Hermit crabs are intelligent little creatures that are quite entertaining. The word “hermit” doesn’t really fit these little guys because they are actually sociable. There are over 1,000 species of hermit crab, and they do best living with other crabs. If you’re thinking of getting hermit crabs, aim for two to start with.
Hermit crabs need care from their owners, and that’s where you come in. Before you buy a couple of these fascinating and entertaining crustaceans, you’ll need a few supplies to get your hermit crabs off to a healthy start. In this article, we’ll list 10 essential supplies you need to get started correctly. Bear in mind these suggestions are for land hermit crabs.
Top 10 Essential Hermit Crab Supplies
1. Glass Tank (Terrarium) With Mesh Covering
First and foremost, you’ll need a tank to put your crabs in. Some sites recommend glass or plastic, but glass contains humidity levels better than plastic. Ideally, you want two crabs instead of just one because they do better in pairs or groups, but if you’re a beginner, stick with two for now. With that said, look for at least a 10-gallon tank, but a 20-gallon tank is preferred and recommended for two crabs.
The cover should be an air-tight glass lid or mesh to keep the humidity and heat inside the tank and to prevent the crabs from escaping. Hermit crabs have gills to breathe, and they will get circulation by opening the lid daily for feedings and cleanings if you have a glass lid.
Hermies love to dig and are natural diggers. They need moist, deep sand for protection during the molting process. A rule of thumb is to have the sand three times deeper than the height of the largest crab you have in the tank. When looking for substrate, avoid calcium carbonate sand, as this type of sand can stick to your crab’s abdomen and legs.
3. Climbing Toys and Accessories
Hermit crabs love to hide and climb, so you’ll need to ensure you have accessories for their entertainment. You can have fun decorating the tank with climbing accessories, such as caves, half logs, branches, and shells. As far as shells, ensure you add a few large ones when they need to move on to something bigger for their growing bodies.
Coral driftwood not only adds a nice décor touch to the tank but also provides your hermies with something to climb on. You can also add artificial plants to the tank for another climbing alternative. Hermit crabs need exercise, and providing climbing accessories to the tank ensures they get exercise to keep them healthy and to fight boredom.
Of course, hermit crabs need to eat, but what do they eat? These little guys are omnivorous scavengers, and they need a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals. Freeze-dried pellets fortified with protein and essential nutrients are an excellent way to ensure they are getting a proper diet.
You can feed pellet food once a day, preferable at night, as they are nocturnal and most active at nighttime. You should discard any uneaten pellets daily to maintain a clean tank. During the molting process, hermies need a boost of calcium to protect their exoskeletons, and you can add a calcium vitamin supplement to their food.
6. Food and Water Bowls
You will need two water bowls and a smaller food bowl. Avoid a large, deep bowl for the food bowl so your smaller crabs will not get stuck. You can provide exit ramps with branches for an exit. For the water bowls, ensure they are deep enough for your hermies to submerge themselves into but not large enough to where they will not get stuck. The bowl should be big enough for your largest crab to climb into and submerge its shell.
You should fill one bowl with fresh water and the other with salt water. Bottled water will ensure the water is free from chlorine. Hermit crabs use water for bathing, drinking, and replenishing their shells. In providing both fresh and saltwater, the crab can decide for itself which one it wants.
7. Instant Ocean Mix
Referring back to number six on our list, you should provide your hermies with both fresh and saltwater. Instant Ocean is a good mix to use for this purpose, and to be safe, use bottled water to mix it with. Water is extremely important to have in the tank at all times, as hermit crabs use water to hydrate their gills. Avoid using table salt because it contains iodine, which is harmful to hermit crabs.
8. Sea Sponge
A sea sponge is necessary for any hermit crab tank. You should place a sea sponge in each water bowl so smaller crabs will not get stuck in the bowls and drown. Sea sponges also help to maintain the humidity levels inside the tank. They are a must-have.
9. Humidity Gauge
Humidity plays an important role within the tank and should be monitored daily with a humidity gauge to ensure the levels are between 70%–80% at all times. Ensure the levels do not rise above 85% because that percentage will cause condensation and unwanted mold growth within the tank. To keep the tank moist, you can spray fresh water (preferably from a water bottle to avoid chlorine) into the tank to aid in maintaining desired humidity levels. Hermit crabs are native to tropical climates and require humidity to survive and to keep their gills from drying out.
10. Heating Source
Where Should I Place My Hermit Crab Tank?
You will want to place the tank away from any drafty areas of the home. Avoid placing the tank in front of a window, as the sun may alter the temperature levels inside the tank and make it too hot. A bedroom is a fun place to have the tank, but keep in mind that hermies are active at night, and their activity may disturb your sleeping habits.
Ensure you place the tank away from bathrooms or anywhere there may be some sort of sprays, such as hairspray or cleaning products. Hermit crabs are sensitive and vulnerable to any type of sprays, so ensure the tank will not get caught in the crossfire.
Hermit crabs are fun little pets, but they need daily care for their survival. Ensure they have both fresh and saltwater in the tank at all times, as well as food. Avoid placing the tank in drafty areas or directly in front of a window and clean as needed. Spot clean the tank weekly by wiping down the inside with a chlorine-free damp cloth and remove any fecal matter or clumped substrate as needed. Wash and clean the food and water bowls once a week.
We hope this article gets you off to an excellent start with your new hermies, and remember, these little crabs are fun and make great pets!
Featured Image Credit: Vagabondivan, Shutterstock