Help Needed

Please post here if you are a new crab owner and someone will be along shortly to welcome you to the HCA! This is also the place to welcome new crabbies to your clan!
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Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:58 pm
Location: North Carolina

Help Needed

Post by handkammer » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:22 pm

New crab owner here... My son bought three crabs to bring home from vacation a couple of weeks ago. Little did we know what we were getting into! We quickly tried to get caught up to speed. Our current crabitat is as follows: 20 gallon tank with cover (but cover has a couple holes where a heater would have been for fish tank use), 4- 5 inches of coco substrate mixed with hermit sand (although the ratio is really unbalanced so it's mostly coco substrate that comes in the brick form and has been hydrated with spring water), the moss helps with hydration that crabs like for a "moss pit" which is elevated and they can climb in and out of it, two pools (although I haven't yet purchased the marine salt for the second pool), the "food" that we were given from the pet store, a few random shells, one piece of drift wood for them to tunnel through, and seashells that have been pulverized naturally into tiny little bits. These shells are off to one side and this is what the pools are nestled into. For the first several days in the tank, they were mainly liking the moss pit. But for the past several days they have burrowed into the deepest part of the tank. I have one heater that is attached on the back side of the tank, although I am doubting if it is powerful enough to properly heat the 20 gallon tank. I think the humidstat/thermometer is broken, but it was saying that its about 78 for both humidity and temp. I've been feeding them the crab "food", lettuce and blueberries. Just today I added apples and soggy cat food (They haven't yet eaten the cat food, but I read somewhere that it is an acceptable protien source.) The largest crab changed shells the very first night. One of the smaller crabs upsized into the big guy's old shell.We removed little guy's old painted shell from the tank. My daughter claims she heard them chirp a couple of times... however, I have no idea what that means. All three crabs have burrowed into some of the mounded up substrate that we had in place for them to climb into the elevated moss pit. The big guy used to roam the tank at night, but his activity is decreasing. Are they ok??? is this normal? Are they happy or miserable?? I've been spritzing the tank 2 -3 times a day with spring water.... Any advice? Am I doing something wrong?

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Re: Help Needed

Post by curlysister » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:47 pm

Welcome to crabbing!
Substrate should be at least 6 inches or 3x as deep as your largest crab, whichever is deeper. People use a variety of mixtures, 5 parts playsand to 1 part EE is the most common because it holds moisture and shape well. It needs to be moistened with dechlorinated fresh or salt water to start, then just dechlor fresh if it needs moistened later - the consistence should be moist enough to hold shape ('sand castle' consistency) but not so wet that water pools.
You need to get a dechlorinator such as Prime to treat the water, and then marine salt such as Instant Ocean to make the salt water.
Commercial food is not considered safe. Check the 'food' section for safe food options, and the food pyramid for proper nutrition. They need protein and calcium daily.
You need to have a thermometer and hygrometer that are accurate. Digital are generally considered more accurate than analog. It is essential to know the temp are humidity. This will tell you whether you need an additional source of heat and/ or whether you need to cover the holes to keep more humidity in.
HCA recommends 3-5 extra shells per crab. Check the 'shells' section for info on proper shells to buy.
Crabs bury under the substrate to de-stress, to molt, or just for fun. They can stay under for a few hours, or a few months. It is important NOT to dig them up, except under a very small number of emergency circumstances (flood, bacterial bloom).
The care sheets section have all the information that you need: ... .php?f=120
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers

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