FAQ Are gold/feeder fish safe to feed hermit crabs?

FAQ Are goldfish safe to feed to hermit crabs?

FAQ Are goldfish safe to feed to hermit crabs?

This is a compilation of forum posts from our old site.

To date we have not confirmed whether diseases fish may have can be passed onto hermit crabs.


Sat Mar 05, 2005
Ladycrab wrote:
Bought some gold fish for the hermies. Froze them last night just need to know if they need to be prepared any special way before serving them???

Julia_Crab wrote:
There’s a bit of controversy afoot about the goldfish method right now. Freezing is a great way to kill any bacteria that might have affected the crabs, if any, though. I’m still not convinced that crabs can be affected by bacteria in the food, but I’m waiting to hear back from a scientist about it.

Thaw your fish and soak them well in some ocean water, then just serve. This is one food you may want to remove promptly in the morning, as it can get smelly. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat it the first time, either. Sometimes it takes them a couple of tries to catch on.

kvh4 wrote:
I would rinse them in declor water and then soak them like Kali_ma said. I know that store employees are SUPPOSED to treat the water these fish are in, but I know for certain that some stores don’t care, and so a lazy or incompetant employee can mean feeding clorine to your crabs.

They hire just about anyone these days….

ladybug15057 wrote:
Freezing does not kill all bacteria’s, but boiling for 5 minutes does.
(but won’t remove any chemials used that may be on/in the fish)

Julia_Crab wrote:
The theory that I share with a few others is that aggression problems are mainly caused by nutrient deficiencies, though we are uncertain which one or ones.

I heard about this about a month ago from some other crabbers on another forum. I told a few people about it, and tried it myself.

It’s not for the faint of heart, though. The preferred method is to murder the feeder goldfish by putting them in a bowl of the crabs’ ocean water. The theory is that the action of the fish drawing the salt through their systems makes it more attractive for the crabs to eat. When the fish are floating belly up, serve them to the crabs, being sure to remove them within 24 hours or so.

I still feel slightly guilty doing this, as the fish basically suffocate. So I’ll tell you the alternative method, which is to put the bag of feeder goldfish in the freezer until they “go to sleep.” Then soak in salt water and feed to the crabs. It takes longer for them in the freezer, several hours, I’m told. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to kill them in the salt water.

I’ve been told this isn’t humane. I can’t really argue with that point of view on the one hand. However, these fish are all doomed, either to be suffocated or put to sleep for our crabs, or fed alive to arowanna and oscars. So it’s really a choice you have to make for yourself. Like Angel, several people report no more aggression in the tank between crabs, doing this feed once every 7-10 days.

As a note, my crabs always eat the eyes, then the brains, then , if they’re still hungry, they go for the intestines. The same effect might be achieved from feeding fish heads and guts from the fishmonger. But it would definitely be much more smelly and messy. With goldfish, you can choose the size you want.
Don’t put it in the crabs’ water bowl, just some water you’d make for them, LOL. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

Just put the whole fish in the food dish. Sometimes I sprinkle them with spirulina first.

kvh4 wrote:
I know that everyone has their hermit crabs’ best interest at heart, but I have to say that this sort of practice seems very hypocritically cruel.

If someone had a hermit crab in a habitat that was too dry, and it’s gills were being damaged so that it died by suffocation, we would all be very upset, but somehow doing it to a goldfish is okay?

I get the feeling that it would be very easy to get fish guts from your local fishmarket, so this whole suffocating a goldfish thing is very un-necessary.

Vanessa wrote:
I have decided not to feed my crabs goldfish, but I do agree that feeding them fresh fish is recommended. I prefer to give them from the fishmongers (seafood store) than from a pet store.

I prefer to offer the food in a buffet tub since I’ve h ad problems with crabs dragging their food around the tank and burying it for later
I prefer to offer a small fish or the head of a fish rather than a goldfish. I have kept goldfish as a pet, and I feel bad about killing them myself. I have also heard some negative things about giving feeder fish to hermit crabs. If I was to give my crabs a small fish to eat, I would breed them myself or at least quarantine them for a while. More on that further on.

Fresh seafood I have offered my crabs:

o Fish / Fish head (raw or steamed)
o Small fish (bait fish, caught in clean waters)
o Sardines (raw or canned in spring water)
o Prawn heads and full prawns (raw or steamed)
o Scallops (raw or steamed)
o Cuttlefish (raw or steamed)
o Crab Meat and Shell (cooked)
o Cockles
o Conch
o Mussells (raw or steamed)
o Squid (raw or steamed)
o Marinara Mix – all of the above (raw or steamed)

I was talking with MrsPoppyPuff on this subject, and she suggested fresh fish as used in Sashimi (sushi style based on raw fish, cut in thin slices). I also offer my crabs the very fresh raw fish for sale in The Bento Box in Wollongong (near Sydney)

Not only is this fish very fresh, but it comes in finger size pieces or thin slices. Perfect for offering to hermit crabs
I might have to check with my local seafood store and look out for a goldfish-sized fish to offer as an alternative. Garfish and Whitebait are two types of fish sold for human consumption which are small enough, but I have a feeling that the large gelly eyes of goldfish would be more appetising than that of garfish or white bait.

I know that the crabs are welcome to the head and eyes of any fish that is cooked for me. I cannot stomach eating a fish while the eyes are staring up at me

***Note: This thread started in March 2005 and continued through May 2005. There has to date (7-29-09) still been no replies as to whether any diseases can be transmitted to hermit crabs. But about a couple of years after this thread was done an outbreak of bacteria happened among some hermit crabs due to oysters.