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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.