The 5 Best Substrates for Hermit Crabs

Hermit Crab December 15, 2019
hermit substrate

The 5 Best Substrates for Hermit Crabs

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hermit substrate

If you have ever been on a beach vacation, you’ve undoubtedly come across your fair share of hermit crabs on the boardwalk. Hermit crabs make wonderful pets for children because they are low-maintenance and very entertaining to keep.

Like any pet, however, hermit crabs require an adequate habitat and a healthy diet. Part of creating a healthy habitat for your hermit crab is decorating it appropriately, and that means choosing the right substrate.

In this article, we’ll talk about decorating your hermit crab tank and provide some tips for choosing the best hermit crab substrate. You’ll also see our top 5 picks for the best hermit crab substrate.

At a Glance: Best Substrates for Hermit Crabs To Buy

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Mimics the sand found in natural habitat
  • All-natural and non-toxic for hermit crabs
  • Supports humidity and burrowing behavior
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  • Affordably priced, expands to 7L
  • All-natural coconut fiber materials
  • Increases humidity in the habitat
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  • Naturally increases humidity in the tank
  • Supports natural burrowing behavior
  • Expands to 7L or 8L coconut fiber substrate
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  • Made of 100% digestible calcium carbonate
  • Completely free from silica and phosphate
  • Naturally neutralizes tank odors
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  • Made from 100% calcium carbonate
  • Fine texture and neutral white color
  • Provides essential nutrients
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What To Look For In Substrate For Hermit Crabs?

Hermit crabs do best in a tropical environment. Though it may look like the shells they carry around are attached to their bodies, that isn’t the case – they molt (shed their skin) from time to time and that requires a certain amount of humidity. The substrate you choose for your hermit crab needs to support this natural occurrence and meet other needs as well.

Here Are Some Important Things To Look For In Hermit Crab Substrate:

  • All-natural. You don’t want to put anything in your hermit crab tank that could potentially harm your new pet, so choose a substrate that is all-natural and non-toxic.
  • Fine texture. Your hermit crab will be in near-constant contact with the substrate in its tank, so choose something that will be gentle – especially when your hermit crab leaves one shell and goes looking for another.
  • Easy to clean. In addition to improving the aesthetic appearance of your hermit crab tank, the substrate you choose will also prevent waste from dirtying the tank – choose one easy to clean.
  • Good for tunneling. Hermit crabs love to dig, so you should choose a substrate that is good for tunneling and digging but won’t injure your hermit crab as he exhibits these behaviors.

Now that you have a better idea what to look for in a hermit crab substrate, it’s time to start shopping! Keep reading to see our top 5 picks for the best hermit crab substrates.

Here Are Our Top 5 Picks For The Best Hermit Crab Substrate:

Fluker’s All-Natural Premium Sand Substrate

Specs:

  • Materials – Silica sand, coconut fibers
  • Amount – 6 pounds
  • Key Features – All-natural, supports humidity and digging
  • Price$2.46

Pros:

  • Mimics the sand found in natural habitat
  • All-natural and non-toxic for hermit crabs
  • Supports humidity and burrowing behavior

Cons:

  • Some hermit crabs dislike the texture

If you’re looking for the perfect substrate for your hermit crab tank, consider Fluker’s All-Natural Premium Sand Substrate. It is uniquely designed for hermit crabs to support humidity and to encourage natural digging behaviors. It contains all-natural silica sand, coconut fibers, calcium carbonate, sea salt, and a probiotic to support your crab’s health as well.

Exo-Terra Coco Husk Terrarium Substrate

Specs:

  • Materials – Coconut husk
  • Amount – 7L
  • Key Features – All-natural, increases humidity
  • Price$3.59

Pros:

  • Affordably priced, expands to 7L
  • All-natural coconut fiber materials
  • Increases humidity in the habitat

Cons:

  • Compressed, needs to be broken up by hand

Humidity is important in a hermit crab tank and coconut fibers are the perfect substrate to support humidity. It is 100% natural and helps support your hermit crab’s natural digging behavior as well. It has a natural appearance to it, improving the aesthetics of your hermit crab tank, and it is very affordable.

Zoo Med Hermit Soil Coconut Fiber

Specs:

  • Materials – Coconut fibers
  • Amount –7 to 8L (expanded)
  • Key Features – Increases humidity, supports burrowing
  • Price$2.35

Pros:

  • Naturally increases humidity in the tank
  • Supports natural burrowing behavior
  • Expands to 7L or 8L coconut fiber substrate

Cons:

  • Compressed, needs to be broken up by hand

Another option in coconut fiber for your hermit crab tank is this Zoo Med Hermit Soil Coconut Fiber Brick. It comes in the form of a compressed brick of fibers that you can break apart by hand and scatter around the tank. The material itself increases humidity and helps support your hermit crab’s naturally burrowing behaviors. It also naturally absorbs odor and breaks down waste, helping to keep your hermit crab habitat safe and healthy. One brick expands to about 7 to 8 liters of substrate.

Hermit Habitat Terrarium Sand

Specs:

  • Materials – Calcium carbonate
  • Amount –2 pounds
  • Key Features – Non-toxic, silica and phosphate-free, calcium
  • PriceOut of stock

Pros:

  • Made of 100% digestible calcium carbonate
  • Completely free from silica and phosphate
  • Naturally neutralizes tank odors

Cons:

  • May not support burrowing behavior as well as coconut fiber
  • Somewhat more expensive than other options

For a hermit crab habitat that has a touch of whimsy, consider this blue Hermit Habitat Terrarium Sand. It is made from 100% digestible calcium carbonate and is completely free from silica and phosphate. This terrarium sand is a natural odor neutralizer and contains non-toxic color pigments, making it perfectly safe for your hermit crab tank. Plus, it is a significant source of calcium and other nutrients for your pet.

Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand

Specs:

  • Materials – Calcium carbonate
  • Amount – 10 pounds
  • Key Features – Silica- and phosphate-free, natural
  • Price$99.95

Pros:

  • Made from 100% calcium carbonate
  • Fine texture and neutral white color
  • Provides essential nutrients

Cons:

  • May not be as easy to burrow in as lighter substrates
  • Not specifically designed for hermit crabs

If you’re looking for a hermit crab substrate that looks good, is all-natural, and doesn’t cost a fortune, consider Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand. It comes in a neutral white color and is made of 100% digestible calcium carbonate. It has a very fine texture, making it good for burrowing, and it is free from silica and phosphate. Plus, it delivers essential nutrients like strontium, potassium, and magnesium.

Tips For Decorating A Hermit Crab Cage

Though hermit crabs may be small, they are fairly active so choose a tank at least 5 gallons in capacity to provide ample space for your pet to move around. In addition to choosing a tank large enough, you also need to think about how you’ll decorate the hermit crab cage.

Here Are Some Simple Tips For Decorating Your Hermit Crab Cage:

  • Choose a tank 5-gallons in capacity or larger for every two hermit crabs you plan to keep – they need plenty of space to move around.
  • Cover the bottom of your hermit crab tank with 2 to 3 inches of your chosen substrate – make sure to rinse it well before using it.
  • Place several options for hiding places around the tank so your hermit crabs can rest and hide when they want to.
  • Provide at least two empty shells for each hermit crab in the tank – they should both be larger than the shell your hermit crab is currently carrying.
  • Add a shallow dish of dechlorinated water somewhere in the tank – you may also want to put a small sponge in it to make sure your crab can climb out of the dish easily.

Now that you have a better idea of how to decorate and arrange your hermit crab tank, you can see the important role substrate plays. Take what you’ve learned here and consider the reviews above to choose the substrate that is best for your hermit crab habitat.

Final Remarks

Hermit crabs make very entertaining pets, especially if you give them a wide variety of colorful shells to choose from. Though they are fairly low-maintenance pets, they still require a certain degree of care and an adequate habitat. Take what you’ve learned here about decorating your hermit crab cage to choose the best possible substrate to line it.

If you’re still not sure where to start in looking for hermit crab substrate, try out one of the top 5 best hermit crab substrates we’ve reviewed above. Good luck!

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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