Hermit crab tank set up A Step-by-Step Guide

Hermit crab tank set up :A Step-by-Step Guide

You can set up a hermit crab tank easily if you have food, water (freshwater and saltwater), extra shells, substrates, and hideaways. Plus, you need to maintain property humidity and temperature (heat) level in the crabitat. Also, use a big tank and with every essential accessory in it to keep the hermies happy and healthy.

Do you know hermit crabs are the most delicate crab species in terms of taking care of them? So, let’s follow the footsteps of this guide and create a cozy haven where your hermit crabs can flourish and explore to their heart’s content.

Let’s dig in!

How to set up a hermit crab tank?

A step-by-step procedure is given here about setting up a beautiful and reasonable hermit crab habitat. Don’t miss any step to get the best hermit crab tank.

Important Note:

Crabs are quite sensitive to sudden shifts in temperature and humidity. Ensure that your crabitat is fully set up and stable before introducing your new pets to their home.

Buy an Appropriate Aquarium:

Buying a large glass aquarium is the first and foremost step before doing anything else. It’s the basic thing without which you cannot prepare a hermit crab habitat. If you are trying to keep two medium-sized hermies, it’s advised to buy a 10-gallon tank or above.

Similarly, if you are interested in keeping two large-sized hermit crabs, a 20-gallon or 30-gallon tank is good enough. So, the larger the size and the more the number of hermit crabs, the bigger the tank is required. Also, take care of the following:

  1. Place Lid:

Your crab tank must have a sturdy lid over it made of glass or plexiglass. Otherwise, those crafty little critters may  run out of it! You definitely don’t want them wandering off.

  1. Opt One Option!

When it comes to glass tanks, you have got two options: terrariums and aquariums. Opt for an aquarium since many terrariums are not strong enough. They can not handle the amount of substrate or other material your hermit crab needs.

  1. Use Biodegradable Cleaner

Remember to clean your aquarium using a mild, biodegradable cleanser to keep it nice and tidy! Don’t use any other surf and detergent to clean the hermit crab tank.

Here is how to clean an aquarium properly using biodegradable cleaner:

  • Start by wiping down the tank using a gentle (animal-safe) cleaner.
  • Why not try mixing vinegar and water in equal parts for a natural cleaning solution? You can do this; it’s safe!
  • Dip your towel into the mixture and wipe down the tank thoroughly.
  • Once you are done, rinse the tank with freshwater to remove any debris or remaining cleaner.
  • Finally, use a dry towel to wipe away any moisture and leave the tank sparkling clean!

Let’s see what else is needed to set up a hermit crab tank.

Attach a Heater with It!

Heaters are often placed under the tank. So, it is a smart idea to install them before filling it up. This way, you won’t have to lift a heavy tank later on.

Moreover, remember that the process of attaching the heater can vary. It depends on the specific model of the heater and your aquarium.

Time to Add Substrate:

Now, it’s time to fill the tank with a thick layer of substrate. As a result, your crab can dig and hide completely. The amount needed depends on the crab’s size.

A perfect substrate is basically a mixture of substrate and coconut fiber. It is about 5 parts sand to 1 part coconut fiber. Let’s see what are the other preparations you should take care of:

  1. Properly Prepare Coconut Fiber:

You should follow the instructions on the coconut fiber box to prepare it. Just carefully mix the prepared coconut fiber with sand until it’s evenly spread throughout.

Crabs usually love sand for digging but coconut fiber is better at holding moisture. So, it plays a crucial role in an artificial crab habitat.

  1. Consider Substrate Depth:

You need to consider the following substrate depths according to the size of hermit crab:

  • Hermit crabs smaller than a quarter require a minimum of six inches of substrate. This depth allows them to burrow and molt properly. Moreover, it mimics their natural habitat.
  • Furthermore, it’s recommended to provide approximately six to eight inches of substrate in their habitat for hermit crabs around the size of a golf ball.
  • It’s important to provide a deeper substrate depth of around eight to ten inches in their habitat for hermit crabs as large as a tennis ball. This ample depth accommodates their larger size.
  • Hermit crabs larger than a baseball necessitate a substantial substrate depth of at least 12 inches (necessarily more) in their habitat.

On the flip side, insufficient substrate can lead to stress and health issues for the crabs.

Attach a Thermometer and a Hygrometer:

Let’s get those thermometers and hygrometers set up. Each model has its own way to attach them. So, check the instructions before attaching them in the hermit crab tank.

Once they are on, you can start adjusting the tank’s humidity and temperature to the right levels. Most aquarists miss out this necessary step of installing the thermometer and the hygrometer. As a result, they face instant deaths of their favorite hermies due to cold and inappropriate tank temperature and humidity level.

  • Most hermit crabs like the temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Put the thermometer in place to make sure the temperature stays around there.
  • Hermit crabs thrive on moist, humid air for proper breathing. Grab a hygrometer to check if the air is moist enough. And then keep the relative humidity levels between 60 to 80 percent in their habitat. That’s the sweet spot for them!

Temperature and humidity levels more than the one mentioned above is not good for the health of hermit crabs. Let’s see more details in the section given below.

Moist Your Hermit Crab Tank:

Go for a relative humidity of 60 to 80 percent in the tank. Also, avoid soaking the sand, as it can be risky. Instead, you can use a hand mister to spray water into the tank until the hygrometer shows the right humidity level.

You can also think about getting a fogger or humidifier as another option. Keep in mind the following tips when you are balancing the moisturizer of your hermit crab tank:

  1. Moisture Balance:

Use a hand mister in your hermit crab tank. It can be quite a chore depending on how humid your area is.

In that case, a fogger or humidifier could be a better option. Just keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not overdoing it and flooding the tank. Thus, balance is key!

  1. Keep the Moisture Longer:

Here is another great tip for those who are busy setting up a hermit crab tank! Use a coconut fiber substrate and a glass lid for the tank.

It will definitely help it hold onto humidity. It’s like creating a cozy little environment for your cute and cuddly crabs!

You can also watch out for this amazing DIY project of making an EPIC set up for your hermit crabs.

Apply the Appropriate Temperature:

It’s time to warm up the tank to about 78 degrees Fahrenheit for your crabs. The simplest way to do this is by using an automatic heater. It’ll help maintain the perfect temperature hassle-free!

However, a lamp can also be handy for warming up the tank. Just make sure to position it in a way that it does not shine on the entire area. I mean to say that it should give the crabs a chance to move away from the heat if they want to.

After all, it’s all about creating a comfortable environment for them. When it comes to the comfort of hermit crabs, I have another smart idea!

Why not get a heater that can automatically shut off once it senses that the tank has reached the right temperature? It’s a convenient way to keep things just right for your crabs without constantly monitoring it. Isn’t it?

Put Hermies in their New Home!

The right time to welcome your crabs to their new home has come! Once the temperature and humidity levels in the tank are good to go, gently introduce your crabs into their new home.

Then sit back and watch as they start to explore and settle into their cozy habitat. It’s like a little crab adventure! You will notice that some of them will immediately start exploring while others often take their time to acclimate.

Furthermore, observing their behaviors can give you insights into their personalities. You’ll find that some crabs are more adventurous and they are boldly exploring every nook and cranny. On the other side, some Hermies are more reserved and they prefer to stay hidden or sticking to certain areas of the tank.

Addition of Accessories in the Tank:

This step is very important and necessary for your hermit crabs well-being. Adding accessories to your crab’s tank can enhance their environment and provide them with opportunities for exploration and stimulation. Here are some ideas:

  1. Insert Bowls:

In order to set up a hermit crab tank, add two water bowls and one food bowl. Make sure the tank has a dish for dechlorinated fresh water and another for dechlorinated saltwater. The water dishes should be big enough for your crab to completely submerge itself.

However, they should not be so big that they find it hard to get in and out easily. As for the food bowl, it should be smaller than the water bowls. This way, your crabs can easily access their food and water without any hassle.

Important Note:

Fill the saltwater bowl with a blend of dechlorinated water and aquarium salt mix. Remember, don’t mix table salt into the water. Otherwise, it could be harmful for your hermies!

  1. Place climbing and hiding objects:

Do you know all crustaceans love to climb and hide underneath various objects? Similarly, hermit crabs are those crustaceans who really love to climb on various objects and hide underneath many things. So, it should be a duty in your priority list to buy some objects that are good for crabs to climb and hide on them.

You can place them in an appropriate place inside the tank. Here is a list of some favorite things and toys of hermit crabs:

  • Jagged rocks
  • Plastic or wooden houses
  • Fake plants
  • Driftwood

However, make sure that the tank has an adequate size to comfortably house the toys. It should also prevent any overcrowding of your crustacean inhabitants.

  1. Get Some Shells:

Buy some extra shells for your hermit crabs. There must be 3 shells for one crab. It’s also one of their favorite hobbies to change shells.

However, only place those shells inside the aquarium that are sanitized and properly clean. Plus, keep the following things in mind before purchasing shells for hermit crabs:

  • Crabs generally favor those shells that provide a snug fit (snuggly shells allow only a slight amount of extra space). It’s important to select a shell with an opening approximately 1/8 to 1⁄4 inch larger than the crab’s claw. You can experiment with various sizes to determine your crab’s preference.
  • Many hermit crabs prefer shells with round openings while others favor those with D-shaped openings. For example, Purple Pinchers typically opt for round openings while Ecuadorians tend to prefer D-shaped ones. Hence, the thing is to observe your crab closely to discern its preference.
  • Last but not least, avoid offering a crab a shell with paint on it. It could harm their health. It’s a major red flag for your hermit crab health if the shell is painted. Big No to painted shells!

So, it would be a nice gesture to place a few shells in their tank to let them play around. Also, try reading “Do hermit crabs need sponges?”

Pick a Peaceful Spot for Placing the Tank!

Selecting the perfect spot for your tank is one of the main steps that if you focus on everything but ignore it then your all efforts will go in vain. I’m going to introduce a few useful tips that will help you pick a perfect place for keeping the hermit crab tank. Let’s walk through each one of the healthy tip:

  1. Keep it Away from Vents:

Make sure the tank isn’t near any air vents. It’s important to keep the tank at a stable temperature. If it is close to a vent, the crabs could be harmed by sudden blasts of cold air. And you should know that cold temperature and air is the enemy of hermit crabs.

  1. Avoid Direct Sunlight:

You should avoid placing the tank in direct sunlight. Whether it’s near a window or somewhere outside, don’t place the hermit crab tank into that place where there is direct sunlight exposure. Crabs are not fans of sunlight, and it can dangerously heat up the tank.

  1. Pick a Moderately Busy Place:

You should choose a spot that’s moderately busy, but not overly crowded. Understand it – “Place your crabs somewhere you’ll frequently pass by, so you can easily check on them.”

However, try to avoid placing the tank in areas where you use potentially harmful sprays, such as hair spray, cologne, or room deodorants. Here a question pops up in my mind: Do hermit crabs make noise? Yes! At night, they can be quite the party animals.

So, many hermit crab keepers have shared their experience that they skip their bedrooms for them. Their hustle and bustle in the night was quite noisy. That’s why I recommend you to keep the crab shindig away from your sleep zone!

Here is a very useful YouTube video that will help you a lot in setting up a hermit crab tank. Don’t miss out watching it!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.What is an air stone present in many public hermit crab tanks?

If you have ever heard of an air stone or seen it inside the tanks, it’s basically a fancy rock that bubbles up water. People who keep hermit crabs like using these in their tanks. Why?

Well, they help keep the air moist and stop the water from getting yucky. Plus, some crab owners say their little buddies love splashing around in the bubbly water!

2.Can I use a keeper sized cage for 2 hermit crabs?

Absolutely Not! Using a keeper-sized cage for two hermit crabs isn’t ideal. They need more space to roam around and feel comfortable. Experts suggest that you should provide them with at least a 10-gallon aquarium to thrive happily.

3.Can I buy a hermit crab set up kit to make a home instantly?

Yes, you can buy a good hermit crab set up kit. It is more convenient to make a home instantly and effortlessly. However, remember that the kit should contain each and everything that is necessary for making a sweet home for your hermies.


So, we have shared a complete guide on how to set up a hermit crab tank that is affordable and effective for them. We have learned that their physical health is important but we should not ignore their mental health alongside. For example, if you are thinking about keeping one hermit crab, go for two or three.

Always remember to have two or three Hermies in the tank to keep them healthy. Also, NEVER EVER try to disturb or relocate a hermit crab while it’s molting. The stress from such an action is often fatal for the little crab. Plus, NEVER use tap water to clean your hermit crab tank.

Just picture how they live in the wild. You’ll come to know more about what they require to have a natural feel of their home (not captive environment).