Do Hermit Crabs Need Sponges

Do Hermit Crabs Need Sponges?

Hermit crabs are cute little guys that need immense care and respect in captivity. These intriguing creatures require different things to survive in the aquarium. For example, there is a debate that sponges are necessary for hermit crabs. But do hermit crabs need sponges or not?

Hermit crabs do not need sponges. Although sponges provide a water source and help maintain humidity, they are still unnecessary in their habitat. This is because most sponges are not natural, and they contain bacteria. In fact, sponges are the worst enemies of hermit crabs in most cases.

I understand you are thinking that I’m a pessimist, but it’s reality. Many hermit crab owners don’t like to add sponges. They are right in this scenario because hermit crabs do not need them. So, let’s buckle up and discuss the reasons why hermit crabs do not need sponges.

Read also: Salt to Water Ratio for Hermit Crabs – Complete Guide

Reasons Why Hermit Crabs Do Not Need Sponges:

Here are the reasons why hermit crabs do not need sponges:

  1. Hermit Crabs Like to Use Bowls:

It is said that hermit crab sponges are best to provide moisture to the crabs’ gills. But the reality says that hermit crabs like to use bowls in place of sponges. I understand that you guys will not believe me, but hermit crabs live to live in the wild and drink water directly instead of sponges.

Moreover, if you give them natural/fresh water and saltwater in the bowl, they enjoy it more because it gives them a taste of their natural habitat. They drink water according to their need and store extra water from the bowls in their shells. As a result, they utilize the stored water of their shells whenever required, like for moisture, breathing, etc.

If you give them two bowls of water, the chances are they will quench their thirst whenever required. Also, they clean their bodies while taking a shower in the bowls. However, you need to change the existing water in the bowls right after 2 to 4 days with non-chlorinated water.

  1. Sponges Grow Bacteria:

Do you know sponges harbor bacteria? This is the main reason why hermit crab keepers are completely turned off from the use of sponges. In an unsanitary environment, these types of moist and damp objects are beacons of bacterial growth.

So, always try to ditch sponges because most hermit crabs love to drink from sponges. Also, they try to chew it. In my case, the hermit crabs were rubbing their legs and bodies with the sponges that were the cause of infection in their bodies.

Interestingly, hermit crabs love to push the sponges here and there in their habitat. This causes various objects, like mold, rotting food, poop, and other substrates, to stick to the sponges. Within a few days, the sponge will turn into a mobile biohazard. It will prompt your crabs to recoil their antennas in disgust.

  1. Overpriced Sponges:

Hermit Crab sponges are always overpriced everywhere: in stores, shops, and online. The single golf-size sponge costs a minimum of $5 to $8. A single sponge will not be enough for hermit crabs.

You would require at least 12 sponges for 1 to 3 hermit crabs in their habitat and a few spare sponges for future use. As I have mentioned before, sponges become biohazard after a couple of days, and they need to be changed regularly. So, whenever you decide to shop for your hermies, don’t allow yourself to buy unnecessary sponges.

  1. Tedious to Clean:

It’s a tedious chore to clean the hermit crab sponges. You need 10 to 15 minutes to clean one sponge at a time. So, think about cleaning a dozen sponges in the long run.

Plus, you need to thoroughly clean your hands after washing sponges. Also, squeeze the clean sponges and let them dry for a while. After this, dip them into the chlorinated water. Now, you can keep the sponges (at least two) in your desired crabitat.

Furthermore, seal the rest of the clean sponges in a container and keep the container open to allow access to air. Now, the important thing to consider is that you already have a lot of chores for hermit crabs to do every day. So, why waste precious time on sponges when we have better other options?

Important Tip: After drying washed sponges, you should microwave them for at least 2 minutes. In this step, you make sure that any virus or bacteria in the sponges are killed. However, remember that the power of the microwave must be low to avoid any mishap or damage.

  1. Sponges Take Up More Space:

The hermit crab sponges that we buy from pet stores are so small in size that they cannot maintain the humidity level of the crabs’ habitat. The size of the right sponge for a 10-gallon tank must be of baseball. So, if you put one big sponge or three small ones (if you did not succeed in getting a big one), it is going to take up too much space.

Just think about placing the following essential things in the hermit crabs’ tank:

  • Shelter
  • Extra vacant shells
  • Decors for hiding spots
  • Three bowls (saltwater bowl, freshwater bowl, food bowl)
  • Toys to climb on

You can imagine your sweet crustaceans will feel homesick, confused, and stressed in a lot of things. So, keep things simple and natural for hermit crabs to give them a sense of a wild environment.

  1. They Dry Out Quickly:

The existence of sponges in the hermit crab habitat is to make them feel moist. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of sponges? So, it’s like a tad upset if your sponges dry out right within 24 hours.

The facts state that sponges stay wet in humid environments. After getting to the point, I wonder what sponges’ purpose is if they cannot remain humid in dry places. It’s better to buy bowls, moss, or a mister for your hermit crabs instead of sponges.

Here, a question arises in our minds: what to do to maintain the moisture level of the hermit crabs’ habitat if sponges are not good enough? I’m going to give a few solutions in the following section:

  • Find a sanitized spray bottle and lightly mist the tank substrate. Also, make sure that it’s moist but not excessively wet.
  • Now, consider acquiring hermit crab moss to retain the dampness.
  • If a lid is absent, use plastic wrap to cover the aquarium’s top. It effectively prevents any humidity from escaping through the bottle.

This method works very well in my case. I use two to three spray bottles to maintain the humidity level.

  1. Sponges Can Get Torn Out:

The hermit crab owners who use sponges know very well that they get torn out into small pieces after a few washes. Even though the sponges are expensive, they do not last longer because they are not durable. Most of the time, the sponges rip into small pieces, break down, or fall apart.

Sometimes, hermit crabs’ claws turn them into balls to play with in spare time. In fact, some hermit crabs enjoy ripping sponges. I think it’s better to add a few toys in their tank instead of investing in sponges.

  1. They are an Eyesore:

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone sees hermit crab sponges, they ask a similar question: “What’s that?” This is because sponges look unnatural in the tanks. Moreover, the muddy-brown colored sponges do not match the green decorations of the tank. These sponges look odd! Honestly!

Few individuals hide the sponges under leaves, shelters, and anywhere else in the aquarium. Then, they forget where they hide the sponges. And if they forget to take care of sponges and remain hidden anywhere, mold starts growing there.

You can Read reviews of other hermit crab owners about placing sponges in the tanks of their favorite pets.


Do hermit crabs drink from sponges?

Yes! Hermit crabs like to drink from sponges.

How do you know it’s time to clean a sponge?

You’ll see bacteria, dirt, and other pathogens on the sponges. It’s a clear indication that it’s time to clean them. Mostly, you should clean them after 2 to 4 days.

I’m interested in using sponges for my hermit crabs. What kind of sponge can I use for hermit crabs?

According to the report of the Hermit Crab Association, you should use “Dry Sea Sponges.” If you use natural sea sponges, they are not bad for your hermit crabs.

Why do my hermit crabs eat sponges?

The possibility is your hermit crabs are hungry or malnourished. That’s why they start eating sponges.

Wrapping – Up:

So, “Can hermit crabs need sponges?” No! Hermit crabs don’t need sponges. In fact, they do very well on their own without sponges. I can conclude the guide with one sentence after reviewing the reasons mentioned earlier – “Sponges are really Annoying for Hermit Crabs and for the Owners, both.

You will not get any apparent or hidden benefits from hermit crab sponges. So, take your time and decide what will make your crabs happy and healthy at the same time.