Finding the best hermit crab tank can feel like searching for the elusive sasquatch. There are very few actual hermit crab habitats on the market, and if you follow the advice of those boardwalk crab sellers, you’re playing with a recipe for disaster.
What’s a new, responsible hermit crab owner supposed to do? Don’t worry, we have the information you have been looking for. Instead of searching for hermit crab enclosures, you need to look for fish aquariums or reptile tanks.
Here we have included 6 of the best hermit crabs tanks you can purchase, along with the pros and cons of each, and other considerations.
In case you’re in a rush, here’s our top 3 picks, but if you have time, read on.
|Hermit crab tank
|1. Zoo Med Reptihabitat Hermit Crab – 10 Gallon Kit
|2. Tetra Glass Aquarium – 20 Gallon setup
|Best for Larger Setups
|3. Allcolor Ultra Clear Rimless 20 Gallon Aquarium Tank
Table of Contents
About Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs come from tropical habitats with warm temperatures, high humidity, and access to both salt and freshwater year-round. They are found along Caribbean shores, Indo-Pacific coasts, and Western Atlantic sandy beaches.
They are scavengers that help clean up detritus, scraps, and carrion to keep the beaches and tidal waters clean. Hermit crabs eat all manner of items; from seaweed and kelp, fruits and vegetables, small invertebrates, carrion, and even rotting wood. Some have even been observed eating turtle or human feces!
These little arthropods have soft, sensitive abdomens they need to keep protected. This part of their body is unable to make a hard covering, so they search for empty shells to carry around and hide in when threatened.
Hermit crabs are also very sensitive to chemicals, toxic substances, and especially heavy metals such as copper, iron, chromium, and lead. Substances that only harm us in large quantities can quickly become fatal to tiny hermit crabs.
Don’t Follow Instructions Or Examples Of Beach Crab Vendors
I don’t know about you, but whenever I visit any beach along the Atlantic coast, I’ll see hermit crab vendors either on the boardwalk or in souvenir shops. The crabs look so cute in their brightly painted shells. They are cute, inexpensive, and seem to do well in the cheap metal cages as they climb all around.
By looking at their setup, it looks like it would be easy to care for them. Just get a tiny, plastic or metal transport carrier, plop in some dry hermit crab flakes, and soak a sponge for them to drink out of and you’ve got a pet that will last maybe a month if you’re lucky.
The next time you go to the beach, purchase another one and enjoy it for a few short weeks. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But did you know that hermit crabs can actually live for decades if they are cared for correctly? That’s right! Some owners have even reported their hermits living for nearly 40 years!
Beachside Hermit Crab Sellers Have It All Wrong
The problem is that these souvenir sellers don’t know the first thing about how to care for hermit crabs. All they know is they can get $5 to $10 a pop, and then when you add in the accessories, pretty shells, some t-shirts, beach towels, and other novelty items, they make great money on a small investment.
Nearly everything about the hermit crab set up at the beach is wrong.
Hermit crabs need a lot of substrate to burrow into so they can molt and get away from others. They require a high-humidity setup. This isn’t possible with an open, metal mesh cage. Their gills need 70 to 80% humidity in order to breathe correctly.
They also need a source of freshwater and saltwater deep enough for them to submerge themselves completely. Hermit crabs should have a varied diet of vegetables, meat, and the occasional fruit for complete nutrition.
Not to mention the worst travesty of all, the metal cage. Most wire mesh contains lead, and some have copper, but they all contain metals that are highly toxic to hermit crabs. These little crabs are scooped up from their tropical homes and set in death traps.
Those painted shells are dangerous too. Natural scavengers—when the paint chips off the shells—the hermit crab may try to eat the colorful flakes. All the chemicals in the paint could make them ill or send them to an early grave.
You Need A Glass Or Acrylic Tank
The best tank material for your hermit crab should be made of glass or some type of strong polycarbonate plastic such as acrylic or Lexan. It also needs to be strong enough to hold several pounds of substrate.
You need several inches of substrate such as a sand and coconut fiber mixture which not only holds moisture but can hold the shape. When a hermit crab burrows into the substrate, they need to be completely covered and the burrow shouldn’t collapse around them.
For these purposes, fish aquariums are your best bet. They are made of strong materials that can stand up to extra weight, and they hold humidity very well.
Reptile enclosures can work too, but you may need to make sure they can handle plenty of weight. Aquariums are typically made of stronger tempered glass, while reptile tanks aren’t held to such strict regulations.
Plastic tanks, especially seamless tanks are great options. They won’t shatter and can handle any amount of substrate you add. The only problem with these tanks is they can be quite expensive.
All About The Lid
Another very important factor for your hermit crab habitat or “crabitat” as some owners affectionately call their setup, is the lid. Hermit crabs are notorious escape artists. They can climb very well, and they are strong.
A hermit crab can climb up the silicone corner bead in an aquarium and either climb out of the open aquarium or even push a light lid up and get away. You don’t want to wake up in the morning and find “Mr. Krabs” has escaped only to get trapped on the couch.
Yes, you need a good lid to keep your pet inside, and it needs some type of latch or weight so the strong hermit can’t push its way out. Ideal lids are not mesh though.
We already touched on humidity levels, and a wide-open, mesh lid will make it difficult to maintain the high humidity required for hermit crabs. Acrylic lids are difficult to find, and they are quite pricey.
What’s a hermit crab owner to do?
You Can Fashion Your Own Crabitat Lid
Mesh lids are available wherever pet supplies are sold, but you may need something a little more restrictive to keep the humidity high enough for your hermit crabs. Instead of pulling your hair out looking for the elusive tank lid, go ahead and make your own.
You can use polycarbonate or acrylic sheeting. This can usually be found at either your local hardware store, your favorite home improvement store, or right here, Plexiglass Sheets Custom Cut Size. There are several sizes and thicknesses to choose from right here.
If you clean the tank daily and change the water and food every day, you don’t need to worry about air exchange or putting holes in the plastic sheets. If you are still concerned, or your humidity levels get too high, you can drill a few holes in the sheeting to allow some air and moisture to escape.
Start by drilling a few ¼” holes and wait to see how that works. If you need more holes you can always drill more, but it’s rather difficult to cover the holes if you drilled too many.
Another option that may be easier to cut and drill is corrugated plastic. Think cardboard, but made from plastic. It’s light, easier to cut and drill than polycarbonate, and may be slightly more cost-effective. You’ll have to weigh it down with something though to keep your hermit crab from pushing its way out.
Juvale 8 Pack Blank Corrugated Plastic is a lightweight option that can help keep your crabitat humid and enclosed to prevent the accidental escape of your pet.
Should You Get Multiple Hermit Crabs?
Though their name suggests they are better suited alone in their little “hermity” home, hermit crabs are actually rather social and do better in small groups. If you can manage it, try getting 2 or 3 hermit crabs so they can have some social interactions.
It’s not a requirement, and plenty of single-child hermit crabs do fine. Multiple hermits do require more tank space though depending on their size.
Most hermit crabs don’t grow more than 4 inches long, and these crabs need about a 10-gallon tank minimum. This size tank will be fine for 2 to 3 hermit crabs of this size.
If you get hermits that reach 6 inches in length or bigger, you’ll need more space, at least a 20-gallon tank for 2 or three of these bigger crabs. Find out how big your hermit crab can potentially get and adjust your tank size by that measurement.
Best Tank Tips For Happy Hermit Crabs
With so many different shapes and sizes let’s look at what would make a hermit crab happy. You could get a very tall, 20-gallon tank because hermits like to climb. While this may make them happy, hermit crabs tend to spend more time on the ground or burrowing.
The general consensus is that hermit crabs need more space to explore and more horizontal space than they need vertical space. A flatter, wider tank is better suited for hermit crabs. You still need to add climbing accessories such as tree branches, vines, and hammocks, but it’s more important to have ground space.
Once you start buying accessories such as soaking containers, food containers, hides, hermit wheels, plants, and more, you and your hermit crab will be happier with the extra floor space.
Best Tanks For Your Hermit Crab
All-in-one kits for hermit crabs are very hard to find, but Zoo Med has met the challenge with their Reptihabitat Hermit Crab Kit. This is an excellent choice if you are just starting out and a first-time hermit crab owner.
Trying to figure out everything you need to get started can be daunting, but Zoo Med takes the guesswork out of the equation. This kit comes with a sliding screen top that will help to prevent the sneaky escape artist.
It has sand and a coconut coir brick that needs to be rehydrated, then you just mix the two and you have a simple, good substrate for your hermit crab. This quickly gives your crab the feeling of home and a place to burrow if they are feeling stressed.
You’ll also get both saltwater and freshwater conditioners. Both types of water are equally important for hermit crabs and tap water can be full of chemicals that will damage your new pet.
Also included are vitamin supplement blocks and hermit crab food. Hermit crabs need a lot of calcium, especially right after they have molted and Zoo Med has taken care of that for you. You also get good quality food to get you started.
You should include some vegetables, fruits, and meat sources between commercially made feed to keep your hermit crab healthy, but the included food is a good start.
This setup is relatively inexpensive for a starter. This 10-gallon tank is great for 1 or 2 smaller hermit crabs. If you want more hermit crabs or yours to grow more than 5 inches each, you may have to upgrade to a larger size.
The kit claims to have “everything needed to get started,” but you’ll have to purchase a heating pad or other heat source, and a light. Hermit crabs need temperatures higher than the average house temps, and around 12 to 14 hours of light per day.
These are accomplished with a heating pad or other heat source and a UVB light, which are not included in this kit.
The mesh lid may not keep enough humidity inside the tank.
This tank is 15 gallons which give your new hermit crabs extra space to roam and explore. You can easily house 2, 3, or 4 small hermit crabs in this tank.
Since there are very few tank options strictly marketed for hermit crabs, we have to use reptile or fish tanks.
This tank comes with a sliding mesh lid. Your hermit crab, no matter how strong it is, will not be able to push its way out of this tank. There is also a small feeding hole you can use to drop food inside without having to remove the whole top.
A 1-inch PVC tray lines the bottom. You can use this to hold water for added humidity, plus when you add water to the substrate, you won’t have water dripping through the bottom of the tank.
The tank is shipped in a flat box to help prevent breakage. This means you have to assemble it yourself, but it comes with the one tool you need and it’s very simple to construct. Just slide the panels in place, put the screws in, and tighten them down.
The feeding hole is very small. You can only drop in small pieces of food at a time. You still have to open the mesh top to get the food bowl in and out.
Though everything is held together with screws, the glass still has a tendency to rattle when you move it. If you have slightly uneven floors or have heavy footfalls the glass could rattle when you walk past as well.
For a tank you have to put together yourself, it’s on the expensive side.
For those who have large hermit crabs or want more than 2 or 3, this 20-gallon tank is a great choice. It’s sealed together with silicone so there is no fear of water leaching out and making a mess.
For a large, 20-gallon tank, the Tetra Glass Aquarium is very cost-efficient. It’s a strong aquarium tank so no matter how much substrate you put in the bottom, it will hold strong.
The Tetra Glass 20-gallon aquarium is simple, and strong, and will offer your crabs plenty of burrowing space and tons of square inches to roam and explore.
This is only an aquarium. It comes with zero accessories, so you’ll be purchasing anything else you will need, including a strong lid.
It’s rather large and can be heavy and difficult to maneuver. Despite being packaged very well, because of the weight and size, these can be easily damaged in transit.
A great starter hermit crab tank. Another budget-friendly tank for those starting out. If you have Ecuadorian hermit crabs you likely won’t have to get a larger tank. These hermit crabs are small, even full-grown.
You could realistically put 4 or 5 Ecuadorian hermit crabs in a single 10-gallon tank. If you have larger Caribbean hermit crabs this tank is a great starter, but in a few years, you may have to switch to a larger size.
Made with aquarium glass so it will have no problem handling a thick layer of substrate. Fully sealed seams mean you won’t have water leaking out of it.
Again you’ll have to purchase or make a lid for this aquarium.
For those who don’t like the thick black rims around the top and bottom and occasionally around the side, here is a clear, all-glass aquarium tank. With the low iron content in the glass, you get a crystal clear view of the tank.
The glass is held together by high-strength aquarium glue. The sides won’t split open and water won’t leak out.
This type of tank is aesthetically pleasing, especially when it’s properly set up with tasteful accessories. If you’re one who likes to splurge on your pets, this tank is for you.
This tank holds just over 20 gallons so there will be plenty of burrowing, climbing, and exploring space for your hermit crabs.
The rimless tank is the most expensive one on our list. It’s definitely good-looking, but you’ll end up paying for that visual appeal.
There is no lid so you’ll have to purchase one or make one for yourself. You’ll need to be careful around the edges, especially the top when you’re adding or removing items from inside.
Hitting the rim could cause small, sharp chips in the glass, or break the aquarium. Though this is very unlikely to happen.
This aquarium is made of acrylic. Compared to glass it’s nearly unbreakable and much lighter. Not only that but it’s molded meaning you won’t see any seams in the aquarium.
Big glass aquariums can be difficult and awkward to carry. This acrylic aquarium is much lighter and easier to handle.
The SeaClean Acrylic Aquarium also comes with an acrylic lid and a light. Since the lid isn’t mesh, it will hold in humidity better and you won’t have to make or purchase a separate lid.
This acrylic aquarium is highly durable. Even if you were to drop it on the ground you would not have to worry about it breaking.
The 20-gallon size is big enough to house plenty of hermit crabs while giving them all the space they need.
First off, this acrylic aquarium is the most expensive unit on the list. It will last a lifetime and you’ll never have to purchase a new one because this one broke or started leaking though.
Because of the acrylic top and built-in light, you can’t use an overhead heat source. Bypass this con by using a UTH (under-tank heater) pad on the side of the tank.
Common questions about hermit crab enclosures
Do hermit crabs prefer sand or gravel?
Sand is better for hermit crabs, gravel should not be added to your hermit crab’s home. A 50/50 mixture of all-purpose sand and coconut coir is an ideal substrate mix for hermit crabs. It retains moisture well and is naturally antifungal and antibacterial.
Dampen the sand or mixture just enough for it to hold its shape and not drip water when squeezed in your hand.
How do you play with hermit crabs?
Handle your hermit crabs and let them crawl on your hands for short periods. If they are not used to you yet, just hang out with them and don’t make any sudden moves until they start to get used to you.
When they get used to being handled you can keep them out a little longer. Don’t keep them out of their enclosure for too long, because they need their humid environment in order to breathe.
What is the best size tank for a hermit crab?
A good starter tank is 10 to 20 gallons. These sizes can hold 3 to 4 hermit crabs depending on their size. If you can, start off with a 20-gallon tank so you don’t have to upgrade a year or two later when your hermit crabs get bigger.
Finding a hermit crab tank shouldn’t be hard, you just have to look at fish aquariums or reptile terrariums because there are so few hermit crab tanks available. The ones that are marketed for hermit crabs are usually too small and only used for transport.
Beginners can start off with a high-quality 10-gallon tank for their first hermit crab or two, but if you can, you might want to go ahead and spring for the 20-gallon. This way you won’t have to upgrade to a larger size later.
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