Aggression in the Crabitat

Where we discuss the behavior of our hermit crabs, as in fights, pecking orders, shell swaps, etc. Please post all naked-crab posts in the Emergency forum.
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addiepickle
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Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by addiepickle » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:30 am

Hello everyone, I’m definitely not a hermit crab expert and would love to hear some suggestions on what I should do because I am genuinely concerned and not really finding the information I need anywhere on the internet. Before I was educated about hermit crab needs (such as friends) I bought 1 crab and had him for a couple months. That crab’s name is Dino. After I researched a bit, I realized they were very social creatures and got 3 more crabs. With the addition of these new buddies, Dino has been showing very aggressive behavior. He has been targeting the same two crabs, Phoebe and Roger. He has been charging toward them and knocking them down, climbing on top of them aggressively, and I’ve had to separate him multiple times. Whenever Dino comes in contact with Roger it gets very dicey, to say the least. Dino is is definitely the instigator and keeps bothering Roger. By “bothering” I simply mean lunging, charging, and knocking him over. I’ve seen peaceful playtime between crabs and this is NOT THAT. I theorize that they are both fighting for the sort of “Alpha Male” position despite the fact that Dino is much, much bigger. Keep in mind, I’ve had these new crabs for 3 days. What truly concerns me is that Dino is a very large crab. He is about the size of a golf ball while Phoebe and Roger are both very small comparatively. Phoebe especially, as she is tiny.
I know that hermit crabs are naturally very territorial and will not hesitate to hurt their own kind. I am also aware that many owners allow nature to run its course, but I would be terrified to find one of my new crabs hurt because of Dino. I could not being myself to let him be with the newbies if I knew he was a threat. It would probably traumatize me to be honest.
For some background information, Dino was previously living with many crabs when I adopted him which is why I thought he would gladly welcome some new ones. Their enclosure is very big, my family actually calls it a Hermie Mansion. They have a large variety of fruits and veggies and proteins for food and large portions of each. There are many shells scattered around the crabitat, and the new crabs’ shells wouldn’t fit Dino anyway. They have a very well structured enclosure.
I resorted to separating Dino from the others into a different habitat because he was getting dangerously aggressive with tiny Phoebe which scared me. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do. I’m planning on keeping him separated for a couple of weeks so that he’ll hopefully feel less territorial. If the bullying continues after that I won’t hesitate to separate him again. I want the crabs to be safe for as long as I can help it.
I’m an animal lover and would be absolutely devastated if something were to happen to one of my hermits. Any advice would help and I’d be happy to answer any additional questions. Please help me out!

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CrabbyLover77
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Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:38 am

Hi!

Would you mind filling out the emergency form? It might help us see what's happening in your crabitat that could cause Dino's aggression issues. Thanks!


1. What kind of substrate is used in your tank and how deep is it?

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?

3. Is a heat source used in the tank? If so, what?

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)?

5. What kinds of food do you feed and how often is it replaced?

6. How long have you had the crab and what species is it, if known?

7. Has your crab molted, and how long ago did it happen?

8. What type of housing are the crabs kept in, what size is it and what kind of lid is on the housing?

9. How many crabs are in the tank and about how large are they?

10. How many extra shells are usually kept in the tank, if any?

11. Have there been any fumes or chemicals near the crabitat recently?

12. How often do you clean the tank and how?

13. Are sponges used in the water dish? If so, how are they cleaned?

14. Has anything new been added to your crabitat recently?

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.)?

16. Please describe the emergency situation in detail.

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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
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Topic author
addiepickle
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:03 am

Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by addiepickle » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:20 pm

For CrabbyLover77:
My substrate is about 6 inches deep. We use a hermit crab soil that was found on Amazon. It's similar to Eco Earth, which I have heard many people use.
The temperature of the tank is usually high 70's or low 80's. The humidity is not measured, however, the tank gets misted daily and the substrate we use helps to regulate humidity.
For a heat source, it is a standard heating lamp used for reptiles I believe.
We have fresh water available, for drinking and use tap water. It is dechlorinated with the Imaginatarium brand. We recently ran out of our salt mix and have ordered some more.
For food, we feed them many fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Mango, lettuce, carrots, and apples mostly for fruits and vegetables. They like turkey for protein, we previously fed them turkey and chicken but the chicken would go uneaten so we cut out. There is a very large portion of each, usually a chunk of everything for every crab.
I've had Dino for about 4 months and the new crabs for 4 days. I believe all of the crabs are Purple Pinchers.
Dino molted about a month ago and the new crabs have not yet.
The crabs are kept in a large tank lined with climbing wire. It is around 50 gallons, as I said we call it a Hermie Mansion. The lid was not great, so we replaced it with plastic wrap for the humidity, someone said that would help.
There are 4 crabs in the tank (3 as of right now because we moved Dino). Dino is about the size of a golf ball. Roger and another crab are about the size of small limes and the smallest, Phoebe, is a marble.
There are many shells kept in the tank. There are 15 different shell options. The sizes vary, but there are about 4 for each crab.
No chemicals near the habitat.
The tank is cleaned thoroughly about once every two weeks. In between then, the top layer of the substrate will be subbed out. The tank is cleaned using water. Unless somehow the tank gets very dirty, we stay away from any chemicals.
Sponges are used in the water dish. We clean those using dechlorinated tap water about once every week.
The 3 new crabs were added to the enclosure. We also added some more shells for the newbies to be able to switch into.
The crabs get let out of the crabitat almost every day to roam around. We give them baths every other day. The situation is described in detail above. If anyone has any suggestions they would be appreciated! I hate separating Dino since he has already been away from other crabs for a couple of months, but I want all of them to stay safe. Hopefully, this is all the information you guys need, but let me know if you need anything else!! Thank you!

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aussieJJDude
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Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by aussieJJDude » Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:41 pm

How did you go about adding the new crabs? The 'new smell' could be the issue why they are being targeted as he tries to assert his dominance. Usually dipping all crabs in the freshwater pool so they smell the same can help reduce issues.

Otherwise, ensure there's enough suitable shell choices available, as agression usually stems from a lack of a resource.




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CrabbyLover77
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Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by CrabbyLover77 » Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:53 pm

I'll put my responses under yours.

For CrabbyLover77:
My substrate is about 6 inches deep. We use a hermit crab soil that was found on Amazon. It's similar to Eco Earth, which I have heard many people use.

The temperature of the tank is usually high 70's or low 80's. The humidity is not measured, however, the tank gets misted daily and the substrate we use helps to regulate humidity.

CL77-It is extremely important to measure the humidity. I would recommend getting a hygrometer asap. Crabs have modified gills, and need moisture in the air to breathe. Humidity should never fall below 70%, but 80% is ideal.

For a heat source, it is a standard heating lamp used for reptiles I believe.

CL77-Heat lamps can zap humidity. If you find this to be the case, you should use an uth (under tank heater) mounted to the back or sides above the substrate line for warmth. Ultratherm is a good brand.

We have fresh water available, for drinking and use tap water. It is dechlorinated with the Imaginatarium brand. We recently ran out of our salt mix and have ordered some more.

CL77-Does your dechlorinator neutralize heavy metals also? If not, a good brand for that is Prime. What type of salt do you use? A marine salt like Instant Ocean is the best. It has the minerals crabbies need. Are your pools deep enough for the crabs to submerge?

For food, we feed them many fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Mango, lettuce, carrots, and apples mostly for fruits and vegetables. They like turkey for protein, we previously fed them turkey and chicken but the chicken would go uneaten so we cut out. There is a very large portion of each, usually a chunk of everything for every crab.

CL77-Do you have any constant source of calcium in the tank? Calcium should be provided at all times. I offer calcium powder in a dish, cuttlebone, and eggshells.

I've had Dino for about 4 months and the new crabs for 4 days. I believe all of the crabs are Purple Pinchers.
Dino molted about a month ago and the new crabs have not yet.

The crabs are kept in a large tank lined with climbing wire. It is around 50 gallons, as I said we call it a Hermie Mansion. The lid was not great, so we replaced it with plastic wrap for the humidity, someone said that would help.

There are 4 crabs in the tank (3 as of right now because we moved Dino). Dino is about the size of a golf ball. Roger and another crab are about the size of small limes and the smallest, Phoebe, is a marble.

There are many shells kept in the tank. There are 15 different shell options. The sizes vary, but there are about 4 for each crab.

No chemicals near the habitat.

The tank is cleaned thoroughly about once every two weeks. In between then, the top layer of the substrate will be subbed out. The tank is cleaned using water. Unless somehow the tank gets very dirty, we stay away from any chemicals.

CL77- You're not replacing all of the substrate are you? Spot cleaning is good. You only have to replace substrate if there is a bacterial bloom or flood.

Sponges are used in the water dish. We clean those using dechlorinated tap water about once every week.

CL77-You can either throw away the sponges, or leave them in the tank dry for the crabs to munch on. They only harbor bacterial when left in the water dishes.

The 3 new crabs were added to the enclosure. We also added some more shells for the newbies to be able to switch into.

The crabs get let out of the crabitat almost every day to roam around. We give them baths every other day.

CL77-There's no need to bathe the crabs. They have a balance of fresh and saltwater in their shells that can be disturbed by bathing. Excess handling could potentially stress them out.

The situation is described in detail above. If anyone has any suggestions they would be appreciated! I hate separating Dino since he has already been away from other crabs for a couple of months, but I want all of them to stay safe. Hopefully, this is all the information you guys need, but let me know if you need anything else!! Thank you!

CL77-Aussie gave good advice, dipping the new crabs in the fresh water pool can help them smell like the crabitat. Do your shells have round openings? PPs tend to prefer round openings. If there aren't enough of those types of shells, it could cause Dino to act aggressively looking for one he likes. Also make sure to provide that constant source of calcium, so Dino doesn't resort to canabilism.


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My Pets: 1 Pomeranian, 1 Russian tortoise, fishes/snails(40 gal freshwater aquarium), and 7 hermit crabs.
"Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends".
-George Bernard Shaw


Topic author
addiepickle
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:03 am

Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by addiepickle » Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:50 pm

Hey everyone. The previous suggestions unfortunately didn’t work. I rearranged the crabitat, dipped the newbies in water, fed Dino some calcium, gave him plenty of potential shell options, fed him lots protein, and put him in a different habitat for about a week. When I reintroduced him, he was being even more aggressive than the beginning. One of my new crabs, Delilah, sadly passed away yesterday seemingly from the stress of relocating. It has taken a very sad toll on my household and none of us can handle another possible death. I once again put Dino in a different habitat. I’m running out of ideas here. I don’t want him to be alone, but if he can’t handle having two other friends or is going to be violent with them, do I have another option? Please help!

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JoeHermits
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Re: Aggression in the Crabitat

Post by JoeHermits » Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:44 pm

Some hermit crabs are simply jerks :( If nothing’s working he may just prefer being alone.


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