New Hermits in China!

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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Claude&Michelle
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New Hermits in China!

Post by Claude&Michelle » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:56 am

Greetings to all fellow Crabbers!

I'm a British Expat living in China and have recently acquired my first trio of hermit crabs (Claude, Michelle & Shyguy). I have been avidly reading up on all things hermit, and have learned some valuable lessons on this forum pre purchase, so am hoping I can get some more specific pointers now I have the guys and their crabitat up and running.

They're all strawberries of around 5cm-8cm in size. I know it isn't recommended to start out with these beauties, but believe it or not they were the only species I could actually locate here in Beijing. So I've taken the plunge and I seem to be meeting their requirements fairly well so far. Claude & Michelle have been very active and seem very content, ShyGuy has some issues that I'm trying to suss out, more on that below. I do have a couple of general queries also that I'm hoping more experienced crabbers can help me with.

MOLTING

So as I mentioned, 2 out of 3 crabs have been highly active and not at all shy since getting into their new home. The third (ShyGuy) was noticeably nervous from the get go. He took a few hours to actually show his face, then seemed to be settling in although was nowhere near as active as the other two. I'm fairly sure he swapped his shell though.

Anyway, 2 or 3 days after purchase he dug down out of sight and hasn't reappeared since. He's been down around a week now. Presumably he is molting - I didn't manage to read the signs quick enough to isolate him, so he is still in the main crabitat. I was very worried at first as it seemed like Claude & Michelle were trying to dig in the same location, but they have since stopped doing that. Still - is there anything I can do to deter them from cannibalism? Or anything else I can do to help Shyguy with whatever it is he might be doing? Is he definitely molting?


Water

My next question is regarding their water, both salt and fresh. At present they have a large salt water pool, 25cmx25cm, deep enough to fully submerge and a small fresh water pool, 9cmx9cm, which is just about deep enough to submerge. I've been using bottled water for both and crabs seem to enjoy both - however I haven't seen them actually submerge in either willingly. I have tested both Claude & Michelle to see if they could climb out efficiently by putting them at the deep end of the large pool - both seemed to not panic and eventually clamber out if a little clumsily.

First question is regarding the salt for saltwater - Instant ocean is very hard to come by here in China, as are most of the big brands. I've been using something called "Ocean free special treated aquarium salt" (http://www.fishfoodonline.org/index.php ... uct_id=229). It seems to be ok - but I'm worried it might be harmful! If anyone has any advice on the matter, I'd really appreciate you sharing!

Second is regarding chlorine. I've been using bottled water I buy from the supermarket for fresh, salt, misting and cleaning. I had read that this is fine to use but today I read another post that said bottled water may also contain high levels of chlorine - should I be dechlorinating bottled water too? It's also a little difficult to find the appropriate brands here, is there a recommended way of dechlorinating without the need for these products?


Food

Lastly I wanted to just see what others are doing regarding feeding. At the moment I give them various fruits, veg and occasional meats in the evening on a large flat shell. Then I remove the food at around 12pm the following day and give them fresh food again in the evening. Is this the right schedule to be following? Or do people just leave food available at all times?
Also, I've read so much about crabs wanting to have a different meal everyday - however mine seem completely obsessed with apples. Anything is seems second best to them!


On a side note - they all seem pretty reluctant to climb anywhere or anything that isn't a shell or their coconut shell hut. I once managed to encourage Claude clamber up a piece of driftwood in exchange for some apple, but never since that have they left the ground much! Would there be a reason for this? Or should I just be patient?


Thanks in advance to anyone that can shed some light on any of the above!

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aussieJJDude
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by aussieJJDude » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:08 pm

Welcome!
I swear we had a chinese crabber a few years back and most of the crabs he came into contact with were in fact ruggies. Interesting how different regions would have access to different species of crab.

When new crabs come home, they are prone to destressing - where they dig under - due to the stressful shipping period. After a few weeks, they should come back up however.

Do you have any local fish shops in your area, which you may if you live in the larger cities. Anything that removed chlorine is ideal, or if your up to it, places like ebay and have some of the products that the western would has access to, shipped to you. Same goes for the salt. (BTW, you looking at SW for marine fish to live in, which is not the salt brand you have... Aquarium salt isn't exactly the same as marine, as marine contain many beneficial trace elements and far more balanced in comparison to aquarium salt, which is basically a glorified cooking salt.)

AS for food its fine, just try to be balanced in all food groups and you should be fine. (Many crabs also like a certain type of foods, mine use to go through a corn faze but now really into seeds.. Just offer everything regardless)

As for the side note, they probably climb when your not around. I wouldn't worry much.
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Claude&Michelle
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by Claude&Michelle » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:29 pm

Thanks for the info!

I'll get onto finding the right salt and dechlorinator right away then. I feared it may be the case! Luckily it hasn't seemed to do much harm yet - Claude and Michelle just seem ecstatic to be in their new crabitat, I guess due to their previous one being so poor. As you can imagine, Chinese pet stores are pretty lacking in creature comforts!

I have managed to find Tropic Marin salt on TaoBao (china's version of ebay). It's gloriously expensive, but seems like it should be the right stuff? I know Instant ocean is the preferred brand, but that is beyond expensive as only available in large quantities here.

The dechlorinator I've found comes in little glass vials. It's called "Chloral Reset" so should do the trick I hope!

Thanks again for the insight. Really hoping Mr ShyGuy resurfaces soon!

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Hermias_mom
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by Hermias_mom » Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:56 am

For a really great in-depth discussion of all things water, water conditioner, and marine saltwater, go to the main Forum page, then Crab Care topic, then Food & Water, then Care: Water - Fresh, Salt, & Why to Use a Dechlorinator. The link to that post should be here: http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 25&t=92553

I had a thought for you about water conditioners. When you're searching for a water conditioner, try to find a product similar to "Prime" (see http://www.seachem.com/prime.php ).(There's a great list of similar products at the view topic link above) Prime neutralizes both chlorine, chloramine, and then binds to and neutralizes ammonia released when neutralizing the chloramines. It also neutralizes heavy metals. There's a great description of how it works on the seachem website. Some cheaper brands of water conditioner neutralize chlorine and chloramine, but then leave a bunch of harmful ammonia in the water. Prime takes care of nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, chlorine, and chloramine, and heavy metals. So most of us use something similar to that, if not that exact product.

Tropic Marin is on the safe list, so you should be good.

Edit: I'm a new crabber, so I'll tell you forum recommendations - best things I've heard of to deter cannibalism is to provide deep enough substrate of the right type and consistency (see Crabitat Conditions forum , under the subtopic Crabitat: Substrate & Moss http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... m.php?f=26 ), provide a big enough crabitat (sizing recommendations here: http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 26&t=92541 ), feed a balanced diet of safe foods http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 25&t=92557 according to the food pyramid http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 25&t=92554 , and have at least 5 shells per crab in the size they are currently wearing or a little bigger, to minimize shell fights. Preferred shell guide is here: http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 24&t=92552

Apart from that, try not to worry about it. Iso-ing a crab about to molt can cause additional stress, and is an older practice, so many folks don't iso unless there is a surface molt or the crab has mites or something - see Molting topic for more info.

Personally, I feel like it is up to us to offer a variety of safe foods, and the crab will eat what they need to replenish nutrients they are missing - they are responsible for their own nutrition, so I don't stress if all they want to eat is oak leaves for a while.

There are a variety of ways to feed crabs. Since they're more active at night, most of us leave food in overnight at least. Depending on if the food is dried, or how quickly it spoils, you could leave it in longer than one day, I think. For instance, dry leaves/leaf mold and crushed eggshell should be fine to leave in all the time. Dried shrimp (with no bad preservatives) should be fine to leave in longer than fresh shrimp. After the first day, my crabs won't touch scrambled egg, but for that first day they will devour it, so I leave that in no more than a day. See what works for you.

About crab activity - they are mostly active at night. As long as you have the temperature and humidity in the correct range (analog humidity gages are notoriously inaccurate - check out the forum post for humidity and calibrating a hygrometer: http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 26&t=92544 ), periods of low activity are normal. Strawberries like it warmer than other crabs. General crab care sheet and specific Strawberry care sheet are here: http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... m.php?f=51

Best of luck and happy crabbing!!!

:crabbigsmile:
4PPs and tons of FUN in a 29 gallon!
Hermia(F), Helena(F), Branch(M), and Tiger (M)
RIP Athena


ErikRasmussen
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by ErikRasmussen » Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:22 am

the reason no one else has replied is because they literally said it all lol welcome and good luck!

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GotButterflies
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by GotButterflies » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:37 pm

Welcome to the HCA! Glad to have you here! We love pictures!! Especially of exotics :)
Truly blessed to have incredible creatures, wonderful friends and my amazing family in my life!! I'm very thankful & grateful for all of them! www.thehealthyhermit.com


KTM200xc
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by KTM200xc » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:24 pm

Welcome. I also have three strawberries. Looks like most everything has been answered. Is far is keeping crabs from eating each other you want to make sure you have plenty of room for them to molt, especially strawberries. They should have 10 to 12 inches of good moist sub. Some crabs are never that active, but most with time will become more so.
And yes I agree with the others pictures would be great!


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Claude&Michelle
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by Claude&Michelle » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:38 pm

Thanks to everyone for such a warm welcome to this community. I think it's great that you guys take the time to help out beginners like me, talking to people has definitely proven to be much more helpful than online guides and caresheets.

I have taken on board your advice and invested in proper marine salt and dechlorinator. Much happier now I know they have the right stuff!

Update on Mr ShyGuy - he's been down under for almost 2 weeks now, but by all accounts in alive and well. I can often hear him scratching around at the bottom of the tank, so I'm taking that as a good sign that he's still doing ok down there.

Claude and Michelle have both been living up to the Strawberry's reputation of ultimate tank trashers. Very active indeed, dismantling and rearranging almost anything that they get their claws on! Both have been digging, but always in the opposite end of the tank to where ShyGuy supposedly still is, so I've not been worrying too much about cannibalism. Michelle dug a pretty neat tunnel along the front of the tank yesterday, which was pretty interesting to observe! Until she abandoned it and decided it would be more fun to just shove a load of substrate into their saltwater pool...... *sigh*!

From the sounds of it, I definitely don't have deep enough substrate at the moment (it's at around 5-6 inches) so I am keen to make this deeper, however I'm not sure if I should wait until the missing crab resurfaces before doing any major reforms? Would be interested to know your guys opinions on the matter.

I would also love to know where everyone stands on handling hermits? Maybe I should be posting this in a new thread, I'm not sure! But yes, I wondered what peoples thoughts were on handling - should it be done regularly? Rarely? Or not at all? I have handled Claude a few times as he seems to have no confidence issues and gives the impression he wants to interact. Michelle is a little more reclusive, so have only taken her out once, but she still had no problems in inspecting me in return.

Anyway, thanks again for all your help. I will get some pictures up later this week :)

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Hermias_mom
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by Hermias_mom » Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:23 am

Hi Claude&Michelle,

You might consider doing a post in the Crabitat Conditions forum or the Molting forum about how to increase your substrate depth without disturbing your possible molter. I was going to say that I've seen a recommendation on the Forum of sprinking 1 inch of substrate daily until you reach the right depth, but then I realized, I don't know what kind of substrate you have, what your crabitat conditions are (temperature / humidity), tank size, etc, and some of that might play into the answer.

Many folks on here are hands-off with their crabs, only handling them when necessary to isolate or change out the sub, but then there are some who handle them a fair bit. It's a philosophical question as well - crabs are wild animals, and they are prey animals - they think we're going to eat them. Tolerating humans is a learned behavior, and individual crabs appear to have different abilities to learn this behavior. Also, as a new crab owner, sometimes it's hard to know when my crabs are stressed. There's some really great discussions on the Crab Behavior forum.

I'm a new crabber myself, and I'm still learning what the crabs do and don't like. Welcome to HCA!
4PPs and tons of FUN in a 29 gallon!
Hermia(F), Helena(F), Branch(M), and Tiger (M)
RIP Athena

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GotButterflies
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Re: New Hermits in China!

Post by GotButterflies » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:49 pm

Completely safe to add 1" of substrate once every 24 hours, as long as you don't pack it down.

As far as handling hermits, I'm very hands off with my crabs. To each's own though... :) I'm not here to judge.
Truly blessed to have incredible creatures, wonderful friends and my amazing family in my life!! I'm very thankful & grateful for all of them! www.thehealthyhermit.com

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