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Hermit Crab Help


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Last week I saw this hermit crab and came super close to buying it. Instead I came home with a bunny. On that thread, Jsrtist wrote to me and explained that crabs weren't simple pets as most people believed. Since then I looked at a lot of pictures and threads and I actually think that starting to read and understand their needs made me all the more interested. So I decided this. If I went back and the crab I wanted was still there, then I was going to try it. And if I went back and it wasn't, then I wouldn't. Well, the crab was there!!! And shane even said YES without any hesitation! LOL

So Jenny (and others of course, I just have already been speaking to Jenny about this) I want to tell you what I purchased, and get advice on what else needs to be purchased. I've been reading some of the links that have been posted on other threads as well. I bought

1) the crab itself. Cute little small crab - in a pink painted shell

2) extra shells, including one of the same size as he is in now but natural, not painted

3) bags of Calci-Sand

4) one bag of Jungle Bed Forest Substrate (they only had one bag)

5) Temperature/Humidity Meter

6) T-Rex Crab Island Heating Mat

7) Decoration that has room for a little pool of water

8) Coconut shaped hut

9) a little food dish

Umm I think that's about it. I bought one small container of Tetra Hermit Crab Cakes. I wanted to ask if those are okay in a pinch, but not as a typical source of food. It's not open so I can take it back if I don't get the okay on that.

I want to start small, as I am not sure how successful I will be. I have not bought the tank yet. I would like advice on the size of tank to get. I would like to start off with 2 to 3 crabs. The store near me has 10 gallons with light/lid for $19. I have 2 of them already as my QT tanks. Would that be okay? I just have the one hermit now, and that is why I did not buy the tank yet. I didn't want to go and buy a tank and then realize it was too small. I did buy a critter keeper, BUT I did it knowing it was temporary! (Promise!!!) I figure it will be handy to use if I need to clean out their tank at some point. I also bought the largest one they had, (it's the size of a 5 gallon tank that I have). Right now I have sand in only for the temporary home. There is enough that the crab could easily burrow himself and be more than completely covered. It's a very small crab. The crab is very very active. He is not hiding at all. I got him 24 hours ago and he/she is quite active. So basically what else should I buy, and tips on setting things up. Should I mix the substrate, or have sections of each. And as for the mat, is the one I got okay? It was the only one I saw, but its little. They said I can return it. (Of course I knew I'd have to run it past the board LOL) Right now the temperature is consistently 76 or higher just because its summer. 76 is on days with the air conditioning. If we don't use the air, it's hotter. Ideally I should have waited I suppose, but I didn't want someone else to buy the crab I wanted. Oh and links to threads that are useful would also be great! I've been looking but ya never know if there is one really good one that I'm missing ya know?

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Oops I tried to edit but it was too late.

I forgot to mention. I have a spare 5 gallon tank. I ASSUME thats too small, but just throwing that out there. Also, the humidity where the crab is now is 82 and I used water from a gallon jug of tap water treated with Prime to fill the little water pool. There is also a water soaked sponge.

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Hi there, I don't know anything about hermit crabs but just want to let you know that Jenny may be MIA for some time as she is without her own internet access. If anybody else has some experience or advice please feel free to jump in, lol.

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I don't have a ton of experience but I got a couple of crabs for my sister a couple of years ago and had to learn fast how to care for them!

First of all, good job on getting the natural shells. The painted ones aren't good for them, so let's hope the little guy 'moves out' soon :)

I also started with a critter keeper (for 2 crabs) knowing it was temporary. I would think a 10 gallon would be good for 2, we now have ours in a 20 gallon and they have lots of space.

Should I mix the substrate, or have sections of each. And as for the mat, is the one I got okay?

We have ours in sections and it seems to work well. They LOVE to bury themselves in coconut fiber, but sometimes in the sand as well. I think one mat is fine for a 10 gallon or smaller tank.

It sounds like you're off to a good start. Just keep a close eye on the humidity, we use a mister water bottle to spray the tank when it starts to get too dry. Also, give them a nice variety of food. They need calcium so you can buy special calci blocks or just give them a bone or something :P

I could give you more random tips, but I'd reccomend you go here www.thecrabbagepatch.com

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Thanks Fishmerised for letting me know that Jenny won't be back! Maybe I can get it all set up before she returns : )

Chrissy, thanx for the info! I'll check out that link. I was hoping to do the substrate in sections so it's nice to know that you've had success with it. The crazy crab is still in it's pink shell. My daughter wanted to name the crab pinky pie and I was telling her that she probably won't keep that shell for very long. Personally my boyfriend came up with Pee Wee Hermit and I just love that name LMAO

Oh yes I forgot I did get a little spray bottle too and filled it with dechlorinated water. I've seen the calci blocks! I also want to get some items for the crab to climb on. I saw some packaged driftwood or something. That looked cool.

The first day I fed the crab pineapple. On the one website it says fruits especially ones like that that were found in their natural tropical environment were good. I've going to do more research on different types of food so I can give variety, but it sure seems like they'll eat just about anything LOL.. The humidity in the tank is still great. It's actually 78 right now and the temp is about 74. That's without the heat mat. The little temp/humidity meter is cute! Can the humidity get TOO high? The meter shows a red section. It's blue for low, then yellow for the "proper temps" and red for high.

On one site it said not to handle the crab but on every other it said it was fine (as long as you aren't disturbing a crab that has burrowed). I've been handling mine so I hope it's okay. She's friendly, hasn't pinched once (unlike some I had as a child). I'm gonna post a picture soon and then you guys can tell me what kind she looks like she is. Yay!

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Personally my boyfriend came up with Pee Wee Hermit and I just love that name LMAO

:rofl Yes, please go with that name!!!!

The humidity can get too high, they can develop fungus, etc. Yours sounds good though :)

And yes, they will eat anything! Ours love salted crackers and chicken.

Some sites do disagree about some things, I don't think handling them is such a bad thing. Some recommend bathing them once a week, others say it's stressful and unnecessary. My sister bathes them and they seem fine. I've also seen some sites say they need salt water and others say no. I guess you just have to go with what you think the best choice is :P We've been giving them a bowl of fresh and salt water, just to be safe.

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I've no idea about your new crustacean friends but goodness Sue are you ever an animal addict! :teehee

I can't wait until you post about Pee Wee Hermit's adventures! (If you get another one you simply must name him Kermit the Hermit...)

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haha kermit the hermit. Cute! Yeah I am being very animal addicted lately huh??? lol I guess I just can't believe Shane is saying yes!!!! Seriously no more types of pets. We're going away for two days and I gotta give my mom a little instruction sheet! Thank god she lives with us, huh? She takes care of the cats anyway so thats no biggie and we've had the dog for three years so she's used to watching him when we aren't here. I'm basically telling her just DON'T TOUCH THE FISH! They'll do better with nothing than with her trying to feed them lol. That just leaves the bunny and crab. I can feed all the animals before we leave, she can do it Thurs morning and we'll be back Thurs night with all pets hopefully alive. You should see us out in New Mexico Joy! That makes my house look simple. It's horses, dogs, chickens and goats. Shane's parents LOVE when I am there because they get a break from daily animal chores. I love it though. They had a horse that was so scared he wouldn't let ANYONE near him. I went out there every single day the time we stayed there over a month and by the end of it I could hand feed him and pet him and he would follow me around but no one else could even get close to him. I loved that horse! They gave him away though because since I don't live out there it's not fair to not have someone who could give him the patience he needs.

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OK I'm SUPPOSED to only be online to fill out my job app... so if anyone asks, that's what I'm doing!

It sounds like you are off to a great start. Since you will eventually want more hermits (and that's what happens, they are addicting!) I would suggest a 20 long. I used one as my first crab tank and it worked out great-it is long enough that you can do different areas of substrate and even have the two different water pools. LIke I mentioned in the other thread, I have my substrate somewhat separated. I use crushed coral sand, coarse blasting sand (20 mesh), and on the other side Eco Earth bedding about 6 inches thick (you want the substrate deep enough to cover your largest crab). When the crabs molt, you want them to be able to bury very deep. One thing I have had trouble with in the past is molting crabs being killed and eaten. If the substrate is too shallow, the other crabs will be able to easily smell the molter and that may cause them to attack. That's not something I've ever seen anyone else mention but it is my own theory.

As for the tank setup, I recommend a hinged glass lid. You can easily regulate humidity this way by cracking it open when it's too moist and closing it tightly when it's too dry. I do this daily with mine.

That said, with glass lids, I would recommend raising your light above the glass. IN the winter the light can crack the lid by heating cold glass too quickly. I have a 4 foot sheet of glass on top of my crabitat with a large jagged crack through the middle from this. I'm too lazy to replace it since it still works fine, but it is a hazard (to me).

You had mentioned Calci sand. I've had poor luck with this since as it gets moist, it smells horrible. I'd recommend a construction sand (I buy mine at building supply stores). Blasting sand works well. There is speculation on silicates in the sand causing problems but I've used this in my tanks since 2004 and have seen no problems. I've also used it in a couple different aquariums.

I personally do not recommend any of those packaged foods. Fresh is the best way to go. I give mine frozen krill and mysis shrimp, too, the kinds you would buy for fish. For calcium, they enjoy cuttlebone. They have a big piece in there right now that they've been nibbling.

I like to give my crabs many different areas of the tank where they can be comfy, and that involves regulating their own temp. THe heating mat is OK but only if you connect it to a rheostat to regulate the temp in the tank. This is much easier to do in a larger tank. I have two undertank heaters on my tank and also rely on a heat lamp at one end of the tank, and also a light which I run longer in the wintertime. But the rheostat is the safest way to go. Before you attach the heater to the tank, place large pebbles on the glass so no crabs will come in direct contact with the heater as this can burn them badly.

I'd recommend a couple other sites including The Crab Street Journal and Hermitcrabassociation.com. I've been a member of both sites for several years now and they are very reputable.

I would also recommend adding deep pools where the crabs can completely submerge themselves. All crabs require both freshwater and saltwater. IN the wild, this is how they regulate shell water. And all hermit crabs are wild animals, and were wild caught. None are bred in captivity. Because of cost effectiveness, they probably never will. Because they are wild, too, I don't like to handle or otherwise interact wiht mine. I just feel that it's not soemthing they would encounter in the wild, so I don't like to do it. I also don't recommend bathing, a subject of great debate.

Anyway hope this helps a bit, and I"ll try and check back in soon!

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Jenny- thanks SO much for all of your helpful information. Especially since you were supposed to be filling out applications lol

I'm just about to head to bed to try to get at least an hour or two of sleep before we get up in the morning so I'm not going to write much. But when we get home I am going to check out the links you gave me and read up a bit on some of the things you mentioned. (For example, a rheostat. NO idea what that is lol.) The 20 gallon sounds like a good plan, so I will shop around once I get home and look into some of the other things you mentioned. Is Eco earth the same or similar to that jungle forest bedding I was talking about? I'm sure these are things i can figure out by just looking around online a bit. Then I can make a checklist of things to look into and take a look at this store I really like near me and see what kind of things they have!

I do see your point about handling them. That's a tough one. To some degree as silly as it sounds, part of the fun is holding them and "playing" with them. However, I understand what you are saying about giving them the proper environment and that naturally that would not occur. I guess that's something I will have to think about.

Thanks again so much. I'm sure I will have tons of questions once I get out purchasing supplies. : )

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I believe that Jungle bedding is similar or the same. As long as it is compressed coconut fiber, it's the same. THey really seem to enjoy it.

The rheostat is basically a thermostat for your heater. Just the same way we set a thermostat on an aquarium heater, this measures the temp of the outside air and clicks on the heater when it drops below a certain temp. Though I don't usually recommend it, I have mine turned off for the time being. With the weather as hot as it is, there's no way the tank is going below 75 degrees. Anyway, i have mine hooked to both undertank heaters as well as the heat lamp.

One more note about the heat lamp, do NOT ever place it directly on a lid. I use a piece of heavy hardware screen to set it on.

ANyway look forward to hearing about what you end up getting! :)

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Thanks Jenny! I can write a bit more now that I am back!

I've got the baggie of Jungle Bed here with me now. Its says "combination of Forest Bed, Coconut Bark and Calci-Sand". It's very hard to find a variety of products at the stores near me since most are just chain stores with a teeny hermit section. I am considering looking online for some products, that might be easier.

You said to put about 6 inches of eco-earth in the tank. The crab I have is super small. Smaller than one inch, and I am planning on trying to get a second or third crab similar in size. I believe I read on one of the sites you recommended, or in one of the threads that keeping them similar in size prevents them picking on others. True or not, it seems right so I am going to do that. Given the size I am going to assume that 3 -4 inches would be just fine for now (unless I end up with larger crabs?). Is that right?

Okay the rheostat makes sence. It sounds like getting the crab in the summer was an excellent accidental move!!! The temperature is perfect right now. Like you said, the tank doesn't even drop below 75. Actually, it stays right around that. The humidity is my little tank, has been right in the correct range. With a little misting each day and wet sponges it's stayed in the perfect range. YAY!.

You said to put pebbles on the glass. Any particular kind? I didn't do this yet, but I had an idea, but I am not sure if it would be okay. We were at the beach yesterday. We typically go for day trips every week during the summer. Could I steal some beach sand and pebbles? If you use one of those kids sifter toys you can sift out little natural pebbles and I could layer the bottom with those. On one hand my thoughts are "well can't get more natural than sand from the beach!" On the other hand, I realize that these days they add sand TO the beaches, so who knows whats in it. So, your thoughts?

As for the heat mat, it says it's okay to put directly under the tank as long as it's plastic or glass. So do I really just sit it between the stand and tank?? That sounds too simple. There must be something I am missing!

If I am asking a lot of questions that are answered in the sites you gave me I apologize. I honestly haven't had much of a chance to do website reading. I got back last night, and this is the first I have signed on. I've only gone to facebook and koko's LOL.

I think that's it for now. I am going to try to go out supply shopping later on today. IN the meantime the crab is doing well! Like I said the temp/humidity are great. I had my mom mist the tank while I was gone. The crab is still very active! That's a good sign correct?

I'm excited to work on getting the main tank set up. I hope I do everything right! I am going to leave the crab in the little container until I know for sure everything is good : )

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It sounds like you are on track! You can definitely use beach rocks and pebbles. I would just give them a good rinse but that should work well.

Your coconut bedding sounds good too. If you go online I would recommend the Eco Earth. I just happen to really like that kind. It comes in compressed bricks and you just add the water and fluff it up yourself. I store the remainder in a container till I need it. I only go through a couple bricks a year!

As for crabby size, you can definitely keep them close in size and that would be fine. I actually now mix all the sizes but they do have plenty of space to get away from each other. I have some jumbo purple pinchers, and a large Ecuadorian, but other than those they are mostly a mix of small and medium hermits. And of course, always have lots of extra shells in there. They recommend 2-3 shells per crab but in my tank that could mean over 60 shells in my tank! I just rotate them around and that seems to keep them interested. The small hermits have been changing daily. :)

What do you have for the water dish in there? YOu may have said but I'm not sure. Anyway, just make sure it's deep enough for the crab to submerge itself if it wants to but also that it can climb out on its own.

Can't wait to see pics! Are you going to get more hermits soon?

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Ohh good this is gonna be fun to back to the beach and get stuff LOL Hmm maybe we should go back sooner than later LOL

I actually checked online soon after I posted las time and I saw the Eco-Earth. It looks like they will have it at the store near me, and if not, it's available online in many places. I am going to go with that! As stupid as it may sound, I wasn't checking the reptile section. Just the tiny crab section. : ) I noticed that most of the supplies I will be wanting to buy are probably going to be found in the back with the reptiles!

My current water dish is not ideal. But it's on the list to upgrade cause I wanna do what you said and have a fresh and salt water section. Can I use the API aquarium salt that I use for the fish or is it something else? And what is the concentration of salt. How many teaspoons per gallon do I want to use? (Again I am sure this stuff in online, I am being lazy ;) Right now my water bowl is just a decoration that has a palm tree and the dish is only about 1/2 inch deep, and like I said the crab is approx 1 inch. I'm sure that's fine for the temporary housing though, especially since it won't be for long at all.

We are now going out tomorrow. Too much stuff to do with 4th of July, but tomorrow we are going to go out to eat and go to a few pet stores.

This had to be a super quick post, my boyfriend is using the computer and I am being lazy about getting the laptop out so he let me on for a few minutes. Actually though, I will take a few pictures within the next few hours just to show you what Pee Wee Hermit looks like LOL And show you the temporary house. That way you'll have something to compare the new one too! C u later!

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Okay I've got some pics! lol Again I gotta be fast : ) Oh and the good news is, the water dish appears smaller than it actually is. The crab was in the water dish, and was submerged, with a teeny bit of shell poking out, and he crawled out with no problem!!! Okay here's some close ups first off.

PeeWeeHermit1.jpg

PeeWeeHermit2.jpg

PeeWeeHermit3.jpg

PeeWeeHermit4.jpg

And one of his temporary home. You can see Pee Wee Hermit in the back right corner, if you look for the pink. (Yep he's still got the pink shell! Hopefully a wider selection of shells will help lure him out!)

The new tank will be different and I will add in Eco Earth. But is this looking right for the time being?? If anything's wrong let me know! : )

PeeWeesTemporaryHome.jpg

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He is soooo cute, minus the ugly pig shell. LOL I just love the little babies! I have a baby purple pincher about his size. Mine keeps changing shells. Since I don't have my own comp with my own pics, I'll tell you a couple types of seashells to Google and try to find. Usually Michaels craft stores have them (you don't usually find these at pet stores).

Top Favorite Hermie Shells:

nerite (Nerita peloronta is the largest type)

Thais (Thais mutabilis especially)

for purple pinchers specifically, Cittarium pica

Cancellaria (my baby PP is in one of these right now)

Zebra littorina

Anyway the setup looks good. With your vented lid I'd be concerned about humidity in other parts of the country, but in south TX you can get away with that. Here we are so dry we have negative humidity, I swear! It's a constant struggle in my system.

The water dish is OK for now but with the new system just get the larger ones. I use large GLadware containers with rocks and plastic screen to help little ones in and out. For saltwater, you want to use a marine salt mix. I recommend Oceanic brand. I have used it for years (crabs and reef tanks both!) and love it, AND it comes in small amounts so you don't have to buy a huge bag you'll never use. The correct amount is 1/2 a cup per gallon, roughly, b ut you'll need a hydrometer to measure exactly. Salinity/specific gravity of ocean water is 1.025-26 so I keep mine in that range.

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HA.. I know that silly pink shell. Thanx for the Michaels recommendation. We've got one 2 minutes from here and I would have never thought to look there.

Is my crab a purple pincher???

I'm in Pennsylvania and it's always humid... TOO HUMID for me, perfect for a crab. I've been watching the temperature and humidity. The small heat mat that I purchased at the pet store seemed way too small once I went to the pet store and saw an appropriate sized heater. I found one for $21 that is made for 10-20 gallon tanks. So I figured that was perfect no matter which tank size I end up with. I also found a rheostat by the same brand as the heater, also around $20. It does not have an exact temperature setting. Just various settings in the off to high range... But it has like 8 settings. It's the only one I saw. Is that okay as long as I have a thermometer in the tank? (I've got two actually lol) I hooked up the little heat mat that I had gotten for the temporary tank. It keeps the tank at a nice even 77 degrees! I was going to return it, but it works so well for the little home that I think it would be nice to have in case I ever need to isolate a crab in this container. My humidity has leveled off and stayed at 80. I haven't even had to mist the tank, just moisten the sponges and fill the water dish. My crab is getting a nice variety of foods. He loves pineapple the best so far. I caught him climbing the tree the other day. It was hilarious. I was looking and looking and I started panicking that he was missing. I looked at the sides to see if any pink was popping out of the sand. Nothing. Then guess who I found just lounging around at the top of the palm tree. I got a photo I will post. So cute!!!

The store I checked did not have Eco-Earth but we are headed to a different store today. If it's still not there I have found online places.

Now question about the tank. I went to the store and saw the 10 gallon tank with cover and light for $19. Then I saw a 20 gallon regular for $60 and it only gives you about an inch of extra space on both sides. I found a 20 long and it was $80 and it didn't even have a hood or light, just a stupid little wire lid. I also took the measurements and the 20 long is a bit too big for the stand I was going to use for the crab. Now I don't wanna do anything to neglect the little guy (soon to be guys) but at the same time I have been spending a LOT of money lately on pets.. Do you honestly think based on the size of the crabs I have/will be getting I could get away with a 10 gallon and still get another crab or two if I made sure they were similar in size. I understand they will grow, but that could also take time. Time for me to save up some money! : ) I am looking at the crab tank and the 10 gallon now (cause i have the same one for my fish). It gives at least double the space on the bottom. I do believe there would be room for both types of substrate and two water dishes, since the crabs don't need huge dishes. What do you think Jenny? I know Chrissy said she was pretty sure 10 would work earlier in this thread but everyone calls you the hermit expert Jenny so I thought I would run it by you haha

Since I am going to another store today I am going to check out their tanks though and see if I can find a better deal. OH I also found a heat lamp. I didn't buy that yet though but I found one for $15 and I bought a calcium block. OKay thats it for now... Time for a partial water change for Samantha and Miranda and then I am off to the pet store LOL

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Okay never mind ALL of that about the tank.. I don't need to know if a 10 gallon was enough because I found a 20 gallon I am happy with and it's exactly what you recommended for me Jenny.

I found a 20 Long for $32.99 (Like I said for whatever reason the one I found in the chain store was $80 with a stupid mesh screen lid). Then I found (which I am very happy about because I didn't even know what it was at first) a Hinged Glass Lid for $16. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!And guess what. It JUST fits on the stand I have.... It's a TV stand that I believe is able to hold 135 pounds. I can't see the sand and Eco Earth weighing THAT much so it should be fine. This store did not have Eco-Earth. This store has a HUGE selection of fish products but a very small selection for reptiles. Less than the chain stores. But I have another store I can check tomorrow, and like I said if not I can get it online. I still have to get that, sand, pebbles (might just buy a bag since i don't know when I am going back to the beach) extra shells, water dishes.. The salt (which I haven't seen your brand yet but I am going to look for because getting the products that you use are helpful for if I have questions).

The rheostat I mentioned earlier will allow two things to be plugged into it, so I could do a heat mat AND a heat lamp!!! I don't have a light of any sort yet but I will figure something out. Again, do you think that rheostat is okay, or do I need something that gives exact temperature settings??

This might sound like a dumb question but what do you mean by using the gladware with a platic screen?? I know the gladware containers, and rocks sounds simple enough. I saw a bag of river rocks at the store. But what do you mean by a plastic screen. Could you describe your water pool set ups in a little more detail so I can get a better picture of what they should be like.

A Pig? Is that what the stupid thing on the shell is supposed to be?? I can't even tell.. It's so weird looking. I still have to post that pic of Pee Wee in the tree. I'll post one of the shell closer too. LMAO

PeeWeeHermitShell.jpg

PeeWeeHermitTree.jpg

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