New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

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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Iraj
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New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by Iraj » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:04 pm

Hi, I just bought my first crabs yesterday after a bit of a saga trying to find some!

It started a couple of weeks ago when I saw an ad in the local classifieds, a girl going off to college was trying to rehome her two crabs and equipment. I thought I had made arrangements to adopt her crabs, then she disappeared. In the meantime I was doing a lot of research on keeping hermit crabs and I decided I wanted some anyway. I have spare 10 gallon tanks, so decided to use one of those if I found crabs before I found a bigger terrarium. I used to keep crested geckos, which have similar high humidity requirements as hermit crabs. I have plenty of decor and equipment left from the geckos. Unfortunately I sold their big Exo Terra tanks.

Next, I checked with several pet stores in my area that normally carry hermit crabs, but all of them were out of them. Then yesterday I went to a reptile expo where they sell a variety of equipment and animals for good prices. Finally I found someone who was selling hermit crabs. Typically, they didn't seem to know much about them, most were in painted shells and they were kept in a big, open plastic tub with about an inch of dry sand in the bottom. I asked "what kind of crabs are these?" and the answer was "I didn't know they came in kinds, I'll ask my husband" and his answer was "Haiti, they're from Haiti". :shock: I'm pretty sure they're PP's, they were all varying shades of red with purple pincers. Anyway, I bought three of the larger ones, with clean shells. The biggest one is in a long shell with a few spikes. I figured if they're bigger they might have a better chance of surviving the stress of being relocated. Two are about the size of a golf ball, the third is about 1.5 times that size.

So right now they're all in a 10 gallon tank, this is temporary until I get a bigger tank. Which leads my to my first question - is it better for them to be in a standard aquarium or an Exo Terra style terrarium with doors? If I get a standard tank, is 20 gal a good size for 3 crabs or do they need more? I have plenty of empty small acrylic and glass tanks (2.5 - 5 gal) which might make a topper when I get a bigger tank.

The 10 gal tank has a screen top which I've covered in plastic wrap (except for a space where the "lid" of the screen top opens). They've got a fresh water dish and a salt water dish. My apartment is well air conditioned, so I set up a bubbler in the freshwater dish, it's a bit foamy now. I use Seachem Prime as a dechlorinator, and Coralife marine/reef salt. I used dechlorinated salt water to moisten their substrate, which is mostly play sand with some eco-earth to hold moisture. The tank is about half full with substrate, which is more than three times the height of the biggest crab/shell. I've attached a UTH to the back side of the tank, above the substrate. I've put in a bit of decor that will allow them to climb or hide, but I didn't want to overcrowd the tank. Salt water question: I usually use a refractometer to measure salinity, does anyone know what specific gravity (s.g.) salt water for hermit crabs should be? Is it always the same, whether in their salt water dish or their substrate?

For food, last night I gave them a flat reptile dish with fresh chopped organic blueberries, pieces of salt free whole grain crackers, and smelly shrimp bottom feeder fish pellets with a couple of drops of water to soften them. I know it's hard to tell if they've been eating. I'm planning to toss everything this evening and give them different items from the food list here. I have glow in the dark reptile dishes, would those help them find food or do they mainly find it by smell? Are there any "irresistible" foods that they really like? I'm thinking of chopping up a raw tiger shrimp, is it better to give it to them with shell on or peeled? I've also read that they will eat eggs, is it best to give them raw or cooked? I assume you'd give them with shells. I have button quail which lay small, edible eggs which I think they'd like.

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JoeHermits
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by JoeHermits » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:05 pm

A twenty gallon tank should do for three mediums for now. Either one works, but aquariums are easier to fill with substrate because there aren’t any doors to deal with.

If you are using an Exo-Terra, you can attach a piece of plexiglass in front of the doors inside the tank to prevent the substrate from filling out.

Hermit crabs require similar salinity to marine fish, so specific gravity should ideally be around 1.018-1.024. You don’t need to be as precise as with marine fish.

Shrimp or eggs can be served raw or cooked in any fashion, so long as there’s no seasonings. Shells from both are good sources of calcium and other minerals, so I’d recommend you include them.

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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by JoeHermits » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:16 pm

Saltwater should always be regular strength when used in the pool, but it can have more variance in the substrate. Most use regular strength just to keep things simple.

Being nocturnal, hermit crabs rely mostly on smell to find food. Glowing dishes won’t really affect their ability to find food, especially if you leave it in the same place every night.

Sweet things such as honey seem to get crabs’ attention, as do foods with strong scents, such as overripe fruit. Hermit crabs have very small stomachs, so even large ones will eat only small amounts of food.

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Rawrgeous
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by Rawrgeous » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:35 am

If you haven't already bought a tank I suggest calling your local petsmart and asking them when their next dollar per gallon sale is. I really suggest getting as large of a tank as possible, simply because it can save you money from potential upgrades in the future. However, I do think they would be fine in a 20, you may just find yourself needing an upgrade within a year or 2 because they can grow quickly with proper care. Used tanks are also a great way to go as you can often find them cheap on craigslist, buy sell trade, etc. Foods that my crabs like a lot are dried crickets/mealworms, unseasoned popcorn, and organic coconut nectar. Raw pork with no seasonings is popular as well. Bee pollen is another favorite as well as being really good for them, and they also go crazy over chia seeds. But most of all, leaf litter- especially oak and maple. Just source it from a pesticide-free area. That being said, they all have their own tastes. :) The glow in the dark dish shouldn't be necessary, they will find the food. I do think it is mostly based on scent as they have compound eyes, and thus don't see clear images as much as they sense movement/ shadows, etc. Some say they do see uv, even in more colors than we do, so maybe they could see the dish? Since they are nocturnal though, I doubt the light up dish has much effect. For what it's worth, I always feel like when I have introduced crabs to my colony they have taken a while to really start eating. Just experiment and you will start to figure out their likes and dislikes.

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Iraj
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by Iraj » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:06 am

Here are a couple of pics:

Image

Image

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ROSIEonFIRE
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by ROSIEonFIRE » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:23 pm

welcome to the forum and cute pics! sounds like you're off to a great start care wise and clearly have done your homework. just a tip regarding crab food, the more variety the better and as im guessing you already know you can find lots of dried bugs in the fish/turtle food section. you can also get lots of different kinds of freeze dried meat from the dog food section. generally the best advice is to stay away of pellets wherever possible just to make sure you're not accidentally feeding preservatives or other stuff that isn't good for the shell babies. i also stocked up on all kinds of dried herbs/flowers/fruit/seaweed at my local healthfood store and make big batches of dry crab mixes, which is what i normally feed, with fresh foods occasionally. feeding dried food is much easier for most people.

my only other suggestion is that if you're buying a tank, i would go even bigger than you think you could reasonably need just so you won't have to upgrade again for several years. i have 5 hermit crabs around the same size as yours and a 43 gallon tall tank, and honestly i've been wishing lately that i'd gotten a bigger one. at the time i thought 43 gallons was on the large size! now that i have everything set up the idea of upgrading is rather daunting, so i really wish i'd just gotten a 60 or 70 gallon right off the bat.

make sure to keep us updated on your tat!

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Hermiesguardian
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by Hermiesguardian » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:13 pm

my only other suggestion is that if you're buying a tank, i would go even bigger than you think you could reasonably need just so you won't have to upgrade again for several years. i have 5 hermit crabs around the same size as yours and a 43 gallon tall tank, and honestly i've been wishing lately that i'd gotten a bigger one. at the time i thought 43 gallons was on the large size! now that i have everything set up the idea of upgrading is rather daunting, so i really wish i'd just gotten a 60 or 70 gallon right off the bat. 

make sure to keep us updated on your tat!


ROSIEonFIRE

So true. I went from a 40b to a 90 gal with 6 medium-large crabs. About 3 are pretty big. I'm thinking 90 isn't big enough.
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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ciaraalston
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by ciaraalston » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:25 pm

For salt water, you can find Instant Ocean Salt on amazon. I bought a 15 pound bag for about $10. You only use like 1 cup per gallon of water, and a gallon of salt water lasts me about 3 to 4 weeks. It has instructions on the bag for measurements.
For the fresh water, we use Seachem Prime. It's a small bottle, only about $4. It takes 1 drop per gallon, so it lasts quite a while.

If you're looking for foods, i suggest Hermit Crab Patch, Hermie's Kitchen, and a few HCA members have etsy shops where they sell their extra food. I just ordered from GotButterflies last week.

You have a great start in that tank, the pictures are great!!
4 purple pinchers & 2 ecuadorians living a life of luxury in south west Louisiana.
Follow my hermit crab learning journey on instagram! @hermitcrabs_in_the_boot

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ROSIEonFIRE
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Re: New crab owner with a few husbandry questions

Post by ROSIEonFIRE » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:29 am

Hermiesguardian wrote:my only other suggestion is that if you're buying a tank, i would go even bigger than you think you could reasonably need just so you won't have to upgrade again for several years. i have 5 hermit crabs around the same size as yours and a 43 gallon tall tank, and honestly i've been wishing lately that i'd gotten a bigger one. at the time i thought 43 gallons was on the large size! now that i have everything set up the idea of upgrading is rather daunting, so i really wish i'd just gotten a 60 or 70 gallon right off the bat. 

make sure to keep us updated on your tat!


ROSIEonFIRE

So true. I went from a 40b to a 90 gal with 6 medium-large crabs. About 3 are pretty big. I'm thinking 90 isn't big enough.
and it is SO much work to upgrade isnt it? so much better to just get extra big the frist time. thats the t.

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