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FAQs about Hermit Crabs: Unknown species and Wild-Collected

Related Articles: Hermit Crabs, Crabs, Marine Scavengers, Fresh to Brackish Crabs,

Related FAQs: Hermits 1, Hermit Crabs 2, Hermit Crabs 3, Hermit ID, Hermit Behavior, Hermit Compatibility, Hermit Selection, Hermit Systems, Hermit Feeding, Hermit Reproduction, Hermit Disease/Health, Land Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Hermit Crabs, Shrimps, Cleaner Shrimps, Banded Coral Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Anemone Eating Shrimp, Marine Scavengers, Crustacean 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), 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,

http://www.landhermitcrabs.com/ http://www.hermit-crabs.com/

PLEASE: IF you don't know what you're doing, leave animals in the wild there.

What kind is he and how should I care for him ASAP???  Hermit ID...      9/28/13
My fiancé and I were walking the beach in Orange Beach, Alabama. There are huge rocks that sort of block the way for the boats to travel out. These rocks are HUGE and we were brave enough to walk to the other side of them.
There were tiny barnacles everywhere along with about 10-15 beautiful shells. My fiancé grabbed one up and realized it was a hermit crab.
Thinking it was a normal hermit,
<Which are fully aquatic.>
I kept him and was so happy to have been able to find our own. The only thing I am concerned about is the fact that he was UNDER the water when we found him along with all the others.
<Indeed. Relatively few are amphibious, and only a handful terrestrial.
That said, because you collected this specimen in the surf zone, where water is a few inches deep much of the time, you could have either an aquatic one or an amphibious one.>
Completely submerged. It's been 2 days and he's still alive and starting to not be as shy. I have him in a 10 gallon tank but I don't know if that's what I should be doing considering the fact that he was underwater. He doesn't have the big fat pinchers like the ones I've had before either.
They are smaller and more narrow and red around the outside black on the inside.
<Sounds like a Clibanarius species; relatively common along the subtropical Atlantic coastline of the US. Look for Clibanarius vittatus online to get an idea of what one common species in the genus looks like. Clibanarius tricolor is another common species, though more associated with the Caribbean.
Both are fully aquatic and much kept in aquaria.>
Any information as soon as possible would be so very appreciated. I do love my animals and if this habitat is not proper I would really love to know.
Thank you much, Victoria
<A local marine biologist will probably be better at identifying the precise species you have. If in doubt, lower the waterline a bit, pile some rocks up, and see if the Hermit crawls out at all. If it does, then there's your answer! Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
More re wild hermit collection      9/29/13

Thank you so very much. You were right on the kind of hermit he is. The pictures look exactly like him. The link you sent to me says they can live out of water for several DAYS!?!?!
<"Live" may be too strong a word; when high-and-dry these hermits can "close up shop", switching into a sort of resting mode that saves on energy and oxygen consumption. In the wild they may need to do this if they get left in a rock pool that dries up for a day or two. But they can't feed outside of water, and can't really breathe properly either (they have gills, not lungs) so will eventually die.>
It's already been 3 days and he is still doing fine.
I currently do not have water in his tank.
Sponges yes but no place where he can go completely underwater.
<He does need to be able to submerge himself in seawater.>
The only water I have is tap. Wouldn't he need Saltwater? I need to know how to prepare the water.
<Ah then, you will be setting up a marine aquarium soon.>
Thanks Tori
<Perhaps some reading would help:
Some pet stores will sell marine aquarium water ready made by the gallon, and this can be an easy, if pricey, approach. Such retailers may also be able to sell you some live rock too, which will massively simplify the cycling process. But do be aware that marine aquarium keeping isn't "easy" in the same way as keeping a pot plant, and you may well decide returning this crab to the wild will be the better course of action. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Hermit Crab in the sandbar 8/6/11
Hey guys,
<& dolls>
My father found a hermit crab in the ocean about 10 feet deep near a sand bar in the Gulf of Mexico of the shores of Florida. He thought it was a snail but when he brought it back, I discovered it was a hermit crab. My friend owns three fresh water ones herself but this is obviously a salt water one. I really want to keep it and help it survive since my father has already removed it from its habitat. I have just a few questions for you.
1) Do I keep it in a tank solely of water or do I put some land in there as well?
<... see below>
2) What's size tank, type of water, and decorations should I put in it?
3) How big should it get and how long will it live?
<Not long>
4) Any other info will be great! (Just browsing through your site I've gotten lost with how much info there is!)
Thank you so much,
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm
The linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Do these crabs look happy? Am I on the path to redemption? 3/23/11
<Hi Tiffany, Misty here>
Yes, I'm another victim of impulse <er, seems like the crabs might be the actual victims of impulse here>, one of the ignorant mass it seems after reading this site for a few hours. I've attached pictures of crabs I brought home from Florida, just west of Panama City. I admit I just wanted the shells they were in and didn't think they would live for more than a few minutes out of the water. But here they are and I've grown surprisingly attached to them, and have assigned names to two <how long have you had them?>.
At least one has switched shells and all of them seem to be crawling around quite a bit. They were in knee-deep water when I found them on 3/19/2011.
They survived the trip home without water (about 3.5 hours.) I live in a very rural area, so I tried to find an aquarium for them at Wal-Mart but they only sell kits with colored gravel & fish food <hard to tell what kind of container you have them in, but a large Rubbermaid-type of tub could do the trick until you can find them an appropriate home or provide one for them...from what I can tell, their current containment system looks a little small>. I know they need more room and am working on finding something bigger, or a second home to split them into 2 groups. I have the air pump blowing bubbles, and put dechlorinator and sea salt <YIKES! what kind of sea salt? Like the kind you cook with?> in the water they are in <if you used cooking sea salt, they're probably better off not being in the water!>. They seem to spend about 60% of their time out of the water, and sometimes they sit submerged <again, if you didn't use the proper salt or mix it properly, they're likely trying to escape from it!>. Other times they sit so their "face" is about even with the water level & some part of their "face" vibrates the water really fast, like hummingbird wings. I don't know if this is a breathing or an eating action. I've put spinach leaves, an apple slice, a shrimp, a nature valley granola bar, shrimp pellets, and a wheat cracker with peanut butter but it doesn't seem like any of this is being eaten <remove all of this...it will only cause a build-up of toxic ammonia in the water, which could be bad water anyway. They're better not eating for a couple of days than dying in toxic stew>.
The only time it looked like one was eating was when one of the smaller ones was picking through the "green hair" on the really big one's shell <likely that their natural food is algae, with the green hair being a type of algae>. (The really big one is in a snail shell that is about 3" in diameter, and he has numerous dead barnacles on him and his shell.
I have read and read until my eyes are crossed and can't determine whether I should house these as land crabs or marine crabs <could be a combo, but if you found them in knee deep water, then they can likely survive completely submerged in the correct kind of seawater>. And it seems very important to know if they need sand in which to bury themselves <not likely>. If you would be able to help me determine at least that much, I will educate myself on their proper care and try to redeem myself from this blunder <if you can't find a proper tank close to your house, it is unlikely that you will be able to find a proper salt water mix. I would urge you to return them to their habitat if possible ASAP. If you can't, please look for a proper saltwater mix. Try a pet store with fish if you have one within an hour and buy PRE-MADE saltwater for them, as mixing your own requires having some equipment to measure to make sure it's the correct salinity, etc. But I would really urge you to return them to the ocean, and put them on the beach so they can crawl into the water on their own so as not to shock their system. You could look on some of the larger saltwater hobbyist forums such as saltwaterfish.com or Google something like "reef club" and the city nearest you, which may lead you to help closer to home that could provide a better home for them. But without the proper saltwater and set-up, I can't give you a big vote of confidence for their survival.
Sorry I don't have better news, but marine creatures are pretty sensitive and have particular needs>.
The are black with greenish-yellow stripes and some little hairs on their legs. Most of the claws are orange at the tips, with yellow spots closer to the body, and another stripe closest to the body. The eyes are on translucent orangish stalks, are their round, and very dark gray.
Thanks & have a great day!
<Good luck to you and to the crabs...I trust that after this adventure you'll probably leave them in the ocean next time.>
Tiffany <Regards, Misty>

Hermit Crab Help 08/06/2010
I found two baby hermit crabs (about the size of a small pea shell in all).
I found them in the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island to be specific, and don't know what type of hermits they are. One is a white/clearish with black eyes and the other is more of a beige color. I also would like to know how to care for them. It seems like they need the salt water to breathe, so I currently have them in a large mask (it's the only thing that I have because I'm on vacation) with ocean water, sand and a few different shells. I have spent hours goggling marine hermit crabs and what type they could even be! I would like any information that you have about what type of hermit crabs they could be and how it is possible to even care for them.
I would love to keep them, but if I can't figure out how to care for them then I'll return them to the ocean.
<Well, not that I recommend this, but if they're aquatic (i.e. not terrestrial) you'd care for them more or less the same way you'd care for any aquatic marine invertebrate. The problem is that such an aquarium takes at least a month to set up and cycle. If you live close to the ocean, you could keep them in a bucket during this time (changing the water daily from the ocean). If not, I'm not sure what to tell you. If I were you, I'd put them back, go home, learn about marine aquariums and start thinking about setting one up. Once you have a successful marine aquarium established, you could easily obtain any variety of marine hermit crabs to keep in your aquarium. As for these guys you have in your mask, I'd recommend just letting them go. :-)
Thanks For Your Help,
Sara M/L>

Marine Hermit Crabs Part 1 -- 09/08/09
I have been reading your website and it is very informative. I wanted to ask you guys directly as I would like to keep these guys alive.
We brought home 7 hermit crabs (pretty small) from the Gulf of Mexico (Freeport, TX). They range in size from 1/4" to about an 1" in size.
Unfortunately, 2 of them died on the way home.
We brought them in water bottles (20 oz) and I brought some of the sand as well. Attached are links to 2 videos. One will show the crabs active as we placed then in a small container at the beach.
We gave half of them to my friend's kid and the other half we brought home for my daughter. I wanted to place them back, but I knew my daughter would be really upset if we did not take them home.
<Will/won't she be more upset if/when they die in your care? I don't agree with the expressed "value" here. I would not allow a child to make life/death choices.>
The other video shows their current situation. There appear to be 5 of them alive and buried in the sand.
So therefore, I am appealing to you guys for assistance.
We have a small 3 gallon aquarium that we used at one point in time. I would like to keep them there. I know there is not nearly enough sand so I have several questions:
Do they need a certain type of sand, or can I use sand I bought at Home Depot for a backyard project?
<Can likely be employed>
The sand I have is called Play Sand and it is by a company called Pavestone for your reference.
I left the 2 dead "buddies" in there as I read they eat almost anything.
<... remove the carcasses. Their decomposition is poisoning the remaining live ones>
Should I remove them immediately from the container?
I know they need salt water and I can get that at Petco. What is the ratio of salt to water in order to recreate more salt water? I read 35 grams of salt to a liter of water somewhere.
My tank has a pump for oxygen production. Would you recommend that?
<Please just skip to the end>
Or will the bubbles created be more stressful than beneficial?
Do these guys need land? Or can they survive in the aquarium?
I read I can feed them fish, sushi, etc. Any other food you can suggest?
Any other suggestions?
I would really like to give these guys a fighting chance, as it is not a habit to kill a living being, even if it is not intentional.
Here are the links:
Thanks for your help.
Andres Quijano
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hermitsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Please help! (More hermit crabs!) 08/05/09
I brought home a crab from the beach who was not shy once he got used to me.
<Crabs are indeed bold and opportunistic; their heavy shells and strong pincers give them a certain amount of security from predators, so you'll often find them less nervous than shrimps and other such animals.>
About a week after getting John Conner, the crab, my family went out of town for 3 days. I made sure they had plenty of fresh water and lots of food.
<Why "fresh water"? Just to clarify here, do you mean freshwater, as in dechlorinated tap water, or a fresh container of seawater, which most land crabs from beach-type habitats will need to dip into. Seawater from a marine aquarium, if you have one, will be adequate, but being land animals, land crabs do need high humidity and air temperature too, at least 22 degrees C (72 degrees F). At minimum, a small land crab will need a tank 10-20 gallons in size with a pool 5 cm/2 inches in depth containing seawater; an under tank heater; and plenty of coir (coconut fibre) to create the "land" part above a simple bed of gravel used to secure the pool in place. Without a filter, the water should be changed every day or two. Use a sprayer to mist the land with dechlorinated tap water (not seawater) daily. A secure lid is essential; a plain Perspex or glass sheet is fine, but put the lid on slightly ajar so there's a flow of air in and out of the tank. I mention all these things because lots of people think they can keep crabs in very small plastic containers without any thought for their need for heat, humidity, or security.>
When I got back, I changed their nasty water and gave them more food even though they still ad some. The next day, he was acting really shy.
<May well be dying if you aren't doing the things listed above.>
He moved further into his shell when I picked him up and I didn't see him come out very much. I have two other shy crabs but that's just how they are. They are my first hermit crabs and I am very worried. Please Help!
<There's a very good site on Hermit Crabs, here:
Do note that the types that use freshwater for bathing are likely NOT the types you'll find on, say, a Florida beach. If you collected your crab on the beach, then it's a species that needs salty water for bathing. It's
actually a bad idea to collect wild animals without first checking ambient conditions in that location: salinity, temperature, humidity. The vast majority of "pets" dragged home from beaches die very quickly. Cheers,
Re: Please help! (More hermit crabs!) 08/05/09

Thank you! I forgot to ask if they need fresh and salt water or just salt water. Could he possibly be molting or not?? Thanks!
<They need fresh water or salt water depending on the species. Since you collected these crabs from a beach, then seawater is what they need: 35 grammes of marine salt mix (not cooking salt, not tonic salt) per litre of water. There would be no harm putting a shallow dish of freshwater in the vivarium also, to see if they drink from it, but for marine animals -- which they are -- the seawater pool will be essential. Without seawater, it will quickly die.>
Live, Love, Laugh,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Hijacked crabs 07/14/09
While on vacation at the Gulf Coast, I brought home some shells. Now I have read your comments about others doing this and I completely agree that you should not bring these home. I did not want them. I checked the shells, apparently not well enough, and thought they were empty. I left behind some really cool looking shells because they were occupied. I had collected some sand to keep my shells in, for aesthetic purposes, and put it all in a Tupperware container and wrapped that in a plastic bag. I had collected these on a Friday morning and but them in the container right away, not knowing of my little friends hiding inside. They were in the car and heat of Texas Friday & Saturday. The container was then put in a plastic bag so I wouldn't spill the sand during my flight home to Boston on Sunday. Needless to say, when I took the container out of my bag, I noticed the shells moving. I was very surprised & upset to find 3 crabs.
I put them into a larger container with some water and put some lettuce in.
Wasn't sure what to give them since I have never in my life had a crab. I am feeling very guilty so bringing these shells home and will never do it again, lesson learned. 2 of them have already died and I am afraid the largest of the 3 will go soon. I don't want to kill it. I feel like I have already murdered the other 2 just by taking the shells.
<I do sympathize with your sentiment, but you might not feel so bad if you knew... millions of snails an crabs are killed routinely for their shells, to be sold at tourist shops. People buy these shells and ornaments all the time without giving it a second thought. The fact is that we kill animals for their parts all the time... be it cows for leather purses and shoes or inverts for shell and/or pearl necklaces. You might feel bad because, this time, you directly had a hand in the animals' deaths. But when you get down to it, you haven't done anything here you haven't likely done (or supported) indirectly many times in the past. Even when you buy cotton clothes... how many animals were killed to clear the field where that cotton was grown? I'm not saying any of this to make you feel guilty.
Quite the contrary, I'm trying to help you put these hermit crabs lives, and what you've done, in perspective. Directly or indirectly, we kill animals for our needs, wants and vanities all the time. You could become a vegan, live in a mud shack and pray no more animal lives are taken for your sake ever again... but you'd likely fail even then. One day, while foraging for fruits and nuts, you might pick an apple, bite into it and discover that your teeth have severed an innocent worm or caterpillar. We can (and probably should) try to live our lives to minimize our impact on animal life and the environment in general. However, quite frankly, you likely killed more bugs on the windshield of your car on the drive up from the beach than you have hermit crabs you brought up from the beach.>
Is there something I can do to try to keep the 3rd one going without spending a lot of money?
<Not likely. You could set up an aquarium system for it. But by the time you had it ready, the animal might likely have passed on by then. If I were you, I would simply take a moment to pay your respects to the animal(s) and thank them for their sacrifice. Cherish their shells for the enormous gifts they are.>
I don't want to invest in a tank, filter, heater, and such to have it die on me. I am not planning on getting crabs or anything that might use such items in the future.
<Again, my advice... respectfully thank the animal, then end its life as humanely as possible.>
<De nada,
Sara M.>
Re: Hijacked crabs
Thank you. I understand and appreciate all your advice.
My pleasure - Sara M.

Hermit questions, rescued -- 7/14/10
We went to the Gulf of Mexico beach in Mississippi, to look at the tar balls (from the Deep Water Horizon oil flow) washing up on the beach first hand (as we live close by). While we were there, we noticed hundreds (even
thousands) of hermit crabs on the beach (not moving and laying in oil). My daughter, who is 10 yrs old, wanted to try to "save" some of the crabs.
Against our better judgment, we did exactly that. We collected about 75 hermit crabs and then went to Pet smart to get supplies for them. The employees at Pet smart didn't know anything about care for this type of hermit. I have read through your site, but there is so much info, that I can't find what I'm looking for. We have the crabs at home, have bathed them in saline water (Hermit crab salt treated) and fresh (Hermit Safe treated) water. There is no oil residue left on them and they are moving and somewhat active. We have them broken down in many different aquariums, due to the number that we have. A few questions:
1) Should they be kept in an aquarium filled with water?
2) Should they be kept in an Aquari filled with sand?
<Mmm, depends on the species involved, but these read-like amphibious ones... need an environment in which they can be underwater as well as on dry land>
They move more when in water than if they are in a tank with only dishes of water.
3) Any idea of where I can bring some of them, as we cannot keep 75 crabs?
<You might try a local-enough public aquarium, fish stores, Craig's List>
4) Any other ideas that are beneficial or suggestions that you have?
<I'd get these to someone who can and will care for them ASAP... Bob Fenner>
Thanks for all of your help.

Marine Hermit Crabs... Decisions to make 7/7/2009
<Hi Concerned Mom, Mich with you here in Key Largo in the wee hours of the morning.>
My 4 year old son went to the beach (Gulf Of Mexico) with his Grandpa this week.
<Good for both of them!>
I live in West Virginia, and Grandpa lives in Mississippi. I was unpacking my son's suitcase and these beautiful shells were in a zip-lock bag with sea water in it. I had no clue there were hermit crabs in them, neither did Grandpa.
There is a rather large one, two little ones, and a few extra shells.
Grandpa has already left and all I have for them is a bag of sea water.
<Well, they will need more than this, as I presume you anticipate.>
I don't want them to die.
<Neither do I!>
I need to know what I can do to keep them alive.
<Well first you have to decide if you want to do. You can:
1. Ship them over night back to grandpa, so they can be returned to where they came from.
2. Find a suitable home for them. You can do this by contacting your local fish store (LFS) and seeing if the store or one of their customers would be willing to assume care for the hermit crabs. You could also try to find an individual in your area. You can look online to find a local club/member in your area, try here:
3. Assume care yourself. They will require some work. This would include setting up a small fish tank, buying either pre-made salt water which you can pick up at some of the larger pet supply centers or if you're lucky, sometimes a mom and pop local fish store (LFS) will sell premade salt.
There is a product called "Real Ocean Water" which runs between $10-$15 per 5 gallons. You will likely want to start with a 10 gallon tank. I would also suggest you get a piece a "live rock" to put in the tank. You will also need a heater, and a submersible pump to keep the water circulating.
Hermit crabs aren't particularly picky with food. So I would just buy a can of fish food. You will have to be careful not to overfeed in such a small system. This in not impossible to do, but it does require some work and maintenance. You will also need to replace the water that evaporates from the system with fresh water, i.e. NOT salt water (because only the water has evaporated, the salt is left behind.) for this I would recommend getting "Deionized" or "DI" or "Reverse Osmosis" or "RO" water. Usually this can be found in your local supermarket. If you would like to learn more, I can give you many links to info on the site here. If you would like these please write back. I don't want to overwhelm you at this point.>
I have a 10 gallon tank, 3 hermit crabs, and a bag of salt water. They are striped looking, dark brown and tan.
<A photo would make identification much easier.>
I gave them a cracker, and they seemed to like it.
<They aren't too picky when it comes to food.>
They are moving around good in the dish I have them in. <A good sign.>
What do I need to keep them living?
<Please see above.>
Help! Time is running out!!
<Breathe! It will be OK. You just need to think about what you want to do and act soon.>
Mom with a concern.
<Thank you for taking time to care for these creatures. You are teaching your son excellent values.

Land crab or marine crab? Reading 4/29/09
Hi. I hope you can help me. I have read a lot of what you have posted, but I had a few questions.
We picked up a hermit crab from the beach on the gulf coast of Mississippi. We did not discover him until I went to clean the shells we found several days later. When I discovered him, I immediately put him
into a container filled with some sand I had sand and a bowl of de-chlorinated water.
<... won't work. These animals need full-strength seawater, filtration, heat>
I tried researching for several hours on the internet to find out what this was I had discovered and how to keep it alive.
From what I can tell, it appears to be a Clibanarius vittatus (Thinstripe hermit??) I am pretty sure cause he looks just like the picture. His shell is kind of large at about 1.5 inches in diameter.
Some websites suggested I feed him raw veggies or fruit. I have not been able to get him to eat anything. I also gave him two old seashells I had in my collection, but he has shown no interest in them. He did get
into the water and sit for some time, but other then that he just walks around.
Since I found him on the shore of the gulf ocean, I assumed he was a saltwater crab, but the aquarium store said it was a land crab??
<Many such false crabs are to an extent emersed in habit>
(without even looking at him. He was quite rude.) He wouldn't help me or offer any information that could direct me. So, today I went to my local PetSmart and purchased a beginner hermit crab kit with a cage, two bowls and two shells, and some hermit crab food. I hope he eats it, because it does not appear he has eaten in a week. How often do hermit crabs eat?
<A bit most every day>
Does he need fresh water and salt water?
Is it odd that he will not change shells or am I doing something wrong with the shells?
<Only change shells with need, growth...>
How can I tell if it is healthy? How can I tell the sex? Should I buy it a friend?
Thank you for your time!
Barbara Morgan
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hermitsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Hermit Crab Restaurant Refugee. 4/14/2009
Hey guys,
<Hello Jenna>
I work in a seafood restaurant and we get deliveries of oysters from a local supplier a few times a week. The oysters come in bags, and sometimes there are a few stray creatures in the bags with them. The guys that shuck and steam the oysters always set aside the crabs they find and give them to me. I have a brackish water tank with some minnows in it, and I put the crabs in there.
<That does run the risk of introducing parasites, but as long as you are comfortable and aware, that is fine.>
Tonight they found a hermit crab in the bag with the oysters, and they gave him to me. I know that if he was in the bag with the oysters then he had to have been caught in the water.
His shell is covered in barnacles, which also would seem to imply that he lived in the water. I was wondering if this crab lives solely in the water, or if I need to put him in a tank with some kind of dry land in it.
I know that land hermit crabs will drown, but I don't know what this hermit crab needs.
<Difficult to tell without a picture, and even then, it isn't exactly easy.>
So, can I put him in my tank (just water) or do I need to make a tank for him that has both water and dry land?
<Based upon you description, it is likely not a land hermit. I would add it to the tank.>
Thanks for your help
<My pleasure>

Hermit crab... reading 3/25/2009
I need to send you an e-mail since I will not be at my own desk for a few days and would like a reply by e-mail.
<Mmm, okay>
My daughter went on a mission trip to Mississippi and on the last day went to the beach for a short time to relax. She is a college student studding Natural Resources/ environmental. She tried very hard to take shells without Hermit crabs in them. Unfortunately she only choose 3 shells and all had hermit crabs in them. We love exotic animals and have iguanas, peacocks, anoles, as well as the average farm beast and critter. We have even raised sea horses so tanks, air, salt water, hydrometer etc are nothing new to us. We love to learn and take care, just never had a hermit crab!
She found them on the beach, not in the water. This was the gulf of Mexico. She came back on Friday and they came out Saturday and Sunday with no water. She had to wait until the science department returned from spring break until the lab was opened up. They set up a separate home for them in salt water and sand until we can come and pick them up next week. Our question - They are now submerged totally in a salt water home. As this is what they do with their hermit crabs. How can we tell if this is the best for them.
<Mmm, likely best to first ascertain the species you're dealing with/have... then use the Net to discern their habitat... Some species are mostly aquatic, others terrestrial... some amphibious>
When they do come home with us we have a tank that will accommodate water and land. Should they be submerged for a week or better after being on the beach and in a pale for 4 or 5 days? Can we tell if they are land or aquatic, small gill or not?
<Not as far as I'm aware>
the college feeds cooked hamburger.
<Mmm, I would not do this>
We have access to hermit crab food as well as the good old fashioned farm products.
Your reply will be appreciated.
Anna and her daughter Heather
<... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hermitsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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

Hermit crab - freshwater or saltwater? 12/2/08 Hi there folks! I recently went to Baja, on the east side (Sea of Cortez). We collected shells on the beach (I know, not always a good idea), and though we checked them all pretty thoroughly, we ended up with a tagalong. He must have recently changed shells, because when he hides you can't see him even if you peer inside the shell! Anyway, he survived for 5 days out of water in transit and now I am looking for a home for him since Baja is 12 hours driving away from here. I am fairly certain he is a Clibanarius vittatus. I got some saltwater from the fish tanks at the pet store and fed him a dead snail (don't worry - the snail was already dead and stinky when we picked up the shell), so he's happy for the moment. Now to try to find him a home. I have lots of people asking me if this species can survive in temperate freshwater. From what I've read, it seems they need at least brackish water, and preferably a proper saltwater tank with room to crawl out of the water. Am I correct or can they also survive in freshwater? If all else fails, a saltwater aquarium store in the next town from here said they would take him. Thanks! -Ramey <Hello Ramey. Many Clibanarius species are euryhaline, meaning that they can adapt to varying salinity, at least for a certain length of time. Even the common blue-legged hermit (Clibanarius tricolor) sold as "clean up crew" for reef tanks is a euryhaline species that does well in brackish water down to about half-strength normal seawater salinity (roughly SG 1.010 at 25 C). At least one species sometimes get sold as a freshwater hermit, Clibanarius africanus. But in the long term, freshwater doesn't suit any of them. It may take weeks or months for things to go wrong, but they do. In the case of Clibanarius vittatus, the optimal salinity is a middle brackish salinity if distribution in the wild is anything to go by; while they are found in normal marine (i.e., full salinity) habitats, they are commonest in estuarine habitats where salinity is relatively low. Half-strength seawater is just about perfect. While they will adapt to fully marine conditions permanently, I strongly doubt they will survive indefinitely in a freshwater aquarium. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Hermit crab - freshwater or saltwater? (Clibanarius vittatus) Thank you for the advice! I will make sure he goes to a marine or brackish aquarium, then! <Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Beach found hermits 09/27/2008 hi crew, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I have a small one gallon tank to hold about 8 very small hermit crabs that I found on the beach. I filled the bottom with beach sand and used ocean water. I have only had it for about 3 days and the water is starting to smell of dead fish and grow black mold through the top of the tank. is this normal?? are my little crabby friends in danger? help! <<Sounds like a lack of filtration / flow to me. Would replace water with synthetic seawater. Thanks for the question, hope this helps. A Nixon>> <... need a bit more input than this. B>

Question (please answer) A Long Way From Home - 7/23/08 Hermit crabs collected... Hi. <Hello> I have three large hermit crabs (2 1/2"- 3") and two smaller hermit crabs (1/2") that my family brought home from Galveston. <This story never ends well...> We were staying by the ocean, and found them in tide pools. I have no idea the species, what they should eat, or what to do. <Then pray tell, why did you think you could keep them? These are living things, not curio souvenirs!> We have set up a small tank, with land and water (we brought water from the ocean). <Only 'need' water, most likely> I regret bringing them now that one has died, but it is too late and too far to return to that beach. We live closer to the "middle" of the country, and can't return them to any beach. Not that I would put them in a colder sea, anyway. <So you're saying you would feel qualms about putting these crabs in a foreign environment, but had no reservations about trying to keep them yourself, despite no idea how? I don't intend to me mean, but the lack of foresight is stunning.> The water where they naturally lived was warm. Should I try to maintain that? <If I put you in a bubble, would you want me to emulate our environment, or is one with cyanide instead of nitrogen okay?> How can I recreate their sea home? I cannot seem to find anything they eat. It stays there for days and eventually I just have to re-clean the tank. What would they eat in Galveston, anyway? What species is it (most likely)? We have natural shells, some seaweed, and one odd plant on a shell (not identified, but we are trying). We originally thought they would do well with our other hermit crabs, but our other hermit crabs are land crabs, and these are in the water almost all the time. One of the larger marine crabs are almost always on land. Should I be worried? Also, if the smaller crabs are always climbing on the larger crabs, should I make a smaller tank for just the small ones? The larger ones sometimes claw at the small ones. <Gina, you're going to need to set up a small heated, filtered saltwater aquarium for these crabs. Read how through the search feature on www.wetwebmedia.com. These crabs will need to be fed fine bits of food of meaty origin, fish, squid, shrimp, etc. In the future, please try to let mother nature take care of her living things, unless you are already equipped to give back at least some modicum of what you take from them by removing them from their original home> Thanks, please answer as soon as you can, Gina & family <Benjamin>

Hermits From The Gulf - 06/07/2008 Hi, <Hi, Nick. Sabrina with you today.> I have been reading your site now for an hour or so but still have a few questions about my specific situation. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Okidoki.> I caught 5 quarter-sized hermit crabs off the gulf coast of FL on vacation 4 days ago; they were collected in knee-deep ocean water. Here is a very similar picture: http://njscuba.net/zzz_uw/srb_hermit_crab_1.jpg . <Similar is often not the same, so I would be wary of trying to make an ID off of a photo of a similar animal.> I have been keeping them in a plastic container with lava rocks and a few extra shells, but now need to set up something more permanent (no chance of returning, we're now in TN). <Just a quick note here to others that may read and benefit from this.... I do strongly recommend against collecting critters unless/until you already have a system set up to keep the animals thriving.> I changed their water daily while we were there (used nearby brackish water)- whenever I did this they went crazy moving around and filtering, <"And filtering" you say - what do you mean by this? Do these animals have filter feeding appendages? I'm not sure I follow....> and got along great. However, fresh brackish water <Were these buggers in brackish water or salt/ocean water?> is not quite in abundance in TN. <Heh! No, I'd guess not!> Here are my questions: <Okay!> 1) I have tried to feed them very small pieces of turkey, <Skip the turkey, oh please.> fish flakes, and small pieces of fruit, but they don't seem to go for any of it. What common food would be a greater success, <Human consumption fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish.... Freeze first or buy frozen, to prevent introduction of pathogens. Seaweeds - sushi Nori from an Asian market would be great. Any of these foods, if eaten, will be fine. I am concerned, though, about your comment of "filtering". If these animals are filter feeders, you are up for real troubles.> or is it mandatory to buy commercial food? <Nah. Unless these are really filter feeding animals. If so, you might consider DT's Phytoplankton, or some of the products from Reef Nutrition.> 2) I have a 10 gal. tank, instant ocean, chlorine remover, thermometer, and a filtering system. I realize I will need a hydrometer. <Yes, and urgently. Or a refractometer.> Is there anything else I *absolutely* have to have? (trying to keep cost a minimum here) <A manner of providing calcium, iodine....> 3) How deep should I fill a ten gallon tank with water for the 5 crabs? <If they don't appear to spend much time out of the water, then "completely" is your answer. The more water the better. A ten gallon tank is extremely difficult to keep stable.> 4) What filler should be used (sand, gravel, etc.) and how much? <Calcium carbonate substrate of some sort.... Aragonite sand would be my choice, but crushed coral would do if the former cannot be found.> Should any land be provided? (Crabs have been submersed nearly entire time I've had them) <If they don't appear to spend time out of the water, then a land area is probably unnecessary.> 5) Best way to introduce crabs to new water?, <Slowly, with a drip acclimation perhaps, over a few hours at least.> and 6) Anything essential I'm leaving out here? <Just more research.... This is an entirely "doable" project, but do please keep reading, researching.... I expect you'll even really find this enjoyable! My best regards to your crabby pals, -Sabrina C. Fullhart>

Hermits From The Gulf - II - 06/07/2008 6/9/08 Thank you very much for your help! It's great to have a post where questions are actually answered and answered well at that. <Thank you very much for your kind words.> As for your questions, I collected the crabs in the ocean and refilled the water from a small mudflat nearby connected to the ocean (evidently they're not too choosy about brackish/seawater). <Did you find any of the same crabs living in the water at the mudflat? Happen to know the salinity of it? Many invertebrates actually *are* quite fussy about salinity and other factors of the water; do please be cautious here.> Whenever I introduced new water, the crabs would immediately start roving all over the place, <Keep in mind that increased activity level can indicate very different things - it could be that they are loving the new, clean water with nice little bits of stuff in it, but it could also be that they're really stressing from the sudden change in water parameters.... trying to find a way out, basically.> moving extremely small pincer-like appendages to their mouths back and forth repeatedly. It seemed to me like they were "filtering" little particles out of the water, but I may be wrong. <Maybe.... tough to say.> I have now tried feeding them small shrimp pellets but haven't seen them make a move on those either (unless they're just sneakily eating little pieces while I'm not watching,) They have in fact been unusually inactive these last couple days without water change. <Not a good sign. If they're in a small space with no new water, they could be on their way to being doomed - please get some new water mixed up and ready as soon as possible.> They most resemble the Clibanarius vittatus on your site, but my crabs are completely white and are smooth-shelled. <Maybe the same, similar, or completely different species, then. Any chance at a photo of them?> Upon closer inspection I noticed two small "things" within the mouth on either side are continuously moving up and down rapidly even when the crabs are out of water (not the small pincer-like appendages I referred to earlier). <These sound like the antennules (err, at least, I think that's what they're called.... I fear I'm a touch rusty on crabby anatomy) that they use to smell and taste.> Hope my new essay provides some insight :) <Mostly, your key task is going to be to provide them as close to an accurate environment as possible. If you can get an image of them, or if you do seriously feel that they are filter feeders, you might try taking frozen foods like Ocean Nutrition's "Formula One" and "Formula Two" foods and squish them up in the water as best as possible to see if maybe that will help them to eat. I'm most concerned about their water quality and the fact that they've been inactive - please do get them into as suitable a space as you can. Please keep reading - a beginning saltwater book such as "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta might be a worthwhile read for you. There's *tons* of information on this site, as well, and you might also take a peek at our forums - http://bb.wetwebmedia.com . There are many helpful folks there who can help steer you right as well. Keep at it - your crabs will thank you for your research, and I do seriously think you'll get a great deal of fun out of this! Best of luck, -Sabrina C. Fullhart>

Marine hermit crabs? ID, care - 08/27/07 This past weekend I was in Cape Cod, MA. Some friends and I were in the ocean (just ankle deep), and we saw a bunch of tiny hermit crabs in the water. They are only the size of my thumb nail, maybe slightly larger. Well of course we made the dumb decision to bring some home, and now I have 4 of them in a water bottle with salt water and sand and rocks in it. So far they are fine. I went to a pet store today and bought a bunch of stuff for them. But once I got home and did more research I am realizing to my horror that I don't think these are land hermit crabs like I was thinking. Can I keep them in captivity or will they die?? I bought a little plastic container and sand and a sponge for them, but I think they need to be fully submersed in salt water don't they?? Should I get a whole salt water aquarium system for them?? I'm not finding much info on how to care for Marine hermit crabs, and I'm afraid these cute little guys will be dead any day now!!!!!! Please help!!! Thanks. Natasha (If you need a picture of them to identify I can send one later.) <Hello Natasha. Identifying a hermit crab to species level is very difficult without a photo. But in the cooler parts of the North Atlantic then species of the genus Pagurus are most common, both along the North American and European coasts. So I'm assuming you have one of those. They are indeed fully aquatic hermit crabs, though they are well able to tolerate exposure to air for some time, and will scuttle about in very shallow water even with half their bodies exposed. But for long term care you will need to set them up a "coldwater marine" aquarium. This is not difficult. Firstly, you'll need a tank around the 10 gallon mark. Then you'll need a filter. I'd recommend a simple air-powered box filter filled with ceramic media and a bit of filter wool. There's no need for carbon or anything else. The aquarium needs to be filled with artificial seawater -- that is, water with about 35 grammes of *marine aquarium salt mix* added per litre of water. Using a hydrometer you need to aim for a specific gravity of about 1.027 at 18 degrees C, the maximum safe temperature for these crabs. Try and keep them cooler if you can. I have a little program called 'Brack Calc' on my web page ( http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/  ) that lets you relate the required salinity (35 g/l) with whatever temperature you have and the specific gravity you can directly measure. Beyond this, keeping hermit crabs is easy as they are quite hardy and adaptable. They are omnivores, mostly feeding on algae, organic detritus, and carrion. In the aquarium almost anything will be accepted, from algae pellets to raw seafood. Don't overfeed them though. Apart from the fact these animals don't need extra light and don't like warmth, in terms of basic care they are otherwise similar to tropical marine hermit crabs. Hope this helps, Neale>

How did I find this site? Was it luck? Need advice on Hermit Crabs. I'm not stupid, but I sure am ignorant. We All Started Somewhere; A worried newcomer and his hermits/tank - 05/08/07 <Ferrari I apologize in advance I took a little longer to get back to you, but I placed this query aside because I wanted to ensure it got special attention and that you got pointed in a positive and correct direction..., good luck to you and your animals.> I have been reading for about 2 hours... <Addicted yet?> Now, I realize my ignorance, <That's okay…the first step is admitting it, and on the plus you are here to correct your mistakes I presume. That's all we can ask.> but I will listen to your advice and return the 4 hermit crabs to the bay. <Okay, hold off my friend. Once you collect animals form their natural habitat and place them into artificial quarters, it would not be ethical to return them, though I understand your heart/logic is in the right place. You see returning them would put the wild-population at risk, you could introduce non-native behaviors and/or pathogens, which could severely destabilize the natural ecosystem. Unfortunately if you can't provide the right environment to these critters or know someone who can…..the only option is humane euthanization.> Here is my total life experience with Aquariums. <Okay…we all started somewhere.> Last week-- Knew nothing about Aquariums. 3 days ago I found two 20 gallon tanks at a thrift shop. 2 days ago I retrieved 4 Hermit crabs and 10 gallons of water from bay and set up one tank. <Okay the first mistake is the impulse collection. It is important to research the needs and have the set-up in place before collecting or purchasing animals (also check your local laws). The next mistake, in my experience/opinion…is the use of sea water vs. synthetic. See here; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm. Also you can't set-up an aquarium and introduce livestock in the same day, you must establish the biological filtration in the aquarium and let it go through a nitrogen cycle. See here; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm .> Yesterday I added some nice looking shells for them to try on and fed the hermit crabs Tetra Crab Cake food pellets. <What would be most helpful in outlining a diet for these hermits is if you could identify where they came from or even better what species they are. Having said that I would try adding some variety to their diet. Look into frozen and freeze-dried aquarium foods, krill, squid, Mysis, mussels, notice that all of these items are of a marine origin not terrestrial or freshwater based (I'll make an exception for our friends over at P.E. Mysis which are freshwater based…but that's a special circumstance).> Last night I took a big step and bought a 55 Gallon tank kit from Wal-Mart, along with an extra AquaTech 30-60 Filter just to be sure. <I see you have been bitten by the bug! Also look into more appropriate marine filtration on WWM. In particular I would recommend you look into live rock and I URGE you to seek out and purchase a quality protein skimmer. A nice Aqua-C hang on model would be appropriate for this set-up.> Taped a really nice looking reef background to the tank. Washed then added 50 lbs of Wal-Mart beige colored river rock. <You may want to look into live rock or at least (marine-based_ porous/calcareous lime rock.> Next, treated 50 gallons of water with (Jungle) start-right water conditioner <This is good though there are some other brands of conditioners which I prefer. Tap is okay in certain areas though not ideal…..look into other sources of freshwater, including RODI water. Many local fish stores sell it a reasonable price of you can not purchase a unit yourself.> (5 gallons at a time) while mixing in a bag of Instant ocean to the 50 gallons of (tap) water. Specific Gravity now of 1.021 <Will need to be higher for inverts (your hermits); http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm .> I bought rocks and ledges. <Do you by chance; know what they are made of? I'm trying to see if they will be invert safe, many rocks contain lots of heavy metals which can prove fatal to your hermits.> Nice new home for four hermit crabs. <It does sounds like you are trying, do not be so harsh on yourself. Though I would slow down slightly and read a little more before you get your feet wet…pun intended.> The real issue--->The water is not crystal clear, <This is expected with such freshly mixed sea-water and a new aquarium. How did you clean the rocks/sand used prior to putting them in the tank. As you will read in the cycling link I placed above…you will see that it might be some time before this aquarium is suitable for livestock.> so I bought new florescent bulbs 18,000 Kelvin ($20.00 for each bulb). Still I can not see the background reef. The two filters have been running for 14 hours now. Not cloudy water, just appears to be normal salt water. <Mmm…likely still debris settling, are you testing the water chemistry yet? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm ; if not I would begin doing so, this will be a very important aspect in your new hobby.> I realize now that my issues are many, but really I would like to solve the issue of lighting the background before I tackle the other more pressing issues. <They are vaguely related. I also encourage you to keep reading not only on WWM but text books as well. Pick up a copy of Mike Paletta's 'New Marine Aquarium" and then move on to something like Bob's CMA.> So, I guess I should have just asked about the lighting issue, but I wanted to give you something to talk about when you WetWebMedia guys get together this morning. <I've actually only met 4 crew-members total, Bob included and we do not poke fun at the mishap at livestocking….sometimes we do laugh at the situations folks get in….but that's not meant maliciously it's mostly to keep from crying.> I do not want to replace the standard hoods and the Fluorescents with a Glass top and HO fluorescents unless I really have to. <If you only plan on keeping the hermits, what you have (NO fluorescents) is fine.> I have an almost totally empty tank. what a starting place, huh? <Do not feel alone, this is everyone's starting place….and others have made far worse mistakes than you.> I am thinking of pulling out the Beige colored aquarium gravel and finding something reflective (perhaps White Crushed Coral), <The latter would be better, though I would even look into something finer. Read this too; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm .> and even stronger lighting. Or is there a simpler solution? <The lighting is not an issue at the moment, see all of the above.> Seems like the lighting issue can run into the hundreds of dollars for a small 55 gallon tank, <Yes if your aim is to keep photosynthetic organisms…which you aren't at the moment. What you need to focus on is filtration equipment and the nitrogen cycle of your new tank(s) I must be doing something wrong. <We all did in the beginning do not stress, chin up my friend.> Thank you in advance, <Of course, feel free to email me back should you seek clarification.> Ferrari <Adam.>

Hermit Crab Questions 5/7/07 Hi Bob, <Lecette> I have several Hermit Crab questions I hope you can help me with. Our family went to Galveston, TX last weekend (April 27) and came home with 7 hermit crabs that we found in the surf. They range in size from 1/4"-3" long shells. <Mmm, three inch long? These larger species, specimens may well consume the smaller> We have in the past week converted our 75gal fresh water tank to a saltwater tank. I added the 10lb of sand we brought home from Galveston as well as 40lb live reef sand and 30 lb ocean sand. I am getting a variety of shells for growth. I need to know what kind and how much to feed, any lighting requirements, what temperature to maintain. <Posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm and the linked files above> Also, is it OK that the kids hold them in the tank? <Not really... too much likelihood of introducing pollution... stress... and a possibility (though small) of your children contracting disease...> I am using the power head and bio-wheel filter we used for the fresh water tank and have purchased a protein skimmer. Haven't added it yet. After about 30 days, I hope to add additional saltwater livestock. Any suggestions for compatibility? <Other Gulf coast life would be, is my choice... a chance for a biotope, education...> Any recommended salinity? It is currently about 1.024. Thanks for your help! <Welcome, this is fine. Bob Fenner>

I need your advice...wild hermit crabs......please help 3/16/07 Hey Bob, <Jessica> My name is Jessica Ysidron. I just returned to the San Joaquin Valley (Sacramento) today after spending a beautiful day and night in Monterey Bay. Sadly, I've discovered that my four year old son accidentally (or purposely,) brought home a small hermit crab from the tide pools. I didn't notice him mixed in with our collection of rocks and sea shells until we got home 3 hours later. I was searching online to find out how to take care of it, and found your recommendation to return it to its natural habitat. Unfortunately, I can't do that. I'd rather not have it die, although it's just a crab. Can you give me a few pointers to take care of this thing the best I can? Thank You, Jessica Ysidron <Mmm... can... though, the "cost" to the environment... as in the larger issue of whether we ourselves should reproduce... Is greater than allowing this animals demise. Such would involve providing a filtered, chilled (yes, cooled) environment... This animal is not that akin to the "terrestrial" hermits largely mis-sold as pets. Perhaps contacting an agency near the shore (the Monterey Bay Aquarium itself?) and mailing this small animal to them (with a bit of sponge soaked in water)... Bob Fenner>

Saltwater hermit crabs my daughter brought home from the beach 8/18/06 Hi! I took a quick look on your website but I think I need a more straightforward answer. I took the kids to the beach today and my 7 year old wanted to take home a few very small hermit crabs. We scooped them in a bucket and now that we have them home I have no idea what to do with them! (I'm feeling very guilty now for doing this!) I'd like to give them the best chance for survival! What is my next step? <... to read, re marine Hermit Crab Systems, Feeding... > I've read so much about "land" hermits, but I have no idea about saltwater! Thanks for your help! I know my daughter would love to give these guys a good little home! Tracy <Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hermitsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Mystery Hermit Crab Help - 10/20/2005 Hello. Your website has the most in-depth info anywhere on the web! <Hefty accusation there, Mary! I'm glad you find the site useful. Sabrina with you today.> You are all to be congratulated on your time, effort and expertise! <Thank you very, very much for these kind words....> I'll try to watch my language. <Ahh, good.> That said.... I, like others, ended up bringing home a couple of hermit crabs by mistake from Dauphin Island. <Uhh, yikes. Please, please folks - if you pick up trinkets at the beach, make sure the animals that used them are done with them!> They had survived more than 2 weeks in a tied plastic bag with other empty shells; traveling from southern Alabama up to and through the Smoky Mountains (all of those elevation and temperature changes, whew!) and finally to northern Kentucky. So I figured the very least that I owed them was my very best efforts to help them live. I knew absolutely nothing about them and had trouble at first figuring out that they are NOT the hermit crabs that you can readily find info for on the web and that so many kids keep as pets. I haven't been able to exactly identify them, but here is a link to a picture of them: http://www.touchthesea.org/hermitcrablv2.jpg <This is an aquatic or semi-aquatic animal, to be sure. Not just a land hermit, as you correctly guessed.> I set up a mini (10 gal) salt water aquarium with: Aragonite Reef Sand, other shells that I brought home (some of which may be suitable future homes for them), salt water made with dechlorinated tap water and Instant Ocean Sea Salt, mixed appropriately, and a thermometer. <Heater? Filtration? Testing supplies? Food?> Yesterday, I thought they were goners. After setting this 'system' up and putting them in, I gave them some food choices that I had tried previously like commercial pellets, leaf lettuce, "Sea Weed Salad, Green Marine Algae" and covered the whole sha-bang with a towel and left them undisturbed overnight. <I would try offering small bits of thawed frozen raw human-consumption shrimp.... and remove in a few tens of minutes if left untouched.> (In Kentucky, I think 'sha-bang' is a noun, LOL) <Can double as a verb in Kansas, spelled 'shebang'.> And, alas, they seem to be very happy crabs this morning !! SO, I will go ahead and install a water pump and filtering system, the information for which I can get from your FAQs. <Great.> But, FINALLY, here is my question.... I have yet to see them attempt to eat anything that I have offered and I am stumped. <These opportunistic dudes prefer meatier fare.... Try shrimp, krill, even bits of human-consumption fish.> Today, they seem to be filtering the water through their mouths and maybe eating the algae that came in the sand??. <They'll pick through it some, sure.> But that won't last very long, will it? <No.> What else can I offer them to eat? <As above.> Do they maybe just need more time to acclimate to their surrounding? <Perhaps.> Minerals? <Regular water changes with saltwater of the correct salinity using a quality salt mix will help with this. You may wish to start testing, maintaining calcium and alkalinity.> If this is successful, I think I just might invest in a new hobby. I currently am husband to a 40 gal FW aquarium that has been very successful over the years. <Must've been tough to get THAT marriage license!> A Marine tank would be too cool ! I had always been intimidated by the science of one, but no longer, thanks to all of the efforts y'all put into this web site. <Glad we could be of service.> ('y'all' is definitely a noun in KY !) <That's one I could never get the hang of.> I look forward to some suggestions on food, minerals, etc. Keep up the great work, so many of us appreciate it. <And again, thank you very much for these kind words. It means a great deal to see comments like these.> Mary Robben <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Coldwater Hermit Crabs in a tropical arrangement? 10/31/05 Hello WWM Crew, I have a 25 gallon SW tank. Currently the tank is set at 78 degrees. I was wondering if a coldwater hermit crab species could live in my tank. I live in Monterey, California where there are many local tidepools that are occupied by many hermit crabs. I've looked online and the hermit crab species is Pagurus samuelis. I figured that since they are tide pool dwelling animals they are acclimated to frequent changes in their habitat, <Good point> such as temperature, so they may be able to be ok at 78 degrees. What is your opinion? Thanks, Taylor. <Might adjust... if tried/introduced during the warmer time of the year... but don't think these will live well or long kept in a tropical setting. Bob Fenner>

Taking hermits from the ocean - 8/23/04 I brought home a few wild hermit crabs from Monterey Bay, Ca
<I work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium>
of the tide pool variety.
<Know these well>
Only after some research did I find out that they are different from land types and require far more special care.
<Oh yeah!!! I would suggest always doing your research before taking on any animal (even those purchased from a store)>
PLEASE help, I'm desperate to keep them alive.
<Not likely possible in the long term. They require a cooler temperature. They require lots of varied foods. Typically, being that they are found in tide pools, they can handle extreme variations throughout the day. But let me add that they also become stabilized with the changing tide. So they do not typically spend the entire lifespan in the tide pool. They can venture back into shallow areas or different tide pools to find better suitable foods and habitat. Your environment just won't be conducive to their ability to move to a different environment when they want. So it is highly recommended that you release back to a tide pool near if you can. Sorry for the bad news, but I just can't think of anyway to keep these alive in a home aquarium without ambient bay temps (56-68 degrees) proper Monterey Bay alga to start> We are willing to furnish them with aquarium and whatever else is needed. How about a 200 dollar to a 10000 dollar chiller just to start?> Shells are at most 3/4 inch wide, and they have very dark blue or very dark brown appendages with red antennae. We'd like help dealing with specifically this type of hermit crab, as in how many crab tank volume. As for right now, what should I do immediately? Water is low, so how should I prepare more (salinity, chemical, temperature, aeration etc.)?
<Start with our website under the Marine Aquarium heading. There are lots that applies here. Honestly Oliver, I would let these guys go, then start a tank with your newfound knowledge from this site and the many other sites and books out there, then, either try again, or maybe try some tropical hermit crabs that are kept at warmer temperature. (much easier and cheaper in my opinion, and in some cases even more interesting and colorful) On the short term, how can I keep them alive?
<Just too big of a topic to cover. You can read through our site on setting up a salt water aquarium. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm choose all the topics that apply to you. They look fine and healthy for now, but I doubt they'd stay that way for long.
<Agreed. I feel the best way to handle this situation is to leave the marine life in the tide pools for others to see. Buy only corals and fish responsibly caught, and better yet, farmed varieties. Sorry not be of more help but this is a big topic to cover. Thanks for the question. ~Paul> Thanks, Oliver

Taking from the Sea - 9/28/03 Hello, We just got home from a trip to the ocean, Bodega Bay area in CA. <Not far from my location> We brought home a small container with some sea water, shoreline gravel, and some kelp. <Cool but why?> I told the kids to go ahead and toss their handful of shells in with it. They wanted to use the shells and sand/gravel later on in their fish tank (after cleaning them). <Not a good idea. Harmful contaminants could be leached regardless of cleaning method> Going through the stuff my kids collected I found a small snail (olive?), <related> some live barnacles on muscles shells and TWO LIVE HERMIT CRABS. <Too bad.> What do I do with these little guys? <Unfortunately, I think watching them die is your only option. They are a mostly cold water intertidal animal. Very difficult to keep without the forethought of study and special equipment and feedings> They are both in snail shells which are appx. 3/4 of an inch. The crabs are olive colored with blue bands on their legs and on their large pincer. <maybe Pagurus samuelis? In any event, It is always a good idea to hold the shells in your open hands for a few minutes (literally) to be sure there is no animal inside. Maybe a digital camera or even quick drawings of things you find on the beach might be a more lasting memory rather than taking some animals homes. (not to mention environmental) Just a thought. I know it is hard to resist. My wife is crazy for shells!> I have a land hermit crab as a pet but I don't know what to do with these guys. <Not much one can do except return them. But a few is really not worth going back to the beach if you live far from it.> They are in a small container right now with the water, shells, kelp and driftwood we found, but I don't know how long I can keep them alive, I won't be able to go back to the ocean for some time so I cannot release them. <Yeah unfortunately, the writing is on the wall> So far they are very lively. <Yeah. Little workers. I too, am fascinated by them. Always foraging and fighting. Fierce little dodgers as well> We have one land hermit crab so I have some hermit crab cakes. I broke one up into small pieces and used a pair of tweezers to hold it near them in the water to see if I would at least have food for them. One snatched the little chunk out of the tweezers as soon as the food hit the water and devoured it. <Always hungry for a handout I tell ya. Hahaha> The other did the same with another piece. Can they live in fresh water? <Nope> They came out of a tidepool and they seem to keep crawling out of the water (probably to get back to the ocean) <yep. They usually are found in varying degrees of salty water and temp. Very durable but fresh water won't cut it.> and actually seem to prefer to be out of it. <True but they do need it> I am trying to keep the water cool, but not cold. I don't know what temperature they need. <Usually between 58 and 72 because when on the rocky tidal flats (tide pools) they are exposed to varying degrees of environmental manipulation. Such as fresh water addition (via rain), evaporation (via sun) heating (via sun) and cooling (via addition of waters fresh ((rain)) and salty ((during tidal cycles and ambient air cycles)) HELP. <Do your best see what happens. Good luck. -Paul> Michelle

Mother of a new (Hermit) crab lover My son and I were perusing your web site and found the following picture:

<Ah, yes> He came home today with from his Scout campout on Galveston Island with a crab that looks just like him and is the size of a medium chicken egg. We're wondering what kind of crab it is. <Is posted on WWM if it's the same> Last weekend we went to the pet store to set up a small marine aquarium for a button-size blue legged crab, that he brought home from the same general area, and he's been doing very well. But this new crab is huge by comparison and I'm afraid to have them together in the same tank. <Maybe take a look though Humann and DeLoach's works on marine life ID in the area...> We live an hour and a half from the Gulf so it's not possible to take him back for at least another week. We've read about the aggressiveness of blue legged, the possibility of larger crabs eating smaller ones, the vulnerability of molting, etc. <Yes> I'd just gotten past the point of worrying that the first one wouldn't survive beyond a day or so and kind of like having him and I'd even gotten used to the idea that I would survive if he did die since it didn't seem that we imposed an immediate death sentence by taking him out of his habitat. But now the picture has just gotten much more complicated and I'm looking for the safest way to incorporate this big fellow, even if it is just for a week until we can return him to the Gulf. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Mother of a New Crab Lover <Suggestions? To keep reading... if you're going to return the animal, just keep it in near seawater conditions, w/o feeding for the week. Otherwise, much written on their care, keeping on our site (WWM) and elsewhere. Bob Fenner>

A Carolina Hermie? >We were visiting some relatives on Hilton Head Island and my young son gathered some shells from a beach...he knows never to remove animals from their habitat, but both he and my husband had inspected the shells and thought them to be empty. They were right, except for one shell which has a living crab in it! >>SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE! (That was my best Gomer Pyle impression.) >We discovered this when we arrived at home which is far away from saltwater (Chicago area) and all of the care information I have found relates to land crabs. >>Alright. Problem is identifying whether or not this is effectively a land crab or a more committed crab (to the water). >The shell was found out of water originally, and guessing that he(?) prefers a 'intertidal' habitat, we've been giving the crab options of both water & sand. >>This sounds best, as long as you're ensuring it can submerge itself entirely, as well as be able to pull itself onto completely dry land. >We have a friend who is willing to take the crab back to the coast with her, but she won't be going for a while yet, so I was wondering if you could provide any insight as to how to keep this crab healthy... Should the tank ideally be all (salt) water? Can they eat what land crabs eat? >>Ah.. a bit more tricky, but having had young (now teen) sons myself, I'm very sympathetic. This is what I would do: Keep your setup as described above, but provide a small sponge in a dish with freshwater, just in case it needs to drink fresh water. As you've learned in your search, even land hermits need to have access to both salt and fresh water. In this case I would actually use sea salt mix for the saltwater here. Then, I would provide as a staple those land hermit pellets, with weekly bits of ripe fruit. If it doesn't take those, or appears to be more committed to the aquatic life, then you can OCCASIONALLY offer bits of fresh shrimp, but be sparing as this will mean more water changes of the aquatic portion of its tank. Also, as you've learned in your search, the crab may likely require sand deep enough for it to bury itself in (if it's a land crab). You know the size of the animal, so judge the proper depth based on that. In the meantime.. have fun with your boy! Marina >Thank you for your time!

Hermit Crabs My daughter and I found some hermit crabs off the shore of Biloxi, MS. Can you direct me to a location on how we can care fore these in our home? Thanks Dave <Hey Dave, I wish I had more info for ya. I would start with the links below for care sheets and forums on hermit crabs. http://www.landhermitcrabs.com/ http://www.hermit-crabs.com/ I hope it gets you off to the right start. Best Regards, Gage>

Hermit crabs hi there are a lot of hermit crabs just in the bay down from my house I was wondering if it would be alright to put them in my tank do some hermit crabs need air because these hermit crabs are always in the water when I see them but in shallow puddles because I wouldn't want to drown them or anything <You are a good observer... many hermit crabs are much more amphibious than totally aquatic. Do provide a small area for these to crawl out of the water. Bob Fenner>

Crabs Hello, back again! It's so nice to know that when I post a question, it will be answered! This service is highly needed today and I am delirious each time I get the chance to use it!. Also, that Steven, is FUNNY! When Robert was out he sure came up hilarious scenarios for his absence! <Thank you for the compliment, but I think you meant Anthony. He was the one coming up with the truly hilarious reasons for Bob's absence. I was only moderately amusing.> So I just wanted you to know, that although I may appear to be casual in my need for info, I appreciate it so much!! It makes this hobby so much more possible when you have almost instant answers! Now, to my question,..............hmmm, I forgot it! Oh yeah, last summer I went down to our local beach, (I live on Cape Cod) and collected about 20 little hermit crabs. They were taken from the small pools that form along the beach when the waves come in. Seeing that this water was always very warm, I figured they would do nicely in my reef tank. Oh contrary! It appeared they WERE settling in nicely for about the first 3 months. But then I noticed that their numbers were dwindling. I wasn't sure if they were hiding or what, but now, about 5 months later, I haven't seen a single one! All I have in my 55 g. tank is 3 dominos, 2 yellow tail blue damsels, 2 camel shrimp, and 1 coral shrimp. I don't think THEY would be eating them. Can you tell me why they would die off? Also, was it illegal to take them from the beach? I see little kids do this all the time, and I have not yet seen the "Crab Police" stop them at the gate! I really hate to pay 3 dollars a crab at my local shop when I can get them for free! <As you discovered, these little guys are a temperate species and while the water was warm at the time, these crabs needed/were use to it getting cold and their numbers dwindled when it stayed hot. You would be better off buying the tropical variety from your LFS. I prefer the so called scarlet reef hermit crab.>Thanks guys! Pam <You are welcome, Steven Pro.>

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