In the Crabitat


**If you are looking for the hermit crab dishes I make and sell, you can find them at my Etsy store. Thank you!

I’ve had a hermit crab obsession for a while now. And it actually started back in the 1990s when I lived in Florida and bought my first three. I did keep them in a big aquarium, but only provided gravel, a shallow freshwater dish, and pellets of “hermit crab food” from the pet store. I think they lived about two years. And it haunts me.

I have learned so much more about their care and feeding since that time and I like to think I’m making up for my earlier ignorance. These days, my tank is a 120-gallon (tall) with saltwater and freshwater pools, lots of climbing structures, and ten inches of sand—lots of space for them to dig tunnels and create safe molting caves. AND, I’m doing my best to learn how to breed them in captivity so that our pet hermits that we love don’t have to be captured and taken from the wild. Links to detailed records of my captive breeding attempts (by year) are below, followed by a running log from the current year.

Summer 2017 Breeding Attempt

Summer 2018 Breeding Success

Summer 2019 Breeding Success

BY-YEAR BREEDING STATS:

2018 Stats:

First Mating (observed): August 15th, 2018.

First (successful) Spawn (September 13th): Approximately 10,000 zoeae hatch successfully and are moved to a kreisel tank kept at 83 degrees Fahrenheit and at a salinity of 35 PPT.

Day 5, first zoeae molt into larval stage two.

Day 9, first zoeae advance to larval stage three.

Day 14, larval stage four begins, about 1,000 surviving.

Day 19, molt into larval stage five begins.

Day 24, first megalopa! (Approximately 40 megalopa get moved to the transition tank.)

Day 36, first megalopa takes a shell and walks out of the water. (Over the next two weeks, 4 are moved to the land tank, in shells.)

Day 49: Confirmed! 2 survivors make the first molt to become land hermit crabs.

Second Spawn (October 16th, 2018): About 10,000 zoeae hatch successfully.

Day 4, zoeae enter larval stage two.

Third Spawn (October 20th, 2018): Another 10,000 hatch, get placed into several small “holding” tanks and receive minimal care. Survivors are gradually added to the kreisel over the next seven days.

At this point, with two full spawns, four days apart, it becomes impossible to tell the larval stages because shedding occurs daily.

Day 23, first megalopa. Over the next two weeks, about 1,000 megalopa are moved to the transition tank.

Day 26, spot blue zoeae among the orange zoeae. Conclude, with the help of other hermit crab experts, that the blue ones must be Ecuadorian zoeae. (This is later proven to be a false assumption.)

Day 34, first megalopa takes a shell and walks onto land.

By mid-December 2018, 240 baby hermit crabs have been moved to the land tank where they are largely cared for similar to adult hermits.

January 8th, 2019: confirm, by count, that 206 have survived the first land molt to become land hermit crabs. (2 stayed hidden in shells and were accidentally left out of the tank after the counting process, so 204 is the actual survivor count, allowing for human error.)

October 22, 2019: 180 captive-bred baby hermit crabs have been successfully adopted out to brand-new forever homes. All of these first adopters have agreed to participate in a long-term study to track growth, behavior, shell preference, and coloration over time and in different conditions.

I’m so very grateful to all those who contributed supplies, love, and support. ❤️❤️

2019 Stats:

First (successful) Spawn (September 10th, 2019): About 10,000 zoeae hatch successfully and are moved to a kreisel tank kept at 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a salinity of 35 PPT.

Day 22, first megalopa! (Over the next few weeks approximately 4,000 megalopa are moved to the transition tank which is a plastic bin holding roughly 4″ of saltwater at 35 PPT and kept at 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Day 30, first megalopa takes a shell.

Day 35, first baby walks onto land. Over the next two weeks, 390 megalopa take shells and are moved to the land tank (100% sand) where they will fend for themselves.

Second (successful) Spawn (October 12th, 2019): Approximately 7,000 zoeae hatch successfully and are moved to a kreisel tank. This batch will be given minimal care in an attempt to see how many survive with fewer feedings and water changes.

Day 18, first megalopa! 930 megalopa are moved to the transition tank over the next 11 days.

Day 26, first megalopa takes a shell.

By Day 66, 336 megalopa from the second spawn have taken shells and been moved to the land tank for a total of 726 captive-bred baby hermit crabs moved to land (from two spawns) in 2019.

Baby #55 moving onto land.
If you would like to donate funds to help further the cause of sustainable, ethical, hermit crab husbandry, you can do so here:
Thank you!