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FAQs about Hermit Crabs: Clibanarius tricolor, the Blue Legged Hermit

Related Articles: Hermit Crabs, Crabs, Marine ScavengersFresh to Brackish Crabs

Related FAQs: Hermits 1, Hermit Crabs 2Hermit Crabs 3Hermit ID, Hermit Behavior, Hermit Compatibility, Hermit Selection, Hermit Systems, Hermit Feeding, Hermit Reproduction, Hermit Disease/Health, Land Hermit Crabs, Squat LobstersMicro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Hermit Crabs, Shrimps, Cleaner Shrimps, Banded Coral Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Anemone Eating ShrimpMarine ScavengersCrustacean Identification, Crustacean Selection, Crustacean Behavior, Crustacean Compatibility, Crustacean Systems, Crustacean Feeding, Crustacean Disease, Crustacean Reproduction,  
FAQs: By species: Calcinus laevimanus (Zebra, Left-handed Hermit), Clibanarius vittatus (a common Gulf of Mexico hermit crab), Dardanus megistos (Shell-Breaking Reef, White-spot, Fuzzy Leg Hermit Crab)P aguristes cadenati (Scarlet, Red-Legged), Petrochirus diogenes (a Giant Hermit Crab), & Anemone Hermits, Sponge/Staghorn/Coral house Hermits, Unknown/Wild-collected,

Grab bag of questions, hermit crab comp....   7/24/10
Ladies and Gents,
I have a few disparate questions that I wanted to pose (hopefully not impose upon) to the crew.
DT 52 gal FOWLR starting to turn reef (have GSP and two Zoa colonies) running for 2+yrs. PO4 0.25, NO3 0 (and all parent compounds 0) pH 8.25, Temp 76-78, SG 1.025.
All of that may not be pertinent, but I know how important a good history can be. We have a single blue-legged hermit crab (Hermes)
<I see this>
who has been in the tank for as long as it has been cycled. We recently bought (in March, tank was FOWLR) two more BLHC and initially added to the DT until we kept finding Hermes was pulling the smaller shell of
the crabs into his.
We were concerned for their safety so moved them to our 12 gal QT.
Months go by and we upgraded to a 14 gal Biocube as a new QT since it has better lighting than our previous 12gal. We were shutting down the 12, moved one of the small crabs to the 14 gal and the other to the DT. My fiancé found Hermes with the other blue-leg's shell pulled up to his and she said she saw him tear off one of the smaller crab's legs and eat it, or some such violence. Apparently he had been holding on to the shell and munching away (or trying to) for several hours when I got home. I separated the two shells and put Hermes into
quarantine. The small crab is still alive and was wandering around the DT the next morning.
I was under the impression that BLHC are reef safe and scavengers.
<Uh, no. Are not as opportunistic as most decapods and the false crabs called hermits, but can/do "cross the line" eating each other if the occasion presents itself>
We use a variety of foods (krill, Mysis, frozen carnivore cubes, pellets, flakes) so I assume that Hermes isn't underfed, but that is the only conclusion I can reach as for why he would turn cannibal. In the tank we also have 2 scarlet leg HC, 2 emeralds,
<... these as well. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM; read ahead of writing>
2 Turbo snails, 3 Astrea, 3-4 Cerith, and up to 6 Nassarius, but have never seen him attack any of those critters.
<They will in time; particularly if/when hungry>
The first attached picture is of him caught in the act. Should I retire him to a tank of his own or the sump I'm working on? He seems to have become a repeat offender.
<Up to you>
Second query involves a feather duster worm that we purchased a few months back that had a piece of what I believe is a Halimeda sp. attached to his tube.
Pics 2 and 3 are 10 July and 23 July and as you can see, the algae is growing well. I have been entertaining the idea of extricating the algae and placing it elsewhere in the tank or perhaps in a sump when I get one made. I was going to use a scalpel (11 or 15 blade) to cut close to the tube when I remove it. Would it be better to try and get as close to the tube as possible and run risk of cutting it or should I try and trim the algae at a branch?
<Either way... the Green algae is not deleterious...>
Fourth pic, base rock starting to grow diatoms and what appears to be a light coat of fur. Assumption that this is filamentous algae and nothing of concern as it will be overgrown later.
<Likely so>
Fifth pic, last question. This is the side of the new 14 gal QT. Has been set up and running for over a month, some trace NH4 on Seachem disc kit, but 0 NH3, 0 NO2, 0 NO3, pH 8.3, T 78, SG 1.024.
Inhabitants are one BLHC from before, a peppermint shrimp that we added to combat some Aiptasia inherited on LR, a brittle star (oddly enough, with 6 legs...perhaps asexual repro?)
<Mmm, there are Ophiuroids with six legs>
a couple of amphipods, spionid worms on LR, Red Gracilaria, and these wormesque creatures attached to the tank glass. Any idea what they are?
<Likely some small Polychaete species. I wouldn't be concerned re>
I imagine they are not going to pose a threat and will likely go away before long.
<Well put>
Guess it was more curiosity than anything else.
Last pic is of brittle star before he was moved to other tank. The three smaller legs are now much larger. Sorry for being so wordy and thank you for your time.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Hermit Crabs/Feeding 7/14/10
I have 5 small blue legged hermit crabs. Can I feed them Wardley Algae tablets as food.
<Sure, will eat most anything.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Blue Legged Hermit Crab/Compatibility 3/4/09 As always, thanks for the wonderful site! <You're welcome.> I have a quick question. Can blue legged hermit crabs ever pose a danger to SPS corals? <No, is one of the few "reef safe" hermit crabs and feeds primarily on algae.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jan <<RMF would NOT say that any Hermit would never pose such a danger... even just walking on corals can be harmful>>
Blue Legged Hermit Crab/Compatibility 3/4/09
Bob, In regards to <<RMF would NOT say that any Hermit would never pose such a danger... even just walking on corals can be harmful>> Mmm, we need to change the picture caption on Hermit Crabs. I have checked here for any possible problems with this crab and I read; "Clibanarius tricolor, the Blue-Legged Hermit Crab. To less than an inch in length. One of a few "reef-safe" Hermits that stay small and almost exclusively feed on algae (and Cyanobacteria!). Good for aiding in aerating the substrate as well. Aquarium photo." James <What's that saying James? "Never say never". See above... "... almost exclusively..." B>
Re: Blue Legged Hermit Crab/Compatibility 3/4/09
Ahh, so right. James <I do hope you like to drink biers... at the upcoming conf.! B> 

Blue legged hermits. alone   7/14/08 Greetings! <Hello! Benjamin here.> I have Googled forever and I can't find a situation like mine.... Through the years I have had experience adopting (or inheriting) a variety of unwanted, often aged, pets via friends of friends of friends. This has slowed greatly recently due to a family circumstance, but now I have to find out how to care for three blue legged hermits. I am knowledgeable about land hermit crabs, but not marine so I searched the net. I put the blue legs into a one gallon glass aquarium with instant ocean, calcium sand and, on one end, some gravel. According to the hydrometer everything is good (a miracle because I have no experience with saltwater tanks). I have a Whisper power filter running in the tank (the kind that makes a "waterfall") and it is going at a low setting. I have fed the blue legs bottom feeder food, crab bites, algae wafers and some vegetable matter. I have kept them a couple months in this manner and they are active and have good appetites. Things like the hydrometer, calcium sand, etc., I bought just to take care of these guys, but now I wonder if they can thrive long term without other creatures to clean up after and no live rock, etc. I enjoy caring for them and learning and I want to keep them. I am afraid even if a LFS would take them from me they might simply dispose of them. I know they are "just crabs" but can you tell me if I am on the right track? I have heard about "shrimp only" fresh water tanks, but a "crab only" saltwater tank? <Sounds like you've given them everything they need to survive. Do be advised it is very hard to truly emulate the environment of any captive creature, but if you wanted to give a more complete environment I'm sure a large reef aquarium would be appreciated by these crustaceans- and probably you too!- though not necessary. If all you want to do is house these crabs to the end of their days, your 'crab only' tank should be just fine.> You are an awesome resource! <Thanks, we appreciate it.> Thank you! <Welcome, Benjamin>
Re: Blue legged hermits alone? - 7/14/08   7/23/08
Thank you for the fast and helpful answer. My mistake, I have a two and a half gallon aquarium, not a one gallon. I have a hex tank that is at least 5 gallons that I could put them into, but I don't know if they would like water that deep. <Depth really doesn't help much...but pile some live rock in there, and you've got some very happy crabs- and have begun down the path to a reef aquarium!> The three Blue Legs are active and one molted a couple weeks ago. <Sounds like they're healthy. Make sure you have a few extra shells for them to move in to as they grow, and that they get plenty of proteinaceous foods> Thanks again! <No problem! Benjamin>

Hi everyone, I have a question about hermit crabs and refugiums  10/20/07 Hi Everyone, <Ed> You've all been a great help in resources on the web! I have a 20L with a 10 gallon refugium. The refugium is lit with two daylight 100w bulbs as well as 18w actinic and 18w 10,000k PCs. Currently, I have an arrow crab, <Keep your eye on this... become predaceous> 4 blue hermit crabs, as well as Chaetomorpha, and Phaeophyta (brown macroalgae). My question is, will the crabs (arrow and blue) be detrimental to my refugium? <Mmm, yes, in terms of eating organisms that should not be...> I ask this because I have recently decided that I would like to use the refugium to culture amphipods and copepods that are already growing within the tank. Will they pick them all out to extinction? <Too likely yes> Also, as a side question, what are your thoughts for Phaeophyta as a macroalgae for refugiums? <Can work... some species and types of systems better than others. Many colder water rigs especially. Need to pay attention to regular iodine/ate supplementation> Are they as bad as or better than Caulerpa? <Mmm, no> I know that the site does not recommend Caulerpa in the refugium, but could not find any info about Phaeophyta. <Is a huge group/Division of mainly macro-algae... Not well investigated for ornamental use as yet> Actually, I have another question. Too bad you all don't get paid for the number of questions we aquarists love to ask. <Would be a different venue if so... Not of my desire, design> I do have corals in the main take. I would like to know if it is possible to use the refugium to grow up zooplankton or phytoplankton? Is this possible and is it difficult? <Can be... not difficult; though more specialized gear would be better... particularly for the phytoplankton. You might benefit from searching out, reading Frank Hoff's work> Thanks Ed <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Overstocking, Hermit Crab eating snails - 2/26/07 <Hi Tracy, Brenda Here tonight.> Thank you for your great articles. <Your welcome.> We have a 33 gallon tank that is about 1yr running now. We started with live sand and began adding live rock and snails 1 month later.  After 6 months we were up to 70 lbs live rock, 3 turbo snails 15 blue leg hermits <You have too many crabs.  I recommend one per 10 gallon or less.> 6 Margarite snails, 1 sally light foot 1 cleaner shrimp, lots of little feather dusters on live rock, I have seen some bristle worms too, 1 blenny, 2 tiny maroon clowns and a yellow tang, 1 very small anemone its white and about 1/4 of an inch big. <1/4" anemone?  Pest anemone?  Your tank is much too small for a tang.> There is coralline growing and we have star polyps. All was well for a few months then the tang died. We checked the water (prior to this we change 10% every 2 wks) and did a 50% change the ph was 8.2 and nitrate 10 Two days later we did another water change. The salinity is kept at 1.023. The place where we get our supplies checks the other levels for us and said they were good. <Nitrates at 10 is not good, need to be zero.  I suggest purchasing your own test kits and learning to test all of your water parameters.  What will you do at midnight when you need to know your water parameters?> After the tang died the tank became over run with red slime algae and green hair algae. <Have you checked for phosphates?> We were able to combat the red algae but the green was unreal. We had to remove the fish to a holding tank and clean the algae of the live rock you couldn't see any live rock the algae was so bad. We scrubbed off the algae under RO water. Everything seemed nice and clean we tested the water, the store said all looked good the nitrate still at 10 though. <The LFS is not doing you any favors by telling you that your water is good when nitrates are above zero.> We put the fish back in and purchased a zebra turbo snail and 5 Nassarius snails and a conch snail and a peppermint cleaner shrimp. That was about 1 month ago 1 week ago we got a pink tipped anemone for the clowns who have out grown the little tiny one (sorry don't know what kind it is) the pink tipped hasn't quite settled yet still on the move some how I think it is running away from the clown that wont leave it for a second it actually lies down on its side wrapped in the tentacles of the anemone. <Buying any tank mate and not knowing the species is a bad idea.  Your salinity is too low for an anemone.  It should be 1.026.  You have two anemones, and I have no idea what kind.  You won't be able to successfully keep two species of anemones in a 33 gallon tank.  A 33 gallon tank is border line for even one anemone, unless you are experienced with keeping anemones.  Your tank is overstocked, and I believe you will continue to have problems.  The anemone has not settled because it is unhappy with its environment.> Now 3 snails are dead, one of the hermit crabs is now very huge could he be eating them? <You bet it can!> He moved into a very large shell and looks to be about 2 1/2 inch by 1 inch big.  Do you think the anemone has something to do with it? <Nope!> Thank you Tracy <You're Welcome.  Please research all of your livestock and learn their requirements and compatibility with others before you buy.  Good luck with your tank.  Brenda> Red Serpent <Brittle> Star Compatibility with Orange Legged <Not Reef Safe> Hermit Crab  1/29/07 Hi guys and gals, <Hello Gordon, thanks for the inclusion! Mich with you this evening.>      I bought a perfect looking red serpent star yesterday (about 6 inch diameter) from the LFS.   <I presume you mean a Red Brittle Star (Ophioderma squamosissimum).>   I acclimatized it over a few hours and then released it into my 55 gallon (fish and live rock with a couple of mushrooms and feather dusters and many invertebrates -- cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, banded coral shrimp, Nassarius/turbo/Trochus/zebra snails, a number of very small (3/8 inch) orangey stars, and a variety of hermit crabs).  Almost immediately after the red serpent star was released into the tank, the largest of the hermit crabs (an orange legged fellow about the size of a ping pong ball or golf ball) made a beeline for the star and pounced on him, apparently trying to rip chunks off the poor star.   <Yikes!  That is a very big and most likely not reef safe hermit you have there!> I'm not sure, but I think perhaps the star exuded some kind of chemical defense, because the crab ended up with a gooey substance adhered to most of his legs and claws.  I watched the duel for about a minute, to see if perhaps the crab would beat a retreat.  The star had wrapped his legs all around the crab and his adopted shell, apparently in an effort to fend the crab off.  Not wanting any further harm to come to my new friend the serpent star, I separated the two combatants and sequestered the crab to a jail cell.  The LFS of course had assured me that there would be no compatibility issues.   <Most likely assumed the hermits you had were of a reef safe variety.> I have Googled the topic and searched WWM for similar queries for the past couple of hours but haven't found any definitive answers.  I guess my question is -- Can this crab and this star live together peacefully or will the crab continue to harass and pick on star until he eventually (or quickly!) succumbs?   <Hmm, when I initially read this I missed the size of the hermit crab, this is a big crab and I suspect that it is not reef safe.  Most larger hermit crabs will prey on smaller, and sometimes larger animals.  I do not think your other tank residents are safe in the presence of this hermit.  Do you have a refugium where he might reside?  I think it may be time to find your hermit a new home.> And will my other tank inhabitants (community fish, a goby and the invertebrates mentioned above) be safe and compatible with the serpent star? <Should be with the star, but I question the safety of all with this hermit.>   Any advice would be much appreciated!  Thank you for your response. <Welcome!  -Mich>   Gordon

Clibanarius tricolor biotype  1/14/07 Hello Robert, <Neale> I can probably rustle up a few pictures. There are also some useful   sources on Wikipedia, which we used in my book (which I finally have   a preview copy of, by the way). So there's other options, too. <Have the ones you sent along, thanks. Will post with credit to you> Since you're a marine guy, perhaps you'll know whether the blue-leg hermit sold in the UK (Clibanarius tricolor) is the same as the one in the US. I've mentioned it in the article because it does well down to SG 1.010. I assume it's a rocky shore or estuarine species that gets collected as a cheap reef critter. But I don't know anything specific about its ecology. Can you enlighten? <I do think this is the same animal/species... and yes to its euryhaline tolerance> Cheers, Neale <BobF, out in HI... trying to catch up!>

Hermits safe with Live Rock? 10/24/06 Just a quick question, I found only bits and pieces of this topic answered throughout the site... I have 50 lbs Fiji LR from Drs. Foster and Smith (really nice stuff by the way, minimal die-off after a good scrubbing)  This was added to a tank that already had 7 blue-legged hermits in it. I'm a bit concerned because the crabs seem to just graze off the rock, picking everything out of the tiniest nooks and crannies. Should I be concerned about the crabs overgrazing the LR? Thanks Again! Bryan <This should be fine, the hermits should not be able to significantly effect the amount of life on this amount of LR.> <<RMF disagrees... a matter of how much life, how much LR, how many and size, species of Hermits... can/do denude at times.>> <Chris>

Faviid eating hermit crab! LPS with a big appetite 3/16/02 Woke up this morning and found that my Faviid had found some dinner. Cant believe that there mouth can open so wide. There goes one of my blue legged crabs. <yikes... cool picture though. Shawn... I'd like to use this picture with your permission in a future presentation or article perhaps. If you would be willing to give your permission, could I trouble you to send the original (full-sized) image to me at readingtrees@yahoo.com and copy it to here as well in case Bob would like to post/use it? If that suits you, please also include your full name as you would like to have it cited for credit (and an address to mail any possible printed copy to). No worries if you cannot share it, my friend. A very cool shot... indeed large zooplankton <G>. Expensive too if it becomes a habit... Ha! Best regards, Anthony>

Little Blue I really enjoy your web site and find it very useful.
<As do I! Ryan helping out today!> Can you house blue legged hermit crabs with red scarlet hermits? I have a 55 gallon reef tank with 75lbs of live rock. The store manager at the place I buy my products says one will eat the other. Is this true? <It's not unheard of, especially when competition for shells is fierce or the scarlet is much bigger.  Many crabs are omnivores in the true sense- they'll eat anything.  Could really go either way. Good luck-Ryan>

Hermit crabs picking at live coral Hi, I really appreciate all the information I get from your site.   <Thank you for sharing your part today.> I was searching on the necessity of hermit crabs and couldn't find an answer to my question hence this email.  I traded in my 40 gallon tank for a 25 gallon high because I move around at least 3 times a year and wanted something easier and cheaper to maintain.   <Cheaper? Yes, Easier? Not sure about that one as the greater the volume in a system, the greater the stability.> I took my 30 blue legged hermit crabs in as well as all my fish except for the two percula clowns and my fire shrimp.  I have not had any success in keeping my corals alive until I got rid of the hermit crabs, they kept crawling on and picking at them.  I am maintaining a reef tank now and want to add a lot more corals.    <Be careful how you define 'a lot' as with fish, corals need room to grow and feed without having chemical warfare with each other. Do research the different types of corals you are thinking about so you can avoid these problems and choose tankmates that will co-exist with each other.> My question is, am I required to have hermit crabs to control the hair and other algae on the rocks? <Certainly not. Water quality is number one in nuisance algae control. Regular weekly or twice weekly water changes will do wonders. Personally, I don't like the hermits and lean more to a diverse combination of snails. Astrea, Cerith, Trochus, Turbo and Nassarius> I don't think I should get another tang because my tank is too small for one.   <Good call, you don't want fish that are much more than 3-4" when adult. With the 25 I don't think you want more than one more.> What would you suggest? <As per above, Don> Please help!

The mysterious hermit crabs . . . Bob, I enjoy your daily FAQ on the FFExpress site - Thanks for helping us "newbies" out. :) Do you have any idea how long a hermit crab will live and how big it will get? I have 2 - a blue legged and a tan one (it has the big left claw). The blue legged crab hasn't grown much, but the tan one has outgrown 3 shells in 6 months. At that rate he will outgrow my 30 gal. tank quickly. Also - should I feed these crabs or let them find their own food? I have been feeding the tan one frozen brine shrimp and I'm thinking that the reason it's grown so much. Thanks, Brandon >> Thank you for writing. Some smaller species of Hermits only live a year or so... some of the humongous ones several years... And yes, I mean no to feeding yours directly. Don't encourage their growth... they'll live longer, healthier lives by "just" scavenging... and probably be much less inclined to "get into trouble" nibbling away at sessile livestock and coralline algae... Bob Fenner

I am just getting started I am just starting out in the reef aquarium game and I hope you may have suggestions on the clean up crew. How many Florida snail per gallon of water? How many blue leg Hermit crabs per gallon? Can you have to many of either? I have a good protein skimmer, yet I want to ensure a clean tank. Also, is there a rule of thumb when it comes to number of fish per gallon, or inches of fish per gallon, of water. Thank you, Mike E >> Don't know that I'm a good candidate for asking this question... Am not as big a fan of these organisms for the intended purpose... as many, most other folks. For me, one or two per real gallon (take out displacement by other materials in the tank) is the most I would place... Not to be mysterious, or appear that way, my misgivings about snails, hermits have to do with their utility, their propensity to "snack" on other desired livestock, their roles as transmitters of disease and pest organisms, their mysterious death/pollution incidences... And the better choice of other organisms as helpers, proper set-up and maintenance... If a tank is big enough... there are fishes, other invertebrates that are more appropriate for the same "jobs" people intend for snails, hermits. Bob Fenner

Clean up crew Hi Bob, Hope your morning has been good so far. System recap: 90gal, 30gal sump, Turboflotor 1000 and Aqua-C EV90 (one of these will be going to my parents' tank soon), 90lbs LR, 80lbs cc, Dolphin 800 return pump, Rio800 for add'l' circulation, 210watts pc. Well, my water parameters as of yesterday: 0 ammonia and nitrite, 10ppm nitrate, 0.4ppm phosphate, ph 8.3, temp 82F, salinity 1.022, alk 2.2, and calcium 300ppm (will increase dosage of 2 Lil' Fishies C-balance). With those readings, less skimmate, and appearance of green hair algae, I think my rock is cycled and I would like to add my clean up crew (to ASSIST in MY periodic stirring/maintenance)!!! :-)  <And indirectly to bring down that phosphate...> I was going to start with a small Kole tang, and a dozen snails and hermits.  <Good choices> I didn't want to add anything close to the amount they offer in the standard clean up crew packages. I know you don't care for hermits much as cleaners, but of the red, blue, left-handed, etc., which would be the safest in a reef environment (stays small, not tooooo opportunistic/predacious)?  <The "blue": Clibanarius tricolor... image, more on the WWM site under Hermit Crabs.> I kinda like the look of hermits crawling around. I also wanted to add a sand sifting star (not brittle stars). I think I've seen them offered as "White Sand Stars", and they were supposedly much safer than other stars. Do you know the "correct" name for these and if they truly are safer?  <Yes, Archaster typicus. Much safer: http://wetwebmedia.com/seastars.htm> Do you acclimate the hermits/snails/stars the same as fish (dip/quarantine)? I know you have that on your site somewhere, but I couldn't find it (sooo much info available). <Should come up with the Google search tool... I don't dip these or recommend same. Do quarantine ones that look like they "may not make it"> Oh one more, I have a bunch of fuzzy, copper colored algae on my rocks. I couldn't remember if this was transient or if it was indicative of something I needed to change in my water/system? <Transient... with unfolding (aka evolution) of your system, it too will pass> If you don't feel like repeating yourself today, the appropriate links will do! :-) Thanks again for all the help. Hope my long email was more info than babble. Khoi <No worries. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clean up crew
Hi Bob, <Should come up with the Google search tool...> Hmmm, that would be a good idea! :-) No, it should read: "You should USE the Google search tool..." Yeah, I gotta start making use of the available tools! It's just that I've read through the site so many times, I think I know where all the info I need is... not! You truly provide a ton of info. Thanks for the answers anyway! <Hmm, when do you want to give answering these queries a go? You're about due. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clean up crew (and WWM help)
Hi Bob, That's very nice of you, but I don't consider myself in the same league as either you or Zo when it comes to knowledge of aquarium husbandry (Well, of course not! You've been in this industry for over 30+ years!?). The last thing I would want to do is to give someone bad advice and cause them or their fishy friends any suffering. That said, I'd love to give back to the hobby and assist you if I can. Let me know how I can help. Khoi <You do help my friend, and know perhaps much more than you're aware. It is not necessary to be knowledgeable about everything to be of service. As important as useful input is compassion (Latin: "to bear pain with"), apathy/empathy, a genuine desire to assist others. There are reference works, others that can/should be referred to. Consider this. Bob Fenner> Re: Clean up crew (and WWM help) Good morning Bob, Ahhhh, I see you're out diving and Zo is manning the boards! OK, if I can help out you and Zo with some of these questions, I'd be willing to give it a try. Khoi <Outstanding. Will email him this missal. Bob Fenner>

Re: crabs & snails The water seems to be starting to cloud again. I was wondering if this could indeed be a population of polychaete worms as you suggested? <Possibly> and if so, how to diminish them? <Don't be overly concerned... they too shall pass in time... by predation, outcompetition for food, space...> Also, I added 100 tiny blue leg hermit crabs and 50 grazing snails to keep down the algae. (tank is 150 gallons) Could the cloudiness be attributed to increasing the bio load too quickly? <Yes> Also, are these crabs and snails herbivores? or will they need to eat more than algae? <Possibly... please try to identify them to species. Some reference materials posted on WetWebMedia.com> I love these little guys and I want to see them thrive. Thanks so much for your time. -Pat <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Hermit Crabs & Behavior (looking for a new shell or Amore?) Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Quick scenario and question about Hermit Crabs. I currently have a system set up with LR, few fish, Xenia, Snails, & Hermits. I stocked the tank with just 12 Blue Legged Hermits (look identical to and I believe are Clibanarius tricolor) and 6 Left Handed Hermits (Calcinus laevimanus). Today, I noticed that one of the larger BL Hermits was literally attaching itself to another BL Hermit (this one was quite a bit smaller). It was moving its front legs and accessory feeding appendages quite a lot, but it did not appear to be outright trying to extract the smaller BL Hermit. I watched for a while, and another BL Hermit came along and was also watching. The third BL Hermit climbed onto the larger specimen, and finally I broke this up to see what would happen. The smaller BL Hermit that was being 'hassled' was then put at the other end of the tank. About four hours later, the same BL Hermit had found the smaller one - and was performing the same behavior! The same third BL Hermit found them again, and then, one by one, more BL Hermits joined until there were six all in one front corner of the tank. I thought maybe they were hungry and trying to eat the smaller BL Hermit (although, not that small), so I went against my judgment and got some frozen Mysis shrimp. However, when I returned to put it into the tank, the 'party' had somewhat broken up. I fed them anyway, and all seem to have stuck around to eat except the BL Hermit that was the focus of attention. Finally to my question: am I looking at hungry crabs, or some attempt at mating? Good Health, Ryland <hmmm... that depends...were you playing any Barry White or Luther Vandross music at the time? Er,... never mind. The behavior that you have described is not so specific as to indicate mating. They could have just as easily been trying to commandeer a shell...cheeky little monkeys, they do that all the time. When one is about to outgrow it's shell, it gets quite frisky and even tries on smaller shells (I suppose it can't tell until it puts it on!). With hermit crabs of all kinds, it is very important to always have extra and larger shells on hand. Do find and put some in...I wont be surprised if you see a shell change within a week. Do let us know. Kind regards, Anthony>

Turbo snail vs. hermit crab Hello! <Hi-ho!> I'm going to my LFS tomorrow to get some more snails to help with some algae cleaning, and I was reading some aquarium sites that said blue-legged hermit crabs (of which I have 3) can kill and eat some snails.  <very unlikely... usually it is another species in the same shell and mistaken... read about it often in the archives if I recall correctly> I had added the 3 hermit crabs along with 3 turbo snails over 5 months ago. Two of the turbo snails inexplicably "disappeared" shortly after...I assume the crabs ate them since now the largest crab is living in a snail shell :) <could have scavenged them just the same> My question is: Can I do anything to "protect" the new snails I'll be getting?  <sure... examine them closely to screen for green/brown crab species in the same shells... also provide extra and larger shells for them to grow into to prevent muggings> I'm assuming the larger the snail, the less likely to be eaten?  <nope> I'll probably get turbo snails (b/c that's what the LFS usually has) but would you recommend any other species for general algae cleanup? <Astrea are better at brown algae (diatoms) while Turban sp eat green micro well> Thanks! ---Stella <quite welcome. Anthony>

Hermit Crab Killer?? Hi Everyone at WWM. <howdy partner> Thanks for all the great info on your site. It's been extremely helpful. <pleased and our pleasure!> Yesterday I discovered the remains of one of my smaller blue legged hermit crab. The tail end of his body had been removed. My question is this, who is capable of doing this? Here's my stock list in my 50 gallon; 2 clowns, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 emerald crab (1 inch), 1 unidentified hitchhiker crab, body size about the size of a penny, now 11 blue hermits, some two to three times bigger than the one that got eaten, 1 brownish red hermit, and 8 turbo snails. The unidentified crab is brownish red, very fast, very shy and hides in my live rock.  <the other hermit crab species and especially the unidentified crab species are strong candidates. But even a lack of extra shells in the tank would make like species competitive candidates as well. Most crabs are opportunistic omnivores... they are not above cannibalism> All I've ever seen him eating is algae, any ideas? Should I remove the crab regardless if it was not the culprit? <if you ever want to keep soft invertebrates in this tank, it would be best to remove the unknown crab to a fish only system... even then it like most crabs may catch and kill slow fish> Thanks Barry
<best regards, Anthony>

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