Aussie salt water myth?

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Aussie salt water myth?

Post by sugarselections » Sun May 02, 2010 2:03 pm

I wanted to share my own personal experiences with Aussies and the "myth" that they will gorge themselves and die if given constant access to salt water.

I originally bought 3 Aussies and I followed the rule of salt water only once a week. My Aussies were lethargic and unwell from the beginning and two of them died within the first month. When my remaining Aussie, Darwin, continued to look unwell, I decided to move her into my 90 gallon community tank with 24/7 access to salt water. She immediately perked up and is now a champion molter (growing from a micro to a tiny), eater, and drinker of both fresh and salt water. She's incredibly lively and one of the most active crabs in my tank.

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Post by limeslide » Sun May 02, 2010 2:31 pm

That's nice. I guess it is a myth, then. I wonder who made that up?
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to
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If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into Chaos
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Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2010 3:26 pm

Darwin is very cute. Not sure I am ready to call that one a myth, I would like to hear from some crabbers in Australia to see what kind of care guidelines they get over there. I have been searching for the guidelines but have not found anything conclusive yet.

I have had mine 3 months now, lost one due to a collapsed turbo but the other 3 are doing great with salt water once a week. They are very active, eating, climbing, and digging up a storm. They have also molted with no issue.

It seems we are having success with entirely different methods, mine are also separated in their own tank with the 5:1 substrate ratio... hmmmm.

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Post by sugarselections » Sun May 02, 2010 3:31 pm

gclnin wrote:I have had mine 3 months now, lost one due to a collapsed turbo but the other 3 are doing great with salt water once a week.
What do you mean by "collapsed turbo"?

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Post by suebee » Sun May 02, 2010 4:40 pm

collapsed turbo is when the inside spiral of a shell collapse or breaks away causing the sharp inside to hurt the crabs soft body. There is only one person who can ship Aussies out of Australia and he says that they are not found on the beaches and they should only be given limited access to salt water. Once a week is a good call on that. I do not know his name but he is a friend of ELHC the only place you can get Aussie crabs in the US at this time.

On a shell safety note, it s a good idea to check the inside of your shells to make sure that none have collapsed spirals. I had to toss about 12 of my shells that E's came in with, they seem to like the opening of he collapsed turbo however it can be sharp.
I buy from ELHC or HCP, I CANNOT RECEIVE PM MESSAGES SO EMAIL ME,anytime! suebeebuzz@me.com visit my Hermit Crab Dollar Store. Crabbing from aprox 1974- I own 12 Species,On Face Book-Susan Staff's Coenobita Research of New Jersey


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Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2010 4:50 pm

Collapsed turbo is when the inside of the shell is broken. In my case it was quite sharp, it was obvious that he injured his soft abdomen on it. He would hang out in the water and went naked for a while. Then he died a few days later.

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Post by sugarselections » Sun May 02, 2010 5:11 pm

There is only one person who can ship Aussies out of Australia and he says that they are not found on the beaches and they should only be given limited access to salt water. Once a week is a good call on that. I do not know his name but he is a friend of ELHC the only place you can get Aussie crabs in the US at this time.
Actually, you've been misinformed. Wodesorel has already posted info here at the HCA that confirms that the crabs being exported to the U.S. from Australia are to be "harvested from beaches between Exmouth Gulf and Derby, Western Australia (a range of approximately 1500km), with the main collecting area being 80 Mile Beach located between Port Hedland and Broome, and other areas north of Exmouth". That's from the official government export prosposal of the only person allowed to export hermit crabs from Australia.

The thread originally containing this info and a link to the actual proposal is here:

viewtopic.php?t=74597&highlight=export+proposal

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Post by wodesorel » Sun May 02, 2010 5:30 pm

I've sent an e-mail to the company in Perth asking them to clarify why the crabs can't have access to salt water. The company actually recommends to give the crabs only fresh water to drink and then bathe them in salt water once every two weeks so that they can get some salt into their system. That alone should be questioned since we have come to learn with other species that bathing isn't great and allowing the crabs to control their own salt levels on their own is better.

My guess is that they're dealing with Kritter Keeper owners and are encouraging them to choose a lone dish of fresh water over offering only salt. (Which would indeed kill the crabs rather quickly as they wouldn't be able to balance out their salt levels.) They also say on their website that the water dishes need to be shallow so the crabs don't drown, so they never mention having dishes deep enough for the crabs to bathe themselves.

It sounds like they are providing the same misinformation we get from petshops. Hopefully I'll hear from them sometime this week on if they consider salt-water deadly, and I plan on posting the response. :)
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Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2010 5:47 pm

That would be very helpful. :D

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Post by suebee » Sun May 02, 2010 6:16 pm

Ask them if the crabs are found on the beach. I believer the Government paper is wrong.. Not that our government has ever been wrong before..

I would also follow the limited amount of salt water i know of 3 people that have Aussies that its working fine for. Again i stand to go with the majority of people having success.
I would defiantly say that we can not rule it as a myth. Lets not assume its a myth and have others crabs die for the wrong reasons.

Its also been said that Aussies should not be on Eco earth as substrate. Again the 5parts sand to one part EE is ok. Maybe that was the cause of the loss of your other 3 Aussies Sugar? Maybe this on has some kind of tolerance for it after this period of time?
I buy from ELHC or HCP, I CANNOT RECEIVE PM MESSAGES SO EMAIL ME,anytime! suebeebuzz@me.com visit my Hermit Crab Dollar Store. Crabbing from aprox 1974- I own 12 Species,On Face Book-Susan Staff's Coenobita Research of New Jersey

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Post by wodesorel » Sun May 02, 2010 6:45 pm

suebee wrote:Ask them if the crabs are found on the beach. I believer the Government paper is wrong.. Not that our government has ever been wrong before..
The proposal was written by the gentleman who is the only legal exporter in Australia. He wrote where he would be collecting the crabs so he could obtain the necessary permits since the beaches are protected areas. They were not written by a government official! If the gentleman is lying about where he's collecting them then he could also be lying about their care and all his information would have to be suspect - including restricting salt water.

I really suggest you read it through if you haven't!
http://www.environment.gov.au/biodivers ... oposal.pdf
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Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2010 6:56 pm

I've been looking at Australian websites:

They seem to all say the same thing: They can only drink fresh water, but they need the salt water to regulate the salt in their body. They say that you can leave the salt water in the tank all the time, but people find it easier to just bathe the crab once a week or once every 2 weeks rather than having 2 dishes in the tank all the time. (Here's a link to one site but the text here is copied exactly at a few other sites as well other sites) http://www.petalia.com.au/Templates/Sto ... =1381#ct-8

This one says to have a saltwater pond, but has broken links for more info: http://users.tpg.com.au/users/vanessap/hermit/cs/

This one says to have 2 water dishes, one for drinking and one for "walking through" but doesnt mention if they are salt or fresh: http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/2004/a ... ermit_crab

Okay, I've avoided the dishes long enough! Hope this helps! I'm off to my dishes now :) Thanks for the distraction! LOL!

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Post by wodesorel » Sun May 02, 2010 7:00 pm

Although if you wanted an official government say (and also proving that there is only one legal collector so it has to be the same one mentioned above):

http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/38184/200 ... hment2.pdf

Page 13
Hermit crabs collected within the Northern Territory Aquarium Fishery belong almost exclusively to the terrestrial hermit crab family Coenobitidae and the single species Coenobita variabilis (Australian Land Hermit Crab) (R. Willan, pers. comm. 2006)

C. variabilis is distributed across northern Australia, from Exmouth Gulf to north Queensland (Jones and Morgan 1994). Individuals occur in the intertidal zone and up to 100m from the shoreline. They are common in mangroves, but also occur in sandy and rocky areas. Adults live out of water, but females require water in which to lay their eggs. The eggs and larvae of this species are planktonic, with juveniles recruiting to land. The maximum carapace length is 40 mm.

C. variabilis has been the main harvest organism in the Northern Territory Aquarium Fishery from 2003 to 2005 (See Table 3). The vast majority of this catch has come from within a one hundred kilometre radius of Darwin and so there is a small potential for localised depletion. In reality, localised depletion would be avoided by economic drivers within the fishery. For example, if the population of hermit crabs within a given area was to become significantly depleted, (for whatever reason) it would become uneconomical for fishers to continue to harvest from that area. Therefore the risk to this stock is considered very low given the extremely high
densities of C. variabilis in the abundant suitable habitat within the greater Darwin area.

Currently there is one fisher harvesting hermit crabs within the Northern Territory Aquarium Fishery. This fisher operates on an irregular basis owing to the ease of collection of this species and the corresponding high densities of hermit crabs within the intertidal zone.
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Post by Guest » Sun May 02, 2010 7:21 pm

I think we are getting off topic a bit, the issue is should they have constant salt water or not correct? I find where they are collected from and the other information very interesting but lets try to answer the first question.

Izzysmom you have provided some great links, that first one is really good it tells us the reasoning and that it can dehydrate them if they drink it. Here is the part all about the water.
What about water? Top
Crazy Crabs need to drink plenty of fresh water. They cannot drink salty water as it causes dehydration. Fresh water should always be available, preferably in a shallow dish so that they can crawl in and out easily. Crazy Crabs will drown in a deep water dish if they cannot get out. Terracotta bowls allow the crabs to grip the sides as they move in and out of the water. Make sure the sides are not too high for the crabs to climb over to get a drink.

Most tap water contains minerals and chlorine. If your tap water is high in metals, use cold boiled water instead. If your water has a lot of chlorine, leave it stand overnight before giving it to the crabs. The chlorine will evaporate from the water overnight. Another way to remove chlorine from your tap water is to purchase some dechlorinator liquid from your aquarium shop. Read the directions on the bottle on how to use it.

Land hermit crabs store water both in their body and also inside their shells.

Why does my crab need a salt bath? Top
When crabs are small and living in the ocean as plankton, they have a certain amount of salt within their body. After they come to land, this amount of salt is reduced, and because they only drink fresh water, they need to replace the salts in their body.

In the wild, the crabs get this salt from bathing on the shore, and from crawling around on wet beach sand as they look for food. Some would be obtained from the foods they find there.

In captivity, it is a very easy task to keep your crabs' salt levels right. There are two ways you can do this:

1. Once a week, you can give your crab a weak salty bath. By placing some room temperature water with a pinch of rock salt into a shallow bowl, either pick up the crab by his shell and gently dip his legs into it, or just let him crawl in and out at his leisure. You can leave this salty water in their cage, but don't forget, they only drink the fresh water. Some people find it easier to do the bath every few weeks, and just supply fresh water everyday.
2. If you have beach sand in your crabs' enclosure, the salts from this sand will end up mixed with their drinking water, so will create a somewhat saltwater bath. It won't be as strong if you replace the water every day, so should do your crabs no real harm.

The salt water helps clean their skin too which can become sticky from fruits and mushy types of foods

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Post by sugarselections » Sun May 02, 2010 7:27 pm

suebee wrote:Ask them if the crabs are found on the beach. I believer the Government paper is wrong.. Not that our government has ever been wrong before..
You got it mixed up. Maybe it would be helpful if you'd read the information so you can be better informed before responding. The proposal was written by the man who is doing the collecting. He submitted this information to the Australian government.

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