This is where I will try to answer as many frequently asked hermit crab questions as I can possibly answer. I hope this helps. If you have a question you think would be useful on here, please e-mail me.
Yes, hermit crabs travel for miles when they are in the wild. You should provide the biggest tank for them you can afford.
Yes, ALL hermit crabs need access to salt and fresh water 24/7. You should provide a water dish that is big enough for your largest hermit crab to soak in, but make sure your smallest can get in an out of the water dishes. If your dishes are too deep, your hermit crabs can drown.
Hermit crabs are very social animals, and when they are alone they aren't very interesting. They usually get depressed because they don't have another friend to play with, or keep them occupied. You really should get more than one hermit crab.
Honestly, I don't trust any of them. Instead of using commercial foods, I provide lots of organic foods that I found on the Epicurean Hermit safe foods list. This is what makes me feel better, and I think it makes my hermit crabs happier!
I make my salt water using Frontier All Natural Sea Salt that I got from the grocery store. The only ingredients are Sea Salt and Magnesium oxide. I mix a half cup of salt per gallon of water. There are some other mixes from the pet store you could use, but I'm not sure which ones are good, and which ones aren't. You could also use actual sea water if you live close to the ocean, but make sure where you get it from is not a popular public beach.
Hermit crabs bury themselves under the substrate so they can molt. They molt so they can grow. It's actually good for your hermit crab to molt, so you shouldn't disturb him. They can be under the substrate for anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months depending on their size. This is where your patience is tested, and where having more than one hermit crab comes in handy!
You should wait until they come up themselves. Molting is a very stressful process for them, however necessary. Digging them up before they are ready to come up will just cause more stress, and could put them in danger. The only time you should EVER dig up a crab is if you know there are harmful mites in your tank. Although it might seem like they are down for a long time, they are also up for a long time after their molts (usually.) Don't worry too much!
There are a few major reasons your crabs could be fighting. 1.) You are not offering enough shells for your hermit crabs, so they are fighting over shells. 2.) They are missing something in their diet. 3.) They are fighting over territory (this usually happens when they are first introduced to each other). All are easy to fix, but you should begin by separating them.
If it is an issue of aggression from being introduced, you should remove both of them from the tank, and give them a salt water bath. Once you return them to the tank, you shouldn't have any more problems. If you continue to have problems, you should check out your shell supply and recall what you've been feeding them.
There is no "best" substrate. I am currently using Play Sand because it's cheap, and readily available to me. In my ISO, I use a mixture of 50/50 Play Sand and Eco Earth. The only reason I do that is because when I got Kiyone, Sasami, Princess Aeka, and Ryo'Ohki I bought them a travel container because I knew they would be hanging out at my boyfriends for a few hours, and I didn't want them to be stuck in that stupid travel box for more than 15 minutes. My boyfriend had some leftover EE from when he added it to his frog's tank, so he gave it to me to line my ISO.
There are a few substrates I would never recommend to be used in a hermit crab's habitat; wood chip bedding, aquarium gravel, or calci sand. The wood chip bedding found in most pet stores is a bacteria breeding ground, and also usually the wood is toxic to hermit crabs. The aquarium gravel is horrible for hermit crabs as it doesn't allow them to dig under to molt. The Calci Sand is a good treat for your crabs if you would like to put it in a dish (so, if you are using that, do chuck it just yet!) but it's bad as a substrate because it doesn't hold moisture well, and eventually clumps up and traps them if they are under molting. This isn't good!
I wouldn't really say there is a particular favorite of any one species. Every hermit crab is different. I only have PP's and E's. In my experience with PP's, they will pretty much change into anything. Tenchi went through a couple shells before sticking with the one he's in now. This included one that I couldn't believe he would like. E's on the other hand.. they can be really picky buggers. It's best to find shells similar to the ones they come in (although it can be difficult) they also seem to like Babylonian shells. What I would suggest is offer lots of shells of all sizes. Pick ones you like. Turbos are usually a good bet as well.
Crabs aren't the most active pets in the world. Especially not during the first month you have them. The first month is the hardest because you are playing a waiting game. What I would recommend is to check on your crabs periodically, but do not hold them during the first month. Let them acclimate to their surroundings. If they dig under for a molt, that's great! Most crabbers will tell you, you're crabs aren't out off the woods until after their first molt. I really believe that.
Yes, you aren't imagining things! Your hermit crabs are probably chirping. Not a lot is know about when and why hermit crabs chirp, but it's generally thought of as a way of communicating. Sometimes hermit crabs will chirp in distress. If one of their fellow tank mates climbs on top of them, or picks a fight with them, sometimes they will react by chirping. Other times, they are just chatting with each other.
Well, you can do one of two things. Most of the time, they will just shake their claw in dissatisfaction and re-dig their hole. However, if your crab appears to be too weak, or in the process of molting, you should isolate them somehow. If you have a smaller KK (kritter keeper) you could fill it with substrate, put them in it, and put it in your tat. If not, you could use an empty CD case (you open it and push it in the sand around them. It works best if they are in a corner.) In most cases it will be unnecessary for you to do anything. They are good about re-digging their pockets.
Yay! You got new shells! What I do with mine, is I boil them in sat water for 5-10 minutes. Check to make sure they don't smell. If an odor persists, boil them for longer. I believe some people also use vinegar if there is an odor. One reason for the odor is.. their might be remains of the former inhabitant of that shell left deep in the shell.
Yes. Having plastic plants in your crabitat is okay. You should ALWAYS sterilize new crabitat decor. What I would do with the plastic plants is boil them in salt water for a short while. I haven't done this yet. If you are weary of boiling them, just soak them in salt water. If you have the silk type of leaves on the plants, you should only rinse them in salt water. If you boil them, they will fall apart.
In short, the answer is no. The environment necessary for hermit crabs to successfully breed is almost impossible for humans to recreate right now. Although there are a few people currently working on it, it hasn't been accomplished yet. If you would like to read more about some people that are working on it, go here and here!
No. The reason you should put your tank in a place where it will not get direct sunlight is the sunlight changes the temperature and humidity levels durastically which is bad for your crabs. A sudden major fluctuation in temp or humidity is very bad for them.
This is actually a question I'm not 100% sure of the answer. My hermit crabs are not nocturnal. They are up and about all day. My small PP, however, sits inside her cocohut all day, only to come out a few times. I might say my smaller crabs are more nocturnal than my larger ones. When they are all up, my larger ones are ripping up the tank day in and day out.
It all depends on where you live. You should not use any plants if you can't 100% identify them. See the list at the Epicurean Hermit for the plants that are safe and unsafe. There are even some species of plants that are called the same thing, that are in fact actually different. Really be sure of what you are giving your hermies before you put them in! Another MAJOR issue is the use of pesticides. If you use pesticides on your lawn, or in your garden.. don't use the plants. Also make sure that your neighbors don't use pesticides.. In general, I wouldn't trust anything in your yard. You really don't have any way of knowing exactly what's in it =/
In my tanks I have Fluker's Incandescent Light Fixture. It can hold up to 75 watts, and it's really amazing. It has a spot for a day and night bulb, so you don't have to change them out every day. It keeps the heat between 78-83F in my 10g. With that said, it depends on where you live! I live in Maine. The climate is fairly cold, and fairly dry. The heat in my house is usually around 68-70F. A UTH wasn't working in my tank, so I switched to the lights. There are a lot of reasons I love the lights. A major one is it gives them a great day/night cycle. Another is it keeps the heat right where it should be. If you live in a place that is fairly warm, or you keep the room your hermies are kept in warm enough, you should be able to do fine with just the UTH. It's entirely up to you. There is nothing wrong with using lights. I've never have a problem with humidity in my tank.
I use only Silicon glue. This is the same kind of glue that is used as aquarium sealant. You can buy either silicon glue (at your local hardware store) or aquarium sealant (at your local pet store). I'm not sure which one is cheaper, as I haven't ever bought the aquarium sealant, and my dad already had silicon glue for me to use. Hot glue doesn't work well in the humidity of the crabitat, and it is toxic for crabs, so it should not be used. I would just stick with the silicon glue!
In general, it can really stress your crabs out. The only time I have ever bathed my crabs was when I introduced Tenchi and Kagato and they immediately started fighting. I gave them a nice salt water bath, and haven't had a problem since. Another time where I would see bathing as being necessary, is if your tank gets infested with mites. Before you remove your crabs and put them in ISO, you should really give them a bath and make sure they aren't bringing any tag-alongs into your ISO tank!