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 record of my captive breeding attempts (by year) are below, followed by a running log from the current year.


Summer 2017 Breeding Attempt



August 15, 2018: I caught the first signs of this summer’s mating today. (I was out of town during the late June and July full moons, so may have missed some breeding then, but have also had no indication of eggs so far this summer so I believe this is the first breeding.) Everyone was a few weeks behind in coming up from their winter/spring molts this year, so perhaps this is just a reflection of that timeline. Last year’s first mating event occurred on July 31st, between Kermit and Artemis, so we’re not too far off that mark.

At first, I thought the female crab of this mating pair (the upside-down one) was Artemis, but after getting a better look I believe it to be Blue (who was a male when I adopted her in September of 2015—no visible gonophores—but had a super long molt last year (191 days–January to June!) and then subsequently had eggs last summer, much to my surprise.) She seemed very confused about what to do with her eggs last year and she never got them to the saltwater pool, instead casting them onto a piece of mopani wood. Hopefully she’ll be better equipped to spawn correctly this year. She and Kermit both came to me from a terrible pet store in Batavia, NY that has since (thankfully) gone out of business. There were so many crabs in a 20 gallon tank with a heat lamp, zero humidity, no water or food, and the only substrate was a 1/2 inch of hermit crab poos that no one had bothered to clean out for years. The crabs were big, but in thin, tiny little shells that barely covered their rear parts and they behaved like dazed and starved concentration camp victims after I got them home and into good conditions. It took them a long time to recover and learn to socialize, but they are now well incorporated into the colony and some of my largest long-term crabbies.

If spawning proceeds along last year’s timeline, I can expect zoeae on September 11th. That should be easy to remember.