We understand how your intrigue by hermit crabs has ultimately led you to head over to the pet store and buy one ASAP. You’ve even purchased all the necessary items for a comfortable shelter: a suitable tank, food and fresh water, and some cute accessories to make your crab at home.
But what you may not know as a first-time crab parent is that hermit crabs must come into contact with salt water regularly. That’s because salt water helps regulate their respiratory rates, while fresh water ensures their gills stay moist for easier breathing.
In this guide, we’ll educate you on how to make hermit crab salt water to give your little friend the care he deserves. We’ll also answer some questions that may be on your mind regarding this topic.
Let’s jump right in!
Step 1: Grab a Shallow Water Bowl
The first thing you should do is shop for a good water bowl to put the salt water inside. Sure, this is a simple task as long as you keep in mind that the bowl shouldn’t be too deep that the crab might fall inside and be unable to escape.
Because hermit crabs can’t breathe underwater, your little pet might become stuck underneath the surface and lose access to oxygen. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure this scenario never happens by getting a flat water bowl.
Another option here is to lay a few rocks and pebbles on the bottom of a deep bowl to make it shallow. This is a nice alternative to buying a whole new bowl if you already have one and you don’t want it to go to waste.
The bottom line is: get a bowl that can contain the crab’s body just fine without trapping it. Easy peasy!
Besides, a lot of people suggest putting a sponge or two in your hermit crab’s water bowls. The sponges will stay afloat in the water, providing your crab with an additional layer of protection by acting like rafts in the case of emergencies.
Step 2: Pour Some Water Into the Bowl
Next, it’s time to add some water to the bowl you’ve purchased or taken out of some drawer. Remember that using tap water for this purpose is a big no-no, so be careful not to do it!
The thing with tap water is that it’s chlorinated to make it more suitable for drinking or cooking. We humans can manage the chlorine in the water, but it’s toxic to crabs.
Still, you have the option to use a water-conditioning fluid to neutralize the chlorine in the water so that it’s safer to offer to your little buddy. If you’re not a fan of this idea, you can always go for distilled water or bottled spring water.
Step 3: Add Salt to the Water in the Bowl
Before you rush over to your cabinet and whip out the salt you’d normally use to make pasta, you must know that table salt isn’t safe to put in your hermit crab’s water. Because this salt contains iodide, it can be harmful to your little friend.
Instead, your best option is to order a salt mix that’s specifically made for hermit crabs or crustaceans in general. It’ll provide you with the perfect salt water that your crab will need to survive.
Now that you’re ready to create the salt water solution, it’s time to understand the sea-salt-to-water ratio you’ll be using, and it’s quite simple. For every cup of water (8 ounces), add around one and a half teaspoons of the salt mix.
If you want to make an entire gallon of salt water to save yourself time in the future, that’s manageable, too. Just drop five cups of your choice of the sea salt mix into a gallon of water, stirring them together until you can’t see the salt particles anymore.
Some hermit crab salt mix brands can take more time to dissolve than you’re used to with ordinary table salt, while others will dissolve rapidly. To know what to expect, make sure to always read the instructions on the package.
Taking a look at the directions will also help you determine the exact amount of salt you’ll need to mix with your water. Keep in mind that this amount can vary from one product to another.
Step 4: Put the Salt Water Bowl Inside Your Hermit Crab’s Tank
One thing you should remember before offering the water bowl to your crab is to wait for at least two or three hours after mixing.
This allows the water to reach room temperature, making it extra safe for your hermit crab.
Plus, giving the water a couple of hours to rest lets the water conditioner do its job more efficiently. That’s, of course, if you’re using tap water and want to get rid of the chlorine inside it before introducing the salt water solution to your crab.
Yes. One of the best things about aquarium salt is that it’s pure from any additives. In other words, it doesn’t have iodide, which is the main reason why you shouldn’t use table salt in this position.
That’s why aquarium salt is more versatile than other types of salt.
Since hermit crabs require the same salt water salinity as that of saltwater fish, it’s right to assume that aquarium salt can fit into their lifestyle just fine.
However, you should still keep in mind that aquarium salt lacks some beneficial ingredients that you can otherwise find in salt mixes made especially for hermit crabs. So, while aquarium salt won’t be harmful to your tiny, scuttling buddy, it should be your second-best choice.
Can you use sea salt for hermit crabs?
Yes, pure sea salt is also your best friend in this regard because it doesn’t include any chemicals or toxic substances. Better still, you can easily find it in the cooking aisle in most stores.
Remember to check the sea salt to make sure it’s completely free from any scents or additives. Also, it’s a good idea not to go looking for it in the cosmetics section as it’ll likely include additional ingredients over there.
A tip you may want to consider following is to buy your sea salt from a health food store instead of your usual grocery store. Even though it’ll probably be pricier, it can be one of the safest options to use to create your hermit crab salt water.
Hermit crabs need both types of water, salt water and fresh water, to survive and lead a healthy lifestyle, as we’ve previously mentioned. But they can stay alive for up to two weeks without water.
Despite how reassuring this sounds, you should always make sure that your crab has both water bowls in its tank all the time. Monitor water levels to ensure the bowls are always full and ready for your crab to take a dip in.
What happens if hermit crabs don’t get access to salt water?
The consequences of not getting access to salt water can vary depending on the breed and species of a hermit crab. But since yours is likely bought from a gift shop or caught from the beach in the United States, it’s a saltwater hermit crab.
As a result, denying it salt water can lead to trouble because that’s against its natural needs and instincts. For example, a hermit crab with no exposure to salt water is prone to:
- Distress and anxiety
- No chances for mating (although it’s rare for hermit crabs to mate in captivity)
- The inability to molt, which can lead the crab to become too large for its shell and get stuck in it
For these reasons, you should make sure that your crab always has access to salt water on a daily basis. Going a day or two without it should be fine, at least until you refill the bowl.
Knowing how to make hermit crab salt water is simply Crab Parenting 101. It might sound tricky in the beginning, but once you take a look at the steps we’ve mentioned, you’ll realize it’s no big deal.
The whole process boils down to three simple steps:
Pick a suitable bowl, fill it with distilled or filtered water, then add the right amount of salt and mix everything together until the water isn’t cloudy anymore. Remember to buy a salt mix that’s made for hermit crabs, or you could swap it for sea salt or aquarium salt.
The well-being of your tiny friend is surely your priority, so it’s important to make your choices and purchases based on this fact.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.