Hermit crabs exist in over 800 species all around the world. Some of them are marine hermit crabs and spend a lot of time in the water with others spending their entire lives submerged in the ocean. There are also semi-terrestrial and terrestrial hermit crabs that do not need to spend a lot of their time in the ocean.
Out of the 800 known species, only one of the marine hermit crabs is a freshwater species- the Clibanarius fonticola. The rest live and thrive in saltwater.
If you’re looking into getting a hermit crab for a pet, you should know the importance of saltwater.
Why Do Hermit crabs need saltwater?
Saltwater is key to the survival of hermit crabs.
They need saltwater for drinking so that they can stay alive and healthy. Hermit crabs also use saltwater in the molting process by building enough hydrostatic pressure to break down the old shell.
Land hermit crabs use salt water to bathe and moisten their gills so that they are able to breathe. This is because they cannot breathe oxygen directly from their air so they draw oxygen from water by osmosis.
Land hermits also store some extra supply of salt water in their shells for survival.
If you have a pet hermit, you should bathe it frequently in salt water especially if the humidity levels in the tank fall below the required 70%
You will always need to have a supply of both freshwater and saltwater so that it can decide which one it wants to use. The water should be in clean and shallow bowls for their safety.
How To Make Salt Water For Hermit Crabs
The most important thing you should know is that table salt or iodized salt is NOT an option.
Iodine has too much sodium in it. Therefore, consuming iodized salt in water is harmful to their health. Table salt also has harmful anti-caking agents which are poisonous to hermit crabs. Do not be tempted to use table salt.
You will have to go to the pet store and purchase aquarium salt or Oceanic Natural Sea Salt mix. Hermit crabs require just as much salinity in their water as saltwater fish.
After you purchase the right salt, this is what to do.
Pick a clean container and assemble your ingredients.
Pick a bucket or container of your choice and make sure that it is clean. Gather your bucket, some water, de-chlorinator, aquarium salt, and something to stir it with.
1. Condition the water
Tap water should not be given to hermit crabs in its original form. Water from the tap has harmful levels of chlorine and chloride. It also contains some harmful metals in small amounts that can kill the crab. You will have to condition the water even before you add the salt. Add the de-chlorinator or water conditioner and stir.
Let it stir for a while so that it can do its job and isolate the chlorine.
Some people boil the water at high temperatures instead, which is fine, but conditioning is more effective in removing the harmful dissolved solids.
Giving hermit crabs chlorinated water can lead to death.
2. Add your salt
After the water has sat for a while, start adding your salt while stirring to prevent clumping. The general rule of thumb is to use 5 cups of seasalt to a gallon of water or one and a half teaspoons to 8 oz of water.
The mixture will have a cloudy suspension for a few seconds while it is dissolving in the water and stirring will help dissolve it completely.
Now that the water is dissolved, leave it for an hour or even three hours so that it can reach room temperature. During this time, the conditioner and salt will also have done their job to completion. After two to three hours, your water is ready for use.
Fact: If you don’t want to do the work of mixing the aquarium salt with the water yourself, you can buy premixed saltwater at the pet store.
This is of course if you don’t mind the cost. Making your own water is more cost-effective.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use distilled water for hermit crabs?
Hermit crabs need a supply of both saltwater and freshwater.
You can buy your distilled water and use part of it to make salt water and the rest as a freshwater supply. Distilled water is safe and does not have harmful elements, unlike tap water.
Bottled water is also a good option, especially spring water. However, sometimes bottled water can have chlorine so you can still condition it or just buy baby water or spring water.
Can I use Himalayan Pink Salt to make saltwater for my hermit crab?
Hermit crab owners claim that their pets love Himalayan pink salt. They mostly use it as a supplement. While Himalayan salt is good for them, it is only good for consumption purposes. It is not enough to use just Himalayan salt to make salt water. You can use it in addition to aquarium salt in moderate amounts.
Some people also believe that Himalayan pink salt is not necessary as a supplement, since the nourishment they get from saltwater is enough.
Can I use Morton Salt to make saltwater for my hermit crab?
Morton sea salt is advertised as being natural with no additives. With that being said, is it good for hermit crabs?
Some people discourage using Morton sea salt to make saltwater because it contains Yellow Prussiate of soda which is poisonous to hermit crabs. Even though it is said to have less iodine than table salt, it still has some which can be harmful to the hermit crab.
The safest option is to use the salt recommended to you in the pet store and follow the instructions written on it.
Can I use well water to make saltwater for my hermit crab?
Well water is not better than tap water by any means. It has a lot of minerals in it, therefore mixing it with aquarium salt will be dangerous for the hermit crab.
There you go, that is how to make saltwater for your hermit crab.
The most important thing to remember is to not use tap water or table salt if you want to keep your hermit crab alive.