Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Happy hermits

The stars in my aquarium (or maybe the clowns) are always the hermit crabs. They're social animals, and never happier than when they're climbing over each other, or playing a rousing game of "King of the Castle". They love a crowd.

Before the mishap with the pump, there were thirty hermits in the tank, Hairies, Grainy hands, and a bunch of tiny ones, possibly Greenmarks. I took them all out and counted them tonight; twenty-five survived. They look healthy; bright-eyed, curious and lively.

And a fair number are in berry, carrying developing eggs.

In berry. She's carrying reddish eggs on the side of her cephalothorax. The eggs are new; the mass is still small.

After the new pump was installed several of the hermits molted the same day. This would be the moment when they were able to mate; once their new exoskeleton has hardened, it is again impossible.

Very tiny pale blue and green hermit. Probably recently molted, as the colour darkens later on.

Another female, a Hairy hermit, in berry.

A small hermit. I love the graceful "flags" they are always waving. The one on the left (our left) is probably folded back at the moment.

When the eggs mature and are released, the hatchlings will be planktonic swimmers called zoeas. Once again, they will probably be too small to survive in a tank with a pump and filter.

Some critters do breed well in the tank; I'll talk about them tomorrow.


  1. Wonderful photos, Susannah. When I was a kid, my mom went to stay in Florida with her brother. She mailed some shells home to us kids - we were living in Montreal at that time. We unwrapped the shells and soon realized there were 3 or 4 hermit crabs living in the shells, so we set them up with a little terrarium with a water pool. They were endlessly fascinating and we had them for a very long time.

  2. I was recently on vacation on Cape Cod. I had never before realized how common hermit crabs were, but, thanks to your posts, I thought to look closely, and nearly every "empty" snail shell I found actually contained a hermit crab. Cool.

  3. So, the "Hermit" Crab really isn't a hermit at all! Enjoy learning this kind of thing. Thanks.


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