As an aquarium hobbyist, you may already know that there are many types of hermit crabs available for your saltwater tank. But did you know that only one family of hermit crabs are officially known as land hermit crabs?
These land crawlers are very similar to the species kept in saltwater aquariums, but have some more specific requirements for tank requirements and diet. Strawberry hermit crabs are one of the most attractive crabs in this family and are considered to be one of the more difficult species of exotic hermit crabs to keep in captivity.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about strawberry hermit crabs and how to set up your own hermit crab tank!
Coenobita perlatus is commonly known as the strawberry hermit crab. These crabs are part of the Coenobitidaefamily and land crabs. There are two genera in Coenobitidae that house almost 20 different species.
As we’ll discuss later, strawberry hermit crabs are named for their distinctive red-orange coloration.
Strawberry hermit crabs are native to the Indo-Pacific with substantial populations on the Tetiaroa Atoll. In general, these crabs can be found on the coast near salt water; This type of hermit crab requires a constant source of salt water to complete several physiological processes. However, they often retreat to the tree line and deeper into the forest to find fresh water as well.
Many of these large crabs are collected from Indonesia and Madagascar for distribution in the aquarium.
The strawberry hermit crab is one of the most easily recognizable species of terrestrial hermit crab, as it is named for its deep red and sometimes orange coloration. These crabs often have tiny white spots on their exoskeleton that resemble the seeds of strawberry fruits.
They like to inhabit larger gastropod shells and switch shells as they continue to molt and grow. A bowl is not only used to protect these crabs from predators, but also to hold and preserve water in particularly tropical environments where they can easily dry out.
Strawberry hermit crabs actually only molt once or twice a year. During this time, they are extremely vulnerable to predators and each have to stay underground for a few months.
How big do strawberry hermit crabs get?
On average, these crabs grow to be approximately 3 inches. However, over time, these crabs can grow to a diameter of 5 to 6 inches!
How long do strawberry hermit crabs live?
In the wild, this type of hermit crab can live a remarkably long time. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to live to be 30 years or older.
However, in captivity, they are much more likely to live only 3-5 years, even with the best care. This is most likely due to the difficulty in replicating their preferred natural environments, which contain a constant source of readily available seawater.
Requirements for strawberry hermit crab tanks
Strawberry hermit crabs are difficult to care for, mainly due to the regulation of space and humidity.
These hermit crabs can grow large, especially when they need to ingest their shell. For a couple of strawberry hermits, it is recommended to have a tank that is at least 76.2 cm long. Hermit crabs are best for a 3-inch mix of sand and soil. Many hobbyists like to use a combination of EcoEarth products and play sand.
In the wild, these crabs like to retreat to the shady shorelines and are usually found in trees. It is best to provide some natural vines and driftwood for your hermits to explore.
Temperature and humidity regulation
During the day, the aquarium should be heated to 26.7 to 29.4 ° C (80 to 85 ° F). At night the temperature should not drop below 26.7 ° C. While these hermits enjoy tropical conditions, they only venture into direct sunlight for a few minutes each day. In order to create a sunny area for them in the aquarium, it is recommended to use a fully controllable sunlight.
It is recommended to line parts of the aquarium with heating mats as this helps to maintain temperature and humidity. In general, these crabs prefer a humidity of 60-80%, which can be tested with a hygrometer. This will require manual fresh water misting or it may be worth investing in a spray system.
Moisture is key for your strawberry hermit crab to have a successful molt. Unfortunately, if the ideal conditions are not met, it can result in a dead crab.
Strawberry Hermit Crabs constantly need fresh and salt water. You need shallow fresh water baths and salt water baths of considerable size.
The fresh water bath should be treated with a water purifier to remove chlorine or chloramine. The salt water bath must be treated as if water were being prepared for a salt water aquarium. This can be done either by purchasing and mixing sea salt in the aquarium or by premixing salt water. In any case, the water needs a salinity between 1.020 and 1.028.
Strawberry hermit crabs regularly roam between the coast and the inland forests, where they have readily available sources of saltwater and freshwater. This water is essential for successful moulting and to keep the gills moist for breathing.
Behavior of strawberry hermit crabs
The strawberry hermit crab is more difficult to keep because of its daily migration from the coast to the tree line. In the wild, these hermit crabs like to climb trees in groups to eat young leaves and scour the beach for light food.
As with all crabs, the strawberry hermit crab is skinned several times a year to grow. During this time they can dig into the substrate for a long time. From time to time, even if you don’t molt, your crab may bury itself.
When it is time for a crab to change its shell, these hermits actually form a line based on size so that the smaller crab can accommodate the larger crab’s shell. In the aquarium setting, it is best to always have extra clams available so the hermit can change at any time.
Strawberry Hermit Crab Diet
These hermit crabs get their bright red color from their food. These species require foods high in carotene, a natural pigment found in many fruits, vegetables, plants, and animals.
In the wild, strawberry hermits are omnivores. This means that they rely on both meaty and plant-based foods to meet their nutritional needs. As crabs that roam between the coast and forested areas, they have a great appetite for algae, washed up fish, mollusks and other invertebrates, as well as land plants.
In the aquarium environment, your hermits will appreciate as much variety as you can give. Foods particularly rich in carotene include carrots, pumpkins and shrimp.
Your hermit may also be offered other mixed greens, broccoli, cucumbers, and mealworms to keep them interested in the food and keep their bright red coloration. For additional variety, it is recommended that you always have a high-quality hermit crab pellet on hand.
If your strawberry hermit crab isn’t getting enough carotene, it will gradually lose its color. When this species does not get enough carotene, they tend to lose their color and turn gray and even white.
Can strawberry hermit crabs eat strawberries?
For a species called a strawberry, can these crabs actually eat this fruit?
Yes! Strawberry crabs can and happily eat strawberries. In fact, they can eat most fruits as long as they show no signs of rot.
The strawberry hermit crab (Coenobita perlatus) is one of the more exotic land hermit crabs that you can have as a pet. They are valued for their bright red color, but can be relatively difficult to keep because of their space, temperature, and humidity requirements. You must also be given a wide variety of foods rich in carotene so that their distinctive color does not fade.
If you have any questions about keeping the Strawberry Hermit Crab, keeping land hermit crabs as pets, or keeping any other species, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!