4 Essential Tools for Crafting a Crabitat on a Budget

Many people get the impression that hermit crabs are cheap pets. After all, they are typically less than $10 a piece, and what you see in the store when you get them doesn’t look like it requires much. Unfortunately what you see in those pet stores is far from an ideal habitat for long term care.

Ideally you’ll want to have your crabitat set up before you bring your crabs home. But what is really essential? This article discusses the four most critical considerations for your hermit crabs and what you can do to avoid those pet store prices.

1. Aquarium Tank

This is the most important tool for creating a crabitat. An aquarium tank provides the necessary space and environment for your crabs to live, feed, and hide.

Tanks are not cheap. When you are starting out you may get away with a simple 10 gallon, but over time as your crabs grow you will realize they need more space.

My personal first go to? Yard sales, estate sales, and craigslist. There are always people ready to unload that empty fish tank they’ve been sitting on since they gave up their fish hobby. A little elbow grease may be needed to clean these sometimes, but it’s totally possible to find 20 gallon and above size for $10 or less. Don’t be afraid to haggle down a price.

If you’re gung ho on a new tank, Petco typically does a once a year thing where their fish tanks are half the price.

2. Substrate

Substrate is the material that lines the bottom of the tank. It serves as a bedding material and helps keep the tank clean and dry.

Commercial bags of substrate for hermit crabs are available on the market today – but there is a much more economical solution. Playsand at the Lowe’s or Home Depot can be used at roughly $5 for a 50lb bag. Combine this with coconut bricks which can be bought in 3 packs, and add a good amount of purified water to make the consistency of what you would need at the beach to make sand castles that can hold their shape.

There should be enough substrate to be higher than 3 times the height of your hermits. They will be digging down into it when they molt.

3. Accessories

Accessories such as rocks, driftwood, and plants provide your crabs with a place to hide, as well as giving your crabitat some personality. Rocks from your garden or outside can go in – just be sure to wash them well and make sure there are no pesticides on them. Homemade items can also be considered here. Food safe containers can be cut where needed and converted into hide aways. Artificial plants can be used (be sure to wash and sterilize), and before you sell off the kids legos, consider using them to build something to go in the tank.

4. Heating and Moisture Monitoring

Heating and high humidity are essential for keeping your crabs healthy. Without these, your crabs may become ill or die prematurely. Hermit crab lungs prefer 70% and higher humidity. To monitor this you will want to invest in a hydrometer. Digital ones can be found on places like Amazon, which will also give you the temperature reading.

Have a heat mat on hand if your space is in a cooler climate or air conditioned. Heat mat’s used for plants can be used and can be found for less money usually than pet store sold mats. The mat should be attached to the side of the tank.

This initial set up for all of the above can be done with a budget of $50 or less with a bit of preliminary planning. From there it’s easy to assess and plan for future upgrades as needed.

With these basics in place, you’ll have a good foundation to start with.

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