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by Stacy

My crabbing method – Marie

February 21, 2013 in General

Marie Davis writes about moulting and her crabbing method:

dry food dish for hermit crabs

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.

Clyde looks dead

Clyde… He looks dead

 

Clyde Shrunk

Clyde Shrunk

 

Clyde is Tucked Safely Within Shell

Clyde Tucked Safely Within Shell

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by Stacy

Hermit Crab Vacation Care

October 16, 2012 in General

There may come times when a crabber finds they must leave their hermies for a few days, or wish to go on vacation and are concerned about their hermies being cared for.

To go for a week end, most can ensure with reptile reservoirs the hermit crabs will have the water they need as well as food if a little extra is added to the food dish. Make sure the foods that are left will not spoil/mold in a couple of days.

For peace of mind regarding the temperature of ones crabitat one may wish to invest in a Thermostat for the heating source.

With a controlled crabitat temperature, most times it is easier to regulate the humidity percentage within the tank as well.
Below please find postings from some of the Crab Street Journals members as to what they had done prior to leaving for a few days or before going on vacation:

grant wrote:

I’ve seen these before at PetSmart and a couple other pet stores and would not buy them myself.
HBH Hermit Crab Vacation Food Blocks

I wasn’t too crazy about the ingredients and yes they do contain ethoxyquin.

General

  • Keep all materials organized and labeled
  • Have dedicated measuring tools handy
  • Do a thorough cleaning before you leave

Water
Use the same dish for each type
For example:

  • blue dish – salt water
  • orange dish – fresh water
  • Show helper how to mix a batch of each
  • Ask helper to clean and replace daily

Food

  • Keep fresh in air tight containers
  • Ask helper to clean and replace daily
  • Do not over feed
  • Barnicle clusters make great additions because they look nice, the crabs can climb on them and the crabs can eat them.
  • Other foods need to be removed to avoid mold and spoiling.

Humidity/Temperature

  • Make sure gage reads accurately and is easy to see
  • Inform the helper of what range it should read in
  • and how to make adjustments if found out of that range.
    • Other thoughts…

      • To help keep the water fresh and full you could use a dripper.
      • To help with humidity keep saturated sea sponges. I use a coconut shell to hold them.
      • Cover most of the top with a plastic or other non-breathable material
      • Have extra dishes so they can be rotated. (no need to rush the cleaning and drying process)
      • Introduce the helper to this forum!

      Daethian wrote:

      I divvy up foods into small daily portions in shells or dishes, then cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge so they just open and pop it in the tank. I normally alternate wet with dry foods so they can leave the dry foods in for two days. With the food portioned out and ready to go it’s very easy.

      I mix my water a gallon at a time so there is no need for them to mix any of it. I mark the milk jugs accordingly of course.

      I always keep dried leaves and flowers strewn in my tank to ensure there is always something to nibble on.

      You can do the same with ground egg shells and cuttlebone.

      Lette wrote:

      I’d like to make up several servings of food a day so she wouldn’t have to worry about what to feed them. I was thinking of using a large pillbox. the type that has the days listed on them. It might help w/proportions of dry food & that way I know they are getting a variety of dry good food. Lette

      Misscranky1 wrote:

      Here’s what I have been doing for quite a while now when I get ready to leave.
      I buy fruits and veggies and save the clippings in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator with a paper towel in it. This keeps the moisture down. I also buy a bag of mixed berries in the frozen food section because they’re just fruit and they’re easy to use.
      I also buy organic baby food and a little goes a long way.

      On the day before I leave, I chop my fruit and veggie clippings, I get out two ice trays and sprinkle a little big of chopped pieces into each compartment. I will even put a piece of a sardine in a few of the compartments too. I then spoon (about a 1/2 teaspoon) the baby food into alternating compartments and I mix it up so there’s not the same thing in all of them. I put a few pieces of the mixed berries on top of each compartment then sprinkle some eggshells on top of that. It actually looks very pretty by then.
      I freeze the food and once they’re frozen, I pop them out into an airtight container and keep it in the freezer. Labeled of course.

      I also mix up some dry food mix which is some fruit and flower mix, brown rice, grits, dried apples, maybe even their cherrished cheerios and put that in a jar with an air tight lid.

      I buy 2 gallons of distilled water and add ocean salt to one of them.

      When I get ready to leave, the instructions are to change out the water every other day, put a cube of food one day, then change it out with dry stuff which is ok to be there for 2 days. Alternating if they want to.
      I do the same with the humidity gauge and point it out and label the flap of plastic on the lid which says… if humidity is above 80, open the flap. If it’s below 70, close the flap.
      Not too bad.

      It usually works out really well and I don’t have them worry with the light because the tank is near a window. It gets natural light.
      I haven’t had a problem.

      It’s nice because if the friend puts the food dish where I put it, the cube of food thaws nicely over the undertank heater in a short time.
      I forgot to add that I put some meat.. like shrimp or bloodworms in there too.

      Ladybug15057 wrote:

      A couple years ago when our whole family went to Georgia for a weeks vacation I knew our ‘sitter’ would only be stopping in once a day, mostly towards evening. Even with the large water ponds, I wanted to make sure the hermies had water 24/7. So I had bought reptile reservoirs for all the tanks. To make sure the little ones could get access to the reservoirs (just in case) I cut small strips of Velcro and stuck them along different parts of the outside of the reservoir water end. I used a sharpie permanent marker and marked each reservoir ‘tube’ either ocean or fresh water. (as well as the underside of the reservoir) This made it a little easier for our ‘sitter’ and the reservoirs I suggested to only change the water out every 3-4 days or so. (unless they started to look nasty, but to change the ponds water at least every 2 days)
      To make sure the little hermies could get out of the reservoir pond, I placed a few marbles within each one. I used votive candle holders filled with water and marbles in the middle of where the UTH was located to help regulate the humidity within the tank. Having the Electronic temp controllers to regulate the heat output of the UTH gave me peace of mind that the temperature within the tank would be fine.
      Freeze dried or dehydrated foods were prepared prior to our leaving, as well as the fresh foods. Dry foods were prepared in dishes and covered and then placed in the refrigerator to keep them fresher longer. (These were to be changed every 2 days) For the fresh foods that were prepared I used the daily pill dispensers that were to be emptied into the cleaned dishes. The fresh foods were to be changed daily. There is a list of Kaytee healthy food toppings for birds as well as some Hakari foods one can use:
      Foods
      I too left directions on the top of the tanks about the humidity readings, as well as what that tank was called. (we have a few tanks and they do have names: Jumbo tank, Strawberry tank, my main tank, etc.) The food dishes we prepared on the plastic wrap were marked accordingly too with masking tape on top.
      In case a hermie had molted, I already had critter keepers set up within the main iso tank. All they needed was water added to the water dishes. I had left instructions on top of the tank lid as to which water went into which colored dish. I had also prepared a couple smaller dishes clearly marked for the iso tank in case there was a molter while we were away.

      Hermit wrote:
      Great ideas, everyone! I do the premixed and frozen foods for my crabs too.
      When I am going away for awhile, I put a pot of “living” food in the tank. I have these small plastic toy buckets that I fill with worm castings, and I sprout seeds like millet, beans, spinach, etc. in them on a sunny windowsill. Then, when I am going to leave, I put the pot into the tank. The hermies can eat the sprouts, dig up any unsprouted seeds and eat those, and even eat the worm castings.
      I do this for them even when I’m home, but it’s especially important when I’m away.

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by Stacy

Checklist for Regular Care and Maintenance of Your Hermit Crabs and the Crabitat

September 27, 2012 in Caresheets

Originally written by Vanessa Pike-Russell

After your crabitat is set up you will have to maintain it and your crabs. Below you will find a list of what tasks should be done daily, weekly and monthly.

Daily

o Refill fresh water dish and the ocean water pond
o Empty and clean the food dish (no chemicals)
o Offer a different food each day
o Rinse sponge in water free of chlorine
o Check the humidity level is within range (50-60% or relative humidity 70-80%)
o Check the temperature of air and substrate (21-27oC or 70-80oF) and that it is stable

Weekly

o Clean the bowls and dishes (without chemicals)
o Pick through the substrate for food and feces
o Give your sea sponges a good cleaning , squeeze to get any stagnant water out and leave to dry (for long life)
o Sterilize (boiling) seashells and re-offer them to crabs

Monthly

o Where needed, remove all items from tank (substrate, wood, toys, dishes etc) and clean by boiling or baking
o Wipe down walls of tank with vinegar and water, or ocean water mixture. (Avoid cleaning chemicals eg. bleach)

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