Tag Archive for nutrition

Correction: Feeding Guide

Please be advised that there is an error on the printable feeding guide. The version on the website has been updated. Please update your copy. REMOVE CANOLA OIL.  Canola oil is not safe.  We apologize for the error.

What’s for dinner? A hermit crab food guide!

Hermit Crab Feeding Guide - Printables

Hermit Crab Feeding Guide – Printables from CrabStreetJournal.org

In an effort to simplify feeding for hermit crab owners we have put together a few printable hermit crab food guides.  These should be used in conjunction with our safe and unsafe lists.

*Foraging Guide

*Where to Buy Guide

*What to Feed and Why Guide

****The files can be downloaded at the bottom of the article.****

If you have additions or corrections for any of these guides or other food lists please send them to crabstreetjournal@gmail.com As we don’t allow commenting due to spammers.

Additional food related articles:

Safe and Unsafe Wood
Edible Flowers
What Foods are Good and Bad?
Beneficial Foods Containing Zeaxanthin
Learning to prepare food for your hermit crabs
Foods Containing Carotenids
Color Enhancing Foods
Adulterants & Additives in Hermit Crab Food
Atypical Things Hermit Crabs Can Eat
Going Natural Beginner’s List
People Food for Hermit Crabs
Growing Your Own Hermit Crab Food
Hermit Crab Food Recipes
Should I Feed My Hermit Crab Meat
The Power of Protein

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Beneficial Foods Containing Zeaxanthin

Foods containing for hermit crabs

Foods containing Zeaxanthin for hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab Saturday, 19 November 2005

Zeaxanthin is an important precursor to astaxanthin, the carotenoid crustaceans need most to regulate their body systems. If astaxanthin is hard to come by, then zeaxanthin is the substance that coenobita need most. Beta carotene, while a valuable carotenoid, is not used as efficiently by crabs and is not of as much dietary use as zeaxanthin is.

The following lists are of zeaxanthin-containing foods. There are three lists, one each for foods containing high, moderate, and low or trace amounts of this important substance. They are partial and will be updated as new information comes in. Feed from these lists several times a week — daily access to zeaxanthin is recommended.

High Levels
Bell pepper, orange
Corn, yellow
Corn meal
Dandelion greens
Egg yolk
grape leaves
Lettuce, cos or romaine
Parsley (raw)

Moderate Levels
Beans, snap
Bell pepper, green or red
Brussels sprouts
Chard, Swiss
Flax seed
Green leaf lettuce
Persimmon, Japanese (raw)

Low or Trace Levels
Star fruit (carambola)

Learning to prepare food for your hermit crabs

Learning to prepare foods for your hermit crabs

Learning to prepare foods for your hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab 2005
Coconuts: A Really Tough Nut to Crack

Yeah, these guys are tricky to open. But the fresh meat and milk inside are crab ambrosia. The best method for opening them is to employ an adult human male.

Barring access to one of those, note the three depressions at one end of the coconut. These are the coconut’s eyes. An icepick, a chisel, or a strong slot head screwdriver placed firmly in the center of one of the eyes, and bashed firmly and repeatedly by a hammer will eventually reward those with perseverance. A drill or jigsaw can also be employed by those who prefer not to soil their hands or break a nail with manual labor.

Once the eye is breached, pour out the milk, unless you enjoy cleaning up spills on the surrounding counter, floor and walls. You can put this in a small dish for the crabs to drink, or use it in a fruit and flower salad, or to moisten some puffed millet or crispbread. Believe it or not, you can even drink it yourself, in place of pina colada mix. Continue bashing, and wiggling the sharp tool a bit, and the coconut will split.

From there, it is a simple matter to scoop out the meat (with a butter knife or strong spoon). There will be a skin of brown coconut husk on the back of each piece of meat. Leave it on! This husk is very nutritious for the crabs and will not be immune to the kibbling power of the Ultimate Chopper. Break the coconut meat into chunks approximately 1 inch square, place in a freezer bag and freeze away! You can leave some shreds of meat inside one half of the shell (or whatever fraction you end up with) and put it in the tank for the equivalent of a crab cabaret – food and entertainment all in one package. Remove it within 48 hours, before the meat spoils.

Seaweed: Or, Getting Your Crabs to Eat their Sea Vegetables

It’s true. I did say that seaweed is a staple of coenobita diet. Then why won’t your crabs eat their sea vegetables?

Don’t feel bad. Mine won’t either, not without a lot of culinary sleight-of-hand.

Imagine your diet’s mainstay: meat and potatoes and its evil twin, McDonalds? Curry and rice? Mongolian barbeque? Now imagine what it would taste like if it had been dried out in the sun on a rock until it was hard and fragile, and then dumped in a trough nightly for you to eat. Sounds delicious, no? No.

I believe it is the same with the crabs. The palates of the seaweed we can offer them and the fresh stuff just washed up from offshore must be light years apart. Even the best dried organic seaweed and algae powder is like a freeze-dried C-Ration version of a meal from a four star Parisian restaurant. I have heard a few people say their crabs would eat dry toasted nori, and to be fair, some of that does disappear out of my crabs’ dry food dish on occasion, but there are other ways to persuade your crabs to eat seaweed.

Seaweed is an algae. The various large seaweeds are macroalgaes. Spirulina and blue-green algae are microalgaes. Despite the difference in size and appearance, these are all related plants and are all at the bottom of the food chain, which makes them the healthiest and purest sources of vitamins and minerals any one or creature can eat.

First and foremost: unless you live near a completely private, unpolluted beach, going to the seaside and getting some seaweed for your crabs is not the best idea. There is too much pollution on our recreational beaches these days for it to be a safe place to harvest seaweed.

Health food stores and grocery stores with Asian foods are the best sources for seaweed. A great on-line source is Maine Seaweed Company:


You can get by with just one variety of seaweed, but I feel it is best to have several that you can rotate through your crabs’ diet. The most essential algae of all is spirulina. It is the highest in beta carotene, and is also high in protein. A pound of it should sell for around $20. Many health food stores sell items like this in bulk, so that you can buy as much or as little as you need.

You have your spirulina. And blue-green algae, and kelp powder, and Irish moss powder. You’ve added some dried dulse, nori, bladderwrack and sea palm. Your crabs still sit next to the food dish and eat sand. Now what?

This is where the magic comes in.

Crabs, though cute, aren’t very bright. Like small children just learning to eat solid food, they can easily be fooled into ingesting things that are good for them.

I have four main methods of offering algaes.

1) Dry: Provide some dried, shredded seaweed and/or some of one or more algae powders in the dry food dish at all times. Dried seaweed, both the rubbery and crunchy kinds, chop up easily and willingly with a good knife technique. This is one job the Ultimate Chopper really isn’t good for.

2) Powder: I make a mixture of equal parts spirulina, Klamath blue-green algae, kelp powder and Irish moss powder. I sprinkle this on seafood, mix it in omelettes occasionally, and sometimes dust a honey and fruit dish lightly with it. It is very versatile, and nutrient rich for sick or pre-molting crabs. It is also vital that post-molting crabs have access to something like this, in order to retain or darken coloring. If one’s budget is tight, and only one can be obtained, spirulina is the clear winner. I feel it is the one most important algae in your crab pantry.

Each powder can also be used individually as well, for each has its own “special power,” as it were. In particular, Irish moss reputedly has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, as well as stress relieving qualities. It is an excellent choice to offer crabs suffering from post purchase stress. Mixing Irish moss in honey and feeding on a slice of banana or apple is the best way to get some healing into a scared and damaged rescue crab.

3) Kibble: Include some shredded dry seaweed with a seafood and grain kibble. Rice, tuna, dry red dulse and chanterelle mushroom is a quick example of how to use dry seaweed in a larger dish.

4) Reconstituted: This method is the closest my crabs have come to the real deal, seaweed fresh from the beach.

Heat a little ocean water in the microwave until steaming hot. Drop in dried seaweed, broken into bits that will fit in the water. Allow to soak until soft – this doesn’t take very long, and over-soaking the seaweed in hot water will leach the nutrients, so do it swiftly.

After the seaweed is soft, turn it out onto the cutting board and chop finely. I hold my breath as I can’t stand the smell. It’s become a habit now: chopping seaweed – holding breath. Even when I have a cold and can’t smell anything, I’m still holding my breath from force of habit.

From there, the seaweed can be offered in combination with other foods, as a base for another food, or, sprinkled with a little sea salt and calcium powder, as a dish on its own.

Crabs Need Cholesterol: An Egg a Week

Hermits, like every other creature, require some cholesterol in their diet in order to be healthy. I offer my crabs egg once a week to ten days. The best thing about making egg for crabs is that you actually want to leave bits of shell in the food, so you don’t have to work so hard preparing it.

Factory hen eggs are very bad for your crabs. These chickens are sickly, fed a poor diet, force fed antibiotics and hormones. The eggs from these chickens are inferior and tainted, down to the calcium in the shell itself. Forget the crabs, they’re bad for you! And they don’t really taste nice, once you’ve tried the alternative.

Free range, organic eggs are the best way to go, if you can’t grow your own. They taste better and are better for you and your crabs.

That said, there are several methods of offering eggs to your crabs. In an ideal world, they should be raw. I don’t recommend this. The humid, warm environment of a crabitat is perfect to grow bacteria such as salmonella and e. coli, which do not necessarily require a living host to thrive. Egg and raw meat, while more in keeping with what the crabs would eat in the wild, need to be handled carefully, and cleaned up after promptly.

A good way to simulate raw egg is to soft boil an egg in distilled water. Then crack it open and tear it apart into sections for the crabs in the main tank and any in ISO. Be certain to preserve the yolk, still runny, in the egg sections in the food dish. I often put seaweed salad or something else in the yolk for them to enjoy.

Egg can also be scrambled, with the addition of spirulina powder or other seaweed, seafood, grated vegetable, cod liver or flax oil, grains or seed meals, or other foods. Pulverize some of the egg shell and be sure to include it as well.

Egg can also be hard boiled and offered with a little sea salt, or chopped into some other food.

The Goodness of Grain

Grains are good for crabs as they are high in calcium and other nutrients. Natural, whole grains are preferable to processed refined grains. Brown rice instead of white, for example. Crabs can eat dry grain, but I have found that mine eat better when I have soaked it for a short time in steaming hot salt water, just enough to soften the outer layer of the grain. Putting larger grains through the Ultimate Chopper with other food items afterwards will reduce it in size and make it more attractive to eat.

In the wild, crabs eat a wide variety of grass seeds, or grains. C. compressus is even considered an agricultural pest on rice crops.

Salt: Bring it On

Salt is required by crabs in order to retain proper osmotic levels in their shell water, and to molt successfully. There is absolutely no problem with sprinkling a tiny amount of sea salt on just about anything you want your crabs to eat. The salt will make many foods more attractive to them. Remember that the majority of what they find in the wild has been dead or rotting on the beach and is likely covered with salt.

When purchasing sea salt, like everything, be certain to inspect the label for any hint of an additive or caking agent. It needs to be pure sea salt.

Citrus: The Truth is Sweet
Somehow, somewhere, someone heard that citrus peel contains volatile oils that act as insect repellents and insecticides, added two and two together, and came up with seven; namely, that crabs, being arthropods (and related to insects), cannot tolerate citrus in their diet.


Citrus fruits are tropical and sub-tropical. Coenobita, coincidentally, are tropical and sub-tropical. Hermit crabs are constantly exposed to citrus in their native environment. They can, and will eat citrus fruit.

It is not bad for them. On the contrary, the addition of citrus to your crabs’ diet can be extremely beneficial. The trick is in knowing which kind of citrus, and how to offer it.

Crabs prefer sweet citrus to sour; tangerines over grapefruit. They will pick at the flesh of the fruit, but actually prefer to eat the pulp and membranes between the fruit sections and the fruit and skin. This substance collectively is known as hesperidin, and is full of dozens of phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are compounds, such as beta carotene, that have nutritional value, but it is uncertain how much. They have not had much study. Some are said to be good for arterial disease, others for other things. I am doing research on hesperidin currently. I will be writing an article on its value in the future.

Because of the scavenging nature of crabs, it is entirely possible that these phytonutrients are very important to their health in ways we can’t even imagine. So the addition of citrus fruits to the diet of a crab is to their benefit.

The best method I have found for preparing citrus is as follows:

Put the fruit on the counter and leave it until it starts to wrinkle up a bit, and the skin pulls off the flesh. The limonene and other possibly irritating compounds in the skin will have begun to break down at this point and will no longer be an issue (if, in fact, they ever were). When it is just getting to the point where you wouldn’t eat it yourself, cut off a section, skin and all, and put it in the food dish. Pull up a corner of the fruit so the crabs can get to the pith inside the skin. For good measure, pull out all the fiber from the center section and add it to the dish as well.

I have found that my crabs will eat the hesperidin and pick at the fruit. They ignore the peel completely.

In Conclusion

Once you’ve mastered these basic techniques, you’ll be able to create a varied and extensive menu for your crabs. They may not be able to tell you in so many words, but the increase in molting frequency, and the darkening of their color, will say it all.

Bon appetit!


Now that you’ve decided to provide your hermits with a gourmet diet, you’ll need to know how to handle various foods to make them attractive to your crabs. In this installment of the Epicurean Hermit, I will address various techniques for preparing gourmet hermit food, and the tools that you might want to add to your kitchen to assist you in preparing them.

The tools I’m going to address here are the ones that I use myself in my own kitchen. These aren’t the only tools that can be used, however. You can make all the crab foods I mention in this and future installments with just a good sharp knife and a cutting board. However, these tools make preparation easier and faster. Where I am aware of possible substitutions, I will mention them as well.

Ultimate Chopper

I purchased an Ultimate Chopper when I saw one on television, to make baby food with. Of course, it never got used for that, as it was easier to buy jars of organic baby food, and now my daughter is too old to eat puree. I tried this item on our regular meals, but it has a tendency to reduce everything put in it to powder or mush. This doesn’t make it attractive as an adult human food processor, but it makes wonderful crab kibble. Unlike a regular food processor, it only handles small amounts of food at a time, and is easy to clean and assemble. I have been told that this item can also be found at Wal-Mart.

The Ultimate Chopper chops everything up into tiny bits the perfect size for crab maxillipeds to handle, from micro to jumbo. Your little crabs will be grateful for the help, and the bigger ones won’t complain about how easy it is to eat food prepared by this method.

If an Ultimate Chopper is not available to you, a regular food processor can be substituted. Or, lots of fine chopping and blending with your trusty sharp knife.

Mortar and Pestle
When grinding sources of calcium, pulverizing nuts and seeds, or breaking down dried seaweed or flowers, a mortar and pestle is invaluable. Marble or smooth granite are the best options. You will want to find one that is smooth, and not porous. Porous ones will be harder to clean, and harder to use. I bought mine on line at Temple of Thai. I have been told that these can be found at places like ‘Big Lots!’ for much less.

If a mortar and pestle is not something you are interested in investing in, putting the items you want to crush in a heavy duty freezer bag, wrapping it with a dishtowel, and beating it with a rolling pin, meat mallet, or hammer will also do the trick, though the resultant powder might not be as finely mashed, and you won’t have the fine control over the end result you will have with the mortar and pestle. But so long as your smaller crabs can eat the end result of your smashing, it’s not important to make it uniform.

Vegetable Grater

A normal sized kitchen grater will have holes a bit too large to use for crab food, for the most part. I happened to find a two and a half inch tall, scaled down version of this kitchen standby at Cost Plus World Market. It has the same faces as the regular kitchen grater, but is much smaller, making finer grated items. This item is optional, if you have an Ultimate Chopper or food processor, but I really like mine.


As I mentioned in the Introduction, stainless steel or glass/ceramic/pyrex are the only safe options for cooking crab food. Most crab food does not require cooking; it’s just fun to experiment once in a while with culinary masterpieces the crabs might enjoy.

Even for boiling sponges, dishes, and shells, one should avoid all other types of cookware.

Bon appetit!

Color enhancing foods

Oak leaves are rich in tannin - Photo credit Stacy Griffith

Color enhancing foods for hermit crabs.Oak leaves are rich in tannin – Photo credit Stacy Griffith

Great idea for an experiment. I have done some research on colour enhancing foods and figuring out how to get crabs a certain colour.
If you want really dark brown colour hermit crabs then give them lots of foods rich in tannins such as Brown Oak Leaves, Brown Oak Bark (pesticide free). This comes from Carol of CrabWorks. Her hermit crabs have been eating this since they were itty bitty crabbies, 28+ years ago!

If you want orange hues that foods such as carrots, marigold petals have been known to create an increase in orange colour. Foods rich in Astaxanthin are what you are looking for. Do some googling of Astaxanthin and crustacean color/colour.

Plus, I think I may have found a tiny piece of the puzzle as to the ‘blue’ Ecuadorian crabs that have been around.
“The lack of dietary astaxanthin in cultured Penaeus monodon has been shown to be the cause of “Blue Color Syndrome”. After four weeks of feeding a diet containing 50 ppm of astaxanthin, prawns with Blue Color Syndrome resume their normal greenish-brown pigmentation. Analysis of the tissues from the experimental groups verified that the astaxanthin-fed group increased in carotenoids 318% , and had a normal appearance. Those fed the commercial diet without astaxanthin had a carotenoid increase of only 14% and had a blue hue (Menasveta et al. 1993).”
I have heard from many friends in the USA who bought crabs of an unusual bluish hue, that when moulted changed to the standard colours. It was often thought that this was due to some food available in the wild, such as a blue flower of the Galapagos, but it may be that the blue is a sign of lack of dietary astaxanthin. It sounds probable to me! I have contacted some of my favourite biologists about my ponderings and I will be sure to post any information (with permission) to my journal.

For your experiment, it would help if you could take a photo under the same lighting conditions on a regular basis (eg. every week) and create journal entries which have been marked as memories ‘colour experiment’. That way it would be easy to keep track of the changes in exo colour and your observations.

Foods I would offer include:

  • Spirulina
  • Kelp
  • Oak Leaves/Bark
  • Raisins

Note – “Paprika contains the xanthophylls beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, capsanthin and capsorubin, some of which can apparently be slowly converted to astaxanthin after a lag time. (D’Abramo 1983, Latscha 1991, Wyban, 1996). Preliminary trials demonstrate that supplementation with NatuRose natural astaxanthin yields superior results compared to paprika, as there is no lag time for biosynthetic conversion and it can be directly utilized for metabolic purposes. NatuRose natural astaxanthin is now exclusively used in High Health broodstock to improve larval quality, survival and allow sustained nauplii production (Jim Wyban, personal communication).”


“The color of various carotenoids are related to the number of alternating double-bond pairs in the long polyene chain of the molecule, known as the chromophore (Figure 1). Specifically, light energy is absorbed by the carotenoid polyene system between 400-700 nm, and is converted into vibrational energy and heat, each carotenoid having a unique resonance in this regard. The carrot root contains predominantly (-carotene, which consists of 9 double-bond pairs within the polyene chain, and confers a yellow to orange color. The carotenoid, (-carotene, is composed of 10 alternating double-bond pairs and confers a deeper orange color, whereas the red color of ripe tomatoes and the flesh of watermelons is conferred by lycopene which consists of 11 alternating double-bonds in the polyene chain. Although the polyene structure of astaxanthin is composed of 9 double-bonds similar to (-carotene, the keto and hydroxyl groups of the terminal ring structures contribute to the perceived color through absorption resonance.”
I could go on and on, but I think this will help with the brainstorming process 🙂

What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a red-orange pigment that occurs in the natural diets of many aquatic species, including salmon, trout, and shrimp. It is closely related to more commonly known carotenoids such as beta-carotene or lutein. It referenced in the US Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 PART 73—LISTING OF COLOR ADDITIVES EXEMPT FROM CERTIFICATION—Subpart A-Foods (Sec. 73.35 Astaxanthin).

Where does Astaxanthin come from?
Astaxanthin isolated from crustacean wastes or produced synthetically. Astaxanthin can also be farmed from unicellular green alga called Haematococcus pluvialis or certain types of yeast and then prepared for commercial use.

Why is it used in commercial aquaculture?
Astaxanthin is added to the feed for salmon, trout, red seabream or shrimp to improve the pigmentation of the flesh or the skin. Salmon and other marine animals cannot make the compound themselves and must get it from their diets This use remains by far the largest market in terms of volume and market value.

Some research suggests that astaxanthin has a number of essential biological functions, ranging from protection against oxidation of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, protection against UV-light effects, pro-vitamin A activity and vision, immune response, pigmentation, and improved reproduction. As a result, astaxanthin is now also used by some to enhance the immune response of fish and shrimp and to ensure maximum survival and growth.

Is Astaxanthin a safe additive?
It is classified by FDA in a category of color additives called “Exempt from Certification”. The general public often refers to these as “natural” because they are not synthetic organic dyes. Other commonly used “natural” (or “exempt from certification”) color additives include beta-carotene (e.g., carotenoids from sources such as carrots) and anthocyanins (red hued pigments from blueberries and cabbage). To be listed in this category, a color additive must be regarded as posing little or no threat to humans. Currently there is no record of adverse health effects in fish or people consuming astaxanthin.

Health concerns aside, USDA and FDA continue to monitor fish and seafood industry practices to make sure that astaxanthin is not used to pass off one fish species as another. For example, FDA has documented cases in which some disreputable suppliers were offering a fictional variety of salmon called “Salmon Trout” for a much higher price than regular trout. However, as a color enhancer in fish and seafood, the appropriate use of astaxanthin does not present any known health risk to consumers

The lack of dietary astaxanthin in cultured Penaeus monodon has been shown to be the cause of “Blue Color Syndrome”. After four weeks of feeding a diet containing 50 ppm of astaxanthin, prawns with Blue Color Syndrome resume their normal greenish-brown pigmentation. Analysis of the tissues from the experimental groups verified that the astaxanthin-fed group increased in carotenoids 318% , and had a normal appearance. Those fed the commercial diet without astaxanthin had a carotenoid increase of only 14% and had a blue hue (Menasveta et al. 1993).

Adulterants & Additives in hermit crab food

Written by Julia Crab Monday, 01 August 2005


Adulterants & Additives in hermit crab food

What follows is a list of ingredients added to commercial and processed foods that may harm hermit crab health when fed. While I believe that these substances should be avoided, there is no actual scientific proof that these are harmful. This list is being compiled as a guide to dietary harm reduction. The key to good diet, in crabs, other pets, and people, is informed label reading.

Anything enzyme modified *
Anything fermented *
Anything protein fortified *
Ascorbyl Palmitate
Autolyzed yeast *
Barley malt *
BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole)
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
Bouillon and Broth *
Calcium caseinate *
Copper Sulfate
Enzymes anything *
Flavors(s) & Flavoring(s) *
Gelatin *
Glutamate *
Glutamic acid *
High fructose corn syrup
Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil
Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed) *
Hydrolyzed corn gluten *
Magnesium Stearate
Malt extract *
Malt flavoring *
Maltodextrin *
Monopotassium glutamate *
Monosodium glutamate *
Natural beef flavoring *
Natural chicken flavoring *
Natural pork flavoring *
Protease enzymes *
Protease *
Prussiate of Soda (sodium ferrocyanide)
Seasonings (the word “seasonings”) *
Sodium caseinate *
Soy protein *
Soy protein isolate *
Soy protein concentrate *
Stearic Acid
Stock *
Sulphur Dioxide
Textured protein *
Ultra-pasteurized *
Whey protein concentrate *
Whey protein *
Whey protein isolate *
Yeast extract *
Yeast nutrient *
Yeast food *
* a source of (or possible source of) Monosodium glutamate, or other free glutamates that are just as harmful and have the same actions.

Going Natural Beginner’s List

Mini dome sprouter

Going Natural Beginner’s Food List for Hermit Crabs

If you are limited to what organics you can find or afford check out this list of foods that are safe to buy non-organic and foods that you should always buy organic: Dirty Dozen Food List

written by Kerie Campbell

If you’ve decided to get rid of commercial diet completely, and go natural, here is a list of the recommended human-grade beginner foods. These are the highest in nutrition and will make a good base for adding fresh fruit, vegetables and meat too.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (olive oil will do in a pinch) for cooking eggs, etc.
Hemp seed meal (very high in HUFAs, and extremely nutritious)
Spirulina (if you can get only one algae product, this alone can just about
replace commercial diet)
Rooibos (high in many nutrients, and vitamin C)
Pure, unprocessed, local honey
Dandelion leaf and root
Flax seed or seed meal
Red raspberry leaf

Add a couple of the following dried flowers or flower products:

rose hips and petals

Add some dried fruit (unsweetened and free of sulphur dioxide or other additives):


If there is still room for more purchases, here is the list I recommend you choose from:
amaranth or quinoa
almonds or walnuts
raw pumpkin or sunflower seed
blue corn meal
kelp powder
wheat germ
chlorella or blue-green algae

The more variety you can provide your crabs, the better they will eat. This list represents the most nutritious foods on the main Epicurean Hermit food list. They will have the highest impact when mixed and offered with fresh foods, and will provide an excellent base for creating homemade crab food.

We highly recommend keeping worm castings and greensand on hand and in your tank daily. Both are highly nutritious and are loved by hermit crabs.

What is it?









shelled hempseed

shelled hempseed

Hermit Crab Food Recipes

Unfortunately I have no indications as to who may have created this list though I suspect the list came from Kerie Campbell. I know there are

Dry Food Dish

Hermit crab food recipes

endless food ideas but these may help get you started.

Fruity Fish & Flowers II

dried calendula (about 2 tsp.)
dried chamomile (about 1 tsp.)
coconut chunk
large papaya chunk
pink flame rose bud

Kibble and place in the serving dish.

Air-pop about 1 Tbl. amaranth
shred some dulse
1 Tbl. Flott tuna
1 tsp rolled oats
large pinch dandelion root
large pinch dried dandelion leaf.

Kibble and place on top of the fruit dish, sort of a reverse-chutney.

Star Fruit Surprise

Part One: Fruit Salad

1 Tbl. dried pumpkin seed
1 chunk skin-on red delicious apple
6-8 raisins
chunk of old banana
lg. pinch of dried calendula
1 tsp. red clover seed
1 tsp. dried hibiscus flowers
5 sunflower sprouts
1 tsp honey

Kibble, garnish with slice of starfruit.

Part Two: Crunchy Eggs Variant


1/2 eggshell
2 baby carrots
several 1 inch squares of dried nori
1 tsp. hempseed

Cook lightly in coconut oil over low heat until carrot starts to
soften. Add beaten egg and cook gently until just set.

Put in bowl next to Starfruit Surprise, garnish all with some
popcorn popped in coconut oil. Serve!

Copepod Quiche

Preheat oven to 425.

3-4 amaranth graham crackers
1 tsp. melted coconut oil
1-2 tsp. soymilk

Mix well until soggy but still firm. Press into a ceramic serving
dish. I use the Petco ones — you can see them in several of the
pictures in the photo album, approx. 3 inches in diameter and half an
inch deep.

Bake for about 5 minutes, until crust is firming up.

1 egg (discard half to two thirds of the white)
2 tsp. soy milk
pinch of Esprit du Sel (mortared & pestled)
1 heaping teaspoon dried copepods
1/2 tsp. kelp powder
crushed dried jasmine flowers (about 6)
1/2 tsp. rooibos

Mix well, pour into crust. Bake about 8 minutes — it will puff up in
the middle when done — don’t leave it a second longer!

Cut into wedges for number of servings needed. This recipe is

Garnish with 1/2 eggshell and sunflower sprouts.

Lazy Kibble (because I am so tired from my long weekend with Cheyenne I couldn’t be bothered thinking ahead…)

Yesterday’s persimmon slice (nicely leathery by now)
1 Tbl. wheat germ
1 Tbl. sunflower seeds
small mangrove rootlet

Krill Kibble with Chicken Marrow

8-10 thawed krill
coconut chunk
4-6 small blueberries
1 blackberry
1 tsp. dried bladderwrack
1 amaranth graham cracker

Garnish with dried persimmon slice and a smashed open chicken leg bone.

Crabby Joes Mach II

1 Eden Nori-Maki rice cracker
1 coconut chunk
2 cooked clams
3 thawed orange rose petals
3 blueberries
1 tsp. reconstituted arame (sea vegetable)
largish chunk of Semifreddi’s Challah
1 tsp. sunflower seed
1 Krill oil capsule, squeezed out

Weedfish Salad

1 tsp. Flott tuna
3 wilted dandelion heads
1 Tbl. wheat germ
coconut chunk
1/2 orange rosebud

Kibble, garnish with small wedge from extremely old orange, and


small mangrove root ball
1 banana chunk (going black)
1 old chunk of kiwi
1 dried bosc pear slice
1 Tbl. hempseed meal

Fruity Fish and Flowers

In the morning, heat 1/3 cup of coconut milk until hot in microwave
(about 45 seconds at 1100 watts).

Add 2-3 Tbl. barley, and soak all day long.

(In the evening) Kibble together with:

large papaya chunk
coconut chunk
dried persimmon slice
wilted red nasturtium blossom
4 wilted jasmine blossoms
1 pink/red rose bud
1 tsp. chlorella
large pinch red raspberry leaf

Top with thawed silversides, sprinkle with gomasio (sesame seed with
seasalt) and serve!

No name
1 steamed mussel
1 slice blood orange
1 slice uncooked winter squash w/ seeds
1 slice really old kiwi
overblown pink rose

Tonight’s kibble consists of

1 (thawed) yellow rose bud
4 (thawed) krill
3 blueberries
1 raspberry
1 Tbl. rolled oats
1 Tbl. pumpkin seed
1 tsp. kelp powder
1 tsp. honey
banana chunk
1/2 Wasa rolled oats crispbread, broken into bits with mortar and
pestle and soaked in coconut milk for five minutes
1 Tbl. coconut milk


1/2 brown egg shell
2 tsp. Flott tuna
1 large fresh coconut chunk
1 tsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. four algae powder
1 tsp. bee pollen
1 tsp. rooibus

Mix with raw egg, cook until barely set in coconut oil over very low heat.

Hermit Crab Nutrition Table

Feeding your hermit crab a balanced diet as they would experience in the wild is vital to their ongoing health. We highly recommend keeping worm castings, calcium, and greensand on hand and in your tank daily. Both are highly nutritious and are loved by hermit crabs.

This chart breaks down the nutritional needs and includes some food suggestions.

Hermit Crab Nutrition Table by Lisa L.
Download the chart as a PDF

Also check out Kilimanjaro’s Guide to Hermit Crab Nutrition


FAQ What foods are good and bad for hermit crabs?

Hermit Crabs are beach scavengers and they can and will eat a wide range of things. General rules:

Photo by bird1234 (youtube)

FAQ What foods are good and bad for hermit crabs? – Coenobita perlatus eating garbage – Photo by bird1234 (youtube)

Avoid chemicals, pesticides, table salt, moldy foods, plants that are toxic to animals.

For hermit crab nutritional needs and the foods that provide them, download the nutritional food chart as a PDF by clicking in the gray box below.

Hermit Crab Nutrition Table
Hermit Crab Nutrition Table
270.6 KiB

Written by Kerie Campbell

Fruits – Fresh or Wrinkly? I’ve read alot about fresh fruits being in their diets, which I use alot of BTW. But I’ve read alot about people putting in fruits that are old and wrinkling up. Is one better than the other?

Answer by: Kerie
Posted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 7:52 am
The crabs like it fresh, and they like it wrinkled. Mine also like stuff that’s gone mushy from being thawed after freezing. Alternating fresh and older fruit is a good way to vary their diet. The sugars and other compounds like terpenoids in the fruit will tend to change composition and break down for different flavors as the fruit ages. If it’s citrus fruit, though, you should always let it sit until it is wrinkly. The peels contain substances like limonene that act as insect repellents. Limonene breaks down quickly in the fruit peel as it ages, so letting it go wrinkly makes it much more attractive to the crabs. Citrus has compounds in the pith and stringy stuff that are extremely beneficial to crabs, such as beta carotene, and so citrus should be offered them on occasion, in order to promote a healthy diet.

What foods are good for hermit crabs?

Almonds, crushed
Amaranth (Ancient grain – calcium)
Anchovy oil
Apple and natural, unsweetened apple sauce
Barley (calcium)
Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green or purple)
Bee pollen
Blackberry leaves
Bone Meal (no additives, preservatives, sold as a supplement for people)
Broccoli and leaves
Brown rice, soy, wheat or 7 grain cereal
Brown rice
Carnation flowers
Carrots (carotenoids)
Carrot tops (vit. E)
Cat Tails
Cauliflower and leaves
Celery leaves
Chamomile flowers
Chicken bones
Chicken, cooked and unseasoned (smash the bone for marrow access)
Cholla wood
Clover blossoms and leaves
Coconut and coconut oil
Cod liver oil
Collards (calcium)
Cooked eggs
Cork bark
Corn (on the cob, too)
Cranberries (dehydrated)
Cuttlefish bone, powdered
Dandelion flowers, leaves and roots
Egg, scrambled or soft boiled
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fish flakes w/out chemical preservatives
Fish Oil
Flax seeds (crushed)
Flax seed oil (small amounts infrequently)
Frozen fish food (esp. algae, krill and brine shrimp)
Garbanzos (calcium)
Grape Leaf
Grapevine (vines and root)
Green and red leaf lettuce (not iceburg; dark green)
Green Beans
Hempseed Meal
Hibiscus flowers
Hikari products: brine shrimp, krill, crab cuisine, sea plankton (no preservatives, ethoxyquin, copper sulfate)
Hollyhock flowers
Honey (organic, or at least locally produced, for anti-microbials)
Honeydew Melon
Irish Moss
Impatiens flowers
Jasmine flowers
Kelp (calcium)
Lobster with crushed exoskeleton
Marigold flowers (calendula)
Marion Berries
Mint (but not peppermint!)
Most organic baby foods
Mulberry (fruit, leaves, wood)
Nasturtium flowers
Nettle (wilted)
Oak Leaves and bark
Olive and olive oil (extra virgin)
Oysters (zinc)
Pansy flowers and leaves
Parsley (calcium & vit. C)
Peanut butter (avoid sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils)
Pecan bark
Plain calcium carbonate powder
Popcorn (unseasoned, unflavored, unbuttered)
Potato (no green parts, including eyes)
Quinoa (New World grain – calcium)
Raisins (no sulphur dioxide)
Red raspberry leaves (highest bio available calcium source + vit. C and trace minerals)
Rolled Oats
Rose petals
Rose hips (high in Vit. C)
Royal Jelly
Sand dollars
Sardines (calcium)
Sea biscuits
Sea fan (red or black)
Sea grasses
Sea salt
Sea Sponges
Sesame seeds (crushed)
Shrimp and exoskeletons
Spirulina (complete protein and chlorophyll source; highest in beta carotene)
Sprouts (flax, wheat, bean, alfalfa, etc.)
Squash and blossoms
Strawberry and tops
Sunflower Seeds (crushed), flowers and leaves
Swamp cypress wood (false cypress, taxodium sp.)
Sweet potato
Tuna (zinc)
Turnip greens (calcium)
Violet flowers
Wasa All-Natural? Crispbread (Oat flavor)
Watercress (vit. A)
Wheat grass (magnesium)
Wheat (calcium)
Wheat germ (B vitamins)
Whole Wheat Couscous
Worm Castings

Other herb flowers-The tiny flowering blooms of the following spices are edible: anise, basil, bee balm, chives, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.


Beetle Grubs
Cicada exo skeletons
Feeder cockroaches
Super worms

* This food list is mainly adapted from Summer Michealson and Stacey Arenella’s book, The All-Natural? Hermit Crab Sourcebook, and expanded on by Julia Crab and others

What foods are bad for hermit crabs?

While it is true that crabs are scavengers with a wide repertoire of foods they can eat, there are many plants and foods that just should not be fed to a crab. The foods on this list are to be avoided. Some are toxic, some are insect repellents or used as insecticides, and some the crabs just won’t go near, such as lemon — lemon won’t hurt them, but they certainly won’t eat it.

Aconite (Monk’s Hood)
African violet leaves
Alder bark
Aloe vera (interferes with potassium absorption)
American Hellebore
Avocado leaves
Bird of Paradise Flowers
Bottlebrush flowers
Carnation leaves
Castor Bean
Cherimoya Seeds
Citrus (leaves and branches to be avoided; part of the evergreen family. The fruit is fine)
Compost (unless 100% organic)
Crown of Thorns
Cube Plant
Custard Apple (young fruit)
European pennyroyal
Evergreen (pine, cedar, juniper, etc.)
Golden Pothos
Green hellebore
Holly Berries
Ivy (of any kind)
Juniper Berries
Larkspur seed
Lemon Balm (Sweet Melissa)
Lemon Grass
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Morning Glory
Oxeye daisy
Papaya seed
Parsley Seed (fruit)
Peace Lily
Pencil Tree Cactus
Pine or cedar wood or needles
Prickly juniper
Pride of China fruit
Prunus species trees (apricot, bitter almond, cherry, cherry laurel,
nectarine, peach, plum) Fleshy fruits are edible, everything else
contains a cyanide-like compound and is fatally toxic, including
seeds, wood, leaves, bark and flowers.
Red Emerald
Sago Palm
Stargazer Lily (Lilium x Stargazer)
Sweet Flag
Tea Tree
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
Wild Angelica fruit

From: The San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society
And other sources

We highly recommend keeping worm castings and greensand on hand and in your tank daily. Both are highly nutritious and are loved by hermit crabs.

Awesome video of a huge  gathering of Coenobita perlatus eating garbage