Build The Crabitat: Do's and Dont's!
This Page Will Teach You How To Build The Perfect Crabitat!
"First Lets Learn What The Right Type Of Tank Is
For Your Hermit Crabs:"
Tank Examples: Perfect - Horrible
Price Estimate Also Listed Under Pixel-Image
(Shells And Sponges Not Included In Estimate)
|The Whole Thing Cost Me About $130 ($30 For Tank)
||A 'Perfect' Example Of A Crabitat
|The is a Pixel-Art of my current tank that houses 3 to 4 crabs at once, but will comfortably hold 8 if provided with more hiding spots. This tank has natural shells, a mix of sand and coco substrate, fresh and salt water dishes, both temperature and humidity gauges, and hiding spots. Fake plants, netting, and wood are fun things for your crabs to climb! (The cloth on top helps control humidity!)
|The Whole Thing Cost Me About $160 ($60 For Tank).
||A 'Great' Example Of A Crabitat
|This is a Pixel-Art of my first Crabitat, it has many things to climb on, a mix of sand and coconut substrate, and fresh & salt water dishes. Many natural shells provided and at least one hiding spot. It has both a humidity and temperature gauge and a cloth on top. The only down side to this crabitat design is only about 1~2 crabs can live here because of the tank's small size.
For Items Seen (10)
|A 'Good' Example Of A Crabitat
|This makes a good home for someone that's not serious about keeping hermit crabs, or you just like the beach theme. This tank will need more sand, and maybe use suction cups to hang fish nets like in the example above. Keeping humidity up with just sand will be difficult, try adding a natural sea sponge! (Lid's with flaps that open won't stop a crab! Lock it shut or hold it down!)
For Items Seen (9)
|An 'OK' Example Of A Crabitat
|First of all this tank has way too little substrate! And its missing a salt water dish! The hiding spot could use some work and it needs a temperature gauge. Provide more things to climb on or your craps will get bored. (Painted shells are not good for your crabs, they chip and your crab will end up eating the paint!) And that wire lid won't hold humidity, try putting a cloth over it!
For Items Seen (5)
|A 'Bad' Example Of A Crabitat
|Colored "Crab Sand" isn't healthy even though its "made for them". That hiding spot won't keep your crab hidden. Plastic trees are no fun to climb on. This "Crab Kit " will never keep humidity stable, and its just too small. (This can make a good travel case and even an ISO, but never a home.) And there's a sponge instead of water! Crabs can't get enough water from that alone.
For Items Seen (5)
|A 'Horrible' Example Of A Crabitat
|What you see here is a 'Betta Bowl', not a 'Crabitat'. Hermit Crabs and gravel DO-NOT- MIX! Not only is there not enough shells, but the ones provided are painted! The hiding spot is ok but no fun to climb on. It will be impossible to keep this place humid without some kind of lid. It needs a salt water dish and a sponge, more plants and things to climb on. (Get a REAL Tank!)
"Before You Hit The Shops
Learn What You Looking For"
Crabitat Check List (Shopping List)
Before buying your crab have everything it will ever need before hand. After everything is set up only then buy your crab. To help you get all his requirements, I set up an easy shopping list bellow.
The very first thing you should do is find out the size of your tank. Ideally it should be no less than 10 gals. You also should get a ISO-tank, that can be as low as 2.5gal (should really only be used for molting crabs.) and a minimum of 5 gals for sick or new crabs.
The next thing you do is buy substrate, ideally a Crushed Coconut substrate + Play Sand combo, and you should have a enough for a minimum of 3-4 inch's of substrate in your crabitat.
The substrate should be sand-castle consistency. You can test if it is too wet by grabbing a hand full and squeezing, if it drips water it is too wet. If it instead crumbles in your hand when you scoop it up; it needs a little more water.
Check List Of The Basic-Needs For A Happy Crabitat:
(A Shell perhaps, some believe it slowly releases calcium into the food)
-Salt water dish
(deep enough so a crab could easily scoop water into it's sell)
-Fresh water dish
(Deep enough so that all crabs can get in the water half way)
-Two-Three Natural Sea Sponge's
(Place it into the fresh water dish, it should be no larger than 1/3 the dish)
-One hiding spot for every one crab
(Ideally 1 hide-away for every crab, but under/behind objects also count)
-A minimum of three shells per crab
(one bigger, smaller, and one the same size for each crab)
-Plenty of things to climb on
(Vines, nets, wood, plants, ornaments, anything he can get his claws on)
(Link To Foods: Store Bought And Fresh)
-Salt Water/ Sea Salt Mix
(Ideally a box of sea salt you can mix with water, often found in the fish-section)
(rain water, filtered water, bottled water, never use tap water!)
(Should contain fresh water, mist daily)
-Temperature and Humidity Gauge
(Try buying a combo pack, saves money but beware the cheap stuff!)
Don't forget you may need to furnish an ISO Tank as well!
"My Shopping List/ What Is Inside My Crabitat"
What I Bought
(From The Web Master: That's Me, Jenne!)
"All together I paid a little over $160, and I know that is daunting to hear but the tank alone I paid $60 for, it was a 12" x 12" x 12" terrarium at Petsmart (Picture), I simply removed the foam backing it came with to maximize space.
I later bought a larger tank, a 20 gallon that cost about $30 with lid and all.
The rest of my $100 was spent on not only what went inside the tank, but what went on the outside, (Including food, which I listed on another page)
The List Is As Follows: (Brand - Other - Unnecessary)
-Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber (Compressed Brick)
-Zoo Med Repti Rock Reptile Food and Water Dish Combo (The smaller one)
-ZooMed Repti Hammocks
-Exo-Terra Granite Rock Water Dishes
-Exo-Terra Jungle Vines
-T-Rex Dome Home/ Crab Shack (Cocohut)
-PETCO Thermometer Humidity Gauge Combo Pak
-Instant Ocean Aquarium Salt (For Salt Water)
-Play Sand (Home depot)
-"Waffle Towel" (For Top Of Tank)
-Shells From A Craft Store (Well washed)
-Fish Net From A Craft Store (Also suction cups)
-Small Plastic Plants
-Random Plastic Fish Tank Plants/Deco
-Random Natural Sea Sponges
-Mister Bottle From Store
-I bought gloves at first because I was afraid of handling. (Good for beginners!)
-I also bought glass jars for any food I could store nearby (like pet-store-product food)
-I got a towel to place on top of my tank to keep in humidity.
-I thought I better purchase place mats for under my tank to protect my wood furniture.
-And last, I bought condiment bottoms (ketchup and mustard) to hold fresh and salt water!
"Always Know What Your Buying
Before You Bring It Home!"
What To Buy: Read The Reviews
(And Set Your Budget)
Before buying your hermit crab, you should have bought everything he'll ever need before hand, and before you do that you should learn what exactly that is, so go online.
Petco and Petsmart are the most popular pet stores, they sell a number of products from several different company's, and they both have web sites. Browse until you find a product you would like for your crabitat, click the product and read up on it, then scroll down to the bottom where the reviews are. Always read reviews, if only 1 or 2 bad review claim "it broke apart" that may just be a 1-in-100 event. I am not saying you should ignore bad reviews, just remember if it happens to you you saw it coming and you know your not alone, and simply return it. Knowledge of what might happen could aid in preventing accidents with any pet.
While your reading reviews, write down the name and price of the products you liked. By doing this you can learn how much money you will need when you hit the stores. (Don't forget to include the price of the crab itself!)
After you have made you shopping list, you could either order it (remember there are always bad reviews from online ordering as well, so take that into consideration) or go to a pet store near you. Also keep in mind products online may not be sold in stores, when this happens to me I check the other pet stores and they usually have it (If not at Petco try Petsmart, or other pet stores, and even Walmart in the fish section)
"The Heart And Foundation For Your Crabitat
Bedding Is One Of The Important Elements!"
Substrate Do's And Don'ts
|Which Substrate To Buy And Which To Avoid:
A Simple guideline, if it says its made for Hermit Crabs, don't buy it. Why you ask? When it comes to "Crab Sand" and things like that, you shouldn't trust it just because it is made for hermit crabs. Painted shells are made for Hermit Crabs and hopefully by now you know that painted shells kill crabs.
All that you need to have for a perfect crabitat is Coconut Fiber, and Sand (whether it be beach, play, or desert sand, all is fine). If you wish you can also add moss, but beware not all moss is healthy for animals. The explanations and advantages for these substrates is explained next.
The Must Avoid Substrate Are:
Wood shavings or chunks, aspen begging, gravel, crushed walnut, soil with chemicals, dirt, clay, calci sand and colored sand. You should also not use newspaper or reptile carpet when it comes to Hermit Crabs.
The Advantages Of Mixed Substrate (Cocofiber and Sand):
Which is better? Coconut fiber or sand? A combination of both!! Coconut fiber has it's own advantages and disadvantages, the same goes for sand.
Coconut fiber has the ability to raise humidity up and keep it stable much easier then sand, and the tunnels a crab make inside the substrate don't collapse as easily as moist sand. The down side is coconut fiber tends to attract insects called Fungus Gnats, tiny black gnats that love living and making nests in coconut fiber. Fungus Gnats can be prevented, all you have to do is when soaking the substrate brick, add some salt, this will keep any mold from forming in the substrate and keep most of the gnats away.
Sand also has its ups and downs, one example is how hermit crabs need sand to nibble on as they walk to help them digest food, it acts like crackers and prevents tummy ache =). The down side is it is difficult to keep the humidity up like with cocofiber and it is more difficult for crabs to borrow into. Also sand
Mixing these substrates together in a 50% 50% ratio is simply ideal for a crabitat. it cancels out each other's disadvantages and increases the overall comfort level for your hermit crabs.
What Types Of Moss Are Available:
Adding some moss to your habitat will help keep humidity up and your crabs will enjoy climbing and digging into it, however be careful not to let crabs get tangled in the moss!
No matter what; never use Peat or Spanish moss. When it comes to many species of herp, those are the blacklist of moss. Good moss to use are pretty much any other moss except for Peat and Spanish, this includes: Sheet moss, beak moss, and wild/natural moss, but most commonly used are hiawatha moss and spaghnum moss.
"Going For The Natural Look? I'll Tell You My Secrets"
How To Build: Functional And Fantastic
(Forest Theme Vs Beach)
Building The Forest Theme:
If you read the two sections above and got everything you need, its simply a matter of putting them in the right spot, in the right order. I recommend for Forest Theme you first put a thin layer of DRY play sand at the bottom, this will help insolate your tank, and if a crab reaches the bottom it won't be harmed by an undertank heating be directly under the glass, the sand will protect it. Then fill up to 4-5 inch's of moist substrate (a sand/coconut substrate combination, substrate should be sand-castle consistency). Substrate should be deeper for larger craps; a rule of thumb is the substrate should be double the inch's of the height of your crab (shell and all). I also recommend you put large river rocks under the food and water dish; this will prevent hermit crabs from burrowing under them.
If you decided to buy fish netting and a "second floor" now is the time to add them. Attach you second floor (I used the ' ZooMed Repti Hammock' you can also try a 'Turtle Dock') then cut your fish netting to the size you desire and attach them to the inside of the tank with suction cups.
Next you add your water/food dishes and the main hiding spots (like a cocohut or hide rock) and structures.
Last, begin adding ornaments and then plants, you can get more detailed as you get closer to finishing.
The Temperature and Humidity Gauge can be added at any point, but I recommend it either be the first thing you do, or after/during you add the second floor and fish netting. They should also be placed out-of-reach of crabs and still visible from outside of the tank.
Beach theme is simply a matter of replacing coconut substrate with all play sand and buying beach-theme ornaments and plants. Although I do not recommend you get rid of the wonderfully high-humidity crushed coconut substrate, it is still acceptable to use only sand.
Building The Beach Theme:
Generally speaking its the same as Forest Theme, The only change is the first step (The only difference is you do not add a layer of dry sand at the bottom). For the rest of the steps scroll up to Forest Theme.
Beach Theme is also less expensive and easier to put/keep together.
If you read the two sections above and got everything you need, its simply a matter of putting them in the right spot, in the right order. For beach theme simply dump 4-5 inch's of moist sand into the tank (substrate should be sand-castle consistency). Substrate should be deeper for larger craps; a rule of thumb is the substrate should be double the inch's of the height of your crab (shell and all). I recommend you put large river rocks under the food and water dish, this will prevent hermit crabs from burrowing under them.
TOP TIPS FOR ALL THEMES:
-It is important you do not have anything placed too close to the lid of the tank (this includes suction cups). If a crab can reach the top and the lid is not secure it can and will escape. Did you know hermit crabs can also successfully cling to and climb the glue that connects the corners of glass tanks? This is why it is so important to have a secure lid! Even when it is a secure wire lid you might find an upside down crab at some point!
-If you have a wire lid you can put a towel over it to help control humidity. This is a handy trick because when there is too much humidity simply pull away a corner of the cloth, if there is too little; cover the top of the tank completely.
-Place food and water dishes in the easiest-to-access place, such as right next to the doors to the tank, or in an open area accessible from above.
-Placing rocks around the main objects is not only appealing but it also aids it keeping them in place, and will help prevent substrate from getting dragged into the dishes
-Poking small fish-tank plants between rocks makes a tank look more realistic, but be warned; Hermit Crabs love to pull them up!
"I Keep The List Next To My Crabitat All The Time,
Not Only For Me But For Critter-Sitters!"
First of all I would like to explain that everything you buy has germs and chemicals on it, so wash everything before placing it into you crabitat. ("This includes new crabs but that's another story lol")
All cleanings involve Vinegar, this is because it is a natural way of sterilizing without any harsh chemicals or smells your crab could get sick from. When using hot water your best to use filtered instead of straight-from-the-tap, you could always boil some filtered water, but be carefully; boiled water might melt or damage plastic items.
The Tank Itself:
When you first get your tank, or after 3 months or so, you should clean it while it is empty, other wise you should spot-clean with water and a paper towel in between full cleanings.
To clean bring your tank near a sink (like in the kitchen) get plenty of paper towels, running hot water, and a bottle of vinegar. You could either fill the tank with hot water and a few drops of vinegar to let it soak for awhile, or you could wet a paper towel and wipe down the walls of the tank with hot water and vinegar. Either will get the job done, rinse well after cleaning with chlorine free water than dry with a paper towel.
Whether it's Sand or other bedding it should be washed with hot filtered water before placing it into a tank for the first time. Sometimes to clean substrate all you have to so is pick through the substrate for food or feces (and even mold) and then turn the substrate with your hands, maybe pouring a few cups as you go along..
Play Sand: Play sand is often a little dirty, so you could rise it off with a hose, otherwise every 3 months it should be replaced completely. Spot clean for food and feces once a week with a scooper, a spoon, or just your hands (wash your hands after words...).
Coconut Substrate: This substrate is known for developing a little bit of mold after awhile, so when first soaking the brick try adding a small amount of salt to the water. It is difficult to see food or feces in this dark bedding so what you should so if pick out what you can, and then turn the bedding using your hands. This will make the substrate almost like new, but always replace the substrate completely after a few months.
Accessories, Decor And Dishes:
New items as well as used should be cleaned along with everything else in and outside of the tank. Gather everything from the food dish's to climbing accessories to the decorative rocks, and put them into a heat-resistant bowl. Boil some water or use hot water from a filtered tap and pure it into the sink or bowl, then use a few drops of vinegar. Let it soak and wash with paper towels where needed.
A previously unused toothbrush or scrubbing sponged can be used to really get things clean, but don't burn your hands!
Shells And Sponges:
When first purchasing shells and sponges it should be cleaned like the example above, but all other times they should simply be rinsed.
Shells: Once a day to once a week, all shells inside the tank should be taken out and rinsed in filtered water. A drop on vinegar can be used as well but it is not needed. When re offering shells try leaving a small amount of filtered water in the shell.
Sponges: Ideally you should have 2 or 3 natural sea sponges. This is because once a month you will exchange a wet and smelly sponge with a dry one, and alternate between your 3 sponges. After you remove a sponge for weekly cleaning, and before storing it away once a month; hold it under running filtered water and rinse-then-squeeze a few times.
Maintenance Check List:
I laminated mine and keep it next to the tank. Having a maintenance list can help critter-sitters (when your on vacation), also try putting a calendar next to the tank, keep track of molts, cleaning schedule, why not even keep track of crab's birthdays!
Once A Day
-Refill fresh water and salt water dish
-Empty and rinse the food dish (offer different food each day)
-Rinse sponge in water free of chlorine (filtered water)
-Check if the humidity level is within 70-85%
-Check the temperature (70' - 80' F) and that it is stable
Once A Week
-Rinse the ponds and dishes
-Pick through the substrate for food, feces and mold
-Give your sea sponges a good rinse
-Rinse and re offer shells
Once A Month
-Replace sea sponge with new one
-Pure water into substrate and turn bedding
Every Three Months
-When needed, remove all items from tank and clean
-Wipe down walls of empty tank with vinegar and water