are my crabs ok?

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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Claudia
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:17 pm

are my crabs ok?

Post by Claudia » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:24 pm

Would like some input from experienced crabbers.

My son (age 9) and I brought home 3 hermit crabs from beach 3.5 month ago in early August. They aren't super tiny, but aren't huge either. We didn't choose any in painted shells, only natural ones. Have no idea if M/F but we refer to 2 of them as "he" and one as "she". We brought home beach sand for them, strained it with a fine strainer to get out sharp pieces of shells, and I mixed it with coconut fiber. They seemed to really like it (including spending a lot of time eating it!)

We have them in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. After 1 month, 2 of the crabs disappear, about 1 week apart (early Sept). After about 2 months, one of them resurfaces briefly, but I don't think looks any different.. Same shell, doesn't look bigger, so I don't think it molted. why not? So what was it doing for 2 months? And now that it went back down, how long will it be gone this time? Will it molt and how long will that take?

Also, I didn't see it eating at the food dish, he only came up briefly late at night, and walked around sand. After a few days, it disappeared again. It might have eaten when I wasn't looking though. He's very sensitive to light and when he saw my light watching him he ran away. But at least I know he's still alive, because after 2 months I was beginning to wonder. But was concerned he didn't come up looking bigger or any different. The other crab down I have no idea where it is or if its ok. About 2.5 months for that one.

Now the 3rd crab all this time for almost 3 months has been quite active at night, every night walking all around, eating from food dish, in the water dishes, etc. But a few weeks ago, she also disappeared. So now I have all 3 down, but today I saw her, because she was in one corner of the glass tank, at the bottom, and I only have 3" substrate. I meant to order more but a few of them went down before I could get that taken care of. But she dug to the edge of the glass so now you can see her through the tank.. her antennae moving, she is still in same shell, although she stuck her body out quite a bit from it.. so I know she is still alive but is no longer in the dark since she dug her way to the corner of the tank. Heard her scraping the sides with tips of her legs or claws.

After a crab molts, does it leave its old shell down under the sand, and come up looking for a new, bigger one? Does it no longer fit in the old shell? Is it possible the one that resurfaced had actually molted and just kept his old shell? What if it doesn't find a bigger one in the right size and no longer fits in the old shell? He disappeared again though so I'm guessing he never molted, but why did he come up before molting?

Also, about a month ago temperatures dropped from 75-80 down to 66-70. I am looking to get a UTH to solve that problem. I haven't been able to afford to get one but Im planning to order one this week. But, was wondering how this has affected the crabs who might be molting, could this be slowing down their progress, or halted it?

Why is one taking so long to molt (2.5 month); why did one come up after 2 months looking the same (and now disappeared again)

Is it safe to add 1" of substrate to make it a bit deeper for them (in case 3" wasn't enough) even though all 3 are down? I know ideally I should have 6".. there are places it is 3.5" or 4" so it's not too bad right now. But should I wait until all 3 come up to add more or should I add a bit more now?


Just Jay
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Just Jay » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:48 pm

Claudia wrote:Would like some input from experienced crabbers.

My son (age 9) and I brought home 3 hermit crabs from beach 3.5 month ago in early August. They aren't super tiny, but aren't huge either. We didn't choose any in painted shells, only natural ones. Have no idea if M/F but we refer to 2 of them as "he" and one as "she". We brought home beach sand for them, strained it with a fine strainer to get out sharp pieces of shells, and I mixed it with coconut fiber. They seemed to really like it (including spending a lot of time eating it!)

We have them in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. After 1 month, 2 of the crabs disappear, about 1 week apart (early Sept). After about 2 months, one of them resurfaces briefly, but I don't think looks any different.. Same shell, doesn't look bigger, so I don't think it molted. why not? So what was it doing for 2 months? And now that it went back down, how long will it be gone this time? Will it molt and how long will that take?

Also, I didn't see it eating at the food dish, he only came up briefly late at night, and walked around sand. After a few days, it disappeared again. It might have eaten when I wasn't looking though. He's very sensitive to light and when he saw my light watching him he ran away. But at least I know he's still alive, because after 2 months I was beginning to wonder. But was concerned he didn't come up looking bigger or any different. The other crab down I have no idea where it is or if its ok. About 2.5 months for that one.

Now the 3rd crab all this time for almost 3 months has been quite active at night, every night walking all around, eating from food dish, in the water dishes, etc. But a few weeks ago, she also disappeared. So now I have all 3 down, but today I saw her, because she was in one corner of the glass tank, at the bottom, and I only have 3" substrate. I meant to order more but a few of them went down before I could get that taken care of. But she dug to the edge of the glass so now you can see her through the tank.. her antennae moving, she is still in same shell, although she stuck her body out quite a bit from it.. so I know she is still alive but is no longer in the dark since she dug her way to the corner of the tank. Heard her scraping the sides with tips of her legs or claws.

After a crab molts, does it leave its old shell down under the sand, and come up looking for a new, bigger one? Does it no longer fit in the old shell? Is it possible the one that resurfaced had actually molted and just kept his old shell? What if it doesn't find a bigger one in the right size and no longer fits in the old shell? He disappeared again though so I'm guessing he never molted, but why did he come up before molting?

Also, about a month ago temperatures dropped from 75-80 down to 66-70. I am looking to get a UTH to solve that problem. I haven't been able to afford to get one but Im planning to order one this week. But, was wondering how this has affected the crabs who might be molting, could this be slowing down their progress, or halted it?

Why is one taking so long to molt (2.5 month); why did one come up after 2 months looking the same (and now disappeared again)

Is it safe to add 1" of substrate to make it a bit deeper for them (in case 3" wasn't enough) even though all 3 are down? I know ideally I should have 6".. there are places it is 3.5" or 4" so it's not too bad right now. But should I wait until all 3 come up to add more or should I add a bit more now?
First take a deep breath. Crabs are crazy and as stressful as it is this sounds all normal. To be sure fill out the template so everyone has a better idea about your tank and hermies. viewtopic.php?f=27&t=46102

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Just Jay
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Just Jay » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:19 pm

Claudia wrote:Would like some input from experienced crabbers.

My son (age 9) and I brought home 3 hermit crabs from beach 3.5 month ago in early August. They aren't super tiny, but aren't huge either. We didn't choose any in painted shells, only natural ones. Have no idea if M/F but we refer to 2 of them as "he" and one as "she". We brought home beach sand for them, strained it with a fine strainer to get out sharp pieces of shells, and I mixed it with coconut fiber. They seemed to really like it (including spending a lot of time eating it!)

We have them in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. After 1 month, 2 of the crabs disappear, about 1 week apart (early Sept). After about 2 months, one of them resurfaces briefly, but I don't think looks any different.. Same shell, doesn't look bigger, so I don't think it molted. why not? So what was it doing for 2 months? And now that it went back down, how long will it be gone this time? Will it molt and how long will that take?

Also, I didn't see it eating at the food dish, he only came up briefly late at night, and walked around sand. After a few days, it disappeared again. It might have eaten when I wasn't looking though. He's very sensitive to light and when he saw my light watching him he ran away. But at least I know he's still alive, because after 2 months I was beginning to wonder. But was concerned he didn't come up looking bigger or any different. The other crab down I have no idea where it is or if its ok. About 2.5 months for that one.

Now the 3rd crab all this time for almost 3 months has been quite active at night, every night walking all around, eating from food dish, in the water dishes, etc. But a few weeks ago, she also disappeared. So now I have all 3 down, but today I saw her, because she was in one corner of the glass tank, at the bottom, and I only have 3" substrate. I meant to order more but a few of them went down before I could get that taken care of. But she dug to the edge of the glass so now you can see her through the tank.. her antennae moving, she is still in same shell, although she stuck her body out quite a bit from it.. so I know she is still alive but is no longer in the dark since she dug her way to the corner of the tank. Heard her scraping the sides with tips of her legs or claws.

After a crab molts, does it leave its old shell down under the sand, and come up looking for a new, bigger one? Does it no longer fit in the old shell? Is it possible the one that resurfaced had actually molted and just kept his old shell? What if it doesn't find a bigger one in the right size and no longer fits in the old shell? He disappeared again though so I'm guessing he never molted, but why did he come up before molting?

Also, about a month ago temperatures dropped from 75-80 down to 66-70. I am looking to get a UTH to solve that problem. I haven't been able to afford to get one but Im planning to order one this week. But, was wondering how this has affected the crabs who might be molting, could this be slowing down their progress, or halted it?

Why is one taking so long to molt (2.5 month); why did one come up after 2 months looking the same (and now disappeared again)

Is it safe to add 1" of substrate to make it a bit deeper for them (in case 3" wasn't enough) even though all 3 are down? I know ideally I should have 6".. there are places it is 3.5" or 4" so it's not too bad right now. But should I wait until all 3 come up to add more or should I add a bit more now?

some of your questions wont have straight answers because every crab is different. when you first bring your hermits home its not odd for them to go under ground to destress or molt. your hermit might also have molted but not changed a great deal or s/he might still be getting ready to molt. when i first got my four PPs one of my females RoxSand would go under ground for weeks/days at a time then come up to eat/drink and go back down. all in the same shell never looking different. after a while she stayed down and when she came back up she was huge compared to her size before and in a new shell. i can only assume she took the shell she came up in down with her (it was covered in sand); and all that time was getting a long haul molt spot ready. tho i cant be sure (the down side to not being able to watch them 24/7 you never are). out of my four crabs two have molted. Tina (my smallest) put on a bigger shell before going under ground and when she came back up still switched to a new shell in a day. RoxSand (third largest) as mentioned must have taken a shell down with her or switched right away when she came up. Now i have two currently in the process that havent molted before with me. Uu (only male and second biggest) also changed into a much bigger shell before going under and was checking out every new shell in put in the tank. Hermione on the other hand i think went down in her same shell so unless she took one underground as well she will have to change when she comes up or maybe its bigger on the inside/she doesnt think she will need a new one? molting is weird. only they know how long they need and what. most of my crabs do what i call test runs of staying down before pulling the molt to i guess get ready. as far as if your crab doesnt have the next sized shell available it wont be able to grown any more and eventually die. at least 3-4 shells PER crab are a a must! as for the crab you can see i know most crabbers will cover the glass with a piece of dark paper. its thought the dark helps them molt. molting is a very stressful time...for everyone lol. so try to make her feel safe and secure if you can. low temps like you listed will definitely slow your crabs down so be very careful. they might also not be molting but trying to stay warm. so even without a heater try to insulate your tank to hold heat in. i know i had to add a lamp to my own tank. you can add your sub but do it loosely. i had the same problem while two crabs were under so i just used plastic serving spoons (pack of four large ones from the dollar store) to scoop and sprinkle the sub down till i was were i needed to be. as long as you dont pack it in they should be fine.

i hope my personal experience helps. let me know if anything was unclear i tried to answer everything i could for you. im sure a more knowledgeable crabber will chime in as well!

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Crabinski
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Crabinski » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:25 am

You can tell if a crab has recently molted if the tips of its walking legs have sharp black nails and if the walking legs appear "hairy." Not all crabs will show a significant growth spurt after a molt and so will not need to look for a larger shell -- they love to change shells for the fun of it if a good variety if offered.

Re adding substrate: you can add 1/2"-1" per day when crabs are underground as long as you don't tamp down the new material. The crabs are having a difficult time settling in to molt because the substrate is too low. The advised minimum depth is 6" or 3X the height of your largest crab. Be sure that the substrate is at sandcastle consistency so that the crabs can tunnel safely.

The temperatures in your tank have dropped to a dangerously low level: anything below 75 for a sustained length of time, especially dropping into the 60s, can cause molting deformities and even crab deaths. Until you can get a suitable heat source, wrap the tank in a blanket or one of those thin silver "emergency" blankets found at Walmart for under $2. It doesn't pay to invest in a good UTH like an Ultratherm in a proper size to fit a 10g because that size tank is already too small for three crabs any larger than smalls. Check craigslist to see if you can find a 20L, 29g or larger aquarium on the cheap...also search under "Terrarium" as many reptile owners sell off their smaller tanks as their pet outgrows them and terrariums usually include a screen lid.
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Claudia
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Claudia » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:12 am

Well I considered for a while whether to get the heater for this size tank... or a bigger tank with a bigger heater. If the crabs weren't all down, I probably would have got a bigger tank. I had been looking on craiglist for a while. I don't live in the city though so there aren't a lot around me. Everything to choose from is far away and I can't drive there. and can't afford a new one in the size I want. Since the crabs are down, even if I had a larger tank right now, how would I get them into it? It would kind of be unusable for a while... I thought for now the best thing to do would be to make this tank warmer. So I finally ordered the UTH to solve my cold problem.. I got the 6"x17" and hope thats the right size for this tank. I also got a bag of the Flukers sand substrate it was this product on amazon B00NG61JS2 which is set to arrive tomorrow, and I already had a dried cake of that coconut fiber left over from when I first set up the tank (I had got 2) so I plan to mix those together and should be able to add a few more inches until it gets to 6"

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it? currently 3-4" for past 3 months. It is made of beach sand mixed with coconut fiber. The beach sand did have lots of bits of shells in it, which we carefully strained and took out the bigger sharper pieces. They eat the sand a lot so I think they like it. It was taken from the beach where we vacationed.

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? Yes, with velcro stuck on side of cage (near top) but I dont think its accurate. When I first got it, I tried to keep the humidity at the recommended range (80%?) by spraying sponges, the sand surface, and coconut fiber climbing mat, but after some weeks of this I realized the sand substrate has turned to soup (this was before the crabs went down) .. we stopped spraying and it eventually dried to the correct consistency again. I later read the page on how to "calibrate" and when I did the salt test (twice) it read at 55% instead of the 75% so I guess that means its reading 20 degree lower than it should. I couldn't figure out how to modify it so I just have to remember its 20 lower than normal. But I'm getting rid of that. This week I ordered this product from amazon so hopefully I can have a more accurate reading: B01KYBY2H6 I will put that in when I set up the new heater. My old one was by ZooMed (purchased at petsmart) and had dials (not digital) .. it currently reads 68F temp (that part seems accurate)

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what? No but I just ordered the ultratherm.

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)? Yes I have 2 water dishes, fresh spring water (sourced locally at a country spring coming out of ground) and salt water (made with the spring water, 1/2c. to 1/2 tsp. salt) - we never put tap water in the tank. Spray bottle is only spring water.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced? Replaced once a day in the evening. We try to put in one fruit, veg, grain and protein every time. Usually the grain is oats or quinoa. dried shrimp, scrambled eggs. Honey sometimes.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known? Since early August. Purple pinchers I believe, from store near the beach. One has a beautiful light lavender claw (different shade than the other 2)... one a very dark shiny purple claw and the other a duller, reddish purple claw.

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen? Not yet that I know of but all 3 are now down. 2 have been down for 2 and 2.5 months. (one of which came up briefly at night for a few days before going back down) and one just went down recently (I can see her through the side corner of the tank, I know where she is)

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing? 10 gallon glass aquarium; plastic vented lid (like a screen) - I had a piece of wax paper over it for a while to keep in humidity but when it got too humid and I realized that gauge must be wrong, we removed the wax paper, there is only the vented lid on now. We spray a few times if needed. I just ordered a new digital thermometer/hydrometer as well

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?
3 crabs, I would guess medium size maybe. Not real tiny. The opening measured 3/4" on the old shells they were in. They changed shells before they went down and I'm not sure what the opening is on the ones they are now wearing if its the same or not.

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any? There are 4 right now sitting on the sand. I didn't realize they could bring an empty shell down with them. I don't think they did that but not positive. Never gave it a thought until someone mentioned it. I had more in there at one time, but its a small tank and there was less room for them to get around so I ended up removing most of them. I will add more back in when I increase the substrate layer just to be safe.

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently? No.

12. How often do you clean the tank and how? No. I just check for mold and remove it if I find it. I once had to remove the climbing log I got at petsmart because it had mold starting to grow on it. Not sure if its safe to add back in now that its probably all dried out by now.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned? No, there was 2 sponges bought at the same time (same store) when we got the crabs. One was half eaten last I checked and now when I went to find it, I don't see it. So I think they ate one, that was a darker colored sponge. It was small anyway when we got it but they enjoyed eating that one. The other one is still there it is lighter colored and I spray it daily. It sits on the sand. We never put them in the water dish though and I didn't remove or clean them in any way.


Topic author
Claudia
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Claudia » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:14 am

I have a question about "wrap the tank in a blanket or one of those thin silver "emergency" blankets found at Walmart for under $2"

Do the crabs bodies give off heat? I guess I'm confused how that will help keep the tank any warmer... unless their bodies are losing heat, like ours do?

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kieagcarm
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by kieagcarm » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:19 pm

You should never ever use regular salt to make salt water. You must use a marine salt, instant ocean is what's recommended. Regular salt will really hurt the crabs. You also need a dechlorinator solution to add to both water bowls

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Topic author
Claudia
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:17 pm

Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Claudia » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:44 pm

sorry I didn't clarify that. No, I don't use regular salt.. when I first got the crabs I got a tiny bottle of "hermit crab All Living things soaking salt" at Petsmart.. it was 2.4 oz.. when that ran out I got a 3 lb box of Instant Ocean Sea Salt from the same store its in purple box saying "creates the ideal marine aquarium" - it wasn't much more than that other tiny bottle. I will have it a long time! As far as dechlorinator, I haven't bought that because they don't get tap water. I fill my water from a spring (coming out of the ground) - it would have natural minerals in it but its not city water, so no chlorine.

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soilentgringa
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by soilentgringa » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:41 pm

Claudia wrote:I have a question about "wrap the tank in a blanket or one of those thin silver "emergency" blankets found at Walmart for under $2"

Do the crabs bodies give off heat? I guess I'm confused how that will help keep the tank any warmer... unless their bodies are losing heat, like ours do?
Crabs cannot thermoregulate, no. They depend on the ambient temperatures to stay warm.

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mool
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by mool » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:19 pm

kieagcarm wrote:You should never ever use regular salt to make salt water. You must use a marine salt, instant ocean is what's recommended. Regular salt will really hurt the crabs. You also need a dechlorinator solution to add to both water bowls

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I don't think regular table salt is harmful per se, it just doesn't benefit them. Over the long run it can cause problems because it doesn't contain the trace elements crabs need.

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Rawrgeous
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Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Rawrgeous » Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:52 am

Hello, and welcome to the HCA! The only areas of concern I can see are sub depth and temp, which I can see you are working on, and shells. You'll want to make sure you have 3-4 extra shells of appropriate size for each crab. If the sponges are natural it is fine for the crabs to eat them. As far as the bit about taking shells down: They take down the shell they are wearing. Sometimes they will change right before going down, or right after coming up, but not always. It just depends on the crab. I'm also going to link our basic care guide, just in case you haven't had a chance to check it out. :) viewtopic.php?f=51&t=92457


Topic author
Claudia
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:17 pm

Re: are my crabs ok?

Post by Claudia » Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:50 am

update: The ultratherm alone didn't do anything for my tank (I got the 6"x17"), but after I applied aluminum foil and styrofoam to the back (over the ultratherm) and 2 sides, its now considerably warmer. (75-77 in the tank when its 68-70 outside tank) the humidity is also near 80% .. I like the new digital thermometer/hydrometer which proved my old one was broken. The readings are sometimes off by 30% (if the new one reads at 80% the old around 50% but sometimes they are only off by 5%; the old one fluctuates wildly and is not to be trusted) - so never buy those kind from PetSmart they don't work!

Now that its warmer in the tank, I do see that one crab coming back up every night to be more and more active including eating and checking out new shells.. I think it molted now, but not positive. I have only 3 crabs and I know which one it is NOT; therefore it has to be one of the other 2, but it doesn't look like either of the other ones that went down 2.5 months ago.. I have been comparing before & after photos (from back in August) and can't figure out which of the 2 crabs it is! Maybe it molted a week ago before it came up for the first time and I just didn't realize it. The shell is the same one (either that or he took it from the other crab) only it looks a lot more duller than it did in Aug.

The color of crab all over is a dull purplish.. used to be shiny parts of orange (on both crabs)... just can't figure out if its molted already or what. The legs do look thicker and not as skinny. I don't see the black fingernails but the legs seem to look hairy in my videos. It does look big in comparison to the shell which now looks small on him.. so I'm thinking molting is complete. But the size change isn't that great that I'm absolutely positive that it molted yet. Maybe it just got dull in color because its preparing to molt? Didn't I read that somewhere on here? I wish they came up with a sign that said "I molted!" lol I'm just going to have to assume that it did because it was gone for so long and now looks different.

I know another of them is still alive (likely the one that just went down a few weeks ago) because I heard lots of scratching noises in the area I last saw her (she end up covering that window down at bottom corner so she is no longer visible) so she was active last night.. the other one however, there is no sign of for 2.5 months.. hope it makes it out ok. I didn't realize the tank shouldn't be moved. I moved it around quite a bit (water sloshing in the bowls) over a several hour period as I put on the ultratherm on back, and insulated 3 sides.. then I later read on forum not to move tank. Oops! I sure hope I didn't collapse any tunnels and that if I did, the crab can remake it again.

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