Hermit crabs are one of the most exciting and low-maintenance pets you can own, and they’re ideal for beginner pet owners. That said, they do have quite the laundry list of supplies you’ll need to stock up on to keep them healthy and comfortable. The majority of it is one-time purchases that you can set and forget, while other items are needed for habitat enrichment or environment maintenance.
If you’re lost on where to start, we’ve got you covered. Check out our comprehensive list of what you need to get started as a new hermit crab owner and what we recommend.
The 4 Basic Enclosure Supplies
This 15-gallon glass tank from OiiBO is the perfect starter home for any hermit crab, with ample space for water and substrate. The sliding doors are easy to open and close at will, and the raised front base gives you a ton of space for layering substrates. The top has a mesh cover with holes that provide ample ventilation without reducing UVB light from external heat sources. Overall, this tank can suit a young hermit crab all the way to maturity and beyond.
Hermit crabs spend a lot of time burrowing in the substrate of their tank, so choosing a safe, natural substrate with certain traits is important. This coco coir from Frisco is perfect. It’s soft, absorbent, porous, and absorbs odors well. Unlike other substrates, it also produces nearly no excess dust.
For drainage and extra airflow, we recommend mixing in some coarse sand or peat moss. Your hermit crab produces a surprising amount of waste, so you’ll need to regularly refresh the tank with fresh substrate. As a rule of thumb, we suggest 3 inches of substrate to give your crab enough space.
3. Food/Water Dishes
Made for reptiles but great for hermit crabs too, Zoo Med Repti Rock Water Reptile Bowl offers your hermit crab a wide, shallow bowl to soak in. We really like that the dish has a gently sloping path for easy access, but it’s also nonporous and won’t grow funky bacteria or mold. It’s right at home in any natural hermit crab habitat and darn near indestructible to boot. Consider buying two and using one as a food dish!
4. Complete & Balanced Food
Hermit crabs aren’t picky eaters, eating small bugs, invertebrates, and even small fish along with plant matter, including veggies and fruit. In captivity, we like to feed them a complete, balanced pellet diet like Fluker’s Buffet Blend. It contains a protein-rich blend of mealworms and river shrimp, supporting general health as well as encouraging more activity and exoskeletal growth.
We recommend supplementing with carrots, apples, lettuce, and peas to give them a mix of healthy nutrients and spice up their diet a bit. You wouldn’t like eating just pellets, either!
The 6 Maintenance & Enrichment Supplies
Hermit crabs crave natural scenery that imitates their natural habitat, like driftwood and coral fixtures. This beautiful faux driftwood decoration adds a lively touch to your crab’s tank, offering them places to climb and hide as they like to do. Under blacklight and blue LEDs, it’ll change colors, too. Don’t stop with just one, though. Check out some other natural coral or driftwood decor to populate your crab’s habitat and make them feel more at home.
6. Reef Salt
Freshwater hermit crabs don’t need it, but saltwater crabs will need a healthy mix that resembles the saltwater of their natural habitat. These calcium-rich reef salt crystals work perfectly—just mix according to the instructions with your crab’s water. This mix contains a mix of nutrients like nitrates that support coral and invertebrates, too, if you’re interested in making a marine environment in the tank.
7. Sea Sponge
Sea sponges are invaluable for controlling ambient humidity in your tank, but they’re also key safety devices for young crabs. They can struggle with entering and exiting their water bowls, and the sponges offer a stepping stone to more freely access their water. Your crab will also benefit from the nutrients they gain by eating it, but make sure to replace the sponges before they start growing mold or algae.
Rather than buying them separately, invest in a hygrometer/thermometer combo to do both critical jobs. This unobtrusive digital monitor displays the tank’s temperature and humidity at all times so you can make sure it stays comfortable for your hermit crab. It’s nearly waterproof, too, so you don’t have to worry about damaging it when you notice the humidity is low and mist the habitat.
9. Under-Tank Heating
Hermit crabs prefer moderate warmth around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so cooler climates will need supplemental heating like this under-tank heater from Zoo-Med. Simply plug it in and stick the adhesive side of the heating pad on the underside of your tank, then monitor your temperature accordingly. Generally, you don’t need the under-tank heater on at all hours. It works best as a supplemental measure along with a regular low-intensity light cycle.
Hermit crabs can survive in all types of light conditions and even total darkness, but for optimal health, they thrive with 10–12 hours of low-intensity LED light. This simple and intuitive clamp lamp fills that niche perfectly. Just clamp it onto the side of your terrarium and adjust the light level with the integrated dimmer switch. Hermit crabs like it on the dimmer side and get stressed if it’s too bright.
Hermit crabs take a bit of money and time upfront to set up the perfect habitat, but it’s well worth watching their fascinating behavior in action on a daily basis. The OiiBO Glass Reptile Tank Terrarium gives your crab room to explore and chill, while the Frisco Coco Coir Reptile Bedding is our favorite substrate. You can’t go wrong with the other supplies, either, so stock up today and get started!
Featured Image Credit: Paul Tessier, Shutterstock