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Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:55 am
by Atticus
Hello everyone! I'm new here and new to hermit crabs. I'm moving in a month to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (from northern Mississippi) with my dog, three empty ten gallon tanks, a twenty gallon freshwater shrimp tank, and a currently uninhabited however planted 35 gallon aquarium. I love keeping fish, but I want to venture into the world of land hermies. I really want one that I can name Hermione.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll likely end up getting several PPs, but I'm curious about a few things:

1. I would like to upgrade my community tank (the 35 gallon was a thriving community until a fatal temperature drop decimated my stock while I was with my parents several hours away for holidays), so I was considering converting my current tank into a crabitat. It is 36 inches long, 18 (I think?) inches tall and possibly 15 inches deep. I'll have to double check those dimensions but I know it is three feet long and over a foot deep. It fits neatly on my dresser which I hope to continue to use as this tank stand. Would this be a suitable tank for a beginning colony of PPs for at least a year?

2. I have a very curious pit bull who likes to press her nose to my aquariums to watch the fish. I'm sure she would do the same to crabs. Are hermit crabs frightened of things like that? If they are easily stressed by big "predators," I should like to know so I can figure out the best placement for the set up.

3. I've seen on here that people don't advocate for buying from pet stores and certainly not those beach kiosks (which are popular where I'm moving). So how do you find hermit crabs without supporting businesses that don't work with the health of the animals in mind?

4. And, finally, I was hoping to start with six PPs. Assuming my 35 gallon is appropriate for them, is six a good number or should I go fewer or more?

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:45 am
by YYWW
1. Sounds great! Many crabbers start off smaller and need to upgrade quickly. You should be good for a while!
2. No, he's cool. They'll run/hide but as long as he's not in the cage picking them up they should be able to deal
3. Adopt! Seek out crabs that need rehoming, usually they've molted in captivity and will have a better chance with you. They also often come with lots of freebies!
If you can't find adoptions then try to find stores with more admirable conditions. Its a good sign for a store to have gotten their own education on the matter, and not just display the crabs in an ideal marketing aspect.
Don't forget you can also ask a store to order them for you. Patronize the venue you want to contribute to.
4. Crabs cant REALLY be counted in a per gallon manner, because they're not like fish who swim around and get to use all of the gallonage. Based on the footprint of your tank measurements i'd say you will be able to keep 6 PPs comfortably. Just make sure you have a lot of sub (6-10 inches) and stockpile your tank with climable goodies and levels. PPs do better in close quarters but they do seem to like to sleep perched in higher places, in sticks and branches. Make sure there are several high perches.
I think thats a great number to start with, and you can add as you go along


Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:31 pm
by Atticus
Thank you for all the answers. I'm happy to hear this tank will work out for some crabs. I found out the hard way when I first started keeping fish that research should be done before you acquire a new pet.

I have a lot of ideas about how to set up the tank and I plan on graphing it out and posting for any advice. Would I post that here or elsewhere?

Oh, my dog and I like to go scavenging in parks and river ways for stuff for my tanks (oak leaves, hardwood branches, rocks). Pine and cedar and other ever greens are not suitable of course because of the oils which are toxic to fish and inverts, but do hermit crabs appreciate lead litter in the tanks? I also get indian almond leaves for the aquariums, but I pick them up in the hermit crab section of my LFS. Do hermit crabs like these too?

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:48 pm
by Atticus
I found the safe foods list and IAL is on it so I answered my own question. :)

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:24 pm
by YYWW

You can post your ideas right here, as a continuing of your introduction. But if you have a topic or question which you feel would contribute to help someone else, then you should feel free to break out a new topic and in the appropriate category for that cause
You seem to have a very good head about your projects, and I'm excited to see your progress! Happy crabbing!



Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:44 pm
by Hamilation
Welcome to the world of crabbing!! :D It's so exciting getting your first crabs, but there are a few things you need to consider before you can get the crabs:

The first topic you have already touched on, this is the size of your tank. As YYWW said, you don't count the number of crabs you have by the size of the tank you have, it's all about what you have in the tank. You have the underground layer (underneath the surface of the substrate), the surface layer (the surface of the substrate that they can walk on) and what I call the second layer (this includes everything they can climb on). The amount of crabs you can have in the tank depends on how much of each you have. You need a lot of substrate for them to bury in either for fun or for protection. The surface layer isn't as important because crabs often don't spend a lot of time on the surface. Really, you just need enough surface layer so that they can walk to the essential places of the tank, for most tanks this would include food, water and shelter. And for the second layer, this you need quite a bit of. Hermit crabs LOVE climbing, if you don't have enough stuff for them to climb on, they're going to get depressed/stressed and that can be very bad for the crabs. In order of importance, I'd say that the underground layer is the most important. They're going to be underground a lot, mostly for fun but when a hermit crab molts, it has to completely bury itself in the substrate for two reason; protection from the elements and even other crabs and it's the complete darkness that triggers the molting hormone. The rule of thumb is 6 inches is the bare minimum, but when you get bigger crabs, it's about 3-4x the height of your biggest crab. The second most important is the second layer, because as I said, hermit crabs LOVE to climb and if you don't have enough for them to do, it can be really bad for you crabs.

The second topic isn't as important as the first, but it relates. This is about positioning the tank. There are a few rules of where you want the tank to be; you don't want the tank to be in direct sunlight, you don't want the tank to be in the direct path of an air conditioner because they need the heat and humidity and the third rule is that you need to have enough power points, but that can always be fixed with a power board. Other than that, remember you need to put it on something that would be able to support the weight of the tank and also remember that the substrate does smell a little, not much but if you're very sensitive about it then you have to be aware about it.

The third topic is about what to put in the tank and what to give them. The type of substrate you use is very important, you can experiment with this but the most common type of substrate would be Eco Earth or something similar. It's sort of like a dirt substrate that is very good for the crabs. The other option is to use play sand that you can find at your local Home Depo, make sure that there are no chemicals that have been used with it and wash it before you use it just in case. You can even use a mix of both, I'm going to start experimenting with 2/3 Eco Earth and 1/3 Play Sand. The next thing is you have to make sure you have the right water. Crabs require water, they can go for weeks without food (please don't test that) but they can only go a few days without water (please don't test that either). They require two different water types, fresh and salt. The fresh water you can get by buying some Tap Water Conditioner, aka Chlorine and Hard Metal Neutralizer. Follow the directions on the label, such as the one I use is 2 drops per 34oz. The salt water you can get by first treating the tap water with the Tap Water Conditioner and then dissolving special Hermit Crab Salts into it, remember to follow the directions on the label, mine says dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into every 34oz of treated water. The third topic within this paragraph is going to be food. DO NOT USE FOOD BOUGHT FROM THE STORE!!!!! This is probably one of the biggest things that new hermit crab owners do wrong. They go to a pet store, see some specially made hermit crab food and give it to them as their full diet. These hermit crab food sometimes contain chemicals which are harmful for the hermit crabs. If you feel like you're not giving your hermit crabs enough of the required vitamins and minerals, look at the list of acceptable hermit crab food, you can find that in the Food and Water section of the forum.

The fourth topic I'd like to talk about it heating and humidity. There are lots of different theories about how to properly heat the tank, my advice is do whatever works. For me I have a heating mat attacked to the side of the tank as well as using a light coming from the top. You want the temperature to be about 75-80 and the humidity to be about 75-80%. Try out different things and see what works for you. DO NOT PUT THE HEATING MAT UNDER THE TANK!!!!! Even if it says Under The Tank Heating Mat. The reason for this is because when your hermit crabs dig down to molt, you don't want it to be too hot for them and force them to disrupt their molting to get to the surface and cool down. I found that the lighting hitting the water bowels makes the water evaporate and helps keep the humidity. The type of substrate you have also effects your humidity. The reason why Eco Earth is so popular between hermit crab owners is because, if you keep it moist, it helps keep the humidity really well. Whereas with sand, it's harder to keep it moist and it doesn't really help with the humidity. Although do not take this as a reason to ditch sand completely, there are plenty of crabbers who have only used sand and have no problems with their tank.

The fifth topic of this post (it's actually turning into more of an essay :P) is the types of shells. This isn't really all that complicated, you just need to know what breed of crab you're getting. The most common breed of crab to find is the Purple Pincher crab, you can tell because it has one bigger claw that is a nice purple color. From what I know, Purple Pincher crabs usually go for the turbo shells with circle openings. I know that this might not mean much to you at the moment, so here's an example: http://www.hermitcrabpatch.com/Pearl-Go ... 135-04.htm This doesn't really show the shape of the shell, but you get to see the nice big circle opening it has. There are lots of other different shells, find the ones that your crabs like. If you need help with this, look up the different types of shells and check what your crab is currently living on when you get it so you know what it will probably move into next time it needs/wants to. The website that I linked you to is actually very well known between crabbers and a lot of people buy what they have through it. DO NOT BUY PAINTED SHELLS!!!! There are few reasons for this, but the main two reasons are that hermit crabs tend to eat little bits of their shells for calcium and the paint can be toxic. The other reason is that the paint might make the shell a bit sticky, and if the hermit crab gets stuck in the shell it can mean a very slow and painful death for the crab, something you definitely don't want.

I'm sorry for the long essay but I hope I covered everything you need to know about caring for hermit crabs. Don't forget to hold your hermit crab regularly so that they get to know you. If you have any more question, feel free to ask. As for buying hermit crabs at the pets store, I don't advise it buts it's a start. If you really need to then buy them there, I had to because I live down here in Australia and most of the hermit crab websites are based in America and shipping costs about $40.

Thanks,
Hamilation

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:01 pm
by YYWW
Very nice rundown, Hamilation! I'd also like to add 2 things:
1. The most advised substrate is a ratio of 5 parts playsand to 1 part EE.
2. Hermit crab salt, while overpriced, is also less beneficial than marine saltwater mixes like Instant Ocean or Oceanic. Hermit Crab saltwater conditioner doesn't include some important minerals that are more beneficial for molting.


Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:10 pm
by Atticus
Hamilation, thanks for the advice. I've already read up on a lot of what you said, and I'm taking it all into consideration with my sketch I've made up. I'm planning on using cholla wood which I get fairly inexpensively, grapewood, and mopani (I have a nice piece I'm not using in my aquariums which would do nicely for the hermits I think).

I've been pricing UTH but I'm not sure what size I should get for this tank. I'm used to knowin off the top of my head for aquaria, you know 200 watt heaters for a 3 foot, 2 200 watt heater for four, etc., but I'm unsure about this kind of heater.

I intend to use the lights that I got for this tank for plant growth. It's two 36 inch t5 bulbs at 67k with a total of 42 (I think) watts. They don't provide much heat, but I like this light system a lot and I spent a fair amount of money on it. Would this be acceptable as a day lamp? Do I need to have a night lamp, or is total darkness fine, provided I have sufficient heat from the UTH?

YYWW, I was planning on doing exactly that ratio of substrate types. I have drawn six inches of substrate in my graph, but I know I could easily work in two inches.

Are clay pots safe? I use these frequently in my tanks. In fact, they are the only unnatural decorations I use. I believe very firmly that an aquarium should have nothing artificial in it.

Speaking of aquariums, I'll be using my Seachem Prime to treat all the water. Iat removes heavy metals, chlorine, and more importantly chloramine. I have several one gallon jugs which will hold fresh and salt water, as well as pet-only spray bottles (these keep my worm cultures happy).

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:01 am
by YYWW
You should get the UTH that fits the entire space across your tank but above the line of substrate, and better under sized than over. You should work in as much sub as possible because crabs grow fast right after you bring them home. Also more tunneling volume = happier crabs.
Darkness is fine given there will be some type of day:night cycle as crabs are diurnal.
If you are sticking to all PPs you could prob get away with 6 inches. If you even think about maybe possibly touching Es then i suggest 8-10 inches.
Clay pots are used by many crabbers. Wash with hot water and soak in SW for some precaution, but not really a big deal if you don't. Terra cotta is natural (right?) so they should be ok.
I use Seachem Prime. I lurve it



Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:45 am
by Atticus
So should it go on the back panel or a side panel? I double checked the dimensions. It's 36 inches long x 12 inches wide x 18 inches tall.

Glad to hear that the clay pots will work out. I usually clean mine in near boiling water with white vinegar. I usually use freshwater for this, but I can, of course, add salt to the mixture. I use the vinegar to remove any harmful particles which may be on the surface from being in the stores. Plus it helps pull off that pesky sticker residue. I hope vinegar is okay to use for cleaning with hermit crabs. I use it to clean almost all of my fish stuff.

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:06 am
by YYWW
I like UTHs to run the entire length at the back, so you KNOW your tank is nice and warm. The exception would be if your area and home are kept very warm (75-85F at all times) and you just want a tiny boost for a gradient. Alternately, if you live somewhere that has all 4 seasons and temps in-home as low as 60F, then it will be better to heat more of the tank.
If you have only 6 inches of sub, your UTH should be within 36x12.
Vinegar is the choice cleaning agent for tats, but best if allowed to evaporate before use.
You're a natural


Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:43 am
by Atticus
I am figuring out that many of the things I do for my aquariums are going to work for my terrarium.

I would like to construct a second "floor." I am considering using a stiff craft mesh as the second level. I'm going to be using suction cup hooks to hold the mesh in place and I'll be able to use wooden dowels maybe to keep it steady. What do you think? I don't think it would be sturdy enough to go all the way across the tank. I can set up the wood so that they act as ladders. Plus I can use more mesh as an additional ladder if the hermies prefer that instead of the cholla or grapewood.

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:23 am
by YYWW
Aquarium stuff is the most preferable for terrariums
Second floors are great and very highly recommended. Is stuff craft mesh the same thing as plastic needlepoint canvas? If so, you are SO ahead of the game! If not, please say it is not made of metal.
Suction cups can become unstuck. As long as you prep for that, they can be great. Wooden dowels might mold or rot, but these issues can alsp be treated for ahead. You can also use stuff like pvc pipes or upturned tupperware to create second levels. Check the DIY section for some GENIUS ideas!
I believe the crabs loooooooOOooOooOoOove grapewood and cholla. They are nuts over natural stuff and they can snack on it, too. I love using a combo of stuff.
As a matter of fact i just dug up some stackable bins i plan on making into levels/caves/platforms. Be on the lookout for my thread, regarding my 75gal rebuild
I also have used packaging straps and gimp plastic thread to weave ladders and bridges in my tat. There's good materials everywhere! One day i'd like to crochet a net, but that's a couple months away, at least


Crabbers unite!!!

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:13 am
by Atticus
Hmm... Crochet a net... I could knit one up in about ten minutes on my biggest needles or even arm knit one even faster. That would be fun. I could use hemp or something which would be interesting to knit.

By craft mesh, I definitely meant needlepoint canvas, haha. I thought it would make a good alternative bridge if the crabbies didn't take to climbing the wood up to the "loft" for whatever reason. I can get a pack of about two dozen dowel rods very cheaply, so every time they start to absorb moisture to a danger point, I can just replace them. I'm thinking the suction cup hooks because I need everything in this tank easy to take down if I ever decide to convert the tank again to an aquarium. I'm going to make sure they are all plastic.

Re: Just doing some research

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:52 am
by Atticus
YYWW wrote: If you have only 6 inches of sub, your UTH should be within 36x12.
Image


Crabbers unite!!!
I'm looking at the ZooMed line of heaters. I like the price a lot. I think the dimensions are something like 8 inches by 18 inches. If I need something to run the entire 36 inches, what brands are closer to this size? I'm trying to minimize costs as much as I can.