Written by Anne Grady
Food mites, more properly called grain mites are something that can be found in any tank at any time. The first thing to understand is that they did not come from the crabs, having hermit crabs does not cause you to have food mites.
Food mites come into your home through the everyday things you buy at the grocery store. Anything that contains grain can have food mites. Oatmeal, grits, breakfast cereal, noodles, flour and rice are a few examples. In general you won’t see them and they are harmless, but that box of corn meal or pancake mix that gets left on the shelf for a few months can be the start of them multiplying and spreading through your home.
The moist, warm place that is your hermit crab tank is also a place they love and if they find it they will move in and set up house. They will begin to multiply rapidly.
You can’t totally prevent any food mites from entering your home, but using your products in a few weeks and throwing out older things will help. Placing items in your freezer will prolong their life and help kill off mites.
If you have food mites in your tank, start by taking out all food and water dishes and cleaning them very well. Remove the top ½ inch of substrate to get those you don’t see. For a week change out food every day and wash the dishes each time. Feed only dry foods during that time. Any mites you see should be removed, of course. Wipe them off the glass with a paper towel and wash décor if you think they are climbing on it.
Many react to food mites by wanting to tear down the tank and start over, but that does not address the second part of the problem, the source.
You also need to attempt to identify the source of the food mites in your home. Check things that have been on the shelf for a while. Things like flour and pancake mix you can dump just a little on the counter, make it as smooth as you can and leave it for half an hour. If you check it and the surface has been “roughed” up, it more than likely has food mites. Things like noodles and rice that won’t work that way you can freeze for 3 or 4 days to kill them if they are in there. Wash all your pantry and cupboard shelves with a good cleaner or just vinegar and water.
There is no way to completely avoid having a food mite in your home, but these methods should help you to have far fewer problems with them.