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Reef Hermit Crabs

Last Updated: 5/16/23

Zeby on 3/9/12. He is a dwarf zebra hermit crab.

My Reef Hermit Crabs
Reef Hermit Crab Photos

I wish I had time to write about the various species of dwarf hermit crabs that there are for nano reefs. Instead, I will just tell you about mine.

My Reef Hermit Crabs

On 5/6/08, my first hermit crabs arrived. I ordered four of them of four species but they sent two extras. I got two dwarf zebra hermit crabs, two scarlet reef hermit crabs, one dwarf blue leg hermit crabs, and one dwarf yellow tip hermit crab. The two zebra hermits almost never sit still. They drive all over the tank and check out everything, taste everything. Even though they are supposed to be herbivores, they ate the dead Nassarius snails I got and like sinking shrimp pellets. They also like to play musical shells and change them often, sometimes twice or three times a day! The other three species of snails stick to one spot where they slowly eat patches of diatoms and some algae. They are more shy. The dwarf blue leg is the smallest while the scarlet reef crabs are the two biggest.

On 5/20/08, my biggest zebra hermit crab died. He had molted (the skin was next to him). I do not know if the other crabs got him when he was vulnerable, or something else went wrong due to the water chemistry.

Somewhere later that week, I stopped seeing one of the scarlet reef crabs. On 5/30/08, I saw one of the other crabs wearing his shell so I thought that crab died. Around 5/28/08 or so, I did remove what I thought was a shed exoskeleton from the other scarlet reef crab (it seemed to lack meat) but I thought it may have been that poor guy. Then, surprise, on 6/2/08, I saw that missing scarlet reef crab again back in his old shell! So, I have five crabs of four species left. The one tiniest crab must have molted at least once and survived it because that guy who was itty bitty was the one wearing that huge shell that the scarlet reef crab used to have (and somehow got back later)! He is a lot bigger now.

On 8/12/08, my zebra hermit put on a much bigger shell. He looks funny! The yellow tip and blue leg hermits were seemingly fighting on 8/14/08, with their legs in each others shells. The yellow tip hitched a ride up on an Astraea snail that rode up the glass!

During the 7/31/10 complete cleaning of the 12 gallon tank, four hermit crabs were found to remain alive for sure: Zeby (zebra hermit crab), Scarlet (scarlet reef hermit crab), a dwarf blue leg hermit crab, and a dwarf yellow tip hermit crab. I actually see the first two almost every day.

I think either the dwarf blue leg hermit crab or the dwarf yellow tip hermit crab has died in August of 2010 but I am not sure which one.

By 4/10/11, I can say that I have not seen either the dwarf blue leg or dwarf yellow tip hermit crabs this year. They must have all died. Zeby and Scarlet are still alive.

I bought a dwarf blue leg hermit crab on 2/27/12 that went in the 12 gallon reef tank. He/she is very, very tiny! His/her name is Blue. With Zeby and Scarlet, there are now three reef hermit crabs in there.

Zeby started acting lethargic on 5/7/12. I thought maybe he wanted a larger shell so I put one in. On 5/8/12, the power was off so they could install a pole from 9:40 am to 2 pm. I put an air stone in the tank. A few hours later when I fed the tank, I looked for Zeby. I found his body, out of his shell, in the back of the tank. He had died. I loved him so much and will miss him.

I did a 100% cleaning of the tanks on 5/10/12. There are only two hermit crabs left, Blue and Scarlet. I knew that but this is confirmation.

I ordered three new hermit crabs which arrived on 5/15/12 except that they sent five instead! I got an electric blue hermit crab, a yellow tip hermit crab, an unknown hermit crab, and two of the smallest hermit crabs that I have ever seen. I almost missed them completely! I am assuming that the itty bitty ones are the dwarf zebra hermit crab that I ordered but will have to wait to find out as they grow. The unknown crab has blue legs like Blue but yellow tips on the ends and is definitely not the same species as any of the others. The electric blue was trying to get inside the other two large hermit crabs' shells during acclimation; I kept pulling him out. He seemed better once in the 12 gallon tank though. I have not seen the electric blue since around 5/17/12; hopefully, he is just hiding to molt or something. The other guys are active. The babies are so tiny that who knows where they are. Hooray! The electric blue crab showed back up on 5/22/12.

My 6 gallon tank has never had hermit crabs but it has gotten boring. The two tiny sexy shrimp in there and the crab, Scary, hide most of the time. Plus, various algae were starting to grow where the snails ignore it. So, I finally got some hermit crabs for this tank to liven it up. I got two red tip hermit crabs, one very tiny and one a bit bigger but both have a lot of growing to do. I had to put in a half dozen shells of various sizes as well for them to change in to as needed since this tank had no shells around. By 8/13/12, I have not seen the smallest hermit crab in weeds so he/she is presumed dead. The larger one is still fine.

I bought two dwarf blue leg hermit crabs for the 6 gallon on 10/24/12. They are very tiny.

I did a total clean of the 12 gallon tank on 10/27/12 and found the following hermit crabs: one blue electric hermit crab, one dwarf yellow tip hermit crab, two "zebra" hermit crabs (I think they are in fact some other species), and one scarlet reef hermit crab. That means that the dwarf blue leg hermit crab and another blue hermit crab of unknown species have died.

On 1/14/13, I bought a red tip hermit crab to join the other one in the 6 gallon tank. The two new blue leg hermit crabs in there have not been seen in months and are presumed dead. As for the 12 gallon hermit crabs, I can only confirm that the scarlet reef hermit crab and one of the yellow-legged hermit crabs (mislabeled as zebra hermit crab) is alive. I have not seen the others recently. I really miss the electric blue hermit crab and hope he is just hiding. Yay, I found him on 1/25/13.

By July of 2015, there has not been any sign of any hermit crabs in the 6 gallon in many months so they are presumed dead. In the 12 gallon, Scarlet (the oldest) is still around as is the blue electric hermit crab, and one or two others.

By 12/10/18, the only hermit crab left was the electric blue hermit crab. The others were long gone. I added a red tip hermit crab to the 6 gallon tank on 12/10/18. Ichabod is his name, and he is itty bitty! The local aquarium store did not have any other little hermit crabs. I miss Scarlet!

By 2019, Ichabod simply vanished without a trace! Only Blue was left.

I did a 100% cleaning of the 12 gallon tank on 3/16/19. I only had Blue left.

These crabs were added on 3/23/19 to the 12 gallon tank:

1 Electric blue hermit crab - Baby Blue; he changed his shell within 30 minutes of going in to the tank! This crab was never seen again after a few weeks.
1 Scarlet reef hermit crab
1 Dwarf yellow tip hermit crab

This crab was added on 3/23/19 to the 6 gallon tank:

1 Dwarf zebra/orange & black hermit crab - He was so tiny that I could not put him in the larger tank. I named him Hercules as he liked to climb. This crab was never seen again after a few weeks.

Update 11/1/22: The above is kind of a mess! The new Blue crab vanished sometime in early 2022. The others were gone long before that. As of today, I have only seen one scarlet reef hermit crab in the last six months so I only have one crab left.

On 4/10/23, I bought two hermit crabs listed as "zebra hermits" even though they are blue. They went in my 6 gallon nano reef tank. Aside from those two, the only other crab I have is the scarlet reef hermit crab in the 12 gallon.

Reef Hermit Crab Photos

I am sorry that these are bad photos but my camera will not focus on small things. These guys are small!! Some of these photos show multiple animals and may be on more than one page on my site.

Photos are listed from oldest to newest.

These three photos are from 5/6/08.

Hermit Crabs and Snails - 3 Cerith snails (#1, 2, 3), 2 Margarita snails (#5 &6), 2 Nassarius Vibex snails (#7 & 8), 2 dwarf zebra hermit crabs (#10 & 11), 2 scarlet reef hermit crabs (#12 & 13), 1 dwarf blue leg hermit crab (#4), and 1 dwarf yellow tip hermit crab (#9) in the acclimation bucket when I got them on 5/6/08. None of the snails survived but all of the crabs did.

Hermit Crabs and Snails - close-up of the last photo with the two Margarita snails, one dwarf blue leg hermit crab, one of the scarlet reef hermit crabs, and one of the dwarf zebra hermit crabs.

Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab - close-up of the other one of those from that same photo.


Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab on 5/7/08 on the live rock; notice the new shell (one I got new). The black and white legs are the crab. He is on a growth of red coralline algae.


Two Hermit Crabs - on the left is the dwarf zebra hermit crab, on the right is the scarlet reef hermit crab, 5/31/08.


From 6/13/08:
Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab to the left of the star polyps.
Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab disguised among the algae.


These photos are from 6/28/08:
Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab on 6/28/08, close-up. Zeby was in my favorite shell which was the only small shell to come with the two bags of shells that I bought.

Zeby on 6/28/08. Isn't he cute!!
Corals - this is the photo from whence the previous close-up came to give you scale on the hermit crab.


These two photos from 7/4/08 were of the corals but the little zebra hermit crab was again posing for them:
Animals - starting from the upper left and going clockwise, you can see part of Jose, the big star polyps, the SPS coral, the Duncan LPS coral, the smaller star polyps with coralline algae above them and the little dwarf zebra hermit crab, and Nemo.
Dwarf zebra hermit crab - with the older batch of star polyps.

From 7/14/08:
Zebra hermit crab and scarlet reef hermit crab
Blue leg hermit crab - I question if that is what he is but that is what I bought.


The crabs were showing off on 3/2/09 so I took these photos:
Three hermit crabs - the now big zebra hermit crab (Zeby) is at the top of the piece of live rock. A scarlet reef hermit crab seems to cower below to the left. The yellow tip hermit crab is to the right of Zeby. You can also see the end of Jose the firefish and a "nice" crop of bubble algae.
Three hermit crabs - a similar photo to the last.
Two hermit crabs - similar to the last photo but the yellow tip has left.


Zeby on 9/13/09. He is so big! Sorry that the photo is fuzzy.


Scarlet reef hermit crab on 10/26/09.


Scarlet reef hermit crab on 1/26/10. It looks like he is riding Pablo, my purple firefish! He's not.


Scarlet reef hermit crab on 5/19/10.


Blue - my new dwarf blue leg hermit crab in drip acclimation on 2/27/12.

Zeby on 3/9/12.
Zeby on 3/9/12.

My poor Zeby died out of his shell on 5/8/12, and I took these photos.
Zeby - top view
Zeby - bottom view
Zeby - bottom view, with ruler


Five new hermit crabs - during drip acclimation on 5/15/12. Two of them were so tiny!


Electric blue hermit crab on 5/24/12. A turbo snail is above him.

These photos of the electric blue crab are from 5/28/12 when I was taking photos of corals.
Electric blue hermit crab at the bottom right.
Electric blue hermit crab
Electric blue hermit crab

The electric blue hermit crab shed his/her exoskeleton on 7/19/12. Here are some photos. I tried various lighting and photo techniques (flash, no flash, micro, no micro).
Electric blue hermit crab exoskeleton
Electric blue hermit crab exoskeleton
Electric blue hermit crab exoskeleton


Scarlet on 2/28/15. I was taking a photo of the starfish but the scarlet reef hermit crab is in it too.


Here are photos from Live Aquaria where I ordered my hermit crabs from. The links no longer work though. From left to right are the dwarf blue leg hermit crab, dwarf yellow tip hermit crab, dwarf zebra hermit crab, scarlet reef hermit crab, and the dwarf red tip hermit crab which I did not get (they were out of stock at the time so it was not an option). The last photo is of empty snail shells which the crabs need. Mine keep changing their shells!

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