New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

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Topic author
Nebbiethecrab
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:27 am

New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by Nebbiethecrab » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:50 pm

Since you've come to the emergency forum, we know you want a fast answer to your question. In order for us to figure out the problem as quickly as possible, we ask that you answer the following questions as best you can. Some of them may seem odd, but they're all designed to give us the information we need to give you a good solution for your problem. The things in the [ brackets ] are there to make this post easier to read once submitted. Thanks!


1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?
I have 7 inches of play sand mixed 1:5 ratio with eco earth, the tank has been established for 3 years and my sand is bioactive and also has crushed seashells and crushed eggshells as well as a small amount of dried birch leaves. I try my best to keep it sandcastle consistency.

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?
I have a temp and humidity gauge in the middle of my tank, it usually reads 80-83° Fahrenheit and 85-90% humidity.

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?
I have 2 UTC located on 2 opposite walls of the tank above the substrate line.

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)?
I have a quarter gallonpool of fresh water I mix a gallon at a time and mix with 2 drops of seachem prime and a quarter gallon pool of salt water I mix a gallon of fresh water treated with seachem prime and I add a half cup of instant ocean. Both pools are 7 inches deep and have more than 1 ladder to get in and out, both pools have bubbles and are changed once a week.

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?
I keep a "dry" dish of sunflower seeds, oatmeal, chia seeds, sesame seeds, barley, worm castings, dried bloodworms, dried wakame seaweed, crushed eggshells, dried coconut, dried dandelion heads, dried birch leaves and occasionally (twice a month) include a sweet treat such as medjool dates or dried mulberries. All dried food is organic.
I keep a wet dish of seasonal fruit and veggies that are in the safe list, very small pieces of uncooked meat and seafood and seafood shells, all organic. I switch out the wet food once every 2-3 days (I take out raw meat or seafood afyer 12 hours though) and the dry food once a week.

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?
I have had this crab for just over 2 weeks and it is a purple pincher

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?
Not yet

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?
A "medium" sized exoterra, I don't know the exact model because I bought it used but it is 33 gallons and I added a piece of Plexiglas to the front so I could make the sand deeper than the area where the doors open if that makes any sense. I have the original lid that came with the tank but it was mesh so I covered it in plastic wrap. My tank has a false bottom in case there is ever a flood.

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?
There are 3 crabs in the tank. There is a 3 year old "medium" crab with a 1.5 inch claw that is currently molting, a small or micro I forget the sizing but it's claw is a bit less than a half inch who is also under the sand molting and a micro crab with a claw less than a quarter inch who is on the surface.

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?
I keep anywhere between 5-8 shells in there that are the approximate size of the larger crab and I have 15 that would fit the 2 smaller ones. I ordered them all online and they're all natural and I boil them and rinse with salt water before they're placed in the tank.

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently?
Not that I'm aware of.

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?
I only clean out the pools and food dishes and take out any big pieces of food that end up being hidden around the tank, I have bioaxtive sand and I also have a cleanup crew of about 60 isopod that take care of anything else.

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?
No sponges, but I have bubblers for both pools that I rinse with treated water every once in a while. The air stones are changed out every 6-9 months.

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?
No, other than the 2 smallest crabs are new

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.)?
I touch the crabs as minimally as possible, I move them if they're in the way of the pools when I clean and I take them out once every 6 months to visually inspect them. I would also like to mention that in the past year-ish I have lost 2 crabs due to their Caves collapsing due to the floor that I had the tank and stand on being loose and too many people walking around the tank but I corrected that problem as soon as I realised by moving the tank to the basement where the floor is concrete and stable. My tank has been set up and stable in the basement for 6 months and my remaining crab had a successful molt in it before I decided to go ahead and replace the 2 lost crabs since I'm confident the collapsing cave problem has been corrected. I have been keeping hermit crabs for 3 years.

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.
My smallest new crab is acting extremely lethargic and within the last 48-36 ish hours has developed a "dent" in its big claw. It looked healthy at the store except for its strange color (a very pale peachy color all over) but I figured if it took it home that after a good molt this guy could come back up as good as new with some more color. When I first put the 2 new crabs in my tank it took them over 50 minutes to come out if their shell due to the employee that sold them to me "inspecting" them by poking at their big claws while they were hiding in their shells. After they both came out and started walking around they were both acting normally, they both grabbed a bite to eat and then the slightly larger one went to explore the entire tank then went under the sand to molt while the smaller pale one went to hide behind a piece of cork that Is set up against one of the heater which is a hotspot and the temp in that area of the tank is a steady 90 ish degrees. It stayed there for about 3 days curled up in its shell upside down (a very weird posture that I haven't really Seen a crab rest in for so long) which made me worried it would completely dry itself out and it had not explored the tank at all which made me think something might be wrong. So for the past 2 weeks or so I've been alternating putting this crab in 2 extremely shallow pools of fresh and salt water that I've set up temporarily as well as putting it in the food dishes and then back into its preferred spot in the tank (I do a half hour in each pool and then an hour in each food bowl and I do this twice a day). When I put the crab in the pools I only set it on the very edge of a "ramp" that I have that very slowly slopes into the pools and the crab gets into them on its own and bathes itself but can't get itself back out despite the sides of each pool being low enough that he could. The pools are literally 2 cm deep I'm using clam shells) He has not walked more than 4 inches since the day after the other new crab went down to molt. He doesn't eat much while he's in the food bowls and he doesn't try to get out of them. I thought that after a couple days of getting him into the pools and offering food that he would improve enough to dig down and molt but he has not. So on Saturday (2 days ago) I'm picking him up to do our routine giving him food and water and I noticed his big claw has a small dent it in and he can no longer co ordinate himself to get into the pools, he sort of knocks himself into the pools and bathes himself while on his back and then retreats into his shell until I move him to another location where he fumbles around and ends up resting with a very odd posture. Last night it looked like he was attempting to dig down and molt so I left him alone but this morning when I checked on him he was still on the surface and had flipped himself upside down again. So obviously this crab is very unhealthy and probably dying but I was just wondering if anyone had any idea what exactly is wrong and if there is anything I could do to help him out or make him more comfortable. I have been googling everything I can think of but can't really find any info and while I had Facebook I spent 2 years in the hermit crab owners group where I learned how to take care of them and read about others experiences and I haven't really hard of a crab developing a dent I it's claw that hasn't been in a fight. Sorry this is so long I just wanted to include all the info I could.

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The Crab Maid
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Re: New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by The Crab Maid » Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:53 am

Lethargy is a sign of stress and molting. And with him being new it could be both. He could be trying to molt and is too weak, which may kill him. He could be low on calcium as well, which may be a partial cause for the dent - the dent could also be due to molting. Molting is a very stressful procedure for them, and they get weak from it. And the pet store he was at might not have given him all the things he needed to molt successfully. I don't see anything wrong with your set up.

Though what do you mean by bioactive sand? Clean play sand is important, if it's aquarium sand with bacteria in it, that can actually be harmful to hermit crabs.
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Maddamay32
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Re: New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by Maddamay32 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:38 am

My most recent hermit crab did the exact same thing, though, I left him alone and never tried to move him. He sat in the same awkward position for 3 days before I returned him to the pet store because I was sure he would be dead any second and didn't want to watch him suffer anymore. About a week later I returned to the same pet store to look around and sure enough he was still there! Alive and the last crab in the tank! I took it as a sign from God and re-bought him lol!
This time as soon as I "bathed" him and put him back in my crabitat he buried himself that night and about a month later resurfaced from a molt! He's been on the surface for about 3 days now and is big, bright and just as active as my other crabs!
This might not be the case with your little guy, but I hope it is. Maybe he just needs some time.
9 crabs at the moment "Tarzan, Kermit, Shy guy, Eduardo, Jimbo, Sharkboy, Rosa, Diesel, UMO"


Topic author
Nebbiethecrab
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:27 am

Re: New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by Nebbiethecrab » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:23 am

I added organic worm castings to the sand when it was first set up to help encourage the sand to develop its own bacteria like it would have in the wild, so it can "digest" and break down small bits of food or waste that gets into it over time without the help of isopods or springtails so that's what I mean by bioactive sand.

I'm sure he did not have everything he needed to molt at the store, they had the hermit crabs on a half inch of dry eco earth and were feeding hermit crab pellets so he is probably struggling to molt.

Is there anything I can do to help it molt? Should I stop moving him and stressing him out and let him do his own thing?


Topic author
Nebbiethecrab
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:27 am

Re: New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by Nebbiethecrab » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:25 am

Maddamay32 wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:38 am
My most recent hermit crab did the exact same thing, though, I left him alone and never tried to move him. He sat in the same awkward position for 3 days before I returned him to the pet store because I was sure he would be dead any second and didn't want to watch him suffer anymore. About a week later I returned to the same pet store to look around and sure enough he was still there! Alive and the last crab in the tank! I took it as a sign from God and re-bought him lol!
This time as soon as I "bathed" him and put him back in my crabitat he buried himself that night and about a month later resurfaced from a molt! He's been on the surface for about 3 days now and is big, bright and just as active as my other crabs!
This might not be the case with your little guy, but I hope it is. Maybe he just needs some time.
Oh that's good to hear, and today he seems to be a little bit better at moving around and isn't staying in his hotspot so I think I'll just keep an eye on him and let him do his own thing. I hope he can recover like yours did.

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curlysister
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Re: New crab is lethargic, rests in odd position and has developed a dent in big claw.

Post by curlysister » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:42 pm

I would not soak him in the water. Personally, I would stop handling him. I would tend to offer him water in shallow dishes instead. When in iso, I have even just given bottle caps of each fresh and salt waters. They do keep a balance of salt and fresh water in their shell, and I would be worried that putting him into the waters could disrupt this. He could have PPS (post purchase syndrome), which there isn't much that you can do. Your conditions and diet look good to me.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers

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