Hermit Crab Breeding Project
I had one crab produce fertile eggs in the summer of 2011. Here is a video of the mating. However, I was unprepared both knowledge-wise and fiscally to be able to raise them. Also, I was out of town when she spawned. She did hatch them in the salt water, and my husband got photos before they died. Here are some photos of the development of her eggs.
Left to right: day 5, day 20, and day 24.
And here are a couple photos taken after she spawned in the salt water dish.
Larvae spawned in 2011.
Here is a thread on the Hermit Crab Association for a more detailed account of what happened.
Fortunately, in the summer of 2012 I had two females that produced fertile eggs. However, only one spawned in the salt water dish. Here is a video of her spawning. The other waited too long to spawn, and I think she dropped her eggs somewhere else in the tank. I did not find them. I’m guessing both the crabs and the isopods made a meal of them. But I did get egg development photos for her.
Left to right: Day 1, day 8, and day 18. On day one, the arrow points to sperm carried by the female. When the eggs are ready, she will use her gill-grooming appendage to spread the sperm over them to fertilize them.
Left to right: Days 23 and 25.
Here are some photos of the egg development by the successful female.
Left to right: Day 2, day 9, and day 19.
She spawned on day 24 almost immediately after I took the last egg photos. Some eggs that didn’t make it in the saltwater, I photographed up close. I did put them in the salt water after, hoping they would hatch.
Left to right: Day 24 right before spawning, close up of eggs, and the tip of a sewing needle for size reference.
I had set up a very simple aerated 20 gallon marine tank and fed them hatched brine shrimp. Here are some larvae photos up until their deaths.
Images of stage 1 hermit crab larvae and a video of the larvae on day 1.
Left to right: Stage 2, 3, and 4 hermit crab larvae.
Stage 5 larva (far left), the final stage before becoming a Glaucothoe (right three).
A video of larvae (left) and a glaucothoe (right).
I have not been successful yet in raising them to land-dwellers. I did not have the right kind of food for the glaucothoe stage. Here is my thread on the HCA for a much more detailed account of my attempt, and many more photos.
Here is a document created by a woman in Germany showing that breeding these crabs in captivity IS POSSIBLE! She successfully bred violas on her 4th attempt.
Also, here are a few links to other reported matings, eggs, and larvae.
Looking forward to next year!
I often receive e-mails about how to breed hermit crabs. You will notice this is NOT a how-to article. There is NO way to force hermit crabs to mate, nor do we know any sort of “secrets” to induce breeding. The best way to help increase your chances of your hermit crabs mating is to have a lot of space, a large colony, and a proper set up (heat, humidity, deep substrate, etc). The closest thing to a guide is located at the HCA, here.