Don’t let the name hermit crab fool you. Hermit crabs are anything BUT hermits. They thrive on social interaction. Having only one hermit crab in a tank can actually drive them crazy I believe. I have had people bring me Strawberry Hermit Crabs that are acting weird and invariably, its because they were by themselves.
Anyway, I am here to help you take care of your Strawberry Hermit Crab properly. Different Hermit Crabs from different locals actually have different needs based upon the species. You don’t take care of a Strawberry Hermit Crab quite like you do a Purple Pincher Crab. And when I say Strawberry Hermit Crab, I mean Coenobita perlatus.
The most distinctive thing about a Strawberry Hermit Crab is its color. Generally bright strawberry red in color with white granual markings, with shiny gray-black eyes. They have thick bodies and thick legs for climbing.
Most people buy their Strawberry Hermit Crabs at a mall kiosk or pet store. And most of them get a small plastic box to hold the crab. I tell ya right now, that box is NOT good for a crabitat (crab habitat). It’s fine for a temporary shelter, but your crabs need some room to roam and interact.
You should have bought at least 2 crabs, preferably 3, to get started. I would recommend starting with a 10 gallon aquarium. They are easy to find and inexpensive. Although larger is better. I recommend that you add an under tank heater to keep the temp up.
Line the bottom of the tank in sand or coconut fiber (Marketed as Forest Bedding®, Bed-A-Beast®, and Eco-Earth®). This is so your crab has something to dig around in. I prefer a combination of coconut fiber and sand. It provides a stable substrate for them to dig in. You need it deep enough for them to bury themselves in, but not so deep it negates an undertank heater.
Next you need something for them to climb on. I use a few pieces of choya wood for them to climb on. Some plastic plants will work as well. Strawberry Hermit Crabs are known to be destructive. So they will make a mess out of that well organized crabitat you just made. Be prepared for that.
Maintain a temperature of at least 72F degrees and I would say no higher than 90f degrees, and a humidity of 70%. You want a “tropical” feel for the crabs. If it gets to hot, you will smell a musty smell and notice a brown liquid coming from the crabs. TURN DOWN THE HEAT IF THAT HAPPENS!
The very first thing you need for a Strawberry Hermit Crab is a bowl of salt water. You can get safe salt at your local pet store or online, DO NOT USE TABLE SALT, its contains iodine, which kills crabs. Use a pet grade saltwater aquarium salt. Please use distilled water, or filtered and dechlorinated water. Straight tap water can kill your crabs. Chlorine causes blisters on their gills, causing a slow painful death.
Strawberry Hermit Crabs need 2 bowls of water. One salt one fresh. Make sure the bowl is not so deep the crab can drown in it. Place a sponge in each water bowl for the crabs. It is also a good idea to place a piece of wood, a stone, or something in the water that the crab can grab onto in case it gets distressed in the water. That way it can get itself out.
One food bowl should suffice. It Is very important to feed your Strawberry Hermit Crab a diet rich in carotene. Some of the best foods are sun dried shrimp, plankton, and color enhancing fish food. Make sure they always have access to these foods, and your crab will maintain a healthy red/orange color.
I feel that bathing a crab is mostly unnecessary. Only in certain circumstances will I bath them. When they first come home, after a molt, and thats about it.
Spot cleaning is best done weekly. Removing bits of exo skeleton, food bits, and other debris. Place all the climbing toys back, or its a good time for a remodel, keep the crabs from getting bored. If using coconut fiber substrate, clean what can be seen, and every few months change out all of the substrate.
Following these tips will help you keep a happy healthy crab population.