Don’t be fooled by the hermit crab name. Hermit crabs are anything BUT hermits. They thrive on social interaction. I think having just one hermit crab in a tank can drive them crazy. I’ve had people bring me strawberry hermit crabs that act strange and invariably, it’s because they were alone.
Anyway, I’m here to help you take care of your strawberry hermit crab properly. Different hermit crabs from different locations actually have different needs depending on the species. You don’t care for a strawberry hermit crab like you do a purple claw crab. And when I say strawberry hermit crab, I mean Coenobita perlatus.
The most distinctive thing about a strawberry hermit crab is its color. Generally bright strawberry red with white granular markings, with shiny grey-black eyes. They have thick bodies and thick legs for climbing.
Most people buy their strawberry hermit crabs at a mall kiosk or pet store. And most receive a small plastic box to store the crab. I’m telling you right now, that box is NOT good for a crabitat. It’s fine for temporary shelter, but your crabs need space to roam and interact.
You should have bought at least 2 crabs, preferably 3, to begin with. I would recommend starting with a 10 gallon aquarium. They are easy to find and cheap. Although bigger is better. I recommend you add an under tank heater to keep the temperature up.
Line the bottom of the tank with sand or coir (sold as Forest Bedding®, Bed-A-Beast®, and Eco-Earth®). This is so your crab has something to dig into. I prefer a combination of coconut fiber and sand. Provide a stable substrate for them to dig. You need it deep enough for them to bury themselves, but not so deep that they deny an under-tank heater.
Next, you need something for them to ride on. I use a few pieces of choya wood for them to climb on. Some plastic plants will also work. Strawberry hermit crabs are known to be destructive. So they’ll make a mess of that well-organized crab you just made. Get ready for it.
Maintain a temperature of at least 72F degrees and I would say no more than 90F degrees, and a humidity of 70%. You want a “tropical” feel to the crabs. If it’s really hot, you’ll smell a musty odor and notice brown liquid coming out of the crabs. TURN THE HEAT DOWN IF THAT HAPPENS!
The first thing you need for a strawberry hermit crab is a bowl of salt water. You can get safe salt at your local pet store or online, DO NOT USE TABLE SALT, it contains iodine, which kills crabs. Use a saltwater aquarium salt for pets. Use distilled water or filtered, chlorine-free water. Running tap water can kill crabs. The chlorine causes blisters on their gills, resulting in a slow and painful death.
Strawberry hermit crabs need 2 bowls of water. One salty one fresh. Make sure the container is not so deep that the crab could drown in it. Place a sponge in each bowl of water for the crabs. It’s also a good idea to place a piece of wood, stone, or something in the water for the crab to cling to in case it becomes distressed in the water. That way you can go out alone.
A plate of food should be enough. It is very important to feed your strawberry hermit crab a diet rich in carotene. Some of the best foods are sun-dried shrimp, plankton, and color-enhancing fish foods. Make sure they always have access to these foods and your crab will maintain a healthy red/orange color.
I feel like bathing a crab is almost unnecessary. Only in certain circumstances will I bathe them. When they first come home, after a move, and that’s it.
Spot cleaning is best done weekly. Disposal of exoskeleton bits, food bits and other debris. Put all the climbing toys back, or it’s a good time for a remodel, keep the crabs from getting bored. If you use coco substrate, clean what is visible and every few months change the entire substrate.
Following these tips will help you maintain a happy and healthy crab population.