Help please :)

Questions about tank size and isolation tanks.
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CrabbyMamma
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Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

I am not sure if this is in the right section, so apologies in advance if not.

I am a long time animal lover, but know nothing about hermit crabs. I have just read through the forums a bit and realised that I have made a huge mistake. We went off to the pet shop and purchased our 5 year old some hermit crabs, knowing absolutely nothing about them. I have quickly learnt this was STUPID, but cannot change it now.

We came home with a crappy plastic box, some shredded cardboard type stuff (apparently this is hermit crab 'bedding') a jar of food, a jar of salt, two little pools for water and a food dish. Oh, and a single painted shell, which is going straight into the bin now. And no clue what we were doing. My first clue that we had done the wrong thing was when they dug into the bedding stuff (as much as they could in the thin layer we gave them, anyway) and did not come out. A quick Google consult told me they needed heat. I put them out in the sun, and presto, within minutes they were all out and about in the water and food, despite it being day time. They must have been starving and dehydrated :(

So I need to make things right as quickly as possible for these guys, I feel horrid for them. In the meantime we have been leaving them in a room with the heater on low (it is really cold here right now!) or out in the sun, but obviously this is just a temporary measure until we can sort something nice out for them. So far they still seem fairly active and healthy.

Money (within reason of course) is not really an issue. I have just purchased them a glass tank from ebay, which I will pick up this weekend, or earlier if possible. While they are still living in the plastic box, I guess the priority is to make them as comfortable as possible until we sort out a proper home for them. So I am assuming that to start with I need to find a better substrate (is that the word?) for them, logic tells me that the shredded cardboard stuff is probably not very nice for them. I have read about the coconut fibre stuff, but have not been able to find anywhere in Australia that sells it online... can someone in Australia tell me where I might be able to find it? i.e a pet store? Most of the info I have found online is from the US, which makes things a bit hard.

Secondly, I think I need to sort some food out for them. Could someone give me some pointers to keep me going until I have time to read some more in-depth information?

Finally, once I get their new tank, I will have their substrate and food sorted by then, but any other help would be much appreciated as I know very little. If anyone knows anywhere online that I can buy the things I need it would be really helpful also.

I know there is tonnes of info on these forums and on the net in general, but I am having trouble digging through it all, and to be honest, I don't have the time. I am really keen to give the little guys a nice home (and feel awful for their current conditions), so I appreciate any help I can get.

Oh, and one other thing - the tank I have purchased (which has previously been used for hermit crabs) has a light built into the roof, is this enough to keep them warm enough, or do I need something else?
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Wai
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Re: Help please :)

Post by Wai »

Check out the care sheet that I wrote and uploaded to our Downloads section for a quick over of most of the essentials.

Besides keeping your hermit crabs warm, you also need to keep their home very humid (72% - 82% is ideal).

You can buy Eco Earth coconut fibre from eBay. One of the Australian crabbers here bought some, but I am not sure if it made it through quarantine. You can also use beach sand. The American crabbers recommend aragonite sand, but we would have to pay at least $74.50 AUD (excluding shipping) for a small 13.6 kg bag.

Which state in Australia are you from? If you are from Victoria, I can help specify certain stores for the supplies you need.
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emmac350
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Re: Help please :)

Post by emmac350 »

I can't help you much on the 'where to buy stuff in Australia' question, but I can give you a bit on food (Wai, who owns the forum, can give you pointers on stores that sell crab supplies as he's from Australia).

The most important thing they need right now (for the most part) is protein. They need meat. Crabs aren't given meat after they are captured and sold to pet stores, and many of them are severely deficient. They don't need anything extremely special, just save them a bit of whatever meat you're cooking yourself (take the piece off before seasoning it) and microwave it up to kill any bacteria. If you're willing to spend a few dollars, go to the pet store and look in the reptile section. There are tons of freeze-dried insects and sea life there - look for dried baby shrimp, dried bloodworms, dried mealworms, etc. All of those are safe and crab favorites. After meat, they need calcium. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, egg shells work great (preferably organic, but rinse off non organic ones and they should be okay) or if you have a pet store near you, pick up a cuttlebone - it's sold in the bird section as a calcium supplement.

Beyond those two instant necessities, sea veggies are the next thing to work on. At the pet store you should be able to find sheets of green seaweed (or purple seaweed) for fish, along with some jars of pieces of seaweed. If you can find it at a health food store, spirulina algae is a great one for crabs. It's sold because it's so great nutritionally.

Fruits and veggies (no fruit pits, and no onions or garlic) are also welcome in the tank. My guys do enjoy their fresh fruits (strawberry tops are a hit) and they don't have to be big super-nice pieces. Have an overripe banana? Feed them some, freeze the rest for later. Mine really like the yellow leaves from the baby stalks of celery in the center of the bunch. Stuff like that. They also love unsalted nuts (I buy them in the baking section of the store) - walnuts always go missing.

I hope that can help you some. Don't feed them the same thing every day, and sometimes the easiest thing to do is make more than one serving of whatever it was, and freeze the other one. So if I cut them off one little piece of chicken, why not cut off two, cook both, and put the extra in a bag in the freezer. That way I can give it to them on a night that I'm not using any meat that I can give them.
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CrabbyMamma
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Re: Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

Thank you both, I just ducked out to a pet store type thing, they didnt have a lot but I managed to get them a few toys/climbing things and a thermometer and.... er, thing that measures humidity. I think the other things will have to wait for the weekend as they involve a fair bit of driving. I will also check out ebay. Wai - I am in Brisbane.

Is playsand (from Bunnings) ok? We already have some of that, and I think I read somewhere that it is, but you have to be careful to keep it the right 'wetness' which I am not really confident with. I suppose it will be better in the short term than the shredded cardboard stuff we have now?

So to control the humidity (now that I can measure it), do I just need to spray a bit of water in there every day? And is salt or fresh water best? They already have a small pool of each in the tank.

Thanks for all the food tips Emma, so you cook the meat before you give it to them? And if you are feeding them something different each day, does that mean you just give them one food type per day? Like say I give them a banana tonight, do I just leave that one bit of banana in there until I give them something different tomorrow night, like meat? Or give them banana and meat at the same time?

Sorry for all the questions, I am really grateful for the help :) I am off to download and read the care sheet now.
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Re: Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

Oh, and I did think about buying the Eco Earth online, but also thought it would not make it through quarantine. Can I ask what you use Wai?
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Re: Help please :)

Post by Wai »

I used refined beach sand that I bought from a gardening store.

Run through the play sand with a magnet to catch any metal filings that could be potentially harmful to hermit crabs. It is indeed better than the cardboard like stuff that the pet store gave you - was it some crap called "Carefresh"? Don't worry too much about the wetness of the sand. Some crabbers use dry sand, while other use moist sand, so it's not a big issue at all, as long as the sand isn't so wet that it becomes hard and sloppy.

To help hold in the humidity, get some plastic wrap and cover most of the opening to the plastic carrier (leaving a gap or two for air flow), then put the carrier lid on top of the plastic wrap. That is the best you can do for now until you can get a glass tank. High humidity is very important. Make sure your hygrometer is calibrated so that it is giving accurate readings (the needle is usually off by a few per cent). For example, don't be fooled by a hygrometer that says the humidity is 70% when it is actually only 65%! You don't have to adjust the needle. Just remember how off the hygrometer is, then subtract or add the difference to the readings that your hygrometer gives in the future.

Meat can be offered raw or cooked. Mine love raw fish and I have yet to try cooked meat. Usually I throw in all sorts of food into the dish and let them choose what they want to eat, rather than refining them to a single item per day.
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CrabbyMamma
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Re: Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

Ok, will make sure the sand is clean, do the plastic wrap (is that not dangerous if it is on the inside of the tank?) and give them proper food tonight. Will also work out how they are for temp and humidity.

Can you also tell me about heating (sorry!)? This is the tank I have bought:
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll ... K:MEWNX:IT

Like I said, it has been used for crabs in the past, and says it has a light in it, but I am thinking it would not be for heat, just light? What is the best thing for me to do for heat? I have seen those heat mats that go underneath (not sure how they would go with this tank being on a stand?) or is an overhead light better? If I go overhead, does the light bulb need to be on the outside of the tank? Sorry, I know NOTHING about any of this...
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Re: Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

Oh and yes, it was carefresh. They told my partner it was really good because it absorbs moisture?! ^)
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Re: Help please :)

Post by Wai »

Check if you can slip an under tank heater under the tank. If you do decide to use an under tank heater, make sure that your hermit crabs can't bury on top of it or touch the glass being heated. Fluorescent lights literally provide no heat at all, so you can try a ceramic heat emitter (what I am going to use - just waiting for it to arrive in the mail). Incandescent bulbs are a cheaper option, but they aren't as energy efficient and require replacing every few months.

One thing to keep in mind when buying hermit crab tanks from other people: "Why did the seller's hermit crabs die?" They may have given them away, but that's just what I tend to assume. I'm currently interested in a hermit crab tank that a lady put up for sale on eBay, but I noticed that there's a hermit crab in the photo too. If I win the auction, then I get to adopt the hermit crab.

Under tank heaters will keep the substrate warm, while other heat sources will keep the air warm. Since my tank is pretty long, I use both. I have an under tank heater in one end and the ceramic heat emitter will go in the other. That way, they have all four options to choose from: cool air, warm air, warm substrate or cool substrate.

As for the Carefresh stuff, yes it does absorb moisture - but that's not what we want! Hermit crabs do not like a desert environment. Carefresh is meant for mammals or birds that urinate or poop everywhere. Pet store workers who promote Carefresh to hermit crab owners obviously don't know that high humidity is crucial to the survival of land hermit crabs.

Your hermit crabs are very fortunate to have an owner like you who researches online. Most hermit crabs aren't so lucky and end up dying painful deaths.
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CrabbyMamma
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Re: Help please :)

Post by CrabbyMamma »

Yes well, the 'absorbant' plug struck me as wrong pretty quickly once I realised they need moisture. Even at the vet I stopped in a today, they got the girl who 'knows about hermit crabs' to serve me, and she told me to get shell grit for substrate. Clearly google is my friend.

I have always been a big softy for animals of all type, I hate the thought that these little critters are uncomfortable at the moment and am just hoping that they hang in there until we get them sorted properly. We should be able to make them more comfortable tonight and have them extra comfy by the weekend.

I will take a closer look at the tank when I get it and see what I can do with heating. In the mean time I will keep reading :)

There was another tank I was looking at on ebay, but was pick up only in Melbourne - I guess its the same one you are eyeing off.
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