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Molting is scary

This forum is where you discuss issues relating to molting hermit crabs, including pre- and post-molting issues.

If you are having a molting emergency please post in the Emergency Forum.

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Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:59 pm

My hermit grab Gia is molting on the surface in an isolation tank. But her exo is stuck. SO much so that she has lost a claw in the molt. I am so worried she is not going to make it. Her molt is stuck on her legs and she doesn't hardly move. What should I do?

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:02 pm

There is a bad smell i know for a fact she is alive. Im very worried im going to lose her is there anything at all that i can do to help?

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: crabby33 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:31 pm

If you could fill out this emergency help template, I will be able to help pinpoint what the issue is. A surface molt is a sign conditions aren’t right for molting.


1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?

2. Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read?

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?

4. What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)?

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently?

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?

15. Is there any other information you would like to share that might be helpful (anything that is regularly part of your crab care, playtime, bathing, etc.)?

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:09 pm

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
I use Eco earth sub straight, and it is usually 6-8 inches.
2) Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read?
I have both a temp and a humidity gauge and the temp is always 76 degrees and the humidity is green. They are located at the back of the tank.
3.) Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
I use a heating lamp 24 hours.
4)What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)?
i have both a deep dish of salt and fresh water the fresh water is starile but i make my own salt water with steralie fresh water and a teaspoon of non idolized salt
5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
I feed them everynight a varity of fruits and veggies.
6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
I have had gia for almost a year and she is a Ecuadorian crab.
7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
She did switch shells about 3 months ago but this is her first molt with me. her molt started under ground but then i checked the tank one night and she had surfaced and was pushing on her exo.
. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
She was kept in a 6 gallon glass tank with a secure lid with the heat lamp.
9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they
Right now there is one other crab and he is about 4 inches big. she had another brother but he molted and died about 4 weeks ago.
10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any
about 7-12
11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently
no
12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
I clean the tank monthly but i spot check everymorning and i boil their furnature and i replace the substrate
13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
no
14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
no

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: RiNiKy506 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:28 pm

I really hope one of the experts can read this soon and help you better than I can. There is a difference between table salt (iodized salt) and marine salt water mix, your not supposed to use table salt to mix for salt water. I hope everything is ok, sending love and prayers for your little friend. <3


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:38 pm

Thank you so much!

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: crabby33 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:56 pm

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
I use Eco earth sub straight, and it is usually 6-8 inches.

You want to mix in play sand like people buy for their kids to play in.


2) Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read?
I have both a temp and a humidity gauge and the temp is always 76 degrees and the humidity is green. They are located at the back of the tank.

You have analogue gauges. This forum does not recommend them. Most people here use Acurite gauges intended for inside homes.


3.) Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
I use a heating lamp 24 hours.

The heat lamp will suck out the humidity. UTH’s are preferred by most crabbers and it’s recommended to place it on the back or side, not underneath since crabs need to burrow to molt.

4)What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)?
i have both a deep dish of salt and fresh water the fresh water is starile but i make my own salt water with steralie fresh water and a teaspoon of non idolized salt

The fresh water needs to be dechlorinated with a product called Seachem Prime. You are not supposed to use table salt for hermit crabs. The anti caking agent will kill them. They need a marine salt like Instant Ocean. You can find it online or at most pet stores.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
I feed them everynight a varity of fruits and veggies.

Make sure you’re giving your crabs lots of protein and calcium. This is very important for the molt cycle. I give my crabs dead crickets and mealworms, as well as crushed oyster shell and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Bell peppers and cucumbers are favorites with my crabs. Make sure the fruits and veggies are organic when it’s possible, there’s a concern about insecticides on inorganic produce.


6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
I have had gia for almost a year and she is a Ecuadorian crab.
7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
She did switch shells about 3 months ago but this is her first molt with me. her molt started under ground but then i checked the tank one night and she had surfaced and was pushing on her exo.
. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
She was kept in a 6 gallon glass tank with a secure lid with the heat lamp.
9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they
Right now there is one other crab and he is about 4 inches big. she had another brother but he molted and died about 4 weeks ago.
10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any
about 7-12
11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently
no
12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
I clean the tank monthly but i spot check everymorning and i boil their furnature and i replace the substrate
13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
no
14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
no


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: Hermiesguardian » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:58 pm

You should put this is the emergency section.
raising son's dog, Dante. Husky/hound.
Raising daughter's hermit crabs, Shelder, Paras and Derek. Added 2 more of my own (of course) Pete and Stryper. Former mommy to 2 guinea pigs and beloved cat, Nissi
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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: crabby33 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:18 pm

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
I use Eco earth sub straight, and it is usually 6-8 inches.

You want to mix in play sand like people buy for their kids to play in.


2) Do you have gauges in the tank to measure temperature and humidity? If so, where are they located and what temperature and humidity do they usually read?
I have both a temp and a humidity gauge and the temp is always 76 degrees and the humidity is green. They are located at the back of the tank.

You have analogue gauges. This forum does not recommend them. Most people here use Acurite gauges intended for inside homes.


3.) Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
I use a heating lamp 24 hours.

The heat lamp will suck out the humidity. UTH’s are preferred by most crabbers and it’s recommended to place it on the back or side, not underneath since crabs need to burrow to molt.

4)What types of water are available (fresh or salt) and how is the water treated (what brands of dechlorinator or salt mix and what ratio is used to mix it)?
i have both a deep dish of salt and fresh water the fresh water is starile but i make my own salt water with steralie fresh water and a teaspoon of non idolized salt

The fresh water needs to be dechlorinated with a product called Seachem Prime. You are not supposed to use table salt for hermit crabs. The anti caking agent will kill them. They need a marine salt like Instant Ocean. You can find it online or at most pet stores.

Also, make sure your water bowls are deep enough for the crabs to submerge if they want to and that there is a safe way for them to get in and out. Lots of people here use crafting mesh as a way for crabs to safely enter and exit pools. As well as plastic aquarium plants. There are lots of ideas for water dishes. Anything from sandwich containers to paint trays will work as water bowls. Bubblers and moss are good humidity boosters.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
I feed them everynight a varity of fruits and veggies.

Make sure you’re giving your crabs lots of protein and calcium. This is very important for the molt cycle. I give my crabs dead crickets and mealworms, as well as crushed oyster shell and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Bell peppers and cucumbers are favorites with my crabs. Make sure the fruits and veggies are organic when it’s possible, there’s a concern about insecticides on inorganic produce.


6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
I have had gia for almost a year and she is a Ecuadorian crab.


7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?

She did switch shells about 3 months ago but this is her first molt with me. her molt started under ground but then i checked the tank one night and she had surfaced and was pushing on her exo.

You said she started molting underground and that you “checked the tank one night” and she had surfaced. A molting crab would not surface on it’s own unless you dug it up and put it in isolation. In that case, you should never dig up your crab. Crabs can be underground anywhere from 6 weeks to up to 9 months. That may seem like a long time, but please leave it alone. A newly molted crab is extremely vulnerable to injury and cannibalism by other crabs. I have a medium purple pincher crab that just dug down last weekend, and I don’t expect her back up any time soon.

Isolating crabs for molting is not necessary if they have the right conditions. They can molt in the main tank.

What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
She was kept in a 6 gallon glass tank with a secure lid with the heat lamp.

A 6 Gallon tank is too small for E’s. You want something bigger, like a 40 Gallon. These guys like to dig, a lot and need plenty of room for climbing. E’s are very active crabs. I don’t have E’s but there are people on this forum who do have experience with them and I’m going by what others have said.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they
Right now there is one other crab and he is about 4 inches big. she had another brother but he molted and died about 4 weeks ago.

With a 6 Gallon tank, and you have two E’s, you are considered overcrowded. E’s don’t do well in overcrowding situations from what I’ve read on this forum.

People recommend 10 Gallons per E.


10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any
about 7-12

7-12 is not enough. HCA recommends 3-5 shells per crab. There are the right shells to buy and the wrong ones. E’s prefer D shaped openings, such as Nerite shells but they will also try on Turbos. E’s are also notorious for refusing to change shells.

Richards, Naples and Etsy are popular shell stores here.


11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently
no
12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
I clean the tank monthly but i spot check everymorning and i boil their furnature and i replace the substrate

Replacing your substrate is not necessary. Spot cleaning is all you will need to do.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
no
14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
no


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:36 pm

For those who are wondering. Gia passed away this afternoon. I am very thankful for all of your help so i know now what to and not to do. Tomorrow i am getting a jumbo purple pincher for Zeus who is missing his sister dearly.

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: RiNiKy506 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:37 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. <3


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: crabby33 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:39 pm

Please look at our tank recommendations page in the FAQ section before you buy a jumbo. They require a minimum tank size of 75 Gallons for leg room. Jumbos also need very deep substrate to molt properly and be aware that they can take up 6 months to complete a molt. Consider a medium or small crab who will take years to grow to an adult crab.


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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: curlysister » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:00 pm

Here's the link to what crabby33 is saying:

viewtopic.php?f=26&t=92541

A 6 gallon tank is really only good for one tiny crab. A jumbo will need 12 inches of substrate. I have seen others with E's also recommend at least 10 inches for them.

It would be better to have an optimal set-up prior to bringing home another crab.
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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:36 pm

i up graded the tank to a 20 gallon yesterday and made sure there was at least 10 inches of substrate.

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Re: Molting is scary

PostAuthor: mutchcrabs » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:37 pm

i just measured Zeus and he is only about 2 inches so he is actually a medium size crab and he is in a 20 gallon tank all by himself.

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