How to set up a proper habitat for land hermit crabs

written for e-How and reposted here:

Land hermit crabs are not the easy to care for, no fuss pets they are portrayed to be. They are complex creatures with specific habitat needs as well as dietary requirements.

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:

* Glass tank
* Lid for the tank
* Hygrometer
* Thermometer
* UTH or warming bulbs
* Substrate
* Extra Shells
* Food
* Water Dechlorinator
* Ocean salt mix
* Overhead light
* Hiding huts
* Climbing accessories
* Food and water dishes (3 total)
* Approximately $150

Step 1 Choose a location.

There are several things to consider when selecting a location for your crabitat. You need a place that is free of drafts, not in direct sunlight and preferrably a low traffic area. In a location where the room temperature fluctuates wildly you will find it very difficult to maintain a steady temperature in the crabitat.

Next you want to make sure there is an outlet nearby and room overhead for a light fixture of some sort. Bear in mind that the crabitat will require regular checking and cleaning so don’t make it hard to access.

Step 2

First you want to affix the UTH. A couple things to bear in mind:

After time the adhesive will start to weaken so make sure you get a good snug fit from the beginning.

The UTH needs a little bit of clearance so affix some of those little rubber feet to your tank.

The UTH should not be placed in the center of the tank, affix to one end. Land Hermit Crabs require different temperature zones and placing the UTH to one end allows the other end to be naturally cooler.

Next add your substrate. Substrate should be several inches deeper than your largest crab to allow for digging for molting. The amount of substrate over the UTH will help control the air temperature of your crabitat.

The hygrometer should be placed in the center of the tank, centered horizontally and vertically. This gives the most accurate reading. BEFORE affixing the hygrometer, if it is analog it should be calibrated for accuracy. You can read how to do that:

The thermometer should be at substrate level but preferably poking down into the substrate. Using a UTH will cause the substrate to be warmer than the air and therefore it should be monitored closely.

Add your water dishes next, well away from the hygrometer so as not to affect the accuracy. All water should be treated with dechlorinator. This is not optional. All land hermit crab species require fresh water and ocean water at all times. The size and depth of the dishes should be determined by the size of hermit crabs you plan to buy. Your hermit crabs will need enough water to submerge in to flush out their shells. If you want to buy some teeny crabs, simply provide them with something to climb onto in the dish to aid entering and exiting the dish.

Add extra shells, hidey huts and climbing items. Avoid items made of metal or things that may mold or mildew. Try to maximize all the open space as hermit crabs are climbers. Be very aware of how close to the top you place your items. Hermit crabs can and WILL escape your tank.

Place your lid on the tank, plug in your UTH and turn on your lights.

Step 3

Purchase your hermit crabs!

Now that your crabitat is all set up and your humidity level and temperature is stable, it’s time to pick out your new hermit crabs! The number of crabs depends on the size of tank you picked and the size of the crabs. Do not over crowd your crabitat!! You can mix sizes. Big crabs do not attack or eat little crabs. Cannibalism or shell fights have NOTHING to do with the size of the crabs involved, regardless of what someone may tell you. Overcrowding and poor diet are the common causes of cannibalism and shell fights are typically due to scarcity of shells or simple shell envy.

Look for busy, active hermit crabs. Broken or missing limbs will be regenerated. If the store tank is filthy, smelly or infested with bugs go to a different store.

Tips & Warnings

* Over time I’ve realized that trying to save money on equipments ends up costing more down the road when I have to replace inferior products. Just something to keep in mind when you are shopping.
* While you are shopping for supplies, stop by the hermit crab tank and check the humidity level. Make a note of it so that you can introduce your new hermit crabs to the same humidity level.
* For instructions on properly acclimating your new land hermit crabs visit:
* Fill two needs with one item and choose an overhead light that takes day glo and night glo bulbs which emit warmth. This will warm your crabitat and provide essential light! I LOVE my Tri Light hoods. They have two fixtures, one single and one double. Each fixture has it’s own power cord and switch. Plug them into timers and you are all set.
* Check online stores for light hoods and bulbs. I have found that sells both for less than other stores.
* Certain sands called Calci Sand or Hermit crab sand are a waste of money. They are clumpy, smell bad when wet and stick to your hermit crabs.
* Very fine marine sands are expensive and will stick like powder to your hermit crabs.
* Keeping land hermit crabs as pets is NOT cheap and is highly addictive!
* Do not buy painted shells for your hermit crabs as spare shells. They are unsafe and crabs will not voluntarily move into them.
* Check your hermit crabs for mites at the store.
* Gravel is NOT a suitable substrate!
* Do your homework before spending a dime on supplies to make sure you are not buying items that are hazardous to your new pets.