Questions from a Soon to be Crab Owner

This area is dedicated to the pioneers who have captive bred crabs, and for those who wish to learn more or attempt it themselves. Also for inquiring about the gender of your crabs.
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Questions from a Soon to be Crab Owner

Post by CrabKid123 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:39 am

So I'm planning on getting some hermit crabs this weekend and I hope to try breeding them later on. If you could give a few of the most important tips to breeding/raising hermit crabs that would be great.

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Re: Questions from a Soon to be Crab Owner

Post by Hermias_mom » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:22 am

Welcome to HCA! :) Before you get hermit crabs, I'd recommend you do some research on this site to be sure you have optimal habitat/tank conditions for them, and are willing to take on all the responsibility involved in caring for them long-term. The pet industry is really inhumane towards crabs - with the proper care crabs can live 10-40+ years in captivity, but most of them don't because they are marketed as a "throw-away" pet. Almost all things marketed for hermit crabs are toxic for them or inappropriate, because there are no federal/government laws to prevent animal cruelty towards hermit crabs. If you follow petstore guidelines, your crabs will starve/freeze/suffocate and eventually die over the course of 1-2 years. Here on this forum, we are dedicated to helping our crabs not just survive, but thrive! All crabs are captured from the wild, which has a severe negative impact on the wild population, so most of us on the forum recommend adopting crabs instead of purchasing them from a petstore and further reducing the wild population/supporting an industry that profits from treating them inhumanely. Places like Craigslist, Offerup, bookoo are good places to look, but if you do purchase from a pet store, folks here will still be happy to help you. We're all about helping crabs to thrive and live long and happy lives! :) (Plus crabs are a lot more active and fun for their owners when they have good living conditions :) )

For crabs to thrive they need a constant minimum temperature of 80F and 80% relative humidity. Certain species need it hotter. 80% humidity minimum is needed for their modified gills to function properly so they can breathe. There are great care sheets on this site that go into detail on how to maintain temperature and humidity.

Minimum recommended space for each crab is 5 gallons (for a small or tiny crab). Larger crabs (golf-ball size and up) need more space, like 15 gallons and greater, and a minimum of a 75 gallon tank. Crabs have been known to double in size in a year, under optimal conditions, so be aware. Minimum substrate depth is 6" (for most species), or three times the height of your largest crab, and it needs to be moistened to sandcastle consistency with marine saltwater (NOT the hermit crab saltwater stuff, but the Instant Ocean product mixed according to package direcitons). Most folks on here use a 5:1 mix of play sand and eco-earth (fine-ground coconut fiber). It's really important that the substrate have the proper wetness, depth, and sand/cocofiber type so that the crabs can successfully molt. (Without good conditions, they won't molt, and if they don't molt for long enough, they will die.) The Crabitat Conditions forum can give you more details. Note: If you get Ecuadorian crabs, you'll need a minimum substrate depth of 10-12" regardless of crab size because this species is known to dig up and kill molters. Deep substrate and good diet helps prevent this.

Hermit crabs are known as tree crabs, so they like lots of things to climb as well as lots of space to dig. A 10 gallon aquarium will hold up to two hermit crabs, but most of us that start out in a 10 gallon buy a bigger crabitat very soon so we can fit in stuff for them to climb, their water bowls, shell shops, moss pits, climbing nets, modified hampster wheel, etc.

Each crab needs at least 5+ shells of the correct size and type - there's a list of preferred shells on this site so you don't waste your money. Most shells marketed for hermit crabs are not appropriate for them, or for their species. Please do NOT get shells with paint or lacquer - these substances may be non-toxic to humans, but they are still toxic to hermit crabs, who will eat bits of their shells, and can slowly poison themselves. Try and get hermit crabs in natural shells if you get them from a pet store - these are likely to be healthier. In the wild their natural shells are very well used, and not pretty at all by some standards, but they'll soon change into some pretty awesome looking natural shells if you provide the correct size and types for them in your crabitat.

Crabs require constant access to both freshwater and marine saltwater in pools deep enough that they can submerge themselves, with something to climb so they can exit the pools safely. All water should be treated with a dechlorinator such as Prime, which removes about 5 harmful substances (nitrates, nitrites, heavy metals, ammonia, chlorine, chloramine). Marine saltwater should be dechlorinated and then mixed up using a product like Instant Ocean. Further details are on the Food & Water section of this site. Water should be changed out every other day, or you can use air stones, and then change it out at least once a week.

All crab food should be free of any preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Most of us here feed them fresh organic foods. Some dried foods as well, but you have to be careful to select items with no table salt, and that are organic. There is a very long safe foods list, unsafe foods list, and food pyramid on this site. Fresh foods of a different variety should be offered every day. If the crabs see the same thing two days in a row, they won't eat it. They can be very picky about food, and their tastes change often. Most pellet foods marketed for hemit crabs contain toxic preservatives.

As far as breeding them goes - only about seven people in the world that I know of have been successful at it, and quite a few of them are members of this forum. They have some amazing baby crab pictures and breeding threads on here! If you want to try, I say go for it :) but be prepared to do a lot of research first and put in a LOT of time and effort into getting your crabitat conditions and breeding tanks and procedures exactly right. :)

Welcome to crabbing!!! Please, look around the site for more info, and if you have questions, do ask! Happy crabbing!!!


EDIT: Oh, by the way, the only reliable way to determine if a crab is male or female is to see where their gonopores are located. There's a thread on this site about how to do that with great pictures. Most folks in petstores don't have a clue. :D
4PPs and tons of FUN in a 29 gallon!
Hermia(F), Helena(F), Branch(M), and Tiger (M)
RIP Athena

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