Hermit crabs are often sold on the side of the road and in the mall with a tiny plastic critter keeper. The idea is that this is all you need to care for your hermit crab along with some hermit crab food “bites” and a shell and sponge for water. This is one way to keep a hermit crab, but it is likely that you will keep your hermit crab alive for a few months instead of the years that it could live with proper care. Here are the hermit crab supplies you really need to take good care of your hermit crab and to keep him or her alive for years to come.
You will need some sort of cage or terrarium. It is best to have a good sized option available. In fact, 10 gallons for 2 or 3 small hermit crabs is good. However, you will need a bigger tank if you get three and they grow to a good size (imagine three hermit crabs the size of baseballs in a 10 gallon tank, it's going to be a tight fit). A 10 gallon aquarium works really well. It can even have been used for fish, reptiles, or amphibians before, but should not have been used to house any sort of mammal since they will leave ammonia in the corners which could kill your new hermit crabs.
You will need at least three to four inches of substrate. You can use soil, sand, coconut fiber, or crushed coral. Your goal is to give them enough substrate to dig into and it should be something they can dig into. You can offer small gravel, but it shouldn't cover much of their tank because most crabs won't find it suitable to dig into. It's often a good idea to use two different substrates because some will prefer one over the other and others may like the other kind better. You also want to have some on hand so that you can do a substrate change every couple of months.
Your hermit crab supply list should also include water dishes. You will need a dish for freshwater and a dish for salt water. It is often best to have a dish that is big enough that your crab can crawl into it if they want. If using a “pool” instead of just a dish then you will want to make sure that you are also adding a sponge, small shells, or gravel to it to make sure that even the smallest hermit crab can get out of it.
You don't need to buy a fancy dish for their food. You can choose any shallow dish or even a good sized shell to add their food to their terrarium. However, you do want some sort of food dish to help keep the substrate clean.
Your hermit crab supply list should also include some toys and or decorations. You want to provide places to climb, hide, and play. The cool thing is that there are a lot of options. You can use fake plants, clay pots, cholla wood, corals, wood and branches, coconuts and coconut fiber, and decorations from the aquarium, bird, and reptile sections at the pet store. Have fun with it and make it attractive while offering them plenty to do. You will also want to leave a large area of the floor open so that they can dig themselves into the substrate should they choose to.
From the very beginning you should offer a variety of shells. It's a good idea to offer at least two to each crab that is in the tank. It's a good idea to include shells slightly smaller, the same size, and slightly larger for the crabs that you have to make sure that they are comfortable in their home. It is also a good idea to avoid painted hermit crab shells.
Chlorine, found in tap water, can kill a hermit crab. You can buy hermit crab water, but it is a lot cheaper to buy a dechlorinater and then use your own tap water. You will want to use this on any water that goes into their tank including any drinking water, pool water, salt water, and even the water you might mist the tank with. You can buy the same dechlorinater used for aquariums at less cost then those often sold as “hermit crab dechlorinater” or “hermit crab water conditioner”.
All hermit crabs should have access to salt water and some will simply die without it. You don't want to use just any salt water though. You want to make sure that you are choosing a salt water that is healthy and safe for your hermit crabs. Again you have a few options. You can buy “hermit crab salt water” or you can make your own. Never use table salt or sea salt that is sold to use in the kitchen. You must use salt that is designed for making salt water for fish or other salt water creatures. You can choose something like Instant Ocean or get a container of sea salt sold for the hermit crabs. This will provide your crabs with the salt necessary for them to have a healthy lifestyle.
Sea sponges aren't as necessary as many of these other hermit crab supplies. However, they can be very helpful. You can place a sea sponge into the water to make sure small hermit crabs don't die. You can also place the sea sponge in the water to help keep the humidity up. The surface area of the sponge makes it possible for more water to enter into the air.
Depending on where you live and how warm you keep your house a heat source can be a really good idea. Hermit crabs do best in temperatures from about 72 degrees on up to about 85 degrees. If your home is colder than that or drops down at night then it is a good idea. It is also a good idea to have one in the winter time no matter where you live. You should be an under terrarium heat pad as the best option.
Most people don't use a light on their hermit crab terrarium. Others think it is a must in order to establish day and night for the hermit crab. However, you can choose if you want one. On the list of important hermit crab supplies.
Thermometer and Hygrometer
It is a very good idea to have a thermometer and a hygrometer. This will make it possible for you to know how warm it is and how moist it is. This is important because keeping your hermit crabs in the correct temperature and humidity will give them a long life where as they are only likely to live a few months in lesser conditions.
While you can get hermit crabs and critter keepers fairly inexpensively it will cost a fair amount of money to set up a proper terrarium with your hermit crab supplies. In fact, if you buy all the must haves it will cost you at least $100, but can easily cost more than that. However, your hermit crabs can live for a very long time with some owners having their crabs more than 30 + years.