Should I bathe my hermit crab?

Written by Stacy Griffith

Well the answer to that depends on who you ask! This could be one of the most hotly debated topics in the crabbing community. I’m not going to give you a answer, but I will try to offer both sides of the argument and you can decide for yourself.

Camp One: Actively bathing their crabs by the flip and dunk method. This entails preparing a bowl of stress coat treated water and placing the crab upside down under water. The crab will, hopefully, pop out and right itself. Thus flushing out the shell of any matter. This is done on a weekly basis by most people who employ this method. The crab should NOT completely abandon its shell during its bath. Leaving its shell is a sign of stress. If one of your crabs exhibits this behaviour, I strongly suggest you discontinue bathing it in this manner.

Camp Two: Actively bathing their crabs by placing them in a shallow dish of water to wade around. Some use stress coat treated water.

Camp Three: Inactively bath their crabs by not really bathing them at all. Offering at all times shallow pools of fresh water and salt water so the crabs can wade in and bathe themselves when they choose to. No stress coat should be added to drinking water.

Pros of Camp One’s method:

Perlatus submerged by Kerie Campbell

Perlatus submerged by Kerie Campbell

  • The crab’s shell is kept clean of any fecal matter
  • The crab’s exoskeleton is kept supple by the stress coat
  • The crab’s seem to enjoy the bath
  • The crab’s are move active after a bath
  • A bath can help soften the exo prior to a molt
  • Requires no additional tank space

 

Con’s of Camp One’s method:

  • The flip and dunk is not natural and causes great stress in the crab
  • There is no evidence that stress coat is beneficial (or harmful for that matter)
  • The flurry of activity after a bath is really a sign of a panicked and stressed crab
  • Bathing too close to a molt can be hazardous
  • Disrupts the delicate balance maintained in the shell water by flushing it all out and replacing with unbalanced water

Pro’s of Camp Two’s method:

  • All the same as Camp One, minus the stress of the flip and dunk

Con’s of Camp Two’s method:

  • All the same as Camp One, being forced to wade in the water is still stressful

Pro’s of Camp Three’;s method:

  • This is the most natural approach to bathing
  • The crab can clean its shell as needed
  • The crab can maintain the balance of shell water

Con’s of Camp Three’s method:

  • No exposure to stress coat (again there is no current evidence about the harm or help of using stress coat

My personal opinion is that you should not forcibly bathe your hermit crabs or use stress coat. There is no evidence to prove that stresscoat is even beneficial.
If you have purchased new crabs, I suggest you give them ONE bath to make sure they are mite free before placing them in your main tank.

Photo credit: Kerie Campbell