The answer is a little complex – on the whole, saltwater crabs will need to live in water that is of a salinity and pH they are used to in the wild. The natural habitat of saltwater crabs is coastal water, and it is here that the sea or ocean provide these crabs with the nutrients they need. Tidal waters mean that the water is refreshed, too!
It’s not easy to expect saltwater crabs to live in freshwater – for example, in a freshwater environment, particularly in a tank, the temperature is unlikely to vary very much. In the wild, saltwater crabs are usually active and may seek to move to more comfortable areas of water. In captivity, saltwater crabs are unlikely to be motivated to move nor be able to seek a more favorable temperature.
If you are considering rehoming saltwater crabs to live in freshwater, temperature and salinity are of primary concern. As with many wild animals, life expectancy in the wild for saltwater crabs can be longer than their life expectancy in captivity, too. Ultimately, it’s safest to assume that you need to house saltwater crabs in the water standards they’re used to.
Saltwater crabs can live out of water for up to a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending upon a few factors – for example, the temperature difference. If it is too hot or dry, their gills will dry out quickly, and they will suffocate. In the wild, should they choose to leave the water, they will have the freedom to move and choose shady areas where they are less exposed to extreme heat.
Saltwater crabs can live out of water for a short time should they need to find new shells (if that’s part of their breed’s cycle) – they can wander at will on land and explore the options. However, this can leave them open to a variety of predator attacks, therefore meaning their survival chances out of water can reduce further if they spend too much time on dry land.
Ultimately, a saltwater crab is going to need to ensure their gills are either submerged in water, or are at least wet, so they can still breathe. Once their gills dry out, they are at risk of suffocation. This can explain why their ‘adventures’ out of the water are often so short-lived – they can make multiple trips, but only with moist gills.
Saltwater Hermit crabs have a varied diet – in the wild, or in captivity, they seem to prefer a variety of tastes. In the wild, they eat algae, seaweed, and as omnivores, also devour meaty morsels too. They don’t usually need to compete for food and younger, fit crabs will travel faster and further for their next meal – which is where things really can differ from the wild world to the safety of a tank.
In captivity, saltwater crabs should not be kept alone, but this means competition for food can prove difficult. Saltwater hermit crabs’ diets will vary depending on their size, often, when you’re keeping them in captivity. Some will do well eating fish food that’s been formulated for them specially, while others will enjoy feasting on algae – this can help out other tank mates, too, making them particularly useful.
Saltwater crabs eat a nice mix of meat and greenery whether they are in the wild or in an appropriate tank. However, if you are raising saltwater hermit crabs at home, you’ll need to be careful to split portions evenly from their tank mates. Otherwise, there’s going to be some muscling in and potentially the scene set for some crab fighting.
Wise owners will ensure the greediest of their pets don’t gulp or snatch most of the food! Larger pieces of food may include pieces of meat – and it is advisable for owners to buy a pair of tongs and feed their crabs individually! It gives owners an opportunity to check the vitality of their pets and ensure each gets their fair share of nourishment/
Saltwater crabs are sociable creatures and the attention and routine of feeding time proves interesting for them, stimulating them and giving them a bit of an extra challenge. Unlike feeding most fish in tanks, feeding hermit crabs needs to take place directly. You’ll need to actively take a small piece of food and give it to each crab with a pair of tongs – this makes sure everyone gets a fair amount!
In captivity, supplements may also be recommended, as hermit crabs do not always get the balance of diet they might expect in the wild. These are specially formulated by experts and will ensure pets don’t miss out on any nutrients – given how complex hermit crabs can be in terms of diet and environmental needs, this may be one less problem or concern for you to have to think about.
Saltwater hermit crabs can live to approximately 30 years of age – and oddly enough, they reach adulthood on their second birthday! Saltwater hermit crabs are usually approximately the size of a golf ball when they reach the age of ten years – and they will continue to grow, if living conditions are good. They can become the size of a large orange!
In captivity, saltwater hermit crabs can live beyond the age of 20, provided living conditions are good. Like their relatives in the wild, they thrive in clean conditions, offering healthy nourishment – so it’s down to you to get the balance right to ensure your saltwater hermit crabs live for as long as possible. However, in the wild, a large proportion do not survive to become adults and are eaten by predators – which is why, for the most part, you’ll find that these crabs can have healthier, longer lives with careful tank owners.
Of the larvae which do become adults, some are eaten by otters or the water mongoose – and survival depends on adequate nourishment and body armor! The latter takes the form of the protective shell and as saltwater hermit crabs grow, the fittest survivors switch to bigger, stronger shells.