Tag Archive for method

Technique for Adjusting PPS Crabs – Method

The Post Purchase Stress death cycle created by Mary Milhorn

The Post Purchase Stress death cycle created by Mary Milhorn

This is a (hopefully) more simplified revision of the original.  I have also created a printable calendar for tracking.


The objective of this method is to reduce the impact of physical stress by keeping the hermit crab above ground eating well and exposed to light. Both are vital to the hermit crab’s ability to recover. This is a thirty day method. While this can be accomplished in three weeks, there is no reason to rush. If you are adding new hermit crabs to your existing colony it is important that you do not introduce sick or contagious animals to your healthy colony. Thirty days of observation and quarantine will prevent total colony loss.

Why should I do this?

Do you want your hermit crab to live? With proper care they can live at least 40 years in captivity. Most die within a year. Using this adjustment method to help the crab repair the damage done will improve it’s chances of long term survival.


When planning your trip to purchase your new pets, take note of the temperature and humidity in the store crabitat. If there are no gauges or conditions are unknown we will use a standard starting point.

If these will be your first hermit crabs you can perform this method in the large tank that will be their permanent home.

Each week you will improve the conditions in the isolation crabitat so long as the crab is eating and active.

Normal food may seem foreign after a long time on pellets. Appetite can be stimulated at the beginning by offering greensand and worm castings. Both are highly nutritious and well liked. Popcorn, peanut butter, honey are less nutritious but can be fed as well.

After the first 48 hours there should be some sign of improvement but if not, do not give up.


  • Glass tank with a lid (small tanks are harder to regulate but a 10 gallon is fine)
  • Heat pad
  • Fake plants, logs to climb
  • Thin layer of dry sand
  • Moss
  • EE or shredded coconut husk
  • Fresh and Salt water pools (Treated with Prime)
  • Full spectrum light or at least UVB (12 hours on/off)
  • Digital gauges- must be calibrated
  • Spare shells
  • 2 liter bottle cut in half in case of a surface molt

Do not make the sand deep enough to encourage digging, this can trigger a surface molt.

Do not provide cocohuts or hides, we need the crabs active and where we can see them.

Feeding routine:

Stick to small portions

Change food every day, never leave the day before’s food in the tank with the new food

Do not feed the same food twice in a seven day period

Food that is untouched after 8 hours should be removed and replaced with something new

What to feed:

These are the food groups, and examples of what foods are found within the grouping. Please note that there is overlap in what group these foods represent.

Protein and lipids: this is for energy to grow, forage, reduce competition or minimize cannibalism which more frequently occurs in captivity.

Foods in this class are: meats, fish like silver sides, gold fish, clams, oyster; bone marrow (all meats including poultry), nut meats (many also fall in the omega fats group) salmon skin(including fat). Some vegetation like avocado meat (only) and bamboo stalks. (which also provide Cellulose, high energy)

Carotenoids, Zeaxanthin and cellulose: these foods are necessary to assist the crabs metabolic functions of calcium absorption, processing of minerals, and coloring an individual crab has (darkens pigments). It also improves the crab’s immune system and nervous system functionality.

Foods in this class are: tannin rich leaves, bark, cambium (inner branch skins) of plants like oak, maple, mangrove root, some perennial leaves; fresh fruits and vegetables that are orange, yellow, red or dark green (i.e. squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, natural corn, mango, blue berries, etc); many flower petals (dry), spinach, foliage, bean sprouts, seaweed: spirulina in particular, reptile moss (from pet store) etc.

Carbohydrates: these foods are quick energy foods that will help your crab by immediately fueling them but saving their “stored” reserves necessary for metabolic function.

Foods in this group include: grapes, apple, honey, wheat germ, oatmeal, dried fruit (raisins mostly due to Copper sulfate use in others), banana, pineapple, citrus pulp (inner membrane of skin considered cellulose).

Omega fats: this food group is very important and is totally missed in commercial food formulations unless they are frozen foods! These are necessary for nervous system, exo-skeletal health and processing of carotenoids and other minerals. If there are deficiencies in this group it is typically exhibited by molt death (where you are uncertain), a mildewy appearance to the exoskeleton (they look dehydrated), and they are not active!

Foods in this group overlap protein groups. They include: Coconut, walnut, whole fish (like a dead gold fish), fish skin, animal fat, olive oil, some grass seeds, seeds, peanut butter, etc. There are many of these suitable, some found in fresh flower petals like roses, sunflower, crab apple blossom, etc. Take a look at the edible plants list LINK

Calcium: it is considered superior to provide more than one natural form of calcium! Calcium of course is used mainly for growth of the exoskeleton. Calcium without the support of light and carotenoids will not be properly absorbed by the crab! The acceptable form for supplementation outside of natural forms is Calcium carbonate powder ONLY!

Foods containing calcium, will also provide some proteins as well; here are the main foods ideally used: freeze dried brine shrimp, meal worms, blood worms, krill (fresh, frozen or freeze dried), shrimp tails, sand dollars, powdered oyster shell, cuttlebone, broccoli heads, milk.

How often do I feed from each group?

Protein – everyday

Fruits/Vegetables – 6 out of 7 days

Calcium – 4 out of 7 days

Fats – 3 out of 7 days

Other – 2 out of 7 days

Original method created by Sue Latell in 2008 in collaboration with a DVM and marine biologist.

Comparative Example for PPS Practices

written by Sue Latel March 8, 2006

Newly adopted clypeatus

Comparative Example for PPS Minimization Technique

Little Billy has had 3 hermit crabs since his 12 birthday. He has a 20 gallon tank housing his 3 small PP crabs. One day when he is at the store picking up some ocean salt water for his crabs, he spots a tank containing 2 poor little Ruggies that have no water except for a damp sponge, huge pellets of food that he doubts they have even attempted to eat, and no ground cover to protect them from the 100 watt heat lamp that is shining directly on them from an open tank top. Billy has been a very conscientious crab owner. He explored on-line information on how to care for hermit crabs and has all the bells and whistles to keep his crab people happy. He has proudly seen his crabs molt, grow and prosper for the past year. Billy knows that the little Ruggies will not last long in the current conditions they are in. He consults a clerk, advises her of the poor crabitat conditions, and notes that there will likely be no changes made based on his advice. Billy’s mom is a sweetheart and lets Billy rescue these poor crabs from their sorry condition. Billy finds out from the cashier that those are the last ones from their shipment last month, and now they can order more. (God forbid). Billy provides his new crabs with a dip into his tanks water dish, and then they scurry to hide in the handy cave he has for his crabs. Well, a week later, and Billy has still not seen his new crabs. He doesn’t think they have even been to the food dish. He isn’t too concerned since they are likely de-stressing in the wonderful conditions in his tank. Well a couple of more weeks pass. Billy thinks he seen one of his new guys in the water dish, now there is signs of digging, this crab must be molting. Well another couple of weeks lapse, and it is now high time to do a deep clean. Billy carefully digs around to see if he can locate where his crabs may be down molting so he proceeds cautiously. Billy takes out some of his plants and shells for rinsing, he has found the top of one of his new crab’s shells, he checks to see how the little guy is faring and discovers that it has died. Billy is heart broken. Finally the entire tank is unearthed and Billy discovers that neither one of his new little ruggies made it!! That darn PPS, it is just not fair!

My crabbing method – Marie

Marie Davis writes about moulting and her crabbing method:

Dry Food Dish

Dry Food Dish

On June 17, 2000, we had the privilege of becoming hermie owners.

My daughters received their first ones as souvenirs from somebody who had visited Ocean City, Maryland. My daughters, nor I, had any idea as to how to care for them properly. For this reason,
I had gone to the library for books to read, to research on the internet, and I asked questions at pet stores. There was information on hermit crab care, and yet so much of it varied depending on
which pet store we visited, which web site we were reading, or what author of which book we were reading. We currently have Ecuadorian, (Coenobita Compressus), Carribbean, (Coenobita Clypeatus), Indo, (Coenobita Brevimanus), Rugs, (Coenobita Rugosus),Strawberry’s (Coenobita Perlatus) and their cheliped measurements range from 1/4 inch to 2 inches. The following is the care we have done with our hermies, and to date have had great success in doing so. Daily they have access to Ethoxyquin free foods that are rotated, (which is an insecticide/pesticide). FMR Treat, Tetra Dried Baby Shrimp, Tetra Freeze Dried Bloodworms, Crushed Oyster Shells, a tad of T-Rex Calsi-sand, Ocean Plankton, Hikari Tubifex Worms, Hikari Daphnia, Flukers Mealworms, Julian Sprung’s Sea Veggies, Hikari Sinking Wafers, Hikari Cichlid Gold, ZooMed Leopard Gecko Food, Zoo Med’s Anole Food, Freeze dried crickets. We call this the dry food dish. In another dish, we offer various fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, non-sugared cereal, Kaytee Healthy Toppings bird food, (such as mixed nuts, coconut, carrots & greens, apple bits, banana chips, mixed berries, carrots & sweet potatoes, Pumpkin seeds & almonds, etc.), bread, etc. We never offer any citrus foods or dairy products. Even though the hermies have access to the dry foods 24/7, the fresh food dish we offer on a nightly basis before going to bed, and remove it promptly in the morning when we awaken. Within all our main tanks and iso tanks, they have access to a choya log and cork bark which they do munch on. Before their bath, our hermit crabs are also offered out side of their tank in a large Tupperware type container honey, silversides, sardines, etc.

For the water ponds in the hermies tanks, I only use distilled bottle water. I use Instant Ocean for the ocean water pond, and I mix it per the package instructions. I mix a smaller amount to be sure it stays fresh. I use 1/2 cup Instant Ocean, per one U.S. gallon of distilled water. Once it is prepared, I do not offer it to the hermies for at least 24 hours, shaking it numerous times within that 24 hours, and testing the salinity with a hydrometer. Each time it is offered to the hermies, the ocean water container is shaken extremely well. By doing this the ocean salt is distributed evenly, instead of when at the end of the container the hermit crabs get an over dose of ocean salt possibly causing permanent damage to their gills, or other complications.

overhead view of Marie's tank

Overhead view of Marie’s tank

Usually on Sunday, we try to bath our hermies in distilled bottle water. On the non-bath nights, we do mist all of our hermies with distilled water with no additives. After their misting/bath, the hermies get a minimum of at least 30 minutes of exercise in a plastic baby pool that has various climbing objects and tunnels to explore. The substrate in our main tanks and iso’s is CaribSea Aragonite Sand, which is an aquarium safe, dye/color free substrate.

We clean our tanks daily with an aquarium fish net for food and waste materials. We keep our substrate as dry as possible, removing any wet sand at this time. If on rare occasions we have a premolter who wants the sand damp, we will put him in the iso tank so he can make the substrate the way he wants it without disturbing him.

In both our main tanks and iso tanks, I keep the humidity at 75 as much as possible, and the temperature of the substrate at 78-80 degrees on the UTH side of the tank. Our iso tanks are set up as mini main tanks with coral, cholla log, cork bark, fuller rock, huts, dry food dish, ocean and fresh water ponds, etc.

If I find a molter in one of our main tanks, I do remove them and put them into an iso tank if they are done molting. I use my hands, supporting the molter in the palm of my hand, and gently place him on top of his exo while talking to him in a gentle voice that he’s use to. I place a hut over him and I place an oyster shell in the fresh water and ocean water dishes extremely close to the molter so he has easy access to the waters if he wants/needs them. Forty eight hours after molting, I remove him from the iso tank, supporting his weak body and shell at all times, and lightly mist the gill area of his body. After lightly misting the gill area, I gently dab the access mist off the shell if there is any, with a clean paper towel. I then carefully put the molter back into the iso tank with his exo at the opening of his shell and the hut back over him. At this time, I then take the water dishes and oyster shells and replace them with sterilized ones, and wash the water dishes out with hot water. I do this daily, and I do speak softly to the molter as I am doing this. Speaking softly to our hermies is something I do throughout the day while they are in the main tanks and iso’s. When the molter has eaten the softer parts of the exo, I then crush the harder parts of the legs and pincher’s as fine as I can and put them in an oyster shell for them to eat. After 24 hours of the molter munching on the drier parts of the exo, I then make another dry food shell to be put next to the molter’s exo shell. This first shell consists of Dried Baby Shrimp, Ocean Plankton, Krill, crushed powdered oyster shells, Calsi Sand, Boiled Egg Shell, Spirulina, and FMR Treat, etc. I put each food into its own little section of the shell instead of all mixed together.

The day after I offer the above food shell, I then offer all the dry foods the hermies get while they’re in the main tank. Where as I do change the dry food in the main tanks every two days, (unless they get wet before hand), I change the dry food in the iso daily at the time I change the water in the water ponds. Our molters seem to be a little fussy, and seem to eat fresh dry food faster than food that has sat for two days. When the molter is eating well, their coloring has darkened, and is scooting about the iso tank without appearing weak, on the next bath day I bathe the molter with his tank mates so they all smell alike. If he is ready prior to bath day to return to the main tank, I will dip them in the large fresh water pond to rinse the molting odor off of him and to help him smell the same as his tank mates. I check several times to make sure not incidents are occurring upon his re-acquaintance with his tank mates. If he is ready by bath night, once all have had their bath, they have time in the play area to become reacquainted under close supervision. If there are no incidents amongst the hermies, all are returned to the main tank.

Diet and exercise are very important with all creatures to maintain good health. I believe that for a hermie to have a successful molt, he must be in overall good health prior to molting. I attribute their care, diet, and exercise our hermies get prior to molting as important as the care they receive once they molt.

Because of a hermie being so fragile once they molt, I believe their gills are even more sensitive than usual. This is why I lightly mist the gill area 48 hours after they molt to keep them moist. Because of our daily handling the hermies with mists or baths, and also handling a few other times during the day, our hermies aren’t threatened when handled after they molt. In fact, the first time our molter is picked up 48 hours after they molt, they happily come partially out of their shell to great the misting of their gills. I attribute all the care given mentioned in this article as to why I have such a high successful molter rate.

Clive looks dead - Marie Davis

Clive looks dead – Marie Davis

Clive shrunk-Marie Davis

Clive shrunk-Marie Davis

Clives tucked within shell-Marie Davis

Clives tucked within shell-Marie Davis