How To Set Up Your First Crabitat

Setting up your first crabitat is really exciting! But at the same time ensuring that everything is 'just right' can be very nerve wracking. To help get you through the process we've created a step-by-step plan to setting up your beginner crabitat.

Photo credit to the Oregon Hermit Crab Rescue. 
Click their name to learn more about this great rescue!

Step One: Find your perfect crabitat. Decide what size of hermit crabs you want as well as how many- and then buy the proper terrarium. For every crab your aquarium should have 2 gallons. Then you should add an additional 2 gallons for extra space. So let's say you want 2 small hermit crabs, 1 medium, and 1 large. You would probably want to invest in a 10 gallon aquarium.

Step Two: Make it tropical. Buy a terrarium heater. Depending on the size of your terrarium you will need a different size heater. For a 10 gallon terrarium a small or medium heater would probably work just fine. Heaters can be placed on the bottom or side of the aquarium- away from a place where any water may drip. We recommend the back side near the bottom. This way your hermit crabs can dig without the sand getting too hot beneath them an accidental water leak will not provoke electric sparks. Add a terrarium thermometer to the inside of your tank to help you monitor the temperature.

Step Three: Add a beachy feel. Simply buy some sand. For small to medium sized hermit crabs you should have 1 pound of sand per 1 gallon of your tank. So for a 10 gallon aquarium you would want 10 pounds of sand. Typically this will fill the tank with 2 to 3 inches of sand. Once the sand is in the tank pour a few cups of water over the sand to moisten it. This will help make it 'diggable' for your crabs as well as upping the humidity of the tank. There's no need to invest in special 'hermit crab sand'. A small bag of play sand from your local hardware store will do just fine. Reptile Sand (not the calcium-added ones) also works well.

Step Four: Create Saltwater and Freshwater Areas. You can buy pre-made food and water dishes for small pets or reptiles. These make great water containers for hermit crabs. On the other hand, the investment isn't necessary. Shallow bowls filled with gravel, tupper ware containers, or even cleaned ash trays make great little water areas. Fill one with saltwater (which can be created with aquarium salt from your local pet store) and the other with dechlorinated spring water. Make each bowl deep enough for the largest hermit crab to fully submerge itself. Make sure to have a way for the hermit crabs to crawl out. Plastic plants, sponges, and rocks are always a great way to ensure your little guys can crawl in and out safely.

Step Five: Up The Humidity. Put a humidity gauge inside your terrarium and begin to monitor your humidity. The best way to create humidity in a 10 gallon aquarium is with sponges and a spray bottle. Add a few sponges to your habitat and keep them soaking wet. They will naturally add moisture to the air. Then mist the terrarium regularly with a spray bottle. It takes a few days to determine how your terrarium reacts to moisture, so keep an eye on your humidity gauge and learn what works and what doesn't.

Step Six: Make it Fun. The most lovable thing about hermit crabs is that they are so adventurous. They want to explore everything. So give them everything to explore. Plastic and safe live plants, coconut huts, ladders, hemp nets, aquarium ornaments, driftwood, etc. Experiment and change it up regularly to keep your little creatures stimulated. Their inner explorer is endless and they will literally discover every single inch of your terrarium.