Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Please post here if you are having a crab care emergency! Use a real subject and not just "HELP!"

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bree85
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Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:40 pm

1. Coconut fiber, 6 inches deep.

2. I have a guage that measures humidity on the back wall of the tank near the side, and it usually reads between 70 and 80%

3. Yes, a heating panel on the back wall.

4. Bottled drinking water, and a salt water mixture made with Zoo Med salt in the ratios the box says to do.

5. My husband researched, and made up 4 ziplock baggies with different combinations of ground up hermit crab safe food items.. what i can remember is dried mealworms, coconut, granola, popcorn, raisens, calcium powder. I change the food every other day, or as needed.

6. We've had him for about 4 months. We got him and 3 others from a souvenir shop at the beach. I dont know what species.

7. This is his first molt happining right now since we've had him.

8. They are in a 30 gallon glass tank with a mesh lid that i have covered with plastic wrap.

9. Four crabs.I dont know. About 2 to 3 inches maybe? Sheldon is the largest.

10. We have fourteen extra shells.

11. No fumes.

12. Spot clean as needed.

13. Nothing new has been added.

14. No sponges

15. They usually stay buried for days and weeks at a time, and up until today.. I would gently dig them out so they could get food and water, and so that I could check that everyone was still okay if I hadn't seen them in a long time.

16.

Around 4am I couldnt sleep so I tidied up the crab tank, misted the coconut fiber, and the moss with a spray bottle, gave them fresh food and water dishes, and after realizing its been over a week since I've seen them, I gently dug them out of their hiding places and set them near the food dish.

This morning at 9am (eastern time) I found my favorite crab Shelldon naked in his salt water dish, next to him was the much smaller empty shell of one of his tankmates. And that crab was in the coconut cave wearing Shelldon's shell. I took Shelldon out and put him in an isolation tank with wet paper towels, and moss as flooring, gave him 4 shells of suitable size to choose from and left him in a dark room while I went to our small local pet supply store and bought a shell that is very similar to the one that got swiped. When i got back he was still naked. I looked online and saw that maybe i should put him in a plastic bowl with 1/2 inch of saltwater and the new shell, cover with a towel, and leave him alone for about an hour. Did that still naked... then I saw that i should gently place him in his shell, but that was impossible with the way he was curled up. Thats when I noticed he was MOLTING and I freaked out a little bit because ive probably been stressing him out, while trying to save him. I put him back into the isolation tank with plastic wrap over the lid to keep humidity in, put the heating panel on the back wall, and cut a little cardboard box to make him a hiding spot. What else should I do? Any special food, or just a dish of his usual dry stuff? Do i offer both waters? The iso tank is kinda small, so right now i only have a little dish of fresh water. He is sitting up on the moss pile where I put him this afternoon, but is not moving around. He has been without a shell for almost 12 hours now. Please help. I'm so worried.
Can he successfully complete his molt without a shell and aboveground?

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LadyJinglyJones
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:38 pm

Hiya! You're having quite the adventure... we'll see what we can do for the little guy.

I'll address the main topic here, then you can scroll down to see your template answers for other pointers (I'll write those comments in bold).

Firstly, hermit crabs should moult from within their shells. Their soft abdomens have to be covered, or they can dehydrate dangerously in only a few hours. It's good that you ISO'd him like you did, but that won't be enough.

When you say he's moulting, do you mean that his exoskeleton has been partially or completely pushed off? It's rare to witness this. (It should usually occur underground.) Can you describe what yoi're seeing/what he looks like?

I know it's nerve wracking, but you will need to get him into a shell or he won't survive. Try choosing a light shell with a round opening. If you hold him by the back and tap gently on his head while he's positioned over a shell, he may loosen up a bit. If he is soft from just moulting, I'd put him on a surface that will permit a thin layer of dechlorinated fresh water (like a yoghurt container lid or something, really not a lot of water). Adding damp moss to the ISO can help boost humidity too, FYI.

Edited - other comments now added!
bree85 wrote:1. Coconut fiber, 6 inches deep.

2. I have a guage that measures humidity on the back wall of the tank near the side, and it usually reads between 70 and 80%

Humidity a bit higher would benefit the crabs. We like to suggest 80% as a minimum. Also, hygrometers can go off and become inaccurate, so I recommend testing it (via calibration) to see it it's still accurate.
Here's how:
viewtopic.php?t=92540

Also, are you using a digital or analogue hygrometer? Analogues with little dials can be quite iffy, just FYI.


3. Yes, a heating panel on the back wall.

What temperature do you keep the tank at?

4. Bottled drinking water, and a salt water mixture made with Zoo Med salt in the ratios the box says to do.

Bottled water often contains chlorine, or chloramines to prevent microscopic stuff from growing in it. These chemicals are highly harmful to crabs, and can burn their sensitive gills and enter their bloodstream directly via the same.

The best (and incidentally cheapest) water for crustaceans is generally tap water used with a dechlorinator. When purchasing a dechlorinator check the label to see if it removes not just chlorine, but also chloramines, ammonia, & heavy metals. A popular brand is Prime. Many dechlorinators marketed specifically for hermit crabs don't remove these things (most hermit crab branded stuff is not very good, and much of it is bad for them. :? )

.... Which brings me to the next point - regretably, Zoo Med hermit salt is not a great product. The salt you get for a crab needs to contain the trace elements found in ocean water - they need these to function. Hermit salts tend to contain just sodium chloride.

We use salt mixes intended for marine fish keeping because these salts contain all the components of real sea water.

Brands of marine salt include Instant Ocean, Kent Marine, Red Sea Salt, and others. Just be sure not to get API Aquarium Salt - this is just sodium chloride: it's intended to treat ich in fresh water fish, not house sharks and corals. :)



5. My husband researched, and made up 4 ziplock baggies with different combinations of ground up hermit crab safe food items.. what i can remember is dried mealworms, coconut, granola, popcorn, raisens, calcium powder. I change the food every other day, or as needed.

6. We've had him for about 4 months. We got him and 3 others from a souvenir shop at the beach. I dont know what species.

Have you ever heard the term "post purchase syndrome"? Many crabs succumb to illness a short time after getting home. This is a page about that:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=92531


7. This is his first molt happining right now since we've had him.

8. They are in a 30 gallon glass tank with a mesh lid that i have covered with plastic wrap.

9. Four crabs.I dont know. About 2 to 3 inches maybe? Sheldon is the largest.

Are they closer to a golf ball size or a tennis ball? (or any other kind of ball?)

10. We have fourteen extra shells.

That's good. :)
Since one had its shell stolen, I'll link to the preffered shell guide... pet stores sometimes sell a variety of shells thst aren't well liked (and one or two that aren't physically wearable by land hermit crabs) so I encourage you to give it a look just to make sure all 14 are shells your crabs will want to wear.
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=92552


11. No fumes.

12. Spot clean as needed.

13. Nothing new has been added.

14. No sponges

15. They usually stay buried for days and weeks at a time, and up until today.. I would gently dig them out so they could get food and water, and so that I could check that everyone was still okay if I hadn't seen them in a long time.

Okay, the neat thing about crabs is, they are amazing diggers. They have to be, because they need to moult underground. They don't ever normally need to be dug up or uncovered. They can (and often do) actually go weeks, even months without comming to the surface - they have a special organ (it's called the hapatopancreas) that stores everything from lipids (fats) to calcium, and they store water in their shells, in preparation for the long (often months!) mouting process. They know better than we do when they need food and water. They are amazing!

Digging them up can actually be very dangerous for them, too - here's why:

Moulting is triggered by a hormone (called ecdysone - insects have the same hormone, incidentally). This hormone is secreted by an organ. A different organ (in their eye stalks, weirdly) controls when ecdysone is released. It starts the ecdysone at the right time & turns off the ecdysone if conditions change adversely.

When conditions are right, and there's deep enough sand, enough food/water stored in their bodies, the temperature is in the right range, and it's dark (because they're underground), this moulting hormone is allowed to run rampant - and they begin moulting.

If they are prevented from moulting for too long (for instance, if the process is halted a bunch) the hormone can build up until they begin moulting in poor conditions (like, maybe in the salt water). It's also believed that ecdysone can build up to toxic levels in a crabs body.

A crab is always at some point in the moulting cycle, they don't just suddenly moult and then it's done. :)

Prior to moulting they're in a pre-moult phase (they may start to seem sluggish & dull coloured at this time), and their bodies are storing nutrients and breaking down muscle in preparation.

Then they dig down, build a little chamber in the sand and enter the moult phase - here they hang out in their shell, the exo is pushed off, and they chuck it out of the shell: this take only a short time, then they are soft for a few hours while their new exo hardens. But they've just lost a ton of calcium in the old exo, so they eat it to regain the minerals they need to fortify the new exo. It can take days, and even after that, they are often down there for weeks or even months, with larger crabs (bigger crabs require more energy to complete moults).

This whole time they are building back muscle and remineralizing. Their metabolisms, organs, and basically their whole bodies are affected by this. It takes a long time because it's a truly massive process. A lot can go wrong, hormonally or just physically.

Then they come up to the surface, forage, explore - and most importantly, begin storing nutrients for the next moult. And they do it all again. And again. Their whole lives.



16.

Around 4am I couldnt sleep so I tidied up the crab tank, misted the coconut fiber, and the moss with a spray bottle, gave them fresh food and water dishes, and after realizing its been over a week since I've seen them, I gently dug them out of their hiding places and set them near the food dish.

This morning at 9am (eastern time) I found my favorite crab Shelldon naked in his salt water dish, next to him was the much smaller empty shell of one of his tankmates. And that crab was in the coconut cave wearing Shelldon's shell. I took Shelldon out and put him in an isolation tank with wet paper towels, and moss as flooring, gave him 4 shells of suitable size to choose from and left him in a dark room while I went to our small local pet supply store and bought a shell that is very similar to the one that got swiped. When i got back he was still naked. I looked online and saw that maybe i should put him in a plastic bowl with 1/2 inch of saltwater and the new shell, cover with a towel, and leave him alone for about an hour. Did that still naked... then I saw that i should gently place him in his shell, but that was impossible with the way he was curled up. Thats when I noticed he was MOLTING and I freaked out a little bit because ive probably been stressing him out, while trying to save him. I put him back into the isolation tank with plastic wrap over the lid to keep humidity in, put the heating panel on the back wall, and cut a little cardboard box to make him a hiding spot. What else should I do? Any special food, or just a dish of his usual dry stuff? Do i offer both waters? The iso tank is kinda small, so right now i only have a little dish of fresh water. He is sitting up on the moss pile where I put him this afternoon, but is not moving around. He has been without a shell for almost 12 hours now. Please help. I'm so worried.
Can he successfully complete his molt without a shell and aboveground?

Finally, you can offer both fresh and salt water in bottle caps for him. If he is indeed moulting he'll need to eat his exo first, but when that's done you can offer raw, (unpasteurized) honey, organic just-peanuts peanutbutter, an animal protein source. For now the shell is the main thing - if he's soft, wait for him to harden, then reshell him as soon as you can.

"Gaze upon the rolling deep..."
Quince the fat tailed gecko; Amazonian minnows; and now Harry & Luis, Bede & Aster, Chandra & Jace, Pax, & Piccolo, my adopted PPs.
RIP Vegita :(


Topic author
bree85
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:56 pm

Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:15 pm

I just kinda put him in a shell. I got a lightweight round holed one, and dripped a little bottled water on him and the shell (to help him slide in easier) and now he's sitting in it as best as i could manage. I'm hoping he can make it the rest of the way in. When I found him this morning his whole back end was soft and pink, but I've never seen him completely out of shell so i didnt think of molting until I noticed he had lost the tip of one of his little claws and just now his exoskeleton is all crackley and breaking off in pieces. I can see for sure that he is shedding his top layer.


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bree85
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:33 pm

LadyJinglyJones I wish i could send you a picture. I dont know what im doing. Im scared im going to accidentally hurt him. I dont know which way to put hin in the shell im worried the shell is upside down or something.


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bree85
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:01 pm

Update: I picked a different bigger shell and eased him in, and guided his curled up tail into the shell with a wet Qtip, and he is in there pretty good, but I can still see too much of him because he's too weak to scoot back at all. I set him back on the moss and covered him with a damp paper towel. I hope he makes it. He's the friendliest crab of the bunch. I love him.


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bree85
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:05 pm

I just noticed, and am reading the updated post now. Thank You!

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LadyJinglyJones
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:24 pm

Try not to worry, the shell can't be upside down.

The abdomen is always soft - it isn't carcinated at all! That's why they need to wear snail shells - their back ends are just super permeable to moisture. When they moult, it's just the front end hard bits that come off. :)

You're doing your best.
"Gaze upon the rolling deep..."
Quince the fat tailed gecko; Amazonian minnows; and now Harry & Luis, Bede & Aster, Chandra & Jace, Pax, & Piccolo, my adopted PPs.
RIP Vegita :(


Topic author
bree85
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:56 pm

Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:44 pm

Gracious...I need to go shopping tomorrow morning :shock: . I dont have a tank thermometer, my humidity guage is the kind with a dial, I'm going to get their water fixed ASAP. I didn't know bottled water had chlorine in it. Im going to replace that Zoo Med with something better too.

Where is a good place to order shells? The pet store didnt have any good ones. The few that I have I bought at the beach, or are ones I picked out of a bag of decorative vase filler shells. The shell he came in was an apple murex, Im going to try to find some more of those.

Also, something I've been wondering.. how often should fresh food be put out? They disapear underground for so long... Do they need fresh food every night? or just when I see them out?

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LadyJinglyJones
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:21 am

bree85 wrote:Gracious...I need to go shopping tomorrow morning :shock: . I dont have a tank thermometer, my humidity guage is the kind with a dial, I'm going to get their water fixed ASAP. I didn't know bottled water had chlorine in it. Im going to replace that Zoo Med with something better too.
It's a common issue - a lot of people very reasonably assume that things marketed for crabs will be good for them. (I got my first two when my mum-in-law got an actual cage, like for hamsters for her daughter's fair ground prize crabs... nothing - actually nothing! - in that $60 crab kit was crab appropriate... she was not pleased.

The big one is the dechlorinator, followed by marine salt. I think Petco stocks Instant Ocean salt, but I'm under the impression that most Walmarts don't carry a synthetic marine saltwater mix. You may want to call ahead to make sure you aren't wasting a trip.

You can get an acurite digital thermometer/ hygrometer combo for about 10$ at Walmart or Home Depot.
bree85 wrote: Where is a good place to order shells? The pet store didnt have any good ones. The few that I have I bought at the beach, or are ones I picked out of a bag of decorative vase filler shells. The shell he came in was an apple murex, Im going to try to find some more of those.
Murexes are okay, but the most popular shells are Turbos. Ultimately, most caribbean crabs (alias purple pinchers, alias tree crabs, alias soldier crabs) will want the lighter weight turbos. I initially bought murexes and turbos, but nobody in my tank ever even looked at them after switching to turbos, and I eventually took them out.

If your crabs have a big purple claw, they are Coenobita clypeatus - PPs, for short. :D
These guys like turbos best.

We have a shopping resource page, I'll link it here - you can find it in the FAQ:

http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/pa ... pping.html

I'm partial to Richards. Naples is really helpful for beginners, though they tend to be more costly than richards. And there's ebay too. With turbos, on sites where they don't list the opening size, but rather the length of the total shell, the opening is roughly half the size of the total shell (though people measure differently).
Also, something I've been wondering.. how often should fresh food be put out? They disapear underground for so long... Do they need fresh food every night? or just when I see them out?
Food should always be available. Shy crabs (or crabs who just love being underground a lot!) might only sneak up briefly for a food run in the dead of night, then tunnel back down again. If all the dang crabs are underground I'll just feed mine a dry mix and skip the stinky fish or shrimp. I leave it for about 2-3 days... however long it'll last without moulding. (My humidity is about 92-96%, so mould is a frequent visitor.)

I'll link the crab nutrition info page below... it's a really great read & describes why crabs benefit from things like worm castings, dried leaves (like oak or maple), bark, seaweeds, fresh & dry foods.
(I really like this page :D )

Ta-da:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=92554
"Gaze upon the rolling deep..."
Quince the fat tailed gecko; Amazonian minnows; and now Harry & Luis, Bede & Aster, Chandra & Jace, Pax, & Piccolo, my adopted PPs.
RIP Vegita :(


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bree85
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:56 pm

Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:19 am

He is still alive. :) im so thankful for that,(I tapped the top of his head softly with a paper towel, and he made a big stretching movement.) but he has not scooted back into his shell, or shed his exoskeleton. Could the stress of everything make him not complete his molting process?


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bree85
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:22 am

Are they closer to a golf ball size or a tennis ball? (or any other kind of ball?)


Golfball size

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LadyJinglyJones
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by LadyJinglyJones » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:21 pm

bree85 wrote:He is still alive. :) im so thankful for that,(I tapped the top of his head softly with a paper towel, and he made a big stretching movement.) but he has not scooted back into his shell, or shed his exoskeleton. Could the stress of everything make him not complete his molting process?
Honestly, I don't know. I suppose its possible... ?

Can you post a picture?

I'm curious about what @wodesorel might think - she is vastly more experienced than I & has maybe seen or read about a similar case. I've never even seen a surface moulting crab - almost all my crabs were adoptions who were already adjusted to captivity and over the PPS period.
"Gaze upon the rolling deep..."
Quince the fat tailed gecko; Amazonian minnows; and now Harry & Luis, Bede & Aster, Chandra & Jace, Pax, & Piccolo, my adopted PPs.
RIP Vegita :(

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wodesorel
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by wodesorel » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:40 pm

Their molts have to come off as one solid mass, they wiggle out of it like their old skin was a cast of their bodies. If you hit their molt at the perfect time this doesn't happen and they get stuck. It takes maybe a few days for them to release their old skin and start to form new skin underneath. This is why they bury and stop moving moving before a shed. They also retract their fluids a bit into the abdomen so that there is room for their legs and claws to squeeze out of the hard old exo. And then it takes a few days to reinflate and harden their newly exposed skin. The actual shed should only take minutes to hours, it is really fast, like a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis.

I have only seen flaking exo once, back when I first started and didn't know any better - there was a small E right under the surface that I didn't realize was molting. I pulled everyone out to redo the tank, put the E in with my PPs, and within 5 minutes they had killed it and started to eat it. When I removed the E, the exo started flaking off in pieces in my hand and I realized it had to have been just about to molt.

I am not entirely sure what I would recommend here, or do myself. Can you share photos of the crab and the crinkling you saw? I don't want to recommend removing anything unless we are 100% sure it needs to be done, but if he is trapped the only chance he has is to get some of the old exo off so that he will be able to eat and shed again on his next molt.

And honestly, molting damage is often fatal, it takes so much out of them to begin with that when something goes wrong they often do not have the reserves to pull through. I am betting this is why he has not reshelled, he doesn't have the energy to carry one. I have seen naked crabs here before that hung on for weeks before succumbing so there is still time to try some things, but please be prepared for the worst. I am so sorry this is happening!

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curlysister
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by curlysister » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:59 pm

I also hope that things go well, but also need to reinforce the 'no dig' advice above. A week without seeing a crab isn't much at all. If they need food and water, they will come up for it. If they are molting, they don't need food and water. In the 7 years that I have had my crabs, I have dug up a crab exactly once - when there had been a flood and there was standing water in the bottom of the tank that would have been deadly.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers


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bree85
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Re: Naked molting crab, had his shell stolen.

Post by bree85 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:11 pm

How do i post a picture? I dont see a way to upload one.

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