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All of them are taken from the wild. There have been some people who have successfully bred them in captivity but it is apparently a lot of work and difficult to even get a female to carry eggs. They release them into the ocean and the zoea (sp?) hatch and live there until they molt a few times then come onto land so you basically need to have your own mini ocean. The people who have bred them (understandably) aren't willing to sell them.

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I understand your reasons for wanting to replace your substrate. If it smells then it isn't healthy substrate and something does need to be done. I'm not sure what type of sand you use but if it's calci sand or other sand marketed for hermit crabs that stuff is known to smell once it gets wet and has a tendency to harden which can be deadly if your crabs get trapped under it. Plain ol play sand from home improvement stores is the cheapest and most commonly used sand.

There are harmful and unharmful mites. The harmful ones usually only get in your tank when you buy a new crab and don't quarantine it first. The unharmful ones may also be brought in from a new crab or ones like food mites could be from leaving food in there too long. So constantly replacing the substrate isn't going to have an effect on either type of mite. Not saying you do replace too often I just don't think it's a good idea unless it needs to be done like yours may need to be. I think of my substrate like a cycled filter you don't want to throw that out and start all over unless it's absolutely necessary.

I have had my own experience with mites. I rescued 2 crabs a year ago. Someone brought them over around midnight and it was freezing out. They were in a kritter keeper with no food or water and the substrate was just about an inch of mostly dry eco earth. Since it was so late and I was already in bed I was just going to put the KK in my tank and deal with them in the morning but I felt bad that they had no food or water so decided to give them some. While I was taking out their empty dishes I noticed some weird looking cluster in the substrate which made me take a closer look at the crabs themselves. The one had TINY little white spots on its eyes. At first I thought it was sand but I couldn't get them to budge. So I throw out everything in their KK and left them in a bare tank until morning when I was more awake and could see better. I noticed they both were covered in mites and I am so glad I didn't put them in my tank. It took a couple months of a sterile environment and daily baths (which I never normally do) and after a while of nothing helping I felt bad keeping them in a tank which no substrate so I added a few inches of sand and replaced it every 2 days. After a month or so of that they finally dug down and molted. After they came up they were completely mite free. I don't know if the baths had killed them but they were still attached until the crabs shed their exo or what but I replaced everything (substrate, bowls and decor) again and moved them into a bigger tank. I still keep them away from my others, just in case, but it's been a year now and no visible mites have returned. I do on occasion see some book lice climbing around on my wood but they are actually helpful since they eat stuff like mold that may grow. I have seen them on and off for years and since they normally are found in houses and don't harm the crabs they are fine.

Have you thought about adding more things for your guys to climb on? I have no knowledge of Es, other then what I read, but I know my PPs love to climb. I have 2 plastic baskets attached to the glass high up with a bridge I made from hemp to attach them to each other along with things like cholla and plants. I use the one basket mainly as a shell pit to keep them some what clean and off the substrate and the other I have as a moss pit. If my guys are up that is usually where they can be found sleeping during the day. It can help with the humidity if you have problems keeping it up around 80, I know I do in the winter months. They also like to eat it.

I'm not using calci sand and the sand doesn't smell. I use a mix of Eco earth and left over aquarium grade sand (this is a mix of several caribsea sands). It doesn't smell at all and I have a fantastic mister so I have no issues with humidity. I'm not particularly new to keeping crabs it has just been a while. I don't want to clutter the tank and I'm eventually going to add another level when I toss my substrate in a few weeks. I've never had mites or anything of the sort. I want to replace the substrate for my own piece of mind. I had a moss pit but removed it because it wasn't getting much use.

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I didn't mean to imply you were new and didn't know what you were doing I was just trying to help. I have had my oldest crab for around 10 years now and when I'm bored I like to read about things and have read a lot about hermit crabs. Not meaning I know more I was just sharing my knowledge, at least trying to anyway. Like I have said before there are good bacteria that grow in the substrate just like a fish tank filter and to throw it all out to start over for no reason, to be honest, just confuses me.

I also try not to clutter my tanks since the crabs do need space to move that is why I like to have things off the ground and give them more places to climb but also have plenty of space to walk. I use sort of large dishes (about 4"x5"x2"ish) as their water dishes and they tend to take up a lot of floor space so up is where I have to go if I want to add hideys and such.

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