Tag Archive for water

Updated method for treating water with Prime

Prime Water Conditioner

A member of HCO on FB (not affiliated with LHCOS/CSJ) raised an issue regarding the use of Prime.

After doing some research of our own we are in agreement with their conclusion regarding Prime treated water and pre-mixing.

Please note: As we do not have the necessary information to determine how land hermit crabs are affected by ammonia build up in the water and to what degree we err on the side of caution and treat our water as we would for fish. All information regarding Prime is based on the assumption it is being used in a stable fish tank. Our use is much different. Our primary reason for using Prime is to remove Chlorine and Chloramines and heavy metals from the water and Prime does that well with no recurrence that requires retreatment.

Ammonia build up is only an issue when using semi permanent deep water pools.

You can refer to this link for more information (specifically the comments made by the Seachem staff):


Who does this affect:

Anyone who premixes water with Prime and stores it for later use

Who this does not affect:

Anyone who treats with Prime at the time of a water change

How do I correctly use Prime:

Standing water dishes/pools:

Change the water entirely every two days. Treat with Prime right in the dish or pool if you wish, swish gently to mix.

Bubbler enhanced dishes/pools:

Change the water entirely twice a week. Add Prime when adding new water.

Filtered semi permanent pools:

  • Partial water changes every two weeks and retreat the pool. Change ¼ of the water.
  • Top off the pools as needed and retreat (unless you have a proper ammonia test kit).
  • Don’t scrub your filters and parts squeaky clean, keep the good bio stuff.
  • Do rinse everything off with Prime treated water.

To correctly test your water for ammonia build up you will need a good quality test kits. Cheaper kits will not work with Prime and will always read toxic.

Seachem Ammonia Alert: http://amzn.to/2EjmfcX

Removing hard water stains

You finally scored that awesome tank at a killer price but now how do you clean it??

If the tank is simply dirty but no actual build up on the glass, the cleaning process is pretty straight forward.

A mild detergent can be used with hot water to wash away dirt and grime.

Use a mild bleach solution 1:10 ratio to sanitize the tank in case of parasites or disease. Follow up with a thorough rinse with water and then white vinegar. Allow to air dry 24 hours.

Dealing with stubborn build up on the glass is more challenging. Some stains may never come off. If the stains are only on one wall of the tank you may be able to make that the back wall of your tank. Hard water stains won’t bother your hermit crabs, only obstruct your view.

A combination of acid and abrasion is needed.

  • White vinegar
  • Lemon Juice or Lemon Essential Oil
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Toothpaste
  • Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth http://amzn.to/2qB6uMu
  • Magic Eraser or other very fine grit sandpaper – use damp
  • Razor blade

Your best option is to make a paste that you can smear on and leave to soak for hours or even overnight. All of these items require time to work.

White vinegar or lemon juice are safe natural acids. Combine with salt, diatomaceous earth, baking soda or toothpaste for grit. This will likely scratch the glass and make it cloudy so test on a small spot first. A good strong razor blade scraper can also be used with care to avoid scratching the glass.

You may have some luck with a commercial product if the build up is not too heavy:

Aqueon hard water stain remover: http://amzn.to/2D57qLt 

Once clean, regular cleaning of the glass will prevent build up. Keeping a squeegee handy will make clean up go quickly.

Have another tip for us? Send it to crabstreetjournal@gmail.com !

Where is all of the water coming from?

flooded substrate

Photo credit Jeanne Singhass – flooded substrate

A couple years ago when we created our Facebook group to go along with our website I was shocked to find so many people with flooding issues and bacterial blooms in their crabitats. The response to this was a false bottoms.  In 14 years of crab keeping I’ve never encountered this, so it’s on my mind all the time…where is all the water coming from?

I think I may be on the path to the root cause – overly wet substrate at the beginning.

When you take sandcastle wet sand, add wet ecoearth, add bubbler pools and heat and it’s no wonder the humidity in tank skyrockets and stays there. And it’s no wonder the tank floods, all that excess water has to go somewhere after the substrate becomes completely saturated.

When temperatures fluctuate outside of the tank, condensation can occur. Condensation in the tank is going to end up in the substrate, wetting the ecoearth even more. Ecoearth gets warm when it’s wet, have you noticed that? Hot, soggy tank = disaster.

Prior to my house fire I had my 150 gallon set up and had switched from exclusively using overheat lights to using lights with heat pads. I also put in larger pools and one with a filter, in a segmented section of my tank with Growstone around it. This was to monitor for pool leaks but that never occurred.

Before long I could tell my substrate was getting wetter. Algae was beginning to grow on my cork wall divider a few inches below the surface. My humidity was in range but that was likely because I was still using my overhead light hoods at the time and they burn off a lot of humidity.

After the fire I set up my 150 gallon with dry sand. It wasn’t dusty dry but it was pretty close. I chose to use only one thin layer of dry ecoearth and instead added in some coarse chunks of coconut shell. Eco earth was originally added to help the sand retain moisture, now it may be overkill. This decision was based on @Lisa Dawson ’s flood which was trigger by extreme Australian heat causing her tank to overheat and sweat, then the ecoearth got warm and she ended up with a nightmare in her beautiful crabitat. My tank has two LARGE filtered, waterfall pools.

In the photo below you can see how the moisture is creeping down through the layers of sand. I’m sure the sand around the pools is wetter from splashing and minor spills during cleaning.

The tank has been set up about three months now and successful molts are occurring. My humidity is stable, not climbing over 80% unless we have an unusually warm winter day. I will try to take additional photos in the coming months. I don’t know how long it will take the sand to get saturated at the current rate, hopefully never if my humidity stays controlled. After bringing the lights inside the tank my humidity has dropped to the lower end of the safe range at times. I am thinking of bringing the pools up higher when everyone is above ground so that I can add more sand (miscalculation at set up). I will use dry sand again and that should give me some additional information to work with.

So I’m presenting my suggestions for modifications in our instructions for setting up the substrate for further discussion. Those suggestions are as follows.

  • When setting up your tank don’t add water to the sand. My sand felt dry but in reality had enough moisture to pack right out of the bag.
  • Wet sand should be dried before adding to the tank.  
  • Mix up your ecoearth far enough in advance to allow it to dry out completely before mixing into your sand.
  • If you are installing bubbler or filtered pools I don’t think you will ever have to wet the sand. If your humidity comes up to the safe range after a few days, the sand will absorb moisture from the air.
  • If you are using standard pools (deep enough but no bubbler/filter) you might have to lightly mist the top layer of sand to get things going.

Obviously it is much easier to correct a substrate that is too dry than it is to correct a substrate that is too wet. I don’t agree that it is beneficial to the hermit crabs to allow the substrate to become completely saturated.

We have never recommended extremely high humidity. 90%+ humidity coupled with already saturated substrate will result in a tank flood if maintained at that level for too long.

2018 update: The 150 gallon tank has had no issues, many successful molts. My 75 gallon vertical tank was set up using dry sand only in 2017. The sand in this tank is about 16 inches deep. The tiny crabs in this tank are able to dig deep and form caves.

75 gallon vertical tank started with dry sand May 2017

75 gallon vertical tank started with dry sand May 2017

75 gallon vertical tank started with dry sand May 2017

75 gallon vertical tank started with dry sand May 2017

CSJ has also officially changed it’s stance on mixing moss INTO your substrate, read more about that. 

Note: cross posted on my personal blog (All Things Crabby)as well as our Facebook group to encourage discussion.

These ads are served automatically by Amazon. Not all products marketed for hermit crabs are safe for hermit crabs. Please do your research!

Exo Terra Water Dish

Hagen Exo Terra Water Dish

Hagen Exo Terra Water Dish

Product Name: Exo Terra Water Dish Large

Product Manufacturer: Hagen Exo Terra

Where it was purchased: Pet Store

When it was purchased: 4/1/2015

Price: $24-29 AUS

Do you feel this product is a good value for the price: Yes

Would you recommend this time: Yes

Why or Why Not: It is a large water dish with little stairs for hermit crabs to get in and out of easily.

Reviewer: Vanessa PR

Tetra Decorative Terrarium ReptoFilter


ReptoFilter by Tetra

Product Name: Tetra Decorative Sandstone Terrarium ReptoFilter
Product Manufacturer: Tetra
Where it was purchased: Amazon
When it was purchased: 05/19/2016
Price: 25.99
Product Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 10 inches
Shipping Weight: 6.6 pounds
Do you feel this product is a good value for the price: Yes
Would you recommend this time: Yes
Why or Why Not: I have two of these filters now, one in each style. This one is slightly larger than the other style.
I am really pleased with this filter over all. It does what it is supposed to and is easy to maintain. The only downside is that it takes up a lot of space and needs about 6 inches of water.
Reviewer: Stacy G.

Tetra Decorative Sandstone Terrarium ReptoFilter is an innovative combination of filtration and decoration for frogs, newts and turtles. This 2 in 1 terrarium and filter uses Tetra Whisper technology to keep your water clear. The Tetra Decorative Sandstone Terrarium can be used with aquatic terrariums up to 55 gallons and is ideal for lower water levels. Create a waterfall and basking area while removing terrarium odors.

Uses easily replaceable medium cartridges (charcoal style as used in aquariums)

The lid on the Decorative ReptoFilter keeps reptiles out and doubles as a basking platform

Support CSJ by purchasing this item on Amazon:

Standard tank measurements and weights

Standard Tank Measurement Gallons To Inches

Standard Tank Measurement Gallons To Inches


L x W x H 16″ x 8″ x 10″
Weight (empty) 7 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 62 lbs

L x W x H 20″ x 10″ x 12″
Weight (empty) 11 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 111 lbs

L x W x H 24″ x 8″ x 12″
Weight (empty) 16 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 116 lbs

L x W x H 14″ x 12″ x 18″
Weight (empty) 12 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 110 lbs

L x W x H 24″ x 12″ x 12″
Weight (empty) 21 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 170 lbs

L x W x H 20″ x 10″ x 18″
Weight (empty) 22 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 170 lbs

L x W x H 24″ x 8″ x 16″
Weight (empty) 22 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 170 lbs

L x W x H 24″ x 12″ x 16″
Weight (empty) 25 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 225 lbs

L x W x H 30″ x 12″ x 12″
Weight (empty) 25 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 225 lbs

L x W x H 18″ x 16″ x 20″
Weight (empty) 23 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 220 lbs

L x W x H 24″ x 12″ x 20″
Weight (empty) 32 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 282 lbs

L x W x H 30″ x 12″ x 18″
Weight (empty) 40 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 330 lbs

L x W x H 36″ x 18″ x 12″
Weight (empty) 48 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 348 lbs

L x W x H 23″ x 20″ x 24″
Weight (empty) 43 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 390 lbs

L x W x H 36″ x 18″ x 16″
Weight (empty) 58 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 458 lbs

L x W x H 48″ x 12″ x 16″
Weight (empty) 55 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 455 lbs

L x W x H 36″ x 12″ x 24″
Weight (empty) 66 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 515 lbs

L x W x H 48″ x 12″ x 19″
Weight (empty) 60 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 510 lbs

L x W x H 36″ x 18″ x 19″
Weight (empty) 100 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 600 lbs

L x W x H 48″ x 13″ x 21″
Weight (empty) 78 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 625 lbs

L x W x H 27″ x 24″ x 29″
Weight (empty) 110 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 750 lbs

L x W x H 36″ x 18″ x 24″
Weight (empty) 126 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 772 lbs

L x W x H 48″ x 18″ x 21″
Weight (empty) 140 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 850 lbs

L x W x H 48″ x 18″ x 24″
Weight (empty) 160 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 1050 lbs

L x W x H 72″ x 18″ x 21″
Weight (empty) 206 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 1400 lbs

L x W x H 72″ x 18″ x 28″
Weight (empty) 338 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 1800 lbs

L x W x H 72″ x 24″ x 25″
Weight (empty) 338 lbs
Weight (water-filled) 2100 lbs

Certain tanks of the same size or smaller may weigh more than those of larger sizes or equivalent. That is because some tanks use tempered glass for the bottom.

Hermit crab grooming

Coenobita perlatus grooming itself - Photo by Stacy Spangler of Isopod Connection

Coenobita perlatus grooming itself – Photo by Stacy Spangler of Isopod Connection

In hermit crabs, the fourth and particularly the fifth pereopods are reduced, usually remaining within the confines of the gastropod shell and hence are not used for walking. These appendages do however becoming important when the hermit crab attempts to right itself, providing anchorage within the shell. Further, the fifth pereopod has become specialised as a gill cleaning appendage, often resting within the gill chamber (Bauer 1981). On the abdomen only the left pleopods are retained (Poore 2004).[1]

Hermit crabs used specialized setae on the third maixillipedes and fifth pereiopods for most grooming but used the unmodified first, second, and third pereiopods as well. Most brachyuran grooming was performed with modified setae on the the third maxillipedal palps and eipods, with a row of simple setae on each chelipede merus, and with the chelipede fingers.

The third maxillipedes and fifth pereiopods performed the majority of movements, including all of the more complex actions, and were suprisingly dexterous. Coenobita clypeatus devoted most of it’s grooming energy on the eyes and anntennules and did so with the mesial surfaces of the dactylus, propodus, carpus, and distal merus of the third maxillipedal endopods.

The three pairs of walking legs (chelipedes included) groomed themselves by scrubbing against each other in various combinations of two or three appendages. In addition, the fingers of the minor chelipede picked at the surface of the major chelipede. The chelate fifth pereiopods were quite flexible and extended as far forward as the chelipedes. The fifth pereiopods also groomed most of the central and posterior carapace, including the branchial chamber, and much of the abdomen. The fifth peeriopods groomed much of the shell’s interior, particularly the columella and innner and outer lips, as well as the exterior lips.These appendages did not function exclusively as grooming organs, as they also use their laterally situated gripping scales to brace the body against the shell (Johnson 1965, Vuillemin 1970).

After every few grooming acts, the fifth pereiopods moved anteriorly, in unison. to meet the two third maxillipedes, which were extended posteriorly beneath the body. The plumodenticulate and serrate setai of the posterior appendages were then scrubbed by the maxillipedes. The third maxillipedes, in turn, were scrubbed against each other and/or against the second maxillipedes after a grooming bout. The interior mouthparts had a self-cleaning function as well.

Thus, the maxillipedes groomed the anterior portion of the body (especially the sensory structures), the walking legs groomed each other, and the fifth pereiopods scrubbed the most posterior areas. Two movements were, at times, performed simulanteously, e.g., mutual leg scrubs and anntennule grooming. Although grooming may occur at any time, it was most frequentl and intense immediately after a ran and was often performed in standing water if it was available. Water is clearly an important debris-flushing medium. The grooming setae, parrticuarly the serrate setae, may also serve in a sensory capacity (Derby 1982).

Foam bathing, in which bubbles produced by the mouthparts disperse fluid about the body, occurred in partially submerged or emergent crabs. This action has been variously interpreted as a method of thermoregulation, pheromone distribution, water reserve aeration, or cleansing (Altevogt 1968, Wright 1966, Lindberg 1980, Jacoby 1981, Schone & Schone 1963, Brownscombe 1965). [2]

Dardanus megistos by Storm Martin 2012
2. Grooming structure and function in some terrestrial Crustacea

Coenobita molt sac

The land hermit crab (Coenobita) develops a water sac inside of their shell prior to a molt. As shedding of the old exoskeleton begins, this store of water is used to expand the body to stretch and increase size before the soft exoskeleton begins to harden again

We are building image galleries of specific body parts. If you have high resolution, clear photos that you would like to donate to this project please contact us via email: crabstreetjournal at gmail dot com

Overview of the anatomy of a land hermit crab (Coenobita)

The Newbies Guide to Hermit Crabs

Coenobita compressus

Let’s Get Started!

First and foremost use the SEARCH BOX and SEARCH, SEARCH, SEARCH! Our site has a ton of information and nearly every question that a new crabber is trying to answer, has been asked here before. We work hard to maintain a current and extensive library of articles to help you. We do have a forum but it is not monitored and you may not receive an answer right away.



Have you found yourself an unprepared parent of a hermit crab or two? Are you prepared to give them the proper habitat in which they can survive long term? If so, here’s a very basic list of supplies to get you started.

A glass tank

  •  go as big as you can afford
  •  it doesn’t have to hold water
  •  it doesn’t have to be new (check the newspaper,craigslist, yard sales)

A secure lid for the tank

  • a mesh lid with a solid barrier on top to retain humidity is ideal
  • you can use saran wrap in a pinch but not ideal long term
  • a piece of plexiglass or coroplast is a good cover for the mesh lid
  • hermit crabs are escape artists! Place heavy weights or locks on your lid

Substrate for the tank

  • 6-12 inches deep or 3 times as deep as your largest crab is tall
  • Play sand meant for a sand box is perfect http://amzn.to/1PLQOMu
  • Coco fiber which is shredded coconuts http://amzn.to/1KhJaHb
  • Mix the play sand and coco fiber together, roughly 5 parts DRY sand to 1 part DRY coco

Heat source

Heat mat – We recommend Ultratherm http://amzn.to/2EVPmb2

  • Can be insulated with Reflectix Reflective Roll Insulation http://amzn.to/1PLR1zg
  • Place on the back wall of the tank to provide gradient heat. (Warm and cool zones)

Light source

  • If you have a well lit room that will illuminate the tank during the day you can get by without a lamp. No direct sunlight on the tank.
  • Be aware of how the room temperature rises during summer.
  • They need a normal light/dark 12/12 hour cycle.

Water conditioner

  • We recommend Prime Aquarium Water Conditioner http://amzn.to/1PLRcu9

Ocean Salt Mix

  • Not freshwater aquarium salt!
  • Instant Ocean is the most common brand and is easy to find http://amzn.to/1SrKxnM
  • These other brands are also good and may be available in your particular area:  Fluval Sea Salt, Red Sea Salt, Coralife, Oceanic Sea Salt, Tetra Marine Sea Salt and Marinium.


  • Cheap Tupperware works great!
  • Water dishes should be deep enough for your largest crab to submerge.
  • Provide exit ramps for small crabs


  • If you can afford it, go wireless and digital. WalMart carries digital indoor/outdoor Thermometer Hygrometer You can also buy online. http://amzn.to/1KhJDZM
  • Hygrometers should be calibrated prior to use

Check out this video on how to set up a temporary crabitat in a storage bin: https://youtu.be/x29JaAr9w9U?list=LLCYR6QkuCDm4MJ8hEDeBqvQ.

Bins are not a permanent home, but may be needed in emergencies.

Setting up a Proper Crabitat

Why dry substrate?


How do I create and maintain humidity in my crabitat?
Calibrating your Humidity Gauge

Methods for heating your crabitat
Air Temperature versus Substrate Temperature

Can I Use A Light To Keep Them Warm?
Do I need a light?

Regulation of Crustacean Molting: A Multi-Hormonal System
CrabloverDon on Molting
All about molting
On molting
Is my hermit crab dead or molting?
What is molting?
Pre Molt Symptoms

Dropped or Missing Limbs-
Handicapped/limbless/sick Hermit Crab Care
Why do land hermit crabs drop limbs?
PPS (Post Purchase Stress) Minimizing the Impact

Shell-less Hermit Crab-
My Hermit Crab has left its shell! What do I do?

Growing your own hermit crab food
Going Natural Beginner’s List
Hermit Crab Food Recipes
Hermit Crab Nutrition Table
People food for hermit crabs
Should I feed my crabs meat?
The Power of Protein
What foods are good and bad for hermit crabs?

The importance of the right kind of salt
How do I mix ocean water?
Why can’t I use tap water?

Substrates for Hermit Crabs

How do I choose suitable shells for my hermit crab?
When do hermit crabs change shells?
Painted Shells

Escaped Hermit Crab-
Locating an Escaped Hermit Crab

Cost Cutting-
Cost Cutting Tips
A guide for setting up a large crabitat on a budget

FAQ Why can’t I use tap water?

Prime Water Conditioner

Why can’t I use tap water for my hermit crabs? Prime Water Conditioner

All water that comes in contact with your hermit crab must be dechlorinated. Most cities add chlorine to their water supply. Some add chlorine and chloramines to the water. Unless you have contacted your water department and determined if they use both, you should use a treatment to remove both. In the past, it was enough to let water sit out for 24 hours so the chlorine could evaporate out. That no longer is sufficient because chloramines will never evaporate out nor ammonia. A bottle of water treatment will last for years.

Stresscoat should NOT be added to your crabs water.

Chlorine and chloramines cause burning on the gills of a hermit crab and will eventually kill the crab.

Here is a list of just a few of the chemicals routinely added to our water supply:

  • Liquified chlorine
  • Fluorosilicic acid
  • Aluminium sulphate
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Sodium silicofluoride

Typical Tap Water Content:

  • Chlorine
  • Fluorine compounds
  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)
  • Salts of:
    • arsenic
    • radium
    • aluminium
    • copper
    • lead
    • mercury
    • cadmium
    • barium
    • Hormones
    • Nitrates
    • Pesticides

Prime water conditioner’s shelf life is indefinite, as long as the Prime stays away from direct heat or cold, the components will not break down or degrade. Even very old bottles of Prime are still safe and effective. Updated method for treating water with Prime