Finding the poop in the substrate

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Crabby7Crabber
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Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:38 pm

Hi, this is a weird question, but how exactly are you supposed to clean up their(the hermies) poop when you can't see it? I just, every week, move the sand around and maintain its sand castle consistency because frankly I can't see their poop; it blends in with the substrate. Any suggestions? :crabblush:
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Motörcrab
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Motörcrab » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:05 pm

My guys like to hide their poop in empty shells, on the wheels, in their water pools even in their food dishes. Depending on the size of your crabs it may be hard to see. Their turds are usually "U" shaped and thin. A few people on here call them " brown frowns".

If you see them you can use a plastic spoon to scoop them out. Some people just leave them in the tank.

Another option is to introduce isopods, rolly pollies, pill bugs into the tank as a clean up crew. They will scavange the tank for bits of food and poop. They do extremely well in crabitats, almost too well and for the most part, don't bother crabs. They don't really require any special care other than to reduce their population. A dozen can turn into a thousand in a few weeks if you don't control the population. In large numbers they can annoy the crabs. They are something to really think about before adding them.
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:09 pm

Motörcrab wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:05 pm
My guys like to hide their poop in empty shells, on the wheels, in their water pools even in their food dishes. Depending on the size of your crabs it may be hard to see. Their turds are usually "U" shaped and thin. A few people on here call them " brown frowns".

If you see them you can use a plastic spoon to scoop them out. Some people just leave them in the tank.

Another option is to introduce isopods, rolly pollies, pill bugs into the tank as a clean up crew. They will scavange the tank for bits of food and poop. They do extremely well in crabitats, almost too well and for the most part, don't bother crabs. They don't really require any special care other than to reduce their population. A dozen can turn into a thousand in a few weeks if you don't control the population. In large numbers they can annoy the crabs. They are something to really think about before adding them.
Would it be bad if I left them in the tank? And thank you so much for this post, it had me rotfl! :hlol: Brown frowns! :lol:
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Motörcrab » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:23 pm

I don't think it hurts anything to let it go. Possibly if it was left for years and years it could cause an issue. I often wondered since crabs love to eat poop of other animals and eat their own exos. Would they eat each other's poop? Dogs do it all the time, why not crabs?
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:33 pm

Motörcrab wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:23 pm
I don't think it hurts anything to let it go. Possibly if it was left for years and years it could cause an issue. I often wondered since crabs love to eat poop of other animals and eat their own exos. Would they eat each other's poop? Dogs do it all the time, why not crabs?
Oh-my-gosh. You're so right about dogs. It's really disgusting with mine because they have like, "poop-fests"; they'll all poop and then go around and eat each others. :lol: My really old doggo named Jack has literally no teeth and is like the janitor when it comes to poop: if you poop, he's there. My new skittish dog Blue Heaven drops bombs all the time, but we don't usually get to them fast enough, since Jack's her "boyfriend" (Jack is Blue's protector so to speak).
Whenever Jack comes over to be pet we sometimes pushes him away because of his horrible stench. It's the worst when he's begging for food and then you just smell poo. Look down, and he's there, ready for treats. *shudders* We can smell him coming. Not hear. Smell. :hlol:
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Maddamay32 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:42 pm

Motörcrab wrote:I don't think it hurts anything to let it go. Possibly if it was left for years and years it could cause an issue. I often wondered since crabs love to eat poop of other animals and eat their own exos. Would they eat each other's poop? Dogs do it all the time, why not crabs?
I've thought the same thing. Recently I've been wondering if total sub change IS necessary because the crabs do bury all over and I know their poop goes down with them.
I have isopods in the tank (they do not dig far under ground) but over many years their not eating ALL the crab poop or their OWN, and we know that natural material will mold and create bad bacteria under any sub that has no air filtration. Isn't there any point where a total substrate change becomes necessary?

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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by curlysister » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:18 am

I have had my crabs for over 9 years, and have never changed out the sub completely. I have added more when I upgraded tanks and as the crabs have grown. I don't scoop out poop. Ever. I suppose I was thinking of the poop as more of organic waste that would break down like compost and just become more sub with a healthy variety of microbes. I didn't think of it as something that could cause bad bacteria. I do 'mix up' the sub every now and then (maybe twice a year) when both crabs are above ground.
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Maddamay32 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:26 am

curlysister wrote:I have had my crabs for over 9 years, and have never changed out the sub completely. I have added more when I upgraded tanks and as the crabs have grown. I don't scoop out poop. Ever. I suppose I was thinking of the poop as more of organic waste that would break down like compost and just become more sub with a healthy variety of microbes. I didn't think of it as something that could cause bad bacteria. I do 'mix up' the sub every now and then (maybe twice a year) when both crabs are above ground.
If it is good bacteria, I'm not really sure. I was just thinking along the lines of the life cycle of a crab in captivity. In 30 years, if the crabs are kept in the same tank do we never do a sub change? Does their poop turn into acceptable substrate that is safe to molt in and so on?

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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:43 am

Maddamay32 wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:26 am
If it is good bacteria, I'm not really sure. I was just thinking along the lines of the life cycle of a crab in captivity. In 30 years, if the crabs are kept in the same tank do we never do a sub change? Does their poop turn into acceptable substrate that is safe to molt in and so on?

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I change my sub every 2-3 months, so this shouldn't be a problem...?
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by KrankyKrab » Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:28 am

I use a small sifter. No rollies for me. Any critter other than crabs definitely freak me out.

Once a month I’ll scoop the top layer (with hands so I don’t disrupt any tunnels) and place in sifter/net so excess poopies are caught while fluffing the surface. I think of it as controlling excess waste since it’s not a total clean up.


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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Crabby7Crabber » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:02 am

KrankyKrab wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:28 am
I use a small sifter. No rollies for me. Any critter other than crabs definitely freak me out.

Once a month I’ll scoop the top layer (with hands so I don’t disrupt any tunnels) and place in sifter/net so excess poopies are caught while fluffing the surface. I think of it as controlling excess waste since it’s not a total clean up.


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Nice idea! I'm petrified of bugs, too!
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Motörcrab » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:05 am

I honestly don't think the quality of substrate has been researched much. I would think that the substrate would work similar to a cycled pool. Once it gathers enough good bacteria it will basically clean itself. If the bad bacteria builds up too fast it will become unsafe.

Chances are most people upgrade or downsize their crabitats every few years. They may also end up dealing with a tank emergency and replace the substrate or even move at some point, so we don't see many long term tank observations.

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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Maddamay32 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:25 am

That's true, we always seem to have an upgrade in process or planned.
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Hermiesguardian » Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:36 am

Crabby7Crabber wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:43 am
I change my sub every 2-3 months, so this shouldn't be a problem...?
That's really not necessary. In addition to being expensive over time and time consuming. I would think it would also stress the crabs.
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Re: Finding the poop in the substrate

Post by Kydra » Wed Feb 26, 2020 1:51 pm

I've done a full substrate change twice since setting up the 20G long. Started with the circular mesh cage of death to a cheapo 2G or so temporarily after reading care sheets while on vacation then to a 10G and finally a 20G long. I was forced (bacterial bloom) shortly after to change all of the substrate, but I did eventually get to change the substrate out again completely just recently.

My concern was my proportion was much more EE than the 5:1 recommendation... and the bag of EE says right on it to replace after 6 months... I'm still slightly heavy on the EE, but not uncomfortably too much. My only real concern was finally having the correct consistency along with I'd guess built up good bacteria and completely changing that, but with so much EE I decided to try to fix that up. I have been planning on upgrading again and I almost did when I caught the tail end of the Petco dollar/half off sale. Decided to stick with my original timeline and wait until spring though rather than rush it.

Since the OP brought up "poop" in the title figured I'd throw this here rather than a new post. I had never used to pick out any of it as I couldn't see it. Now though, the crabs have really grown, and I'm finding their poop to be almost white. I have added some foods recently along with their staple diet which besides some dried coconut treats (not often) and other random fresh foods has been the HCP basic diet with the Surf&Turf/dried shrimp/dried fruits&veggies/crushed oyster shell/cuttlebone... with my usual and crab favorite boiled egg cut with shell once a week with some fresh grapes once a week (rotated); typically will leave egg shell in as well. Of the added foods, it's just more options from the HCP (scrambled shrimp, midnight ecstasy, fruit mix, and some I can't remember the exact names of) and a mix of mealworms/grasshopper/shrimp from Petco. I know that the color will change based on diet, but was just concerned slightly as the last few weeks I've been spot cleaning very light colored feces and not seeing why the change. I feel like their diet is more than adequate and not sure if I SHOULD be concerned? Sorry for the partial thread hijack, just found this unusual and could be just that they're larger now so more visible, but yeah no 'brown' U's here at least from the larger crabs at the moment.

Edit: Not seeing the white poop when I changed the food and water earlier so thinking maybe when I had coconut shavings in there for a few days, maybe, idk.

This was just a few days ago, but since I've noticed pre-molt each crab has thoroughly enjoyed their MSW prior to digging down and when up have gone right for the cuttlebone I purchased and put in some crushed cuttlebone from Amazon to see how they'd do with that. I also have some moss and leaf litter as well.

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