Those who are thinking of purchasing hermit crabs as pets need to do a little bit of research before moving forward. To keep these pets happy and healthy in your home, you’re going to need to buy several things.
You’ll need a tank for your new pet as well as some equipment and accessories. Whenever you’re buying pets like this it’s important to factor everything that you need into your budget.
What is required when you’re getting things for a hermit crab tank setup? Is setting up a hermit crab habitat difficult, or will it be easy enough for a beginner?
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about setting up a hermit crab tank. This will ensure that you do things right so your hermit crabs can thrive under your care.
Where Do Hermit Crabs Live in the Wild?
Looking at hermit crabs in the wild will give you a good idea of what they’ll need in a tank. Firstly, you should know that there are two distinct categories of hermit crabs.
There are land hermit crabs and marine hermit crabs. Marine hermit crabs live their lives in the water and cannot breathe on land.
While marine hermit crabs are kept in fish tanks as pets sometimes, they aren’t what is being discussed today. This is about setting up a tank for land hermit crabs.
Land hermit crabs have modified gills that can breathe oxygen. They live on land. and they can be found in warm beach areas.
They generally live in tropical areas and stay very close to the beach. Hermit crabs need to have access to both sand and water so they can live normally.
As omnivorous scavengers, they can stay close to the beach and live happily. They go around eating dead fish and other things for sustenance.
You’ll find land hermit crabs in many parts of the world. They’re commonly found in tropical areas such as the western Caribbean, the Indo-region, and the western Atlantic.
What Do Hermit Crabs Need in Their Tanks?
Hermit crabs are going to need many things in their tanks. They’re going to need some type of substrate material.
They’ll also need a heater to keep the tank warm. You’ll need a way to keep the tank humid enough as well, and many hermit crab owners choose to buy equipment to make this easier.
Having both a thermometer and a humidity gauge will be important. You must monitor the temperature and humidity level in the tank.
You’ll have to place at least two shallow water bowls in the tank. One should be filled with fresh water, and the other should be filled with salt water.
Ideally, you should put some types of toys in the tank. Hermit crabs like to play and they’ll need structures to climb such as rocks and pieces of wood.
Decorations to make the hermit crab habitat feel more natural will be appropriate. Also, hermit crabs really like having hiding spots.
It’s usually a good idea to have some type of lighting so you can see the hermit crabs at night. They’re nocturnal, and you might want to observe them when the sun goes down without having the lights be too bright.
These are just the basic things that you need to keep hermit crabs healthy. There is a lot more to learn about setting up a hermit crab tank, too.
Do Hermit Crabs Like Sand?
Yes, hermit crabs love sand, and they need sand to be able to live normally. Generally, it’s expected that you’ll put sand in the hermit crab tank.
You can choose to use other substrate materials, but most hermit crab owners like to use sand. Hermit crabs will dig into the sand and bury themselves sometimes.
They like digging because it’s a normal action that they perform in the wild. In the wild, hermit crabs will sometimes search for food by digging in the sand.
Also, they use the sand for molting purposes. When molting, hermit crabs will bury themselves in the sand for weeks or even well over a month.
This is something that they do every so often as they grow. Molting serves the purpose of helping the hermit crab to grow a new exoskeleton.
If a hermit crab doesn’t have enough sand in its tank, it’s going to become stressed. Hermit crabs can’t live without having enough substrate material in the tank.
Hermit Crab Substrate
Hermit crabs need substrate material in the tank to be able to survive. As mentioned above, sand is likely the most common substrate material choice.
You can also use substrate materials such as coconut fiber. Some people like to use coconut fiber because it retains moisture better than sand.
This can be beneficial when you’re trying to maintain high humidity in the tank. If you’re not going to be using a humidifier or a fogger, it might be wise to use coconut fiber as the substrate material.
Some enthusiasts create custom substrate blends using sand and coconut fiber. There are many possibilities.
The important thing to know is that the substrate material needs to be deep enough for the hermit crabs that you own. Hermit crabs will be different sizes depending on their ages and the specific type of hermit crab that they are.
Depending on the size of the hermit crab, you might need the sand to be at least six inches deep. If the crab is rather large, you’ll want it to be twelve inches deep.
The important thing is that the hermit crab can completely bury itself in the sand. So you can judge how deep it needs to be based on the size of your pet crab.
Can You Use Beach Sand for Hermit Crabs?
Beach sand can be okay to use for hermit crab tanks, but it’s not the best choice. If you intend to use beach sand, it’s important to ensure that it isn’t too fine.
Fine beach sand will not work well because it won’t retain water. Also, you need to understand that you shouldn’t just scoop up sand from the local beach.
You need to buy clean sand that will be safe for the hermit crabs. Since beach sand isn’t ideal, it’s better to stick with other types of sand.
Can You Use Play Sand for Hermit Crabs?
Play sand, otherwise sold as playground sand, is the most common type of sand that people buy for hermit crab tanks. It works well because it’s safe for the hermit crabs and it’s rather inexpensive.
You can get play sand at a local hardware store or a department store. It’s also easy to order this sand online and have it shipped to your home.
Just make sure that the play sand that you purchase isn’t too fine. If the sand is too fine, it’d be better to go with another type of sand.
Other Types of Sand
There are other types of sand on the market that you can utilize. It’s pretty common for people to use aquarium sand for hermit crab tanks.
Aquarium sand can work pretty well for hermit crab habitats. You simply need to make sure it isn’t overly fine before utilizing it.
Another option is to buy all-purpose sand. All-purpose sand is sold at hardware stores and it shouldn’t be hard to come by at department stores either.
How Deep Should Hermit Crab Sand Be?
The depth of the sand in your hermit crab’s tank will depend on the size of the hermit crab. For some crabs, you might only need the sand to be four inches deep.
Other crabs will need the sand to be twelve inches deep. Remember that hermit crabs grow as they age, and some types of hermit crabs have a larger maximum size than others.
You always need to base the depth of the sand in the tank on the size of the hermit crab. Hermit crabs must be able to completely bury themselves in the sand.
This is important because hermit crabs need to be able to molt every so often. If the sand is too shallow, it’ll stress the crab greatly, and you’ll have to deal with various issues as a result.
Make sure that you put enough sand in the tank so the crab can be comfortable. Judge the necessary depth by looking at the size of your crab and then put the sand in the tank accordingly.
Hermit Crab Humidity
Humidity is important in a hermit crab tank. Earlier, you learned that hermit crabs have modified gills that allow them to breathe oxygen.
They can only breathe properly when their gills stay moist. If the environment isn’t humid enough, these pets won’t be able to breathe.
A hermit crab’s gills will dry out when it’s dry in the tank. You have to maintain high humidity levels in the tank.
To keep the tank’s environment safe for the hermit crab, you must keep the humidity level in the tank between 70% and 80%. This is difficult to do naturally because that humidity level isn’t good for your home.
Therefore, you need to take steps to keep the humidity high specifically in the tank. There are things you can do to raise the humidity level in the tank, but it’ll be easier to just buy a humidifier or a fogger.
Both of these pieces of equipment can raise the humidity level in the tank. You can get them set up and use them to keep the humidity in the right range.
If you don’t wish to do this, you’ll have to raise the humidity in the tank by misting it with water regularly and placing wet natural sponges in the tank. This can work, but it requires a bit more effort.
Either way, you must monitor the humidity level by purchasing a hygrometer. Install a hygrometer in the tank so you can easily check the humidity level to see if you need to make adjustments.
Hermit Crab Lighting
Hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures, and they don’t like bright lighting in the tank. It’s fine to install lighting, but you want to ensure that you use the right kind.
To get the best results, it’s recommended to use a fluorescent bulb or an LED bulb in the tank. Don’t use something like a high-output UVB lighting setup for the hermit crab tank.
Powerful lights will bother the hermit crabs. Using your normal lighting setup, you can light the habitat for eight to twelve hours each day.
Hermit Crab Tank Heaters
It’s said that the best type of heater to use for hermit crab habitats is an under-hood heater. There are many options to consider, though.
Some people use incandescent heat bulbs to keep the hermit crab tank warm enough. Others turn to ceramic heat emitters to get the job done.
It’s imperative to have some type of heater in the tank because it needs to stay warm enough. You want the temperature in the tank to stay close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The acceptable temperature range for land hermit crabs is between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Never let things get too cool or too hot.
Too much heat can be rather dangerous for these pets. A very hot environment can cause hermit crabs to dry out, and this will make it difficult for them to breathe.
So be sure to get the heat settings right in the tank. Otherwise, you’re putting your hermit crab’s life in danger.
Remember to buy a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature in the tank. Sometimes you can find thermometers that also function as hygrometers.
Hermit Crab Hiding Spots
It’s going to be wise to have hiding spots in the tank for your hermit crabs. You can put decorations in the tank that will double as hiding spots.
Little caves or huts can be perfect hiding locations for your hermit crabs. They’ll spend a lot of time just hiding out during the day.
Having decorations like this will add charm to the tank. It’ll also help the hermit crabs to feel more comfortable.
Take the time to pick out decorations and hiding spots that you like. Your hermit crabs will appreciate it since it’s a lot better than just trying to keep them in a tank that only has sand.
Hermit Crab Toys
Buying toys for your hermit crabs will be a fine idea as well. Hermit crabs enjoy playing with each other.
They will love all sorts of different climbing toys. Some people like to buy many climbing toys and switch them out periodically so the crabs won’t get bored.
Be sure to place some pieces of driftwood or logs in the tank. Try to put them at an angle so that hermit crabs can climb on top of them and get an interesting viewpoint.
Ropes can be used as toys, too. People often attach little ropes to suction cups and then put them on the walls of the tank.
Hermit crabs enjoy climbing a lot, and this means that many of the toys will be purely climbing-related. It’s good to have these things for your hermit crab to keep it happy.
What Plants Are Good for Hermit Crabs?
Putting some plants in the tank might be a great idea. It’ll help the habitat to feel far more natural.
You can utilize live plants if you want to, but some people use artificial plants for purely decorative purposes. Artificial plants have the benefit of lasting a long time because the hermit crabs won’t eat them.
They can still look nice, and they’ll provide hiding spots for your hermit crabs. Also, artificial plants are rather inexpensive.
Live plants can be more beneficial, but they might be eaten by hermit crabs over time. They improve the air quality in the tank, though, and they make great hiding spots.
If you’re going to go with live plants, it’s best to choose wisely. You want to purchase resilient plants that don’t have thick root systems.
Also, the plants must thrive in a warm and humid environment. Thankfully, there are some good choices.
Air plants work nicely in hermit crab tanks and so do bromeliads. Loose-leaf lettuce could work out, or you might want to try pothos plants. Spider plants and various types of sprouts will look nice in hermit crab tanks.
Even moss can be an attractive option to consider. Just pick plants that you think are beneficial to the hermit crabs while also being relatively hardy and aesthetically pleasing.
Hermit Crab Habitat Ideas
There are so many potential hermit crab habitat ideas that you can look into. You can decorate the habitat in many ways.
Some people like to use ship wreckage decorations. The hermit crabs love to climb these types of obstacles, and they can look rather neat.
Another option is to mimic a beach setting. You could decorate the tank to make it look just like a beach party.
You get to choose how to make the habitat look. No matter what you choose, it’s imperative to focus on getting the right equipment so the hermit crabs will stay healthy.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.