Above ground molters

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.
Post Reply

Topic author
Xack
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:55 pm
Location: MN

Above ground molters

Post by Xack » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:59 pm

Today we had two crabs molt above ground. One unfortunately lost his big claw and one leg in the process, unsure if it was another crab that did this or stress as there were two other crabs close by when we discovered him. A few days ago we also had a crab do a surface molt which we may have noticed just in time as other crabs were starting to surround him. About a week ago we made a new crabitat by connecting our 20g tank with our 10g tank via a craft mesh tube. The 20g has all cocofiber and then playsand in the 10g and they have loved it. Just wondering what could be causing them to do this as nothing has changed besides the new cage which is setup the same as their previous one. All three surface molters were on the cocofiber side and we have never had any problems with any crabs molting in the past.

User avatar

curlysister
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2230
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: Above ground molters

Post by curlysister » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:22 pm

Surface molts are usually due to something being not correct in their environment. To help us trouble shoot, please copy and paste the Emergency template and answer the questions.

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=46102
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers


Topic author
Xack
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:55 pm
Location: MN

Re: Above ground molters

Post by Xack » Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:40 pm

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
20g and 10g tank connected. In the 20g it is coconut fiber, deepest end is 6in. In the 10g it is playsand only a couple inches deep.

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 two gauges, one in each tank. The cocofiber side is located just offset from the middle, right above the substrate. It's usual readings are 75-83F temp and humidity stays right around 75. The sand side is in the middle exactly, again temp stays right around 80 and the humidity drops a little lower at times but stays above 70 most of the time.

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
Cocofiber side has a 100w red infrared floodlight and sand side has a 100w night spotlight.

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)?
We have two pools, one salt and one fresh. The brand for both that we use is All Living Things. For freshwater it takes 4 drops per 8 fluid ounces and for the salt it takes 1tsp per 8 fluid ounces. There is also and airstone in the freshwater pool (which they love).

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
We always give them hermit crab fruit salad, sun dried red shrimp, dried coconut, and then red hermit crab color enhancer made by Fluker's Hermit Headquarters which is a mixture of dried carrots, dried red bell peppers, dried cherries, and salt. On occasion we will give them some fresh cut up fruit and fresh rivershrimp in a can. Yesterday we gave them fresh mango and I also got them a cuddle bone. We probably don't replace it as much as we should, longest time between changes can get up to 4 or 5 days unless we give them something fresh then no more than a day.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
It gets a little hard to remember because we have a good amount, but two of them I would say about 2 months and the other one only about a month. Two of them I'm pretty sure are purple pinches and the other one I'm not sure about, it has always been very red.

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
Out of the two that molted today the smaller one molted once before which was a little longer than a month ago which is weird because I thought it took a lot longer between molts, but he is also a tiny crab (his name is also Tiny!). Then the one that molted the other day had never molted until then.

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
So we have a 20 gallon and 10 gallon glass aquarium side by side connected by a tunnel made of craft mesh. Both have a grated cover that is entirely covered by tinfoil and taped down except for some areas on each side to allow for more air to get it.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?
We currently have 19 crabs ranging from about half an inch big to our biggest which is about an inch and a quarter. 5 big, 6 medium, and 8 small.

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?
There are currently 12 extra shells in the tank, plus another probably 15 that we have to swap out every so often.

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

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
Once a month we do a full change of substrate and change the things in the tank around.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
No.

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
No.

15. Is there any other information you would like to share that might be helpful (anything that is regularly part of your crab care, playtime, bathing, etc.)?
Nothing that has been recently, occasionally we will take them out to hold them or give them a bath but it has been a long while.

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.
Today we had two crabs that surface molted and one of them lost his big claw and a leg somewhere in the process, when we found him he was by two others crabs and the limbs that were detached seemed to be a bit crushed in some areas. The other one that surface molted seemed to be entirely fine and had no missing limbs but another crab had started to eat their shed exoskeleton. Also the other day, maybe 4 days ago at most we had another surface molter and when we found him, some other crabs were starting to surround him. All three of them we ended up carefully moving and burying them with their exoskeleton. We have never had one molt on the surface in the past, and that's out of 8 others molts from other crabs since our first. The only other issue we have had in the past with molting which happened months ago is we had one lose a leg and another one had lost their small claw, and those were both while they were burrowed.


Also thank you for the template, I wish I knew where to find it so I could fill it out right away as I've used this site for information before but I didn't know where to look for it.

User avatar

curlysister
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2230
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: Above ground molters

Post by curlysister » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:39 pm

I will give my advice in bold, below.

1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
20g and 10g tank connected. In the 20g it is coconut fiber, deepest end is 6in. In the 10g it is playsand only a couple inches deep.
Curly - Sub should be at least 6 inches through the whole set up, or three times as deep as your largest crab - whichever is deeper. It should be moist enough to hold it's shape (sand castle consistency) but not so wet that water pools in the bottom. Many of us use a mix of 5 parts play sand to 1 part coco fiber - it holds shape and moisture well, and helps with humidity.

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 two gauges, one in each tank. The cocofiber side is located just offset from the middle, right above the substrate. It's usual readings are 75-83F temp and humidity stays right around 75. The sand side is in the middle exactly, again temp stays right around 80 and the humidity drops a little lower at times but stays above 70 most of the time.

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
Cocofiber side has a 100w red infrared floodlight and sand side has a 100w night spotlight.

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)?
We have two pools, one salt and one fresh. The brand for both that we use is All Living Things. For freshwater it takes 4 drops per 8 fluid ounces and for the salt it takes 1tsp per 8 fluid ounces. There is also and airstone in the freshwater pool (which they love).
Curly - Unfortunately, many products marketed for crabs aren't appropriate. You need a dechlorinator that removes everything (LOL, like Prime, and you need marine salt like Instant Ocean to get the proper minerals. Here is the care sheet that explains it better than I can:

viewtopic.php?f=127&t=92553


5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
We always give them hermit crab fruit salad, sun dried red shrimp, dried coconut, and then red hermit crab color enhancer made by Fluker's Hermit Headquarters which is a mixture of dried carrots, dried red bell peppers, dried cherries, and salt. On occasion we will give them some fresh cut up fruit and fresh rivershrimp in a can. Yesterday we gave them fresh mango and I also got them a cuddle bone. We probably don't replace it as much as we should, longest time between changes can get up to 4 or 5 days unless we give them something fresh then no more than a day.
Curly - It's okay to leave dried food in longer than fresh. Mold doesn't harm the crabs, it's only a problem for allergic humans. They do need protein and calcium daily.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
It gets a little hard to remember because we have a good amount, but two of them I would say about 2 months and the other one only about a month. Two of them I'm pretty sure are purple pinches and the other one I'm not sure about, it has always been very red.

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
Out of the two that molted today the smaller one molted once before which was a little longer than a month ago which is weird because I thought it took a lot longer between molts, but he is also a tiny crab (his name is also Tiny!). Then the one that molted the other day had never molted until then.

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
So we have a 20 gallon and 10 gallon glass aquarium side by side connected by a tunnel made of craft mesh. Both have a grated cover that is entirely covered by tinfoil and taped down except for some areas on each side to allow for more air to get it.
Curly - If you have trouble with humidity, it is fine to seal the top completely - they will get air exchange when you go in to change food and water.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?
We currently have 19 crabs ranging from about half an inch big to our biggest which is about an inch and a quarter. 5 big, 6 medium, and 8 small.
Curly - You have too many crabs for your space. Here is the HCA guide for crab sizes/ tank sizes/ how many can go in a tank:

viewtopic.php?f=26&t=92541


10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?
There are currently 12 extra shells in the tank, plus another probably 15 that we have to swap out every so often.
Curly - HCA recommends 3-5 extra shells per crab. There are correct and incorrect shells to buy. Here is the shell guide:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=92552


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

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
Once a month we do a full change of substrate and change the things in the tank around.
Curly - When you have proper substrate, you do not need to change the sub unless there is an emergency such as a bacterial bloom or flood.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
No.

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
No.

15. Is there any other information you would like to share that might be helpful (anything that is regularly part of your crab care, playtime, bathing, etc.)?
Nothing that has been recently, occasionally we will take them out to hold them or give them a bath but it has been a long while.
Curly - Crabs carry a mix of fresh and salt water in their shells. Bathing them can interrupt this. New crabs can be dipped in the water so they smell like the tank when they are added, but otherwise bathing is not recommended.

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.
Today we had two crabs that surface molted and one of them lost his big claw and a leg somewhere in the process, when we found him he was by two others crabs and the limbs that were detached seemed to be a bit crushed in some areas. The other one that surface molted seemed to be entirely fine and had no missing limbs but another crab had started to eat their shed exoskeleton. Also the other day, maybe 4 days ago at most we had another surface molter and when we found him, some other crabs were starting to surround him. All three of them we ended up carefully moving and burying them with their exoskeleton. We have never had one molt on the surface in the past, and that's out of 8 others molts from other crabs since our first. The only other issue we have had in the past with molting which happened months ago is we had one lose a leg and another one had lost their small claw, and those were both while they were burrowed.
Curly - I believe a big part of your problem is over crowding. And not enough sub. Surface molting is not normal. If a crab surface molts, it must be isolated from the other crabs, or they will kill it. If a crab surface molted , DO NOT re-bury it. Crabs make a cave to molt, and re-burying them will suffocate them. You need to carefully dig them up, and if they are alive, they need to be isolated with ideal conditions and their exo so they can eat it. I'm not sure that you have enough space to isolate them in your tank with a 2L pop bottle cut down and lid off; otherwise you need to set up an isolation tank where they can recover and be kept separate from each other and the other crabs. Improper sub can cause problems with molts, such as missing or deformed limbs. If conditions are proper, they can re-grow them with their next molt.

Also thank you for the template, I wish I knew where to find it so I could fill it out right away as I've used this site for information before but I didn't know where to look for it.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers


Topic author
Xack
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:55 pm
Location: MN

Re: Above ground molters

Post by Xack » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:41 pm

We changed the sub to 6 inches deep across in the 20g tank and also mixed in at least 5 parts play sand in. Went to PetSmart and bought instant ocean sea salt and also ordered Hermit Crab Drinking Water Conditioner by ZooMed Part 1 as they didn't have it there. I was wrong about the size of our crabs according to the chart; me and one other person did the math and according to that chart we have 2 "small" crabs, 10 "teeny" crabs, and 6 "micro" crabs. Unless I am still incorrect, 30 gallons should be enough space for them especially now that we made the sub deeper across the whole tank. We added even more shells to the tank and ordered some more that they will hopefully like for their species, although all of them still fit in their current shell with some grow room. We added another airstone to both the 20g and 10g half of the tanks which has balanced out the humidity a bit more. Unfortunately our oldest crab passed away today and I can't help but feel that it is my fault and I am a bad parent, but I am doing what I can as fast as I can to make their crabitat better. As early owners of our crabs, before we knew all that we should have, we had made some big mistakes according to this site. However those crabs have had no visible issues and seem happy to this day in the year since we have been crab parents. I thank you so much for all the information you have provided me and I strive to make a better home for them. If there are any other tips you can give me to make them happy and healthy I would greatly appreciate it. We have not had any problems (at least visible ones I guess) until now, so I definitely am sorry and feel bad if we seem like not good parents once again. We do love these crabs though and have put more money in than I ever imagined, just unfortunately it seems it has gone to some products that may have been a waste.

User avatar

Crabby7Crabber
Posts: 928
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:24 pm

Re: Above ground molters

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:03 am

Do you know the species of your hermies?
Three PPs (Hoodini, Aaron Burr, and Jubali)
R.I.P George Washington, Zero, Domino, Billy, Eduardo, Shelly, and Cosmo the dog

User avatar

curlysister
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2230
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: Above ground molters

Post by curlysister » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:16 am

Don't feel bad - many of us got our crabs and had no idea what we were doing! LOL! You have a better start than many of us did, and it is fabulous that you are looking at making improvements! You found the right website for it. I have had my two crabs for over 9 years, and the HCA has been my only source of information. Feel free to ask any questions! Hopefully others with more expertise than me will jump in and help with advice too!
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers

User avatar

wodesorel
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 9822
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:49 am
Location: Leetonia, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Above ground molters

Post by wodesorel » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:30 am

While there are a few things that could cause issues down the road like Curly pointed out, I'm really wondering if it's just coincidence that both went on the surface at the same time. By numbers alone, you'll see more weirdness. A tank rescape can cause surface molts, as can new crabs with post-purchase syndrome.

That said, I am worried about how many problems you'll run into going forward - and mind that this is coming from someone who had 65 crabs at one point. You're within the safety margin for space, but it's more than just molting area when it comes to colony control. Having that many crabs together will cause stress among the group, issues with molting, all kinds of problems. It's a different beast than just keeping a few crabs. The more space you can provide so they can spread out, the safer they will be. They also need a ton of substrate so they can feel secure while molting and so they won't run into each other, so the tanks should be half filled with whichever substrate you choose. For ease of use, I'd really suggest a mix of cocofiber and sand, just because it holds moisture better than either alone and will stay stable for longer. You won't be able to safely mess around much because there will always be crabs down.
Want to see all my crazy pets? @waywardwaifs on Instagram

User avatar

wodesorel
Tech Support
Tech Support
Posts: 9822
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:49 am
Location: Leetonia, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Above ground molters

Post by wodesorel » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:32 am

Also, expect the crabs to double and triple in size while molting - sometimes on their very first molt but guaranteed within the first year. Little crabs do not stay little for very long, and each molt will just compound space issues and make future molts that much more dangerous.
Want to see all my crazy pets? @waywardwaifs on Instagram

Post Reply