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by Stacy

FAQ Should I feed my hermit crab meat?

September 28, 2012 in FAQ, Food and Nutrition

This is a compilation of forum posts from our old site.


I really was not all that big on the meat thing untill i came here and read that so many of you feed alot of meets. So i have alway put a little crab or shrimp or tuna in for them, but just every once in a while. So I was wondering is it on a daily basis that you should feed the meat. I have been changeing out fresh every day but can’t really tell about how much of it they are eating because they like to party at night so the food is everywhere. And also how often do you change out the differant meets. I don’t want to upset their little tummys and i know they are not close to dogs, but with dogs it can upset them a little. Well as far as that goes i guess how often do you change out all your foods. For me every week they get 3 sets of choices greens, leaves, seaweed and then on fruit mango, fresh coconut,bannana and on meat oyster,tuna,sardine treats are nuts and rosehipp. Should i be adding in better things for them? I do have to say they eat better than i do as far as fresh wholesome foods! Lol

SUE wrote:

rachelrmf, this is a good question, and one that is continually evolving based on what is observed and coming to be known in terms of what constitutes a robust diet for crabs. I am going to provide a breakdown of the specific food groups and what they are generally good for. Note that I will not have included ALL the foods in the category, and some categories overlap in one or 2 areas too. I try to offer daily a food from each group. I used to also leave home made dry kibble, worrying that they do not all eat at the same time or each thing (which they don’t) but I have a lot of crabs, and I have learned for my herds, the general proportions to offer. I have stopped leaving dry goods in at all times, and find that their foraging is better, and I waste less food! I still feed them dry goods daily, just minimally, and I usually sprinkle it on something that it will stick to like juicy fruit or vegetables. This is something I do because I have tested and offered these foods to the crabs in trial alone before! Here is the list:

Scientists evaluate that crabs use a natural selection imprint to prevent themselves from eating only one type of food source and thus harm themselves with not getting all food resources needed. They are also imprinted to ignore foods that have been smelled or eaten within a 9 -14 hour period of time, and one of the reasons relying on commercial foods is so dismally inadequate. They are not of the type of animal that relies only on one type ofr food like protein, or vegetation or calcium, etc. They must have a robust combination of all of them! Many of the foods must support their ability to metabolize to their environment (heat, humidity, light, growth) and they require a balance of ALL these types of food resources (some more at specific times like pre-molt, or PPS) in order to thrive. These groups are classed in the following way and I will include why:

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 proteinous 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 is a mirade of these suitable, some found in fresh flower petals like roses, sunflower, crab apple blossom, etc. Take a look at the edible plants list at Epicurean Hermit!

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, cuttle bone, broccoli heads, milk.

extra resources relating to the above: http://www.epicurean-hermit.com and http://hermitcrabcuisine.com (this site lists specific food groups for each food)

[i][b][color=FF3300]Steam all shell fish prior to offering to hermit crabs![/color][/b][/i]

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by Stacy

FAQ Prawns posing possible disease threat?

September 28, 2012 in FAQ

This is a compilation of forum posts from our old site.
Dec 13, 2006

Today I read an interesting article in a Queensland newspaper that crabbers(particularly Australian crabbers) who feed their crabs prawns, may like to read. Below is an excerpt.

Prawns posing disease threat.
The increased volume and decreased price of imported green prawns has further escalated the risk of spreading the diseases, white spot syndrome and taura syndrome to the state’s prawn stocks.

The Department of Fisheries and Primary Industries has initiated it’s own testing and sampling program as a measure to protect prawn stocks with traces of both the diseases being found in many test batches bought from supermarkets.

Below are two links for each of these diseases,

White Spot Syndrome

Viral Diseass Taura Syndrome

It shows in the white spot syndrome article that this disease can affect crustaceans such as crabs.
With the article on Taura syndrome,it doesn’t say whether this disease affects crustaceans,but the symptoms do appear similar(but perhaps not the same disease as the problem appeared after feeding oysters) to the symptoms some of my crabs had before and after death over a month ago.

Thank you for sharing this Troppo. Extremely interesting reading, and a link within the links you provided has a bit more detail about “Diseases of Crustaceans Listed by the OIE”

Diseases of Crustaceans

Prawns are crustaceans so I would say it is very likely it could affect hermit crabs. Most experts say that with the shell disease (or black spot) with crabs and lobsters that the cooked meat is ok for human consumption. The blurb above mentioned ‘green’ prawns which means uncooked or raw. Perhaps the best method is to cook the prawns rather than offer them raw?

Ahhhh that’s great Vanessa, so there shouldn’t be any need to worry about that report,instead just cook the prawns and it should be ok?
With shell disease,that’s caused by bacteria which would be killed during cooking,but with white spot and taura syndrome which are both virus’s,would the virus’s be destroyed during cooking?

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by Stacy

FAQ How can I get my hermit crab to eat out of my hand?

September 28, 2012 in FAQ

Originally written by Vanessa Pike-Russell

Vanessa Feeding Little Red Claw
Sometimes it takes a while to bond with your crab. they might not feed from your hand from the first time you try but if you persevere and are patient, it will happen. Gently hold the back of their shell with thumb and forefinger, and hold a piece of fruit (fresh or dried), nut (especially almond) bread, popcorn or cracker near the crab’s cheliped, or grasping claw, perhaps even brushing the food against it until your crab starts to become interested in the food and and they will responsively clutch at it and then want to taste it. You should then see your hermit crab happily breaking bits off the food and passing them to their mouth using ‘feeding hands’ known as maxillipeds, munching away.

Your hermit crab needs to feel completely at ease with you, and trust you implicitly. Slow, gentle movements and soft voice calming them as you coax them to eat works the best for me.

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by Stacy

FAQ Salt Water

September 27, 2012 in FAQ

I hear a lot of discussion about salt and fresh water.

How do I safely get my salty water salty?

How necessecary is salty water to hermit crabs?

Also, I was hoping to get a sloping, deep reptile dish with good traction to let the hermit crabs bathe themselves instead of me misting them or taking them out of their cage to be bathed. Should that dish have salt or fresh water?

Salt water
Originally written by CrabbyJo

To get your salt water salty, the safest way is with an ocean salt mix you can purchase at your pet store. NEVER use table salt meant for humans. There are anticaking agents in them that can be dangerous for your crabs.

Pet stores may have some salt water mix for hermit crabs, do not purchase these salt waters or mixes. Use the salt used to make ocean salt water specifically for salt water fish tanks. There are a few brands you can choose from.

It is VERY important that you get a water dechlorinator, preferably one that removes chloramine, chlorine, and heavy metals if you are using tap water. If your water is fluoridated, it is highly recommended you use distilled water as there currently is no way to remove fluoride from water, and fluoride can be deadly to your hermit crabs.

If you do use distilled water, you will need the properly mixed ocean/sea mix to replace what the distilled water is lacking. Distilled water does not need a dechlorinator to be used as it has no elements or minerals within it.

As for hermit crabs needing saltwater, it’s very important. These crabs live near the ocean, and can adjust the salinity of their body themselves if they have the proper access to both fresh dechlorinated and ocean salt water. Ecquadorians and perlatus are more sensitive and need it more than clypeatus. Often you will see your crab, pre molt, sitting in the salt water dish filling his shell with water. He needs it to help him have a successful molt, as well as for his general all over health.

As for the bathing, I have a deep dish myself full of fresh dechlorinated water so my crabs can bathe themselves, and a slightly shallower salt water bowl so they can dip their shells in if they want to, although it’s not deep enough for them to “swim” in. Bathing practice of hermies is now in question except for in cases of a “need to” situation (such as reintroducing an isolated molter to the main tank, or possible mites or fungus), and many crabbers are forgoing this practice and allowing their hermies to bathe themselves in a large dish as you describe.

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