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FAQs about Hermit Crabs: Dardanus megistos, White-spot, Fuzzy (Red) 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 tricolor (Blue-Legs), Clibanarius vittatus (a common Gulf of Mexico hermit crab), Paguristes cadenati (Scarlet, Red-Legged), Petrochirus diogenes (a Giant Hermit Crab), & Anemone Hermits, Sponge/Staghorn/Coral house Hermits, Unknown/Wild-collected,

Hairy Yellow Hermit Crab, Aniculus Maximus, Dardanus megistos   11/13/10
<Hi there>
I have been all round the internet and reading my assorted crustacean books and have not been able to find anything but ominous warnings about keeping Aniculus Maximus in a tank. I have a 55 gallon tank with two coral banded shrimp and a two claw cave shrimp. I have a low lying rock work a 4 inch sand bed a wet dry trickle filter and the necessary aeration equipment. My step father is a big diver and occasionally offers me Aniculus Maximus and I have a excellent LFS that specializes in marine live stock within a reasonable distance of my home that on occasion stocks these guys. Would it be feasible to keep Aniculus Maximus in my current set up and if not Dardanus Magisto?
<Both these hermits are very opportunistic omnivores... if either can "catch" the shrimps, they will be consumed. Bob Fenner>
Thanks in advance!
Re: Hairy Yellow Hermit Crab, Aniculus Maximus, Dardanus Megistos  11/14/10

Thanks so much! I have a smaller tank I could move my CBS and two claw cave shrimp to so I think if I do purchase a Aniculus Maximus or Dardanus Megistos that will most likely be the course of action.
<These are really neat animals... BobF>

Dardanus megistos, beh.    9/27/10
I acquired a Dardanus megistos hermit crab about a month ago and I am keeping it in a twenty gallon aquarium with Fluval canister filtration.
It was doing well and growing quite rapidly. It has changed shells three times already. About three days ago it took up a spot against the rear wall of the tank. It has half buried itself in the sand and just stays there, not coming out to search for food, as it used to do all the time. Is this normal behavior?
<Can be, your crab may not be hungry, may be getting ready to molt. This link will lead you to more information on Hermit Crabs.
I had a Dardanus about ten years ago and cared for it until it died about a year later. It was quite huge when it died. As far as I can remember that crab never did what this one is doing.
Thanks for any info on this situation.

Dardanus megistos, shopping in Riverside, CA...  -- 4/11/10
Years ago I bought a small Dardanus and was not familiar with the species. Well, it grew and grew and gave me many hours of pleasure watching its antics. Hermie lived for about a year and died quite huge. I would now like to obtain another Dardanus , but to obtain one on the Internet means paying about four times the price of the crab in overnight shipping charges. Not a smart investment.
I live out in the Riverside, California boondocks, Homeland, California, which is between Perris and Hemet, where an adequate tropical fish store does not exist, or, if it does, I cannot find it. There used to be three in my vicinity, but all three have gone out of business.
Where, in my area, can I obtain a Dardanus , without driving fifty miles?
<I do not know... Do you have any scheduled trips into the greater Los Angeles area? There are many shops there that stock various Hermit Crab species... I would "let my fingers do the walking", i.e., call in the ones you intend to visit ahead of time, to see if they have one of these "bruisers" in stock. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dardanus   -- 4/11/10
Thanks for the advice Bob, but wouldn't a trip into the greater Los Angeles area be that fifty miles I'm trying to avoid?
<Perhaps Craig's List? B>

Red Hairy Legged Hermit in Refugium?   3/27/10
<Hello Heather>
I have a giant red hairy legged hermit, about the size of a closed fist of a young adult (not a full grown man) including the shell.
<Yikes! A real pincher!>
I am looking for someone to adopt him as I can no longer take care of two tanks. There is someone interested in my crab and wants to put it in a 75g refugium. With 20-25g reserved for the skimmer, my crab would have approximately a 50g space with LR. Right now he's in a 30g. I've read that some inhabitants are risky for a refugium. Would this be a bad new home for him?
<Very likely a good home... it may eat some of the inhabitants, but will not consume all>
Shelburne, VT
<Oh, the town of my U.S. publisher. Bob Fenner>

Fuzzy Hermit Help... What is it in creation myths seems to be a common preeminent activity?  8/26/2009
Hello, and thank you for providing such a great resource!
<Howdy and welcome>
I have one of those hermits that you warn everybody about (pictured at http://i965.photobucket.com/albums/ae139/Kidj57/Representin.jpg ): it's large (grown since photograph), fuzzy, and has large pincher for crushing.
<Ah yes>
While I have found a lot of warnings about what they will eat/destroy, I have yet to find any suggestions of what I can keep in the tank with them.
<Mmm, see WWM re... Basses, Lionfishes et al. smart/aware animals that won't eat, be eaten...>
Currently, I have a yellow tang, true percula clown, blue-headed wrasse, and blue demon damsel and the hermit has not attacked any of them nor did he attack my sea hare before it died.
My questions: (1) Any ideas what species of crab this is?
<Sure; read here:
a clue... the name starts with a "D". See how much fun this is?>
When I purchased from my local fish store, it was labeled as a "Fuzzy Legged Hermit", but nothing with that name comes up anywhere on the internet. (2) What is the typical habitat of a hermit of this type; obviously, there must be some balance between its eating of "everything" and the rest of its co-inhabitants' survival, no?
<Oh... now that you know the "real" (scientific) name, you can look all this up>
(3) I am considering placing him in a predatory tank consisting of a coral cat shark, a zebra eel, and various sea urchin; would this be a good plan?
Are there other creatures that could be safely added to this type of environment?
<Read on!>
My apologies if this question is far too broad or common, but I was hoping for some species specific questions where as I have been reading a lot of "General Hermit Crab Behavior" articles.
Thank you for your time, patience, and assistance.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

... Dardanus... megistos likely

Dardanus megistos Lifespan - 3/5/08 <Hi Andrew> Any idea what the lifespan is for Dardanus megistos? <Hmmm, good question. I can't find an exact number for this species, but my guess would be somewhere in the range of 2-4 years depending on whether it's a male or female. It seems that male hermits usually live a bit longer than females. The range I've seen for hermits in general (in the wild), has been anywhere from around 18 months to 10 years for marine hermits and up to 30 for land hermits.> Thanks Andrew <You're very welcome. I'm sorry I couldn't give you an exact answer! -Lynn>

Re: Dardanus megistos Lifespan - 3/5/08 Lynn, <Hi Andrew.> Thanks for the response. <You're most welcome.> I have had mine since early 2003 so it is already 5yrs old. <Neat, especially considering that we don't know how old it was when you got it!> I don't know if it's male or female. <That's understandable. These hermits don't have any distinguishable differences (externally) between male and female.> Andrew <Thanks for sharing. Take care, -Lynn>

Dardanus megistos question... Do NOT release tropicals to the wild!   11/21/07 Hi Crew! First off, your website has provided me with TONS of helpful information! Thank you! Now, on to my question. My husband (who doesn't know too much about saltwater endeavors) thought it would be nice to get me a crab for my 65 gal reef tank. Nice thought... however he ended up getting me a Dardanus megistos! Not reef safe... <Yikes, no> The store he got the little guy from won't take him back, and I'm kind of stuck with him for now. My question is this: We are going to be visiting the California coast and I thought maybe we could 'free' the crab while were there. <Please... Do NOT do this. Take it to a LFS and give it to them to place in a tropical setting> Will this crab survive in the chilly waters of the Pacific? <No... and it may well harbor some microscopic "issue"... that you do NOT want to be party to having released/distributed> I know it comes from warmer waters, but is this a far stretch? Thanks for any advice! -Chris <Again, my standard input here re such introductions of non-indigenous species: Do NOT release any non-native organism to a habitat where it can get loose, bring or cause trouble. PLEASE! Bob Fenner>

ID of Hermit needed please:  Dardanus megistos   3/31/07 Hi, <Hi Wikus, Mich here.> Could you positively ID this crab for me please? I bought it a Clibanarius tricolor, but to be honest, it does not look like the pics I have seen. <Yeah... no, definitely not a Clibanarius tricolor.  Looks like a Dardanus megistos, which is not reef safe, is highly aggressive and predatory and can get up to 11.7 inches!!!   Many thanks
<Welcome!  Mich>

Hermit Crabs  10/2/05 Hi, <Hi, Rich.> I have a couple of Dardanus megistos in my fish only system. This morning I noticed that one of them must have had a confrontation last night and had lost it's large claw (not to be confused with the normal shedding of it's shell). Will it grow back? <Yes it will grow back; crustaceans have amazing regenerative abilities. It will take a few consecutive and successful molts but I would not expect any long-term harm from this.> Thanks, Rich <No problem, Adam J.>

Dardanus megistos question 7/23/04 I have a large crab (carries a 6 inch shell) that is starting to worry me.  He is in a 20L tank all by himself.  Normally he becomes sluggish and stops eating for a week before he molts and then returns to his normal activities and eating patterns after his molt.  It has been a little over 2 weeks now since he last ate.  He is sluggish and I keep waiting for him to molt.........how long can a molting process/no eating take?  Is there anything I can do to help him?  There is live rock in his tank and the water parameters are all good.......Thanks for your help........ Janey <Janey, I suspect one of two things... Such a large crab requires a lot of food.  Either it isn't getting enough, it is getting enough but (especially considering the relatively small tank) water quality is poor.  I would recommend at least 20% water changes monthly as a minimum and be sure that your crab is getting enough food with plenty of variety.  Best Regards!  Adam>

Sick marine hermit crab- 6/4/03 Hello Almighty fish-helpers, <Howdy!> I have a common Hermit Crab (yep, the red hairy leg variety).  He (or she?) <depends on how hairy <G>> has been in the family for about 8 months. Up until recently he's been happy in his 75g saltwater fish-only tank. He seems to rule the roost. <they can be rowdy indeed> I've always provided him new shells to check out and he moves into one now and then. The last week he's been hanging out in the corner, not moving much and not as eager to get around the tank.  He eats much less and seems to have the blues. Any thought? Thanks, Steve HJ <perhaps lack of iodine for proper ecdysis/molting. Iodine is critical for it, and yet is only good in solution for hours/days (part of the reason for recommending small weekly water changes instead of monthly or longer). If the tank gets not iodine/reef supplements and/or has been light on water changes, the little bugger could be starving for iodine. When in doubt, do a water change... 25-50% to see if that stimulates it. Also test your water chemistry: has pH strayed low (below 8.3?), is ALK flat (below 8 dKH), etc. Best regards, Anthony>

-"Hairy" hermit crabs- I just purchased two medium sized (approx 3" shells) "hairy crabs" from my favorite fish store.  These crabs wear shells on their backs like the hermit crab, but the pet store called them "hairy crabs". <Oh, they're hermits all right. Very aggressive though!> I have looked at everything I can find on the internet pertaining to these crabs to no avail. <Likely Dardanus megistos, but impossible to say w/out a picture.> Since I rely on info I obtain from the internet to learn about new purchases I am stumped  by the lack of info on my crabs. <This is one of those times when doing research before your purchase would have been a great idea!> I placed one crab in my 55g reef tank with LR and one coral.  It also has a large yellow tang, 7 assorted damsels, a brittle star and a goby.  Is the crab a danger to any of these already established animals. <To the smaller ones, yes.> The other crab went into a 75g tank with a blue tang (approx 8") and a carpet anemone. <Should be fine in there but the blue tang is much to large for a 75. Please find at least a 6' long home for it, it's a very large fish with large swimming requirements.> I am just stocking this tank as it's only 3 months old.  If these crabs are aggressive I will definitely take them back to the store and get something more compatible for my tanks. <You may be better off bringing them back.> Also since they seem to be of the hermit family should I keep several larger shells available for them to use as homes. <Yes> Thanks for all the info your website brings to those of us who are less than marine biologists. <You're very welcome, but that would include me as well! -Kevin> Janie

- Legless Hermit - My Dardanus megistos lost all its legs, it can't walk. I have bin trying to feed it by hand. It's about 1 1/2 years old. What should I do?
<You've probably done all that can be done, and I'd continue doing this as long as is practical for you - the legs will likely grow back after a couple of molts. Cheers, J -- >

Hermit crab Hello again, As usual, thanks for all the answers you have given. My questions this time relate to hermit crabs. Are the Dardanus megistos (White Spotted) crabs reef safe? <Not IMO... get too big, hungry for my taste, worry coefficients...> You mentioned on http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hermitcrabs.htm that these are "reef hermit crabs". I ask this because the two I "had" sifted the substrate really well. I sold them off thinking I was better off with scarlet crabs. If they are reef safe, would they prey on the scarlet crabs? <You're better to have done what you did (is this English? Anglish?)... I would have traded the Dardanus in as well... they may well have sifted your Scarlets.> Thanks again. Aldrin <Be talking my friend. Bob Fenner>

Hermits, low spg, apparent aggression  Bob, Can low salinity precipitate vicious behavior in inverts?  <Hmm, can? Yes> One of the red reef hermits viciously pursued, attacked, and killed another one over the course of a day. He started by attacking him while he was in his shell and then after the little guy ran naked around the tank, he ripped a leg off. Last night the little guy was clinging to a rock and this morning I found him eviscerated on the ground. We lowered the salinity the day before from 1.020 to 1.019. Should we revamp our hospital tank (remove the copper) and put the inverts in there?  <I would not... Know that many hermits are "quite opportunistic" and given any shortage of food, shells to trade into (you should have some spares in the system...) will "go after one another"... even so-called "vegetarian" or "mainly greenery-eating" species...> We have 2 large red hermits and 2 cleaner shrimp left now? Or is that red hermit trouble and we should trade him in because he's got a destructive personality? <Maybe... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Allyson

Crabs and Triggers I hope you can help. I would like to know if the large red legged hermit crabs (almost fist size) would become a meal for this trigger. The trigger is 11 cm specimen. Secondly, would he be very aggressive towards large angels, wrasse and eels? <This species is a "toss up" temperament-wise as far as a "predictability index" goes with Balistids... It will likely harass, ultimately consume the hermit (let's say if/when it molts), but in an adequately large, well fed, filtered system, would leave the fish/groups listed alone. Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sufflamen.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Red legged hermits to control Aiptasia Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> On the WetWeb site, you discuss Aiptasia control. One method was "red legged hermits" (Dardanus megistos sp???).  <More often called the "White Spot Hermit, but the scientific name is correct and all that matters> You were kind enough to answer my previous question. One more if I may. Can't seem to find anybody that has used them.  <they are not guaranteed to even eat Aiptasia, although it may be true. The information is purely anecdotal at this time> LFS can't give me any information on that type of hermit. Do you know of any place to get these guys? Is there a common name I could use?  <yes, above... the "White Spot Hermit" from the Indo-Pacific... and don't expect to find them anytime soon... not often collected because the landed price wholesale is ten times what a similar hermit from the Atlantic costs here in the States> I have a 125 FOWLR and a DSB with lots of in-fauna up for about 9 months. Just got my first Aiptasia on a new piece of rock. (Came out after a couple of weeks). Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jeff <Jeff... relax, my friend. Aiptasia are only a problem in tanks with nutrient export problems (although many aquarists struggle with this). In well run tanks, they do NOT spread or populate. They do NOT grow from thin air (or water, as it were). They need nutrients. So... skim aggressively, do regular water changes, do not overstock or overfeed, be careful about what you import into the tank (nutrients through poor quality tap water, not thawing frozen food and discarding pack juice (DO strain frozen meats), etc). It really is an overblown issue. Like many aquarists I have had aquariums that had an Aiptasia that took more than a year before executing a single act of transverse fission! But I am also a maniac about skimmers and nutrient control. If you find the need for control later, since this is not a ref tank, it will be easy for you to find a compatible fish that eats them. Do apprise us of you inventory of tankmates if and when that time comes. Best regards, Anthony>
Red legged hermits to control Aiptasia (Steve's turn)
Dear Bob, <Steven Pro at your service this fine night.> On the WetWeb site, you discuss Aiptasia control. One method was "red legged hermits" (Dardanus Megistos sp???). You were kind enough to answer my previous question. One more if I may. Can't seem to find anybody that has used them. LFS can't give me any information on that type of hermit. Do you know of any place to get these guys? Is there a common name I could use? I have a 125 FOWLR and a DSB with lots of in-fauna up for about 9 months. Just got my first Aiptasia on a new piece of rock. (Came out after a couple of weeks). Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jeff <I would not worry about obtaining biological predators for just one Aiptasia. I have used a simple method of mixing up some Kalkwasser water and slowly squirting it onto the Aiptasia. It does not work all of the time, but with only one anemone I would give it a try first. It is easy to repeat/redose a few times before it is eradicated. There are also suggestions for use of vinegar and hypo/hyper salinity injections. -Steven Pro>

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