The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

This is where you discuss the conditions of your crabitat -- temperature, humidity, substrate, decorating, etc.

Topic author
zokirova
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:00 pm

The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by zokirova » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:10 pm

I understand hermit crabs are social and need buddies, so I wonder what seems to be a good number of herrmies in captivity. After reading up on Jon and Kate, 2 crabs make me wonder if that was helpful for their longevity. Thoughts on number of HC?

User avatar

AwesomeHermit
Posts: 724
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:19 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by AwesomeHermit » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:20 pm

I have heard of a number of owners who had their crabs for 10+ years with only a few, like two or three.
3 Clypeatus
Goodbye my little E. See you soon.
Crabbing for over two years!

User avatar

Hermiesguardian
Posts: 2131
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:41 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by Hermiesguardian » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:24 pm

AwesomeHermit wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:20 pm
I have heard of a number of owners who had their crabs for 10+ years with only a few, like two or three.
Too bad they're so addicting.
raising son's dog, Dante. Husky/hound.
Raising daughter's hermit crabs, Shelder, Paras and Derek. Added 2 more of my own (of course) Pete and Stryper. Former mommy to 2 guinea pigs and beloved cat, Nissi


crabby33
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:24 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by crabby33 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:42 pm

I have just two in a 20 Gallon and I do not plan on getting more until I can get a bigger tank.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

User avatar

angelbearpuppy
Posts: 359
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:20 pm
Location: Texas

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by angelbearpuppy » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:44 pm

I think in the end it is they type of care amd the resilience and health of the Crab.

But fewer crabs also increase the care per crab so there is a reason to the madness.

Sent from my LGL157BL using Tapatalk

I have owned Hermit Crabs for 2 Years

I have 1 E named Monkey and 2 PP named Shy Guy and Little P

I also own 1 PP named Dory who stays in my classroom

User avatar

Motörcrab
Posts: 1001
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:56 pm
Location: Coal Region in Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by Motörcrab » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:21 pm

I don't think there is any perfect ratio of crabs. Jonathan and Kates owner Carol I believe was also a marine biologist. Here is a video I found on youtube. If you look at his tank it is nothing like what we do on here. Carol also lets him wander around the house too. In the video Jonathan is MASSIVE!
https://youtu.be/bVPnOvO2H58

We have I think 30 crabs in 4 tanks, ranging from 3 to 11 in each tank. So far all have been doing great as is so we don't plan on changing our basic care for them aside from trying new foods or changing up the decorations.
Help Improve Our Resources Section (weblinks)
http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com/ph ... 2&t=119315

Once we get more links the directors will update the resources in a few weeks. Thanks!

User avatar

curlysister
Posts: 944
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:54 pm
Location: Manitoba, Canada

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by curlysister » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:28 pm

I am sticking with my two. Maybe the one is a bit lonely when the other is down molting, but I am kinda scared to mess with the balance between the two.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." -Will Rogers


crabby33
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2016 1:24 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by crabby33 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:33 pm

Me too, Curly. I don’t plan on getting any more until my two are too big for their 20 Gallon tank. Buckbeak just switched into one of the apple murex shells I bought from Richard’s that has 1 1/8” opening. I’m thinking 1 1/4” opening is the next size up. The Mexican turbo he was in was getting a little too tight so he needed to change pants.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

User avatar

Overmountain1
Posts: 233
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:20 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by Overmountain1 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:22 am

Well, we are up to 6 now... it was 1 more than my plan, but as I said, the poor guy was literally waving around like dumbo’s ears popping out! I’m making light of it but it was so heartbreaking to see I had to get him too. I don’t know how the stress of all of that will affect him/her long term either. But- while I don’t have a perfect size shell yet, it’s on the way, and he’s already upgraded. Poor dude.
Anyway, I had in mind a little colony of 5, but I may split these guys 3/3 in the two tanks. Who knows? I’m loving the feedback here as I’m thinking of how to best keep these guys moving forward. for their own sakes. I want them as happy and healthy as possible. I think you’d have to have a friend for them no matter what for the long term. I think at this point Jonathan’s owner is his new partner in a lot of ways- how heartbreaking to lose one after that many years too!
I saw that video too and also wondered at the gravel- etc, so different from what we are doing, and wondered did they always surface molt? I don’t know really, I’m betting she has another spot for him for that sort of thing. Surely, right? Maybe what we saw was just a sort of holding tank in the living room? Either way, that crab- and lady- are incredible and inspiring!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

User avatar

Hermie escape artist
Posts: 428
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:16 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by Hermie escape artist » Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:48 am

This is great been debating on gettin a 2 or3 .. maybe 2 is best... i kinda like the idea of 2 !

Still gavnt gotten a second tho and i wanna add some more sand also

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk


User avatar

angelbearpuppy
Posts: 359
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:20 pm
Location: Texas

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by angelbearpuppy » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:56 pm

I am opposite. I love their personalities and the way they are always doing something. So I am fated to always own the maximum I can handle safely and give proper care for. What ever that number might be.
I have owned Hermit Crabs for 2 Years

I have 1 E named Monkey and 2 PP named Shy Guy and Little P

I also own 1 PP named Dory who stays in my classroom

User avatar

aussieJJDude
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 3984
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by aussieJJDude » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:27 pm

Motörcrab wrote:I don't think there is any perfect ratio of crabs. Jonathan and Kates owner Carol I believe was also a marine biologist. Here is a video I found on youtube. If you look at his tank it is nothing like what we do on here. Carol also lets him wander around the house too. In the video Jonathan is MASSIVE!
https://youtu.be/bVPnOvO2H58

We have I think 30 crabs in 4 tanks, ranging from 3 to 11 in each tank. So far all have been doing great as is so we don't plan on changing our basic care for them aside from trying new foods or changing up the decorations.
I swear she was a microbiologist!? But regardless, she was well educated in science.

Wod has wrote a few posts like this, which will be interesting to quote here.. lemme see if I can find it!

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Crabs || Fish || Shrimp || Snails || Plants || Insects

25G Nano Freshwater || 64G Freshwater Community || 90G Fancy Goldie Pond || 64G Crabitat
I've never had any problems with 'Impulse Buying'... They're just things I forgot I had planned to get || Self Designated 'HCA Pic Fan' 2012+

User avatar

aussieJJDude
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 3984
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by aussieJJDude » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:28 pm

Here's the problem, it is ALL anecdotal evidence, because no one has done controlled longterm studies on the effects of single vs group. And with lifespans of 50+ years, anything that was done would be a snapshot at best. 

I've been doing this nearly a decade and I have never seen any solid evidence that they absolutely need to be kept in colonies in captivity. It's something that has been passed down since at least the mid-90s, but whoever first suggested it or why it's been repeated so many times is lost to the early internet. You'll hear "They will die without friends", which at the very least seems like something blown way out proportion, like so many other 'facts' of crab keeping. It has been made to sound so tortuous that no one ever wants to speak up and question it, let alone try it.

My best guess has been that since they are found in the wild in groups, the assumption was made they must need to be with others. Maybe it was bleed over from fishkeeping, where fish found in the wild in schools need to be with others of their kind or they display unnatural behavior and stress themselves to an early death. (For real, but you can observe this easily and there are plenty of warning signs.) I've also always been suspicious that it was a group of keepers giving themselves permission to be a little hoarder-esque in getting as many as they wanted. 


There is anecdotal proof that being kept in alone or in pairs results in longer lifespans. Obviously it's hard to gauge quality of life with these guys, but if they are eating, drinking, molting and exploring it doesn't sound any different than ones kept in larger groups. Carol Ormes had Kate for 35 years, and Jonathon is still going (as of two years ago) at 42 years and counting. There was another account of one of the early English explorers bringing one back alone that lived for 25 years. When I handled adoptions I saw many crabs that had been in captivity between 10 and 20 years, and they were all singletons and pairs. 

The question that then gets raised is - are these the hardy outliers that had the constitution to survive in the face of completely inappropriate conditions? 

I do think caution needs to be taken when it comes to immediately laying blame on other crabs in group situations where attacks are not actually observed - lone crabs do also die, they fall out of shells, drag themselves naked across tanks, decompose into nothing in an extremely short timeframe. All of these things are attributed to other crabs by novice (or simply very upset) owners. At the same time, it's hard to know what happened under all that substrate. That mangled body - was it an attack or did another crab come through after? That empty shell packed with dirt - same as above, or did the crab streak underground and do it themselves? 

We also have no good idea about diseases and parasites with these guys. The distributors that harvest them from all over the world just toss them together, which would lead to a sharing of foreign invaders both during warehousing and shipping, and once they are combined at home. Is the fact that they die often when in groups a side effect of passing infections for which some have no natural immunity? 

We are also talking about wild caught animals where there is no real way to judge their health or age. How much damage to they sustain in the collection and shipping process? In just what condition are people buying them in? Are they parasite loaded? Is it the effects of group housing, or are they just that sickly that they had no chance of long-term survival? Is it a natural old age death, or one that was exacerbated by being forced into captivity? (Molting requires more energy/resources with every subsequent molt. At some point their stored energy cannot match what is required, which is considered a natural old age death.)

A couple to a few million crabs are imported every year to the US alone. No, not an exaggeration, that figure comes from the distributors themselves - the biggest does over one million by themselves. It makes it really hard to figure out the statistics because of that. It's a minuscule percentage even being cared for properly. Of those, how many are being cared for as singletons or in groups? How many were healthy on arrival? Which ones were the natural outliers? The whole observable situation gets skewed. 

That all said, crab on crab violence is a real thing. They are opportunistic hunters and scavengers, they readily cannibalize when the reward outweighs the risk, and they are extremely strong and those claws are not for decoration. When they find another crab in a state where they cannot defend themselves, they will take full advantage of the situation. They are hard-wired for survival, so a perfect meal of crab is always a temptation. A pre-worn shell means it makes an excellent home. They don't have the capacity to understand that their needs are being met and will continue to be met - they are thinking months down the road to times of famine and scarcity. They are resourceful little dudes, it's how they survived for millions of years. 
In captivity they seem to only tolerate each other, and they don't interact except when jockeying for the best locations and resources, which as you note with reptiles, people will often misinterpret as 'cuddling' or needing to be together. 


It took a lot of self-convincing when I did it - but I have my Ruggie as a singleton. I have lost so many crabs in my colony over the years to situations where I felt it was directly due to the other crabs, that I could not bring myself to take the risk with her in a group. I won't mailorder crabs, so she is likely my once in a lifetime 'exotic'. I got her in April 2016, and she has been picture perfect since. Active, molting regularly, explorative. I see no sign of any sort of stress or her missing the group. If I had space I would like to try with my PPs, I very much regret not having done so with my first and favorite, I keep wondering if he may have still been alive today if I had.
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?url=ht ... are_type=t
Ah ha! Here it is! Sorry Wod, but its such a good read and worded quite well!

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk


Crabs || Fish || Shrimp || Snails || Plants || Insects

25G Nano Freshwater || 64G Freshwater Community || 90G Fancy Goldie Pond || 64G Crabitat
I've never had any problems with 'Impulse Buying'... They're just things I forgot I had planned to get || Self Designated 'HCA Pic Fan' 2012+


Topic author
zokirova
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:00 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by zokirova » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:55 pm

Wow, thanks for sharing that. Lots to let sink in after reading....a couple times! Has me questioning the whole HC industry. No matter how hard humans try, nothing is like nature for these poor little herrmies. Since the industry does exist and now I've fallen into it, I feel sorry for them. I appreciate this website and all the wonderful support, ideas, and observations resulting in the best captive care possible.
Last edited by zokirova on Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Topic author
zokirova
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:00 pm

Re: The Best Number of Hermit Crabs to Have?

Post by zokirova » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:56 pm

Who wrote that?

Post Reply