Please visit our Sponsors

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

What type of hermits are these?   12/22/11
Hello WWM crew,
I have recently arrived in Florida on vacation with my family, and today I wandered into an estuary and ended up catching 10 Hermit crabs, all of which are about an inch or so and within 1/2 inch in size of each other, as well as a 3 inch fighting conch, an inch long lettered olive, and a 1 1/2 inch crown conch. As you may have noticed I have already Identified the gastros', but I'm having trouble figuring out what the hermits are as they have very little resemblance to any of the picks I've seen on your site.
I'm thinking they are all Clibanarius Vittatus, but they are much paler, to the point of looking almost eggshell white, and have only a couple, pale stripes running down each leg. I was hoping you could let me know what they are, and also if anything I caught would pose a problem for either each other, or someone who will be putting together a saltwater tank for the first time (me). Thankfully all I have to do is walk back to the beach to let any of these guys go if I need to change something.
Thanks in advance,
<Clibanarius vittatus is distinctive because of the grey or white stripes running down its legs. It's a common species and often found in shallow lagoons and estuarine environments. There are other Clibanarius species that might be found in Florida as well, such as Clibanarius tricolor.
Nonetheless, they're all much of a muchness so far as care goes, and a subtropical marine aquarium would suit Clibanarius vittatus and any other Floridian species well. Hermit crabs are not necessarily compatible with one another, and can steal shells from one another if there aren't enough to go around. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What type of hermits are these? 12/22/11

Thank you for the snappy response and info! Sadly, when I woke up this morning, two of the little guys had died. It has been a number of hours since then, and now two more or dead.
<Too bad. They do need a clean, filtered aquarium with an established biological filter. They're actually very hardy animals, but they do have their limits.>
I'm rather worried about this, and want to know what might be causing it.
<Environmental stress, almost certainly.>
If I can't find a solution I'll release them back into the estuary and hope I can catch a few the day we are leaving.
Which brings another issue to mind, how should I best transport them for a 24 hour car ride?
<In a closed container with some seawater and lots of air, oxygen being more important than anything else. Just enough water to cover them, and a pint or two of air will work well. Open the container periodically if you need to let more air in because you can't find a big enough container.>
Thanks for the Help,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What type of hermits are these? 12/23/11

Thanks again for the quick response! It has all been rather helpful.
Thank you,
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking around Clibanarius vittatus -- 9/27/10
Hi, WWM crew!
<Hi Jeff, Lynn here today!>
This past April my neighbor gave me two hermit crabs (C. vittatus) that she accidentally brought home from a trip to Florida.
<It happens. These hermits can survive out of water for several days, so it's not all that unusual for a shell collector to accidentally bring one home. One thing of note regarding this species is that they can get fairly large.>
I happily took them, and quickly set up a 5 gallon acrylic hexagonal tank for them,
<Heeeee! Remember in the movie Jaws when Chief Brody told Quint 'You're going to need a bigger boat.'? Well, you're going to need a bigger tank!>
..complete with sand and a couple pieces of live rock (I'm hoping to get more soon). The tank also has a number of majano anemones that I purposely added to make it look a bit more exciting.
<They can be very pretty.>
The filter is an HOB that does about 100gph, and the light is a CFL that screws into its socket; I believe I have about 2 wpg. I have a couple questions about stocking and tank size. How big exactly do these crabs get?
<Big, with carapaces reportedly up to 6' (~15cm) across.>
I was under the impression that they only reached about 7cm or so, but I read recently that they can reach 10-15cm.
<Yep, and the larger they get, the more their appetite, need for larger shells, and tendency to knock things about, increases. One thing I'm unsure of is how long it takes for these hermits to attain such a large size. I imagine it would take more than just a couple of years.>
Would it be wise to upgrade to a 10 gallon setup if I plan to add other animals to the tank?
<Yes, bigger is better when it comes to keeping water parameters stable and livestock healthy, so I'd recommend going as big as you can afford.>
If I upgrade, I will be using a hood made for 2 incandescent bulbs, and will be using 2 Coralife mini CFL 50/50 bulbs (http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2753932&lmdn=Product+Type). If I don't upgrade, I will use only one of these 50/50 bulbs. (I am doing this with my anemones, and possibly any other sessile inverts that I buy, in mind.)
<Okay, just be sure to keep the hermits well fed with a variety of sinking pellets, and/or meaty bits of marine origin like shrimp, clam, fish, squid, etc.. This will help deter the hermits from preying on some of those sessile inverts (particularly any small bivalves), resting fishes or snails.>
I am asking this because I have heard that hermits can be aggressive and opportunistic and may attack small sleeping fish,
<Yep, there's no telling what a hungry hermit will pick at or try to grab.>
..and I plan to add a small damsel
<Personally, I wouldn't add a Damsel to any system smaller than 20 gallons. They're active swimmers that can be pretty feisty on the best of days, much less when they're confined.>
..and goby,
<Gobies are great. Again, just be sure to keep those hermits well fed.>
..as well as some snails and a serpent star, without the crabs harming them.
<I'd hold off on the serpent star until you have a larger system.>
Thanks very much for your time,
<You're very welcome.>
<Take care, Lynn Z>

Hermit Crab Care 1/8/09 Hi. <Hi Misty> I found your webpage after making my best attempt to identify the crab I have as well as learn the best way to care for it. My husband and I recently spent some time in Panama City, FL, where we were collecting shells and whatnot. Yes, I have come to realize, you read hundreds of emails just like this! We discovered this little guy in the bay. I am still unsure what kind of hermit crab he is but I am thinking C. vittatus. Could you please correct me if I am wrong. <Try to.> I know basically nothing about caring for marine animals. But, alas have decided to give it a go. I have found your website extremely helpful. After spending a week in a plastic Tupperware dish, in some sea water scooped from the bay, today he went into a tank. We went to our local salt water aquarium store and purchased a 10 gallon tank, some Instant Ocean, a filter, a hydrometer, 2 lbs of live rock, de-chlorinator, and "live" sand. After all the preparation steps of getting the water ready and settled, in he went, along with many of the shells found from his very beach. I did boil the shells before placing them in the water. I also purchased frozen baby brine shrimp which has to be dissolved in water for him to eat. <Baby brine is a little small for a food source, I'd go with small pieces of fish.> So, in the hour or so that he has been in this new environment he has explored and thoroughly examined each and every shell I put in there. And, changed shells now 3 times! I am under the assumption he is happy because he scoping everything out and seems to be doing quite well. I discovered tonight while watching him closely as he was shell hopping that he is missing a whole leg and one of his claws, both of which are on the same side of his body. This leaves him with only one usable leg on that side. Really what I am concerned about is if he will continue to thrive being "disabled" as he is. I have no idea if this leg loss has occurred since we brought him home or if he was this way when we kidnapped him. <Not unusual to see this. When the crab molts, he should have a new claw and legs. As crabs grow, they will molt on a regular basis. So, as long as you keep the little guy fed, I see no problems.> My last concern is the salinity and temperature in which he should be kept, being that he came from the gulf. Any information you can provide to me will be greatly appreciated. <Hermit crabs are very hardy creatures and are very tolerant of water conditions. A salinity of 1.020-1.023 will be fine. For temperature, set about 75.> Thank you so much for your time. <You're welcome, and get that guy some fish and learn more about your find here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm James (Salty Dog)> Misty Rettagliata ps: I am including 2 photos of him, in hopes that you can help me identify him. Hopefully they come thru! <I don't see them.> <<... Is Clibanarius vittatus... and care information can be found linked at the top of James' citation on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm BobF>>

Re: Hermit Crab Care 1/9/09 James, Thanks for your response. <You're welcome.> I am slightly frustrated the pictures didn't come thru. I am going to attempt to send them as attachments this time. Today has gone well. The little bugger has been shell hopping like crazy. Its almost like a game between the same 3 shells.....back and forth and over again! You had very little to remark about everything I said (except probably the absolute essentials) so am I to assume that thus far I am proceeding correctly? <Yes, but I've also posted a link leading you to much more info than I have the time to provide here.> I went back to the fish store today and talked the guy's ear off trying to get as much information as I could. When I asked for some fish to feed crabby he basically put me off saying that it would be better to not put something like that into the tank and instead gave me shrimp pellets. <That will work. Hermit Crabs are scavengers by nature and will eat most anything.> I didn't want to argue because I know everyone does things differently. I figure I can pick up some fish at the grocery store! <The fish was meant as an example of foods they will eat. As long as you have already bought the shrimp pellets, you might as well use them.> While I was there I also bought a heater and thermometer, because I was worried the water temp was too chilly based on what you recommended. I was correct. The water temp was around 66 degrees F. As of now it's a comfy 74. <Is fine.> I am going cuckoo, however, after reading things about the nitrates, iodine, ammonia, and a million other things it seems as if I should be monitoring, yet not knowing how! <As I mentioned before, hermit crabs are very tolerant of water conditions and as for water testing, I wouldn't worry too much here as long as the crab will be the only animal in the tank. Watch your feeding habits, a small portion a day is all that is necessary and a monthly one gallon water change will be beneficial.> Is there anything you can suggest I do differently from what I told you previously? <Not for keeping a hermit crab, you have the basic equipment, but I do suggest you clean/change the filter media at least twice monthly.> And, I am interested in adding a 2, maybe 3 damsels and perhaps one more small hermit. Is this something you think would be wise? <It can work but two small damsels would be the limit for a 10 gallon tank. Do not consider those cute little black ones with the three white spots (Three Spot Damsel) as they will soon overgrow your ten gallon tank. The Yellowtail Damselfish is small, colorful and an easy to keep fish. Further reading on damselfish can be found here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm> Is there much more that would need to be done before taking those steps? <Yes, now we are on a different page, we are going to need some type of biological filtration as a first step. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's, this will give you a good overview of the basics. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm I've also provided an index to additional information available. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm> Again, I appreciate all the knowledge you guys are able to share. And I am enjoying this website greatly. I have been reading tons. <Reading will be your best teacher, enjoy.> Thanks so much! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Hermit Crab ID 1/10/09 Misty, I am going to answer the hermit crab ID separate from hermit crab care for ease of filing in our system. Your suggestion of C. vittatus is actually a scorpion, not a hermit crab. I'm thinking your crab is a Clibanarius. James (Salty Dog)> <<What, scorpion? RMF>>

Re: Hermit Crab ID 01/09/09 Bob, Probably my fault on the ID as I didn't think two creatures would be identified as vittatus. Should have investigated the "C." further. Look here. http://www.ub.ntnu.no/scorpion-files/c_vittatus.php James <Mmm, perhaps a note here... the second part of scientific names can/do get used over and over... Genera (plural for genus, the first part of a species name) are supposed to be unique. BobF>

Re: Hermit Crab ID 1/10/09 I am sorry for the confusion. I guess that shows how little I know and how much I need to study because I was meaning Clibanarius vittatus, simply shortened it to C. Vittatus not knowing that it too was already a creature (scorpion)! That being said, then I was correct in my home id of him. <Actually I erred thinking the "C" was Clibanarius. Your crab is a Clibanarius vittatus.> I can't say it enough, thank you thank you thank you and everyone else for your time and help in these situations. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Misty

Does Clibanarius vittatus need land? 08/08/2008 Hi guys, <<And Gals I hope. Andrew here today>> Judging by the hours of research online, I'm pretty sure our hermit is a Clibanarius vittatus (striped hermit crab). In a moment of stupidity we allowed our son to bring it back to Texas from the bay in the Florida panhandle. We actually wound up with two, thinking the other was a shell (lesson learned!). <<he he he>> On the advice of a local saltwater fish store, we set up a 10 gallon tank with dechlorinated water and Instant Ocean, crushed coral, a hydrometer, an in-tank filter, empty shells and a large rock. We have been feeding them shrimp pellets. One lasted 4 days then died. He was never active and seemed more stressed - frequently changing shells, then losing a couple legs. The other has been quite active since we put him in and seems to be doing okay. At least once a day he climbs to the top of the rock so he's partly out of the water. He also tried to climb the side of the tank. Question 1: Does he need a different aquarium set up with more land? <<Some land for this hermit is fine, it can spend a few days out of water>> Question 2: Does he need any kind of heater? Our room temp is around 74F. (The pet store guy said no, but I thought you'd know better.) <<That temperature is fine. If it starts to drop hen maybe switch to using a heater>> Question 3: Are shrimp pellets appropriate food? <<Sounds fine. provide a little algae matter / meaty bits in the diet>> Question 4: Will he dig under the coral to molt? How much substrate should be on the bottom of the tank? <<Not much substrate is really needed. Clibanarius vittatus will look for a sheltered spot, which it feels comfortable in to molt>> Thanks in advance for your help and for your great site. We'll never again remove a critter from his natural habitat, but now that we have we want to do the best we can for him. <<A lesson learned perhaps. Please do be aware that these DO get large>> Laurel <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>
Re: Does Clibanarius vittatus need land? 08/12/2008
Hi Andrew (and all the other guys and gals!), <<Hi>> Thanks for your zippy and helpful reply! I have a few quick follow-up questions: <<Ok>> The only semi-dry land he has right now is the tip of a rock sticking out of the water. Is that enough? I understand he can spend time out of the water, but does he need to? Do I need to provide more than that? <<As long as it has space to walk / move around, shouldn't be so bad.. Maybe add some base marine rock in an area to provide land?? How big can he get? Is the 10 gallon tank enough? (He has 4 empty, larger shells in there now). <<These can grow to around 10 - 15cm. If you plan to keep, would maybe suggest a nice 20 gal tank for it as it grows>> Do these guys like to have company or do they do better alone? <<Same as a lot of hermits in the aquarium, they usually just go about their own business>> Again, thanks. You guys are a great resource!! Laurel <<Thanks for the follow-up, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

I now have (Hermit) crabs!! Happens...   6/13/06 Hello WWM, I live in South Florida and my son went to Jensen Beach, Fl this weekend with my sister and they found a lot of crabs.  So, she decided to let all the kids take two home without knowing what kind they are and how to care for them.  I am pretty sure they are Clibanarius vittatus, but I can't find much on care.  What do they eat, do they need salt water, do they live on land also? <Not entirely... though this is a tough species that does spend a good deal of time emersed> I know nothing!!  Please help.  I would much rather take them back to the beach where they belong but it is about 2 and 1/2 hrs. away.  I live in a very small town in the middle of nowhere with a pet store that is very limited on information.  I have been on the computer for 3 hrs. now and most of what I find is about these crabs in the wild not how to care for them at home.  I don't want them to die but I don't know what to do.  Can you help me? Thank you, Nancy <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm and the linked files above. Perhaps as an object lesson you'll want to have them returned to the shore. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: