 inches deep. You'll discover quick enough that your crabs will often search and mess up the way you have their enclosure and you'll need to fix it up often.

You'll want to provide safe lighting for 10 - 12 hours per day. Be sure that it's a light bulb that won't heat up to much and overheat your Hermit Crabs. You really should use the same type of lighting they were using where you bought your Hermit Crabs. This is one reason an in tank thermometer is so important. keep an eye on the temperature and make sure the Hermit Crab enclosure doesn't get to hot.

Keep two shallow one inch deep containers with water in them. One should be fresh chlorine free water and one should be salt water. And you should ask at your local pet store how to make salt water for your Hermit Crab. If your going to be keeping pets you should always be doing research and teaching yourself everything you can about your pet. You can purchase a great book on Hermit Crabs above. If your going to be keeping hermit crabs as pets be sure that you continue doing research and keep a journal with careful notes. You can refer back to your journal later and if you keep careful notes you will learn new things about your hermit crabs all the time.

Clean Your Hermit Crabs Enclosure About Once A Week

About once a week you should clean your Hermit Crab enclosure completely with a bleach water solution. Use a 3 percent bleach solution and be sure to put your Hermit Crabs in a secure location before you clean their enclosure.

Wash everything but live plants with the bleach and water solution and run water in the cleaned tank until you no longer smell bleach. Change the substrate if necessary. No you don't wash the substrate with the bleach water solution.

I always bake my new hermit crab sand at 400 degrees for 30 minutes to sanitize it and make sure its super clean. Let the sand cool before you use it in the hermit crab enclosure.

About every two weeks I boil any unused shells and etc in boiling water for 10 minutes. This helps to insure that the hermit crab enclosure always stays super clean and sanitary.

Wash Your Hermit Crabs

About once a week wash your Hermit Crab off in a shallow dish of lukewarm water. Set the Hermit Crab in a small enclosure lined with paper towels for it to dry off. Don't put wet crabs back into the regular crab enclosure or substrate will stick to it.

Hermit Crab Moulting

About once or twice a year Hermit Crabs are going to moult. When they do they will bury themselves in the sand and you should not bother the Hermit Crab at this time. Close the moulting crab off with a tank divider or put the other crabs in a different enclosure. It's very important that the fragile moulting crab not be disturbed and the humidity must be at 70 - 80 percent.

Signs Of A Happy And Healthy Hermit Crab

If your Hermit Crab has a good appetite and it is very active then it most likely is healthy.

Safety Issues

Hermit Crabs can be carriers of salmonella so always wash your hands with warm soapy water after handling your Hermit Crab or working with them. You should wash your hands with a good quality antibacterial soap and wash your hands to the elbows.

You Need A Secure Top On Your Hermit Crab Tank

Hermit Crabs are great climbers so you really need a secure top on your Hermit Crab enclosure that fastens down so your Hermit Crab can't escape. Ideally you should have branches in the enclosure for the Hermit Crabs to climb on and they can escape this way if the top is not secure. You need a reptile top on your hermit crab enclosure that locks down. Hermit crabs are much stronger than you think. So be prepared ahead of time.

Red Flag Issues

If your Hermit Crab loses a limb, stops eating, abandons its shell and doesn't return to it or stops moving about you should take the Hermit Crab to your local veterinarian. You should ask ahead of time to see if there is a veterinarian in your area that will work with Hermit Crabs. Don't wait until you need a vet before you find out the vet down the street will not treat hermit crabs. Always ask ahead.

A Supply Of Shells

Have extra larger shells in your enclosure in case one or more of your Hermit Crabs needs a new home. I try to keep Hermit Crabs of various sizes in my Hermit Crab enclosure and this works out much better especially when it comes time to choose a new shell. Please don't use the fancy painted or decorated shells. Use plain shells. Hermit crabs are scavengers by nature so they will try to break off and eat paint or other decorations on shells. So be safe and only use plain undecorated shells.

Things About Hermit Crabs To Keep In Mind

You need a hygrometer in your hermit crab enclosure. This is a combination humidity meter and thermometer in one. The optimal temperature should be around 73 - 85 degrees with a humidity of 75 - 85 percent. You must keep the humidity at 75 percent or more or your crab will not survive. Hermit crabs breathe through their gills and they can not breathe unless they are kept at the proper humidity. Humidity below 70 percent can kill them by slowly suffocating them. This is a slow and painful death so be sure to keep the humidity above 75 percent.

Thanks For Reading My Hub Page On How To Properly Feed Hermit Crabs

I want to thank you for reading my Hub Page on How To Properly Feed Hermit Crabs. I hope you found the information helpful but you should do extensive research of your own. Read and find out everything you can about any pet you plan to keep including Hermit Crabs.

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Please Post Your Comments About How To Properly Feed Hermit Crabs And Thanks For Reading.

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    • SolveMyMaze profile image


      5 years ago

      Hermit crabs are awesome! They were in a tank on a school trip we went on years ago. You're not wrong about them being carriers of salmonella. Sadly a few of my friends found out about this the hard way and were pretty sick during the trip.

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      5 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks much. I just updated it with lots more hermit crab information.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for this very helpful information. I recently was given three hermit crabs and your article will be my hermit crab bible:)

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      5 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks for the comment Marcy. They are interesting creatures.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Awwww - I have never thought of adopting these interesting creatures as pets! Great information!


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