Aquarium owners often want to add something new to their tank to make it unique. In the case of tank owners who have a Betta and they want to give it some company, they often arise at adding crabs.
In theory, these have protection against the Betta, and they shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Therefore, the question is.
Can a betta fish live with a hermit crab? It does sound like a perfect match; however, things are not as simple as they appear. The most significant reason is your hermits are saltwater-based animals, where your betta is a freshwater fish. Because of this, it is impossible to keep regular hermits with a betta. However, there are land hermit crabs, which can live in similar conditions.
Here, we will look at all you need to know why you can’t keep a betta and a regular hermit crab together, and what you need to do if you wish to keep land hermit crabs.
Caring for Land Hermit Crabs
While these hermits are not suitable for living with a betta, it is good to understand the reasons why. Land hermit crabs frequent their local habitat, which is close to the ocean, and on the beach.
They live on a diet of leaf debris, vegetation, and fruits. As a snack, they like to munch on decaying wood, unless it is cedar or pine.
When in a tank environment, their diet needs adapting and can comprise lettuce, apple, peanut butter with wheat bread, and coconut. While these hermits are saltwater, they do require fresh water to drink, and this needs keeping in a none-metallic container.
One thing to note is that these kinds of crabs will drown if underwater for more than a couple of minutes. This makes it a challenge to keep them in an aquarium with fish that will be full of water.
In a crab tank, you need to maintain a sand substrate that is between 2 and 3 inches deep. Temperatures need to hover over the 70 degrees fahrenheit mark and closer to 85°F for the ideal.
Land hermit crabs do need lots of humidity, and the best way to deliver this is by adding a wet sponge into the tank.
Unlike the name, hermit crabs don’t like to be on their own, and you can have several together. You can often see them together as if they are having a conversation.
Getting to Know Freshwater Hermit Crabs
If there is any chance of you having crabs in your tank with a betta, then it will be a freshwater land crab. You often see this kind on sale in pet stores rather than their salt-loving counterparts.
There are around 500 varieties of hermit crabs, and they are all tied together by their fondness of living inside snail shells. It is a means of protection; they do this more than anything else does, as they have a soft stomach, which is vulnerable, if they are attacked.
When you look deeper, it is the Clibanarius species, which are the common freshwater crabs.
Once you think about having these crabs, you need to understand how you have to care for them. All land hermit crabs require fresh water to drink and alkaline water in which to bathe, unlike marine crabs, who can both live in alkaline water and take alkaline water in their diet.
Members of the Clibanarius family you can choose comprise the Clibanarius signatus, snelliusi, and the Clibanarius englaucus.
Conditions will be the same for your aquarium, and you do need space for the crabs to walk around outside the water to prevent drowning.
If you desperately want a crab to live with your betta, then you may want to consider another variety. Although, you do lose the charm of watching the hermits climbing in and out of their shells.
Freshwater Crab Alternatives for Hermits
If you are desperate for a tank mate for your betta, then there are freshwater aquatic crabs you can choose. Unlike the hermits that live mostly on dry land, some of these varieties are at home when fully submerged in water.
The good thing with any crab introduced into your tank is the cleaning benefit they bring. Here are a few different options, you can choose as an alternative to a hermit crab.
One thing to note is some crabs can harm your betta if they get too close. In many scenarios, they can pinch their fins, or in the worst case, they can pinch them with their large claw and do some real damage, if not kill them altogether.
Pom Pom Crabs
The Pom Pom has origins in Taiwan, Madagascar, and New Caledonia. Their diet will be anything they can catch on their Pom-Pom. With them being scavengers, this includes almost anything. Aside from this, they will be happy eating detritus and algae from inside your tank.
Tank conditions need to be a 5-gallon tank as a minimum, and temperatures should be between 68° and 78° fahrenheit. Once they reach maturity, they can be up to 1.75 inches.
Fiddlers can live in or out of water. With gills and a ling, they can survive in any condition in their local habitats of the mangroves and muddy areas. If you have these in your tank, you need to watch their large claw with your betta.
A large number of hiding places are welcome for these crabs, as well as a deep sandy substrate. Because they can harm a fish, these are not the choice to go with your betta.
A panther crab is aquatic and lives under the water. The problem is, they are quite predatory, so they may take offence to your betta if it gets too close. To feed these, you need to give them meaty pellets or frozen bloodworms.
Like the crab above, you need to offer them many places to hide, so you need plants and rocks to make caves for them.
Once they reach adulthood, they can be up to five inches in diameter. One other thing with these colorful crabs is their escape skills. They are known to be great climbers and will take any opportunity to escape.
Thai Devil Crabs
One of the popular crabs used for aquariums. Originating in Southeast Asia in the rivers and forests of Thailand.
Once they reach adulthood, they can be around four inches in size. The Thai Devil is easy to maintain and can last for between 5 and 10 years with the right conditions. All they require is for you to tend to their daily needs and provide a healthy habitat. Like many other freshwater crabs, these are natural scavengers, and do a great job of algae-eating and clearing up any leftovers from when your fish feeds.
Supplement their diet with plant matter or vegetables, and they are more than happy.
With all the above, some crabs can be a viable mate to go with your betta. Although, you do need to consider if they are territorial, as this can clash with your fish and the conditions.
Freshwater crabs are very different from crabs that live around the ocean. Add to this, if they are aquatic, or they live on land, and you may have the chance to add a crab or two to your tank.
If you only have a small tank, then it may be worth giving crabs a miss, but if you have a large tank and plenty of places for the crabs and your fish to hide, then it may make a great way to help keep your tank free from waste matter and algae.
Hi, my name is Adam and I’m an aquarium enthusiast! I didn’t discover the joys of being an ‘aquarium fanatic’ (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20’s. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!