Welcome to hermit crab land.

Hello, from hermit crab-land.

I am floored by how much stuff I've had to purchase for the hermit crabs to create a decent set up for them! Since they're stolen from the Caribbean (yep, they're all wild-caught), they are essentially an exotic pet, despite being marketed as an easy pet. 

There has been no end to plastic packaging and shipping boxes for some supplies (heaters, gauges, light fixtures, PVC, bags of sand) though I have been able to get some stuff from resale or thrift stores (used 60 gallon tank and stand, cage decor). The tanks are very humid so a lot of what ends up in the tanks is plastic, unfortunately (climbing structures, pools, hideouts, plants). Once the 60 gallon is set up, we'll be able to tweak decor and I'll have more time and space to look for pre-owned stuff that is a good fit because all their basic needs are being met. 

But what a ride on the plastic rollercoaster! 

If you want a hermit crab, here is my advice!

  1. Always rescue. There are plenty of free hermit crabs that people don't want any longer listed on Craigslist, Freecycle, FB Marketplace. There are adoption boards on a lot of the hermit crab communities (Hermit Crab Owners, Hermit Crab Association, Crab Street Journal). Don't support the industry. They are all stolen from the Caribbean. And get more than one! They don't like to be alone. If you can get ones who have already been living together to rescue, great!
  2. Get a big, used tank. I thought I could get away with a 20 gallon, which I bought new because I got into this by taking on a rescue crab already in bad conditions and I didn't have time to spare. I spent $100+ for a 20 gallon tank and then, later, another $175 for a used 60 gallon tank with stand. Also not buying new is good for the earth. {Crabs need 10 gallons per crab.}
  3. Put it on something very sturdy. Tanks with heavy sand can collapse dressers, wood shelving, etc. Get a real tank stand or make something really sturdy out of wood and cinder blocks on the cheap. Learned this one the hard way when our wood shelves started swaying and we had to move the tank. With molters down. Which can kill them by collapsing their tunnels when they're all soft and vulnerable. Thankfully Harvey didn't die. A broken tank or broken furniture is both dangerous and a waste, which will stick you with replacing stuff you didn't need to!
  4. Get the right substrate. Play sand and Eco Earth in a ratio of 5:1, 3x as high as your biggest crab. They really need it to molt, which they need to do in order to stay alive. Play sand from the hardware store is perfect and cheap. 
  5. Heat is important. Get a Beanfarm "under the tank" heater (UTH) which you'll mount to the side of your tank to keep it 80 degrees.
  6. Humidity is important. This is how they breathe. You'll need a $10 Accurite hygrometer and you'll need your tank to have a solid lid so you can keep the humidity at 80+ percent.
  7. Don't trust hermit crab food from the pet store. You can find hermit crab food lists on all the sites I mentioned above. They differ in their opinion on some things, but they all say to avoid hermit crab food from the pet store. A lot of foods can be bought from bulk bins or can be scraps of what you eat, except for plankton I guess. I'm guessing you don't eat bulk plankton.

Those are the main points. You can join some of those communities to learn more (how to measure shells! why painted shells are bad! how to calibrate a hygrometer! what to use for hideouts!) but those are the basics and the stuff I wish I knew when I first started out...a mere 4 months ago. 


  1. I've been following their adventures on Insta and they are adorable. Bless you for making them so happy and comfortable, despite all the plastic!

    1. Thank you! We are happy to have them and I think once they're set up, they'll be pretty easy to care for. Fingers crossed!

  2. I'd wondered about your plastic situation (in a totally nonjudgmental way) with the knew hermit-roommates. Sometimes there's no way around plastic, and as much as I respect the Zero Waste movement, it DOES sometimes feel like a natural enemy to most hobbies/interests.

    I've learned a lot from your crab adventures, and even taught my husband a few things. Last night we watched some crab videos together!

    Allow me to quote a Bill Nye jingle: "Pass the plankton, please." Knew that would come in handy someday.

    1. Oh dude the packaging was everywhere. Even the smaller Etsy vendor food. Eventually when I am almost through that stuff I will try to figure out what I can get from the bulk bins that makes sense and what I can forage during decent weather months.

      I just got a 4" terracotta pot at the thrift store for a bigger hideout in their new tank. (They love the tiny one.) I'm hoping to find two 4-cup glass dishes/bowls for their pools but I'm not having a ton of luck. Maybe I'll try again this weekend at the bigger thrift store. I'm hoping to have a lot of wood climbing things that are safe for them but the safe woods list is limited.

      We'll save the sand bags for cat litter and I saved the packaging for litter as much as I could. And the boxes were recyclable at least but there was so much plastic filler or bubble wrap!

      I love that you are watching the videos together! <3

      I have never seen Bill Nye's show so I am not familiar but this will prompt me to look up some videos!

    2. Does preparing these tanks scratch a decorating itch for you? Bet it would for me.

      The 60-gallon tank is going to be fabulous.

    3. Yes and no -- they have a set of needs and habits that don't really lend itself to a neat habitat. The best I can hope for is a mix of natural-looking and cute. I lucked out with the small crabs' orange play house but finding things that I can repurpose to suit their needs and are cute is kind of the impossible dream. Also everything gets sandy and dirty and dug up or knocked over (or worse - not used!) so I try to manage my expectations. Their tank is mostly done and on IG via video -- I just have to get some jute climbing nets for the back to cover the heaters and some bubblers for their water pools and then I think they're done. They've explored a lot (and Rose in particular rolled down the world's smallest 1" gradual include hill several times) and so far they seem to like it!


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