Hermit Crab Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re considering getting a pet, you may want to consider a hermit crab. These little creatures are fascinating to watch and relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for both first-time pet owners and experienced pet owners alike. However, before you bring home a hermit crab, there are a few things you need to know to ensure that your new pet stays healthy and happy.

Hermit crabs require a tank size of at least 10 gallons, temperature between 70-80°F, and humidity levels between 70-80%. They are omnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality pellets or flakes, vegetables, and occasional live or frozen foods. They also require a hiding place and a substrate that allows them to burrow. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are important for their health.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that hermit crabs require a specific type of environment to thrive. This means that you’ll need to invest in a proper habitat, complete with the right substrate, heat and humidity levels, and hiding spots.

Additionally, you’ll need to provide your hermit crab with a balanced diet and clean water, as well as monitor their behavior to ensure that they’re not showing any signs of illness or stress.

While caring for a hermit crab may seem daunting at first, with a little bit of research and preparation, you can provide your new pet with everything they need to live a long and healthy life.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hermit crab care, from setting up their habitat to feeding and handling them. So whether you’re a seasoned pet owner or a first-time hermit crab parent, read on to learn more!

Hermit crab

Species Summary


Hermit crabs are found in various regions around the world, including the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They are commonly found on sandy beaches, coral reefs, and in shallow water.


Hermit crabs can live up to 30 years in captivity, but in the wild, their lifespan is typically shorter.


Hermit crabs have a soft, curved abdomen that is protected by a hard exoskeleton. They have two large claws, one of which is larger than the other, and two pairs of walking legs. Their eyes are located on stalks that can move independently.


Hermit crabs vary in size depending on their species. The smallest hermit crabs are about the size of a pea, while the largest can be up to 16 inches in length.

Growth Rate

Hermit crabs grow slowly and may take several years to reach their full size. Their growth rate is influenced by factors such as temperature, humidity, and the availability of food.

Behavior & Temperament

Hermit crabs are social creatures and are often found in groups in the wild. They are active at night and spend most of their time scavenging for food.

Hermit crabs can become stressed if they are handled too much or if their environment is not suitable.

Male vs Female

It can be difficult to determine the sex of a hermit crab without close examination. Male hermit crabs have modified legs that are used to transfer sperm to the female during mating.

I remember when I first got my hermit crab, I was so excited to learn about all the different species and their unique characteristics.

It’s important to remember that hermit crabs require specific care and attention to thrive.

By understanding their origins, lifespan, appearance, size, growth rate, behavior, and sex, you can provide the best possible care for your hermit crab.

Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for your hermit crab is an important step in providing a comfortable and safe environment for your pet. Here are some important things to consider when setting up your crab’s tank:

Tank Size

The size of the tank you choose will depend on the number of hermit crabs you plan to keep. As a general rule, you should have at least 10 gallons of space per crab.

This will allow them to move around freely and have enough space to molt. Keep in mind that hermit crabs are social animals and thrive in groups, so it’s best to keep more than one in a tank.


Hermit crabs require a day/night cycle just like any other animal. You can use a regular light bulb or a UVB bulb to provide light during the day. Make sure to turn off the light at night to simulate natural lighting conditions.

Filtration & Aeration

A good filtration system is essential for maintaining a healthy tank environment. You can use a hang-on-back filter or a canister filter to keep the water clean.

Aeration is also important to keep the water oxygenated. You can use an air stone or a sponge filter to provide aeration.


Hermit crabs require a warm and humid environment to thrive. You can use an aquarium heater to maintain a temperature between 75-85°F.

Make sure to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the heater accordingly.


The substrate you choose should be able to hold moisture and provide a comfortable surface for your crab to walk on.

You can use coconut fiber, sand, or a mixture of both as substrate. Make sure to keep the substrate moist to maintain the humidity level in the tank.


Hermit crabs love to climb and explore their environment. You can add rocks, driftwood, and other decorations to provide them with plenty of hiding spots and climbing opportunities.


Live plants can help maintain the humidity level in the tank and provide a natural environment for your crab. You can use plants like moss, ferns, and bromeliads to create a beautiful and functional habitat for your pet.

Water Quality

When it comes to taking care of your hermit crab, water quality is of utmost importance.

The quality of the water in your crab’s habitat can have a significant impact on their health and overall well-being. Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to water quality:

Water Temperature

The water temperature in your hermit crab’s habitat should be kept between 72-82°F. Any temperature outside of this range can cause stress or even death to your crab. It’s important to use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature regularly and adjust as needed.

Water pH

The ideal pH level for your hermit crab’s water is between 8.0-8.3. If the pH level is too low or too high, it can cause stress and even death. You can test the pH level using a water test kit and adjust it using a pH buffer if needed.

Water Hardness

Hermit crabs require water that is moderately hard, with a hardness level of around 8-12 dGH. You can test the water hardness using a water test kit and adjust it using a water softener or conditioner if needed.

Water Changes

It’s important to regularly change the water in your hermit crab’s habitat to maintain good water quality. You should aim to change the water every 1-2 weeks, or more frequently if the water becomes dirty or contaminated.

When changing the water, be sure to use dechlorinated water that is the same temperature and salinity as the old water.

From personal experience, I have found that maintaining good water quality is one of the most important aspects of hermit crab care.

By keeping the water temperature, pH level, and hardness within the appropriate range and regularly changing the water, you can help ensure that your crab stays healthy and happy.


One of the most important aspects of caring for your hermit crab is providing a balanced and nutritious diet. Here’s what you need to know:

What To Feed

Hermit crabs are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. A well-rounded diet should include:

  • Commercial hermit crab food pellets
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, and grapes
  • Vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and kale
  • Protein sources such as cooked chicken, fish, and eggs
  • Calcium-rich foods such as cuttlebone, eggshells, and crushed oyster shells


Offer your hermit crab food once a day, removing any uneaten food within 24 hours to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth. Remember to provide fresh water daily, as well as a dish of saltwater for them to soak in.


When feeding your hermit crab, it’s important to remember that they are scavengers in the wild and will eat a variety of foods.

Offering a mix of fresh foods and commercial pellets ensures that your hermit crab gets all the nutrients it needs. Also, try to vary the types of food you offer to keep your hermit crab interested and engaged.

Personally, I have found that my hermit crab is particularly fond of fresh fruit, especially bananas. I like to offer a small slice every few days as a treat.

Tank Maintenance

Keeping your hermit crab’s tank clean and maintained is crucial to their health and well-being. Not only does a clean tank prevent harmful bacteria from growing, but it also ensures that your hermit crab has a safe and comfortable environment to live in.

One of the most important aspects of tank maintenance is regularly cleaning your hermit crab’s water dish.

I recommend changing the water every day or every other day, depending on how dirty it gets. Make sure to use dechlorinated water and remove any uneaten food or debris from the dish.

In addition to cleaning the water dish, you should also spot clean the tank once a week. This means removing any uneaten food, feces, or other debris from the tank.

You can use a small scoop or your hands to do this. You should also replace any substrate that has become soiled or damp.

Every month or so, you should perform a deep clean of the tank. This involves removing everything from the tank, including your hermit crab, and cleaning all surfaces with a reptile-safe disinfectant. You should also replace all substrate and any decorations that have become dirty or worn.

It’s important to note that while cleaning your hermit crab’s tank, you should avoid using any harsh chemicals or soaps. These can be harmful to your hermit crab and can even be fatal if ingested. Stick to natural cleaning methods and reptile-safe disinfectants.

Personally, I find that keeping a cleaning schedule helps me stay on top of tank maintenance.

I set reminders on my phone for when to change the water, spot clean, and perform a deep clean. This ensures that my hermit crab’s tank is always clean and healthy, and it also makes the process less overwhelming.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

If you’re looking to add some fish to your hermit crab tank, there are a few species that can coexist peacefully with your crustacean friends.

Gobies, clownfish, and blennies are all good choices. These fish are generally small and won’t pose a threat to your hermit crabs.

Personally, I have a pair of clownfish in my hermit crab tank and they get along great. The clownfish are active and add some extra color to the tank.

Incompatible Fish Species

While there are some fish that can live with hermit crabs, there are others that should be avoided. Avoid adding any fish that are aggressive or territorial. This includes species like angelfish, pufferfish, and triggers.

Adding incompatible fish to your hermit crab tank can lead to stress and even death for your hermit crabs. So, it’s important to do your research before adding any new fish to the tank.

How Many Hermit Crabs Should Be Together

When it comes to hermit crabs, it’s important to keep them in groups. Hermit crabs are social creatures and thrive in groups of 3 or more.

However, it’s important to make sure that your tank is big enough to accommodate the number of hermit crabs you want to keep. As a general rule, you should have at least 10 gallons of water for every 3 hermit crabs.

Personally, I have 5 hermit crabs in my tank and they all get along great. They love to climb on top of each other and explore their surroundings together.

Common Diseases


Hermit crabs are generally healthy creatures but they can fall ill from time to time. Here are some of the most common diseases that can affect your hermit crab:

  • Shell rot
  • Mites
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites


It is important to keep an eye out for any signs that your hermit crab may be unwell. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Shell damage
  • Discoloration
  • Excessive molting
  • Visible parasites


If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is important to act quickly to prevent the disease from spreading. Here are some treatment options:

  • Isolate the affected crab to prevent the spread of infection
  • Consult with a veterinarian who specializes in hermit crabs
  • Administer medication as prescribed by the veterinarian
  • Provide a clean and healthy environment for your hermit crab


Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your hermit crab healthy. Here are some tips to prevent disease:

  • Provide a clean and healthy environment for your hermit crab
  • Quarantine any new hermit crabs before introducing them to your existing colony
  • Practice good hygiene when handling your hermit crab
  • Feed your hermit crab a nutritious and balanced diet

From personal experience, I have found that prevention is much easier than treatment. By keeping a close eye on your hermit crab’s health and providing a clean and healthy environment, you can reduce the risk of disease and keep your hermit crab happy and healthy.

Signs of a Healthy Hermit Crab

When it comes to caring for your hermit crab, it’s important to know what signs to look out for to ensure they are in good health. Here are some key indicators:

  1. Active and alert: A healthy hermit crab will be active and responsive, moving around its habitat and exploring its surroundings.
  2. Healthy shell: The shell of a hermit crab should be smooth and free of cracks, chips, or other damage. If the shell is damaged, it can lead to infections and other health issues.
  3. Clear eyes: A healthy hermit crab will have clear, bright eyes that are free of discharge or cloudiness.
  4. Good appetite: A healthy hermit crab will have a good appetite and be eager to eat when food is offered.
  5. Proper hydration: Hermit crabs need access to fresh water at all times, and a healthy crab will drink water regularly.
  6. Shiny and vibrant color: A healthy hermit crab will have a shiny, vibrant color that is consistent across its body.

It’s important to note that hermit crabs can be sensitive to changes in their environment, so it’s important to monitor their behavior and appearance regularly.

If you notice any changes or signs of illness, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian or experienced hermit crab owner.

Personally, I’ve found that my hermit crab is happiest and healthiest when I provide a variety of foods and toys in its habitat. I like to offer fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as commercial hermit crab food and treats.

I also provide plenty of shells and climbing structures for my crab to explore and play with. By keeping a close eye on your hermit crab’s behavior and appearance, you can ensure that it stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Signs Your Hermit Crab is Sick

If you’re a new hermit crab owner, it can be difficult to tell if your pet is sick. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Lethargy: If your hermit crab is not moving around as much as usual, it may be a sign of illness. Hermit crabs are usually very active creatures, so any decrease in activity level should be taken seriously.
  2. Shell Issues: Your hermit crab’s shell is its home, and any damage to it can be a sign of illness. Look for cracks, chips, or discoloration on the shell. Also, if your hermit crab is not coming out of its shell, it may be a sign of illness.
  3. Loss of Limbs: Hermit crabs may lose limbs if they are not properly cared for. If you notice that your hermit crab is missing a limb, it may be a sign of illness or poor living conditions.
  4. Changes in Behavior: If your hermit crab is suddenly acting differently than usual, it may be a sign of illness. For example, if your usually social hermit crab is suddenly hiding all the time, it may be a sign that something is wrong.
  5. Foul Odor: If your hermit crab smells bad, it may be a sign of illness. Hermit crabs should not have a strong odor, so if you notice a foul smell, it’s important to take action.

Remember, if you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your hermit crab to a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets. They will be able to diagnose any illness and provide the appropriate treatment.

Personal Anecdote: I once noticed that my hermit crab was not coming out of its shell as much as usual. After taking it to the vet, I learned that it had an infection and needed medication to help it get better. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pet’s health!


One of the most fascinating aspects of hermit crab care is watching them molt. Molting is the process of shedding their exoskeleton in order to grow. It is a natural part of their life cycle and can happen several times a year, depending on their age and size.

During the molting process, your hermit crab will become very inactive and may even bury itself in the substrate. This is because it needs to be in a safe and secure place while it sheds its exoskeleton.

It is important not to disturb your crab during this time, as it can be stressful for them and may even cause them harm.

After your hermit crab has molted, it will emerge from its hiding place with a new, soft exoskeleton. This new exoskeleton will be much larger than the old one, as the crab has grown in size.

It is important to provide your crab with plenty of calcium and other minerals to help it harden its new exoskeleton.

If you notice that your hermit crab is not eating or moving much, it may be preparing to molt. Make sure to provide it with a quiet and safe environment during this time.

Once your crab has molted, it may take a few days for it to become active again. Be patient and give it time to adjust to its new exoskeleton.

Personally, I always find it exciting to see my hermit crabs molt. It’s amazing to watch them shed their old exoskeleton and emerge with a brand new one. Just make sure to give them plenty of space and time to molt in peace.


Breeding Setup

To breed hermit crabs, you will need to set up a breeding tank. The tank should be at least 10 gallons in size and have a temperature of around 80°F. You will also need to provide a moist substrate for the hermit crabs to lay their eggs in. Coconut fiber or sand is a good choice for this.

How To Breed

To start breeding, you will need a male and female hermit crab. The male will need to be slightly larger than the female. Place the two hermit crabs in the breeding tank and wait for them to mate.

The mating process can take several hours, during which time the male will hold onto the female. After mating, the female will lay her eggs in the substrate. The eggs will hatch in about a month, and the baby hermit crabs will be ready to leave the water after about 3 weeks.


Once the baby hermit crabs have left the water, you will need to provide them with a safe environment to grow in. This can be done by placing them in a separate tank with a shallow layer of substrate and plenty of hiding places.

Feed the baby hermit crabs a diet of small pieces of fish, shrimp, or other seafood. You can also provide them with commercial hermit crab food.

It is important to keep the tank clean and provide fresh water and food regularly. With proper care, your baby hermit crabs will grow into healthy adults.

Personal Anecdote: When I first started breeding hermit crabs, I was surprised at how quickly the eggs hatched.

It was amazing to watch the tiny baby hermit crabs emerge from the substrate and start exploring their new environment. With a little patience and care, breeding hermit crabs can be a rewarding experience.

Product recommendations for Hermit crab:

  1. Fluker’s All Natural Premium Sand Substrate – This substrate is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a natural environment that promotes healthy growth and reproduction.
  2. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Heater – This heater is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a warm and comfortable environment that will help your crab thrive.
  3. Aqueon LED Aquarium Light Fixture – This high-quality LED light fixture is perfect for Hermit crab, providing bright and energy-efficient lighting that will help your crab thrive.
  4. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Food – This specialized food is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a balanced diet that is high in protein and essential nutrients.
  5. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Drinking Water Conditioner – This water conditioner is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a healthy and safe drinking environment for your crab.
  6. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Calcium Supplement – This supplement is perfect for Hermit crab, providing essential calcium for healthy shell growth.
  7. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Saltwater Conditioner – This saltwater conditioner is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a healthy and safe environment for your crab.
  8. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Sand Scooper – This sand scooper is perfect for cleaning your Hermit crab’s tank, removing debris and keeping the tank clean.
  9. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Climbing Branch – This climbing branch is perfect for Hermit crab, providing a fun and interactive environment for your crab to explore.
  10. Zoo Med Hermit Crab Starter Kit – This comprehensive starter kit includes everything you need to get started with your Hermit crab, including a tank, substrate, food, water conditioner, and more.


Congratulations! You are now equipped with all the knowledge you need to take care of your hermit crab. Remember, hermit crabs are unique and fascinating creatures that require proper care and attention. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can provide your hermit crab with a happy and healthy life.

Always make sure to provide your hermit crab with a suitable habitat, including a proper tank size, substrate, and decorations.

Be sure to maintain the correct temperature and humidity levels, and offer a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet. Additionally, handle your hermit crab with care and be mindful of any signs of illness or stress.

Remember, taking care of a hermit crab is a rewarding experience that requires patience and dedication.

By providing your hermit crab with a safe and comfortable home, you can enjoy the company of these fascinating creatures for years to come.

As an animal lover and hermit crab owner myself, I can attest to the joy and fulfillment that comes with caring for these unique pets.


If you’re new to owning a hermit crab, you may have some questions. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

Q: How often should I clean my hermit crab’s tank?

A: You should clean your hermit crab’s tank once every 2-4 weeks. Make sure to replace the substrate and clean any toys or decorations in the tank.

Q: What should I feed my hermit crab?

A: Hermit crabs are omnivores and enjoy a variety of foods. You can feed them commercial hermit crab food, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure to avoid foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fat.

Q: How often should I mist my hermit crab’s tank?

A: You should mist your hermit crab’s tank once a day. This will help maintain the humidity levels in the tank, which is important for your hermit crab’s health.

Q: Can hermit crabs live together?

A: Yes, hermit crabs can live together as long as they have enough space and resources. Make sure to provide at least 10 gallons of space per crab and multiple hiding spots and food dishes.

Q: Do hermit crabs need a heat source?

A: Yes, hermit crabs need a heat source to maintain the proper temperature in their tank. You can use a heat lamp or under-tank heater to provide warmth.

Q: How long do hermit crabs live?

A: Hermit crabs can live up to 20 years in captivity with proper care.

I remember when I first got my hermit crab, I had so many questions. But with a bit of research and some trial and error, I quickly became an expert on hermit crab care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and experiment to find what works best for you and your hermit crab.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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