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How to Clean a Hermit Crab Tank (And Why It’s Necessary)

How to Clean a Hermit Crab Tank (And Why It’s Necessary)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Taking care of your hermit crabs is important. If you want your pets to stay healthy, it’s imperative to monitor the conditions in the tank.

You likely already know the importance of keeping the tank humid. It’s also important to monitor the temperature of the tank.

Did you know that cleaning is also imperative? If you’re relatively new to caring for hermit crabs, you might not be sure how you’re supposed to clean the tank.

Keep reading to learn how to clean a hermit crab tank safely. This should allow you to get the best results so that your hermit crab can enjoy a clean and safe environment.

Is Cleaning the Tank Necessary?

It’s absolutely necessary to clean the hermit crab tank. You need to clean the tank often, or else it’s going to smell terrible.

When you don’t do a good job cleaning the tank, it’s going to get dirty fast. Remember that hermit crabs are going to defecate in the tank each day.

Also, they’ll leave behind bits of uneaten food. Sometimes they’ll even bury food in the sand.

You need to clean the tank regularly, or it’s going to get nasty. Not only will the smell be terrible, but it could endanger your pets in certain ways.

Problems with Bacteria and Mold

One important reason to clean the hermit crab habitat is that you don’t want things to get moldy. You see, hermit crabs need to be kept in tanks that have very high humidity.

The humidity level in a hermit crab tank will be between 70 and 80%. With humidity levels that high, it creates the right conditions for mold to grow.

Also, bacteria can become a problem in the tank. When you don’t clean things up, bacteria will start to grow.

For example, uneaten food will start to rot faster than normal. Leaving uneaten bits of food in the tank is never a good idea.

To prevent problems with mold and bacteria, you should clean the tank regularly. This can keep your pets safe.

Both mold and bacteria have the potential to be harmful to hermit crabs. Mold could even start growing on the crabs themselves if you’re doing a very bad job of cleaning the tank.

Tank Grime

If you don’t clean the tank often enough, the walls are going to become grimy. A layer of grime will form on the walls due to how humid it is.

This is why it’s important to wipe the walls down fairly often. You don’t want the walls to become disgusting due to inaction.

Cleaning enough to keep grime at bay isn’t even tough to do. You simply need to wipe things down with hot dechlorinated water.

If the grime ever gets bad, you might need to clean the tank walls with a white vinegar solution instead. You should be able to keep things clean by just cleaning at regular times.

Do your best to stay on top of things, and tank grime will never be much of an issue. It only becomes problematic when you’re lackadaisical about cleaning.

Problems with Mites

Dirty hermit crab tanks seem to attract mites. Even under normal circumstances, hermit crab habitats are appealing to various types of mites.

These tanks are warm and rather humid. Also, mites can find things to eat in the tank.

Some types of mites will be attracted to uneaten food in the tank. They will burrow into uneaten bits of fruit and other such things.

You can prevent mites from being a common problem by keeping the tank clean. Wiping things down and removing excess food makes a huge difference.

Mites can be very harmful to hermit crabs. Hermit crab mites are known to bother hermit crabs so much that they might start losing their legs.

Thankfully, getting rid of mites is usually as simple as bathing the crabs and cleaning the tank thoroughly. However, some mites might be more stubborn.

There have been situations where hermit crab owners have had to request special anti-mite medication that is safe for hermit crabs. You can get this type of medicine from an exotic veterinarian if you’re ever in need.

Do your best to keep this from being a problem. Be sure to clean the tank regularly to lessen the likelihood that mites will enter the tank.

Do Some Cleaning Each Day

Doing some cleaning each day will help you to stay on top of things. It might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t that difficult.

The type of cleaning that you’ll do each day will be simple spot cleaning. You’ll be removing bits of leftover food and looking for little messes that you can clean up.

It’s also important to remove fecal matter from the tank. Just leaving hermit crab poop in the tank is never a good idea.

This poop can attract bugs, and it’ll also smell very bad in the tank. So you should remove the poop daily to keep the hermit crab tank clean.

Doing spot cleaning like this won’t take up too much of your time. It also makes your job a lot easier when it’s time to clean the tank thoroughly.

How to Clean the Sand

Cleaning the sand a bit each day helps out as well. You can do this by looking for wet clumps or debris in the sand.

Use a simple sand scoop to remove debris as necessary. Sometimes you’ll need to remove hermit crab poop or bits of food that are stuck in the sand.

Eventually, you’re going to have to replace the sand, though. The substrate should be outright replaced multiple times per year.

Most experts say that you should replace the sand completely three times per year. So every four months you’ll want to replace the sand with fresh new sand.

Some people bake the sand once per month to sterilize it, too. This can be done by spreading the sand out on a thin sheet and baking it at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes.

It kills any bacteria that might be present in the sand. So this can be worth doing once per month.

You must cool the sand before putting it back in the tank. It is a bit of effort to go to, but you don’t have to do this all the time.

Do a Deeper Cleaning of the Tank Weekly

It’s wise to do a deeper cleaning of the tank weekly. This prevents things from getting too dirty.

You can set aside a day for deep cleaning. During this time you’ll remove the hermit crabs from the tank so you can wipe everything down.

Put them in a temporary habitat for several hours while you do this. Remember that hermit crabs are very sensitive to chemicals.

Since they’re so sensitive to chemicals, you cannot use standard cleaning solutions. Most enthusiasts say that it’s best to simply wipe the tank down with dechlorinated water.

Plain dechlorinated water can get the job done. Use hot water so you can try to kill bacteria.

If you need to clean the tank with a cleaner, it’s better to use a white vinegar solution. This shouldn’t be harmful to the crabs.

Wipe the tank down thoroughly, and make sure that you get all of the corners properly. You can remove the substrate to clean more thoroughly if you wish to go to the effort to do so.

You might not want to do this every week. Some do an even larger cleaning once per month where they boil things and clean the sand thoroughly.

Before putting the hermit crabs back in the tank, you want to rinse the tank to leave no traces of vinegar. Rinse with dechlorinated water and wipe everything down with a cloth.

Allow the hermit crab tank to dry in the sun. When everything is ready, you can place the crabs back in the habitat.

Cleaning Shells, Toys, and Decorations

You can clean shells, toys, and decorations when you’re wiping everything else down. To get the best results, it’s recommended to boil certain things.

Boil the extra hermit crab shells using a ceramic or glass pan. You don’t want to use a metal pan just to be safe.

You can boil the shells and wipe them off to eliminate any debris and bacteria. Allow the shells to dry, and they can then be placed back in the tank.

Some decorations might also be able to be boiled. It depends on what they’re made of.

More than likely, you’ll want to wipe the toys, decorations, and rocks down with hot water. Wipe them as thoroughly as you can to eliminate any traces of bacteria.

Everything needs to dry completely before being put back in the habitat. So be sure to let everything dry before you move forward with putting things back where they’re supposed to be.

Live plants and wood can also be wiped down with hot dechlorinated water. You should be able to get the tank very clean by going to this effort.

Swap the Position of Toys and Hiding Spots

You want to keep your hermit crabs as stimulated as possible. These pets can get a bit bored when things stay the same all the time.

One way to combat this is to rearrange the toys and hiding spots. You can do this whenever you take the time to deep clean the tank.

If you save your true deep cleaning session for once per month, you can rearrange things on a monthly basis. This will make the tank seem a bit fresh to the crabs when you put them back inside. They can explore the environment and find out where everything is again.

This isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s just something to keep in mind. It can make your crabs feel a bit more enthused with the tank for a while.

Some people even switch out the toys each month to keep the crabs stimulated. Giving them new toys and reintroducing old toys after a break can be a good idea.

Don’t Clean When the Crabs Are Molting

You never want to disturb hermit crabs when they’re molting. This has the potential to kill them.

So if you need to clean the tank, it’s best to hold off when at least one of your hermit crabs is molting. This can present a bit of a problem since hermit crabs don’t normally molt at the same time.

One good way to deal with this is to put hermit crabs that are about to molt in an isolation tank. This helps them to survive because they won’t need to worry about being bothered by other crabs.

You can look for signs that a hermit crab is getting close to molting. Hermit crabs start eating and drinking more before molting sessions.

Also, they often have glazed-over eyes, and their exoskeletons will start to look gray. If you can get the hermit crab into an isolation tank, this will be safer.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to clean a hermit crab tank should make you feel more confident. Keeping the tank clean is an important part of keeping these pets safe.

It truly is a lot easier when you’re willing to do a bit of cleaning each day. You should at least remove leftover food and fecal matter from the tank daily.

Then you can do larger cleaning sessions weekly. You might do an even more thorough cleaning each month.

Remember to replace the sand every four months to keep things safe. It’s also wise to clean the sand well in the interim.

Be sure that you never use tap water to clean the tank. Always use dechlorinated water because hermit crabs are sensitive to chemicals.

Using white vinegar to clean the tank is acceptable, but you must rinse the tank well before putting the crabs back in. If you continue to follow the advice above, you should have no problem keeping the tank clean.

The hermit crab habitat will smell fine, and it’ll be safe for your pets. Putting in the effort truly does make a difference when it comes to hermit crab safety.

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