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How to Breed a Pet Hermit Crab

| Updated October 19, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • 10-gallon aquarium with lid

  • Heat rock or lamp

  • Sand

  • Toy assortment, such as branches and fake plants

  • Salt

  • Thermometer

  • Water pump

  • Ramp

  • Glass aquarium for the saltwater environment

  • Marine infusoria

  • Powdered spirolina

  • Brine shrimp food

  • Conical shells

  • Water dishes


  • Do not use cedar chips for your pet hermit crab's enclosure. Germs can multiply in this type of bedding, which will endanger your pet crab's health. You will need to purchase a fine-gauge filter to protect the zoea. Larger filters can harm them.


  • A plastic aquarium will need to have a special heater added to make it comfortable for your crab. It can be challenging to determine the sex of your crab, so it's recommended that you access photos online to guide you (see Googobits.com listed in Resources).

How to Breed a Pet Hermit Crab. Originally, hermit crabs kept in captivity were not expected to breed successfully. While breeding hermit crabs can be a challenging experience, it is possible to breed them if you pay close attention to their behavior and habitat. Once hermit crab young have chosen shells and have begun to travel on land, their chance of survival increases greatly. Continue trying to breed your hermit crabs; and you will find the proper environment and technique for success. Read on to learn more.

Build the Proper Enclosure for Your Hermit Crab

Use a glass 10-gallon aquarium for your hermit crab's enclosure. You will need to find one with a proper lid, because hermit crabs can climb.

Add a heat rock or heat lamp to keep the enclosure at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or above at all times.

Pour 1 to 2 inches of sand into your pet hermit crab's cage. The crab should be able to burrow fully in the sand until hidden.

Add toys to your pet hermit crab's cage. Collect branches, logs, and vines from a reptile supply store. A content hermit crab is more likely to breed.

Decide on the cage's permanent location. Avoid direct sunlight and locations close to air vents.

Determine Your Hermit Crab's Sex

Decide on the time that's best for checking the sex of your hermit crab. Wait for a time when your pet hermit crab is relaxed and out of his shell.

Turn your hermit crab over slightly to view the back walking legs. Females will have gonophores, which are two small openings where the spermatopore is placed.

Check the size of your hermit crab's legs. You can further guide the sexing procedure by identifying the pleopods, or small legs, on the left side of your pet's abdomen. Female hermit crabs have larger pleopods than males.

Breed Your Pet Hermit Crab

Know that there have been few cases of successful hermit crab breeding. The ideal time is in January and February.

Transfer your hermit crabs to an outdoor enclosure to increase the chance of successful breeding.

Include a saltwater tank with your hermit crabs to encourage egg laying. Add one teaspoon of salt to every cup of de-chlorinated water in the tank, and maintain a temperature of around 72 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The tank will need to have a pump that sprays water and creates a moving water environment for the crab.

Create a ramp that leads from the salt water tank to a sandy area.

Monitor your female hermit crabs. Her eggs will change color, and when they turn a dark gray color, you can try to dislodge them from the shell and hatch them.

Dip the hermit crab's shell carefully in salt water, avoiding getting your hermit crab wet.

Gyrate the shell to dislodge the eggs into the salt water.

Observe the tiny zoea hatch from the crab's eggs.

Raise Hermit Crab Young

Begin feeding the hermit crab young a solution of marine infusoria, a pinch of powdered spirolina, and brine shrimp food daily.

Feed your crab young brine shrimp and a pinch of spirolina after they are seven days old.

Know that it's recommended that you add thawed zoo-plankton food to the tank daily to contribute to the larvae's nutrition.

Select tiny conical shells for your hermit crabs after the 14-day point.

Provide fine-grained sand on the connecting platform of your salt water tank. The hermit crabs will begin to go on land.

Provide shallow dishes of fresh water for your hermit crabs at this point in their development.

Add the hermit crabs to a traditional hermit crab enclosure after day 40.