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New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:11 pm
by AuntCrab
Hi everyone!

On a whim I let my niece get a hermit crab while she was in TX with my mom. Ok quick research I made her get two so it wouldn’t be alone. On further research I’ve learned that they need a lot more than I originally thought, so here I am!

I’m setting up the new tank (10 gallon) and have a couple of questions about substrate. Since I’m getting different answers I’m hoping you can clarify for me how deep the substrate should be and the ratios of sand and “dirt” for them.

Otherwise I think I have everything I need to start, but any suggestions would be welcome. Tank with a glass lid, heater with a thermostat, two water dishes, two food bowls (one for treats, one for commercial food, not sure if this is necessary?), climbing branches, a hut for them, thermometer/hydrometer.

Another couple of questions. Should commercial food be replaced every day? What is the ideal temperature and humidity ranges? Getting some different information on those topics as well.

Should I wash the hut before putting it in the tank? It is wood.

Thank you for your input! I’m pretty anal about how my animals are taken care of so I want to make sure this little ones are getting what they need. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:26 pm
by curlysister
Welcome to crabbing! Be sure to check out the 'care sheets' section for tons of info. When I first got my crabs, I decided I would only follow the HCA website advice, in order to avoid conflicting information. I literally have never been on any other forums or sights. Ten years later, my crabs are doing well!
5 parts of play sand (cheap in big bags at a hardware store) mixed with 1 part Eco Earth (coco fiber) is the most common ratio used. But some people use all of one or the other. Or a different ratio. Substrate should be mixed with enough dechlorinated water to be sand castle consistency. A mix of the two is easier for beginners to maintain, it helps with humidity, and holds it's shape well.
Most commercial food is not considered safe, because it has additives and preservatives. Check out the food and nutrition care sheets. If I feed fresh food, I replace it daily because it goes moldy and gross very fast. If I feed dry food, I replace it every 3 or 4 days or when it gets moldy.
Ideal temp and humidity to aim for are 80 and 80. But over 80% for humidity is fine. And temp between 75 and 85 is okay.

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:20 pm
by AuntCrab
Thank you! That definitely helps!

The biggest has a shell that is about 1.5 inches tall, what should the substrate depth be? Does 5” sound good?

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:57 pm
by HermitofHermitCrabs
AuntCrab wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:20 pm
Thank you! That definitely helps!

The biggest has a shell that is about 1.5 inches tall, what should the substrate depth be? Does 5” sound good?
The general rule is 3 times their size so yeah 5” or more is fine.

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:02 pm
by AuntCrab
So this is what I have right now. Need more climbing stuff I think and maybe a moss pit? How does it look? They are in the shelter thing right now, although the little one be buried. They were out exploring last night. I don’t think my heater is big enough. The lady told me a 5 gallon would be perfect, but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything and the temp is still at 70. Image


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Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:11 pm
by AuntCrab
Also, I got fresh and saltwater from Petco. It’s meant for fish. Is that safe to use?


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Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:42 pm
by GotButterflies
Hello :) Yes - you want marine saltwater and you can use tap water for the fresh, but you need a dechlorinator like prime. You want a dechlorinator that removes chlorine and chloramine, and detoxifies ammonia and heavy metals. :)

Please review the care sheets - lots of wonderful info there!!! :)

Welcome to the HCA!!

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:20 pm
by AuntCrab
Well. We might have a molter. The one that we got up here at the pet store to keep the TX company switched out shells for a much bigger one this week. Went to change food/water out and checked the shells. The one that it switched into was empty as were all the others except the one that the TX switched into (which was the one the pet store one vacated). Very anxious right now.


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Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:20 pm
by curlysister
Just to clarify, all the shells are empty?
Crabs do not leave their shells to molt.

Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:55 pm
by AuntCrab
I realized that on further reading. Yes, they are all empty. I double checked and checked all the hiding spots too. Any ideas?


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Re: New crab owner - Substrate depth and mix

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:50 am
by CombatMist
Welcome!

Sounds like your off and running

You asked if you should wash the hut.
Most recommend thoroughly cleaning anything before putting in crabitat. I recommend with all that wont melt a low boil for just a few minutes. That should sterilize it. Some like to microwave or put in oven. Careful not to burn the wood or plastics. Just very short microwave time of minute or two. And to bake do a low temp for a little time.

I take it a step further and after sterilizing if it's a moldable substance soak it in hermit safe salt water. I have some Ross salt grinders of 100% salt for a few dollars. I've heard to make sure there is no iodine which table salt has. I grind up a good amount. Did it this morning. Ground a table spoon worth of salt into a gallon zipper bag and put in my 3 new cholla branches and a handful of dowls I plan to use. I'm going to let it soak a few hours. Drain the water and let it air dry a day or however long it takes. I used to get molding at base of all my wooden objects. Soaked all like that and no molding from the woods. I've soaked anything that can molt. Including my twine and skewers and coconut bark and coconut hut and 1/2 long hide.

The trick is humidity holding objects help keep tank humid but heat and humidity promote mold.

On your cholla branch the crabs may like for it to go somewhere. They will probably climb and perch on it still. If you lean the branch on a hide or branch ect it can make a concave spot for them to hide under. They like to climb and upside down. And it would allow them to climb the hide and traverse the branch or in reverse. The branch onto of the hide can make a concave stop on top between the branch and tank glass. I've seen mine like to sit in stops like that for a while. Probably feels safe being more enclosed. Give them lots of opportunities to climb, explore, traverse different ways and all while trying to maximize the volume while using the minimum floor space so they can move around.