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Hermit Crab Molting On Surface

The saltwater hermit crab lacks bones, and it is basically the job of the hermit crab exoskeleton to shield the body tissue that makes up its body.

Since this exoskeleton doesn’t grow, this is where the major component begins. A crab can, therefore, only grow by regularly shedding its old skin and gaining a fresh one in replacement.

We refer to this process as molting. A Hermit crab matures physically through molting, where they remove its exoskeleton from its tough shell, legs, and claws.

When they molt, they become soft and exposed, and most often, you never see this happen as they bury themselves and do this out of sight where they have protection. Since molting causes almost 90% of invertebrate fatalities in the wild, when you have a pet hermit crab species, you must ensure they can molt properly and safely.

You may spot your hermit crab molting above ground, which could leave you wondering what causes surface molt to happen. In our guide, you can learn more about the reason for surface molt. By the end, you’ll know much more about how to keep your crab safe and keep any threats on the other side of the tank. (Read Can Pigs Eat Banana Peels)

Hermit Crab Molting

What Is Hermit Crab Surface Molt?

Typically, hermit crabs conduct their molting process underground, away from curious tank neighbors and your prying eyes. However, this isn’t always the case, especially if the sand or substrate on the bottom of your tank isn’t deep enough.

So, sometimes, you can deal with a surface molter, and while unpleasant for your crab, a surface molt can be really cool to experience. Here you can see what is hermit crab molting and how to deal with your hermit crab surface molt inside your main tank.

  1. Never touch or move your crab unless doing so safeguards its safety.
  2. Second, safely isolate your crab.
  3. The humidity and temperature in your tank must be within the recommended parameters.
  4. Don’t be tempted to mist a soft hermit crab, as you can risk infection by over-wetting the surface of the soft exoskeleton.
  5. Don’t try and remove the exoskeleton (skin) that has been shed; it’s helpful for the molter to eat it.
  6. Place your molter out of complete darkness, as they require regular light cycles.
  7. Cut the bottom off a large plastic bottle, and position this over your crab going through a surface molt. Gently push it into the sand substrate until you feel the tank bottom. Now, you have complete isolation and safety of your surface molter inside your main tank.
  8. Ensure you remove the bottle lid, and don’t try this method if your molters are down, or you’ll need to take other safety measures, especially if your bottle can’t reach the bottom.
  9. You might have to move the surface molter if you cannot isolate them safely.
  10. You must have a container available, preferably one that can remain in the tank where the molt will take place.
  11. Because they have secure closures, but ventilation for air movement, very compact Kritter keepers are perfect.
  12. Make holes in the lid of a disposable, resealable bowl to use it as in-tank isolation.
  13. Move the molter and its shed exoskeleton to the isolated container location as gently as possible.
  14. Your hands must be washed before you continue. Then, by gently pushing a large spoon into the substrate underneath your crab, you can scoop out the molter and an amount of substrate.
  15. This shields the hermit crab from direct spoon contact and enables you to move it to the isolation chamber. Neither food nor water is needed at this stage.
  16. Once the surface molter has fully hardened, you can return to the main tank

You can add fresh water and salt water bowls with two dishes, as your crab could use both. Check for evidence of aggressiveness from the molter and the other fish in the tank. Aggressive behavior usually shows a more significant issue, such as overcrowding or a poor diet.

Once your crab is back in the tank, don’t make the mistake many new hermit crab keepers do and confuse aggressive behavior for mating activity. After they have finished molting, female hermit crabs are fertile and ready for mating.

Besides this, it is good to know the difference between surface molting and another scenario. Sometimes, a surface molt can be mistaken for death. So, never be afraid you have a dead crab just because it doesn’t move a leg. (Read Can Pigs Eat Corn On The Cob)

Hermit Crab Molting Stages

Hermit Crab Surface Molt and Stress

People occasionally mix up the hermit crabs’ molting and stressed-out behavior. They think that molting results from losing limbs. Actually, it isn’t! Molting has nothing to do with losing a leg. Instead, the exoskeleton is shed during molting and then regrown.

If your hermit crabs are losing their legs, you may have an environment that is too hot or humidity is too high, or you may have post-purchase syndrome. The Hermit crab’s molting cycle is the most crucial process of its life. You are mistaken if you believe it takes a week and only occurs sometimes with crabs.

4 stages of molting:

  • Inter-molt,
  • Pre-molt,
  • Molt,
  • Post-molt

Crabs spend quite a bit of time molting; in these stages, they spend 80–90% of their time molting, preparing to molt, or recovering from a clean molt.

Signs of Pending Molting

A personality can be found in every hermit crab. For example, they prefer to eat a specific quantity of food. They play some and sleep or just act a certain way. Then, as a result, they change their behavior just before molting.

1. Behavior

Every Hermit crab has a personality. For example, they prefer to eat a certain amount of food.

They play or sleep for a certain amount of time. But, in general, they act a certain way. So, when they are about to molt, their behavior will change.

2. Eating

Your hermit crab will consume a lot. They then appear to cease eating for a few days before molting and become extraordinarily lethargic and inactive.

So, don’t be worried if they don’t eat as you can guess if it’s part of the molt and get a clean shell.

3. Changing Shells

The shell that your hermit crab is wearing bothers it suddenly. It swaps out shells more frequently than usual.

They frequently favor migrating even smaller shells. People think it is simpler for them to bury themselves using little shells.

4. Substrate Testing

They might test the substrate by having dug holes in various locations in the hope of burying themselves to molt

They might simply keep burying themselves, repeatedly burying themselves, and are looking for the ideal location. (Read Can Pigs Have Watermelon Rinds)

5. Lethargic Behavior

Fewer of them move. They occasionally drag their enormous claw, almost as if it were too heavy.

6. Water Preference

Hermit crabs start spending more time close to areas with water.

7. Different Appearance

Hermit Crab Cloudy Eyes

Cloudy Eyes

Brownish eyes are another molting symptom. The eyes of your hermit crab are typically absolutely black and glossy. Cloudy eyes indicate an upcoming molt.

Exoskeleton Color

Your hermit crabs hue will appear a tiny bit duller or dimmer, as you’ll notice.

8. Fat Pouch Developing

A fat pouch emerging on the hermit crab is a highly intriguing and typical molting indicator.

It is visible inside the shell on the right side of the abdomen. It will expand in size. Hermit crabs grow these fat pouches to have food while they are buried and won’t get hungry.

9. Limb Regeneration

Your hermit crab will start regenerating a limb if it is missing one. It initially seems to be a little nub. However, it will swell and become more pronounced as the molting time approaches.
Keep that not all these symptoms exist at all times, and occasionally none do.

Types of Molting

The Hermit crab pulls backward out of the cracked old exoskeleton during the molting phase. They grow their size while the tissues are still soft using the water they carry in their body and shell and exert water pressure to enlarge the new soft exoskeleton they grow.

Hermit crabs have 2 ways of molting.

Hermit Crabs and Underground Molting

Hermit crabs typically completely bury themselves before molting. This is because they require depth, darkness, moisture, and heat to molt successfully. Therefore, the most crucial thing you can do is not to dig it up.

It is fatal to dig up a molting hermit crab. They do not require your help in nature. Kill without mercy. Just leave them alone once they are buried.

Note: Hermit crabs typically manage molts without too many issues.

The primary risk is that they are housed in a much smaller area in captivity, where they are more likely to find each other as they dig about.

This is just one reason you shouldn’t keep them in little aquariums. Therefore, the substrate along the bottom of your tank must be at least 3 inches deep for the minimum.

Hermit Crabs and Surface molting

When a crab molts on the surface, it doesn’t bury itself. However, hermit crabs typically molt underground, as I just stated. They will only molt above ground if their substrate is insufficiently suited or too shallow to allow them to bury themselves (stress, illness, etc.).

Never try to bury a Hermit crab by yourself. You’ll only make things worse. They lack the strength to dig a new tunnel or cave when molting. Thus, it may end in their death.

You can still assist your hermit crab, though:

  1. Hermit crabs in molting should be left on the surface of a soft substrate.
  2. Put any exoskeleton fragments you may have discovered and any other soft food that is simple to consume.
  3. To help them become less worried, cover the tank with a dark blanket.
  4. It’s crucial to remove all of your other hermit crabs from the area if a crab is going through a surface molt because else, they might eat it.

Isolation During Molting

Isolating your hermit crab as it is about to molt is one of the most crucial things you should do. You can only be sure that it will be protected from other crabs in this way.

The issue is that molting crabs can’t defend themselves during this stage since they are soft and feeble. Simple prey. Actually, it occurs rather frequently in the wild. (Read Do Possums Eat Dog Poop)

If you can, try to make your crab isolated. There are 3 methods for doing that:

1. Set up an isolation tank (ISO tank)

The ISO tank should resemble the large tank (just smaller). It must have the same amenities, including a very deep substrate, water pools, food, heaters, etc. There will only ever be one crab in there at a time.

2. Divide your tank

If the molting place permits it and you have a sizable tank, you can partition off a portion of the tank to prevent the other crabs from getting to the molding crab.

3. Soda-bottle technique

Take up a giant soda bottle. Divide it in half. Rinse it off completely. Make that there is no drink remaining inside.

Use the top half—the one with the aperture where the cap would be—and press it into the substrate close to the crab that is going through molting. It’s simple and secure to isolate your hermit crab in this way.

You should know a few specific things if you want to use this soda-bottle method.

1. Only use it early on after your crabs are buried.

Hermit crabs make a tiny underground cave as they burrow to molt. Therefore, covering your crab and its hiding place is the primary goal of employing the soda bottle.

As a result, if you miss, their cave can collapse. It won’t be a significant issue for a crab that has just been buried for a few days.

It very well may not have molted, and the cave will be strong enough to be rebuilt, or it will be dug elsewhere

For molted crabs, it can prove hazardous, as they won’t have the power to escape, so they could end up dried and died in the dark under the sand.

2. This method can only catch smaller crabs as more giant crabs and their caves may not fit the bottle.

3. If your huge tank’s deep substrate doesn’t lead to problems with crabs digging each other up.

Perhaps you may not need the bottle and other stuff. However, the best way to avoid cannibalism is to offer deep substrate, space, and quality, high-protein food for your hermit crabs.

Hermit Crabs Surface molting

Post-Molt Bathing Hermit Crabs

You must bathe your hermit crab right after it has molted its shell. To do this, all you need is regular freshwater—the kind you would put in their tank.

They take a bath because they no longer smell like their exoskeleton. But unfortunately, other crabs find it a wonderful smell in the wild. Of course, you don’t want them to smell good because it will make them a target for attack.

FAQs Of Hermit Crabs Molting

Is the Hermit crab dead or molting?

You will be particular the Hermit crab has died when it does. The smell is intolerable, yet there is no real way to tell apart from that unless it falls from the shell. Pretty much dead fish is the way it smells. So, therefore, your hermit crabs may be molten or buried if you don’t smell anything.

How long does it take Hermit Crabs to Molt?

The size of the hermit crab has a significant impact on how long the crab time takes. A little hermit crab’s molting process can take as little as two weeks. It could take one to two months for larger hermit crabs. Remember that some will be buried for several weeks without shedding, while others will do so immediately. So there is no way to forecast it.

Should I keep the food in the tank for molting crab?

Crabs can molt at night, and they will be extremely hungry when they do. So give them something calcium-rich, such as cuttlefish bones, etc. After molting, they unquestionably require calcium.

Hermit Crab Molting On Surface