Hermit Crab Shells Turning White – Should I Be Worried?

Magnesium

You little hermie crabs come in a variety of beautiful and vibrant colors, particularly the marine species, which vary in color from bright yellow, blue to scarlet and are chosen for reef tanks largely for their appearance as well as for their foraging habits. However, it is only natural that hermit crab shells turning white would set off alarm bells in most owners’ heads, although fortunately much of the time this is not too serious and can be dealt with quite easily.

As you are all probably aware, you hermies are born without a shell of their own and consequently spend a lot of time sourcing and moving into discarded shells from other creatures, such as sea snails, which they can call their own. Now snail shells naturally a contain a high level of calcium bircarbonate and any drop in these levels will cause them to look faded and eventually to turn white. The discoloration of the hermie shell can also be caused by over exposure to salt, which acts like bleach. This is a natural occurrence for snail shells that have been immersed for long periods in the ocean or even laying on the shore and being washed over by waves and is no cause for concern since your little hermie is likely to hop from shell to shell on numerous occasions and may well opt for a more colorful home next time around.

When your hermie’s shell start to turn white in a reef tank is a different matter and points to your crab definitely being deficient in calcium and possibly magnesium . Since hermies are omnivorous, like us humans, they need a well balanced diet of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables in order to function efficiently. A deficit of calcium can cause them to fade and it is important that an owner supplements their hermie’s diet with food that is rich in calcium such as cuttlebone and sea biscuits. Cuttlebone can easily be found in the bird section of any decent pet store and can be grated and added to food plus you can purchase commercially prepared hermie food which contains all of the necessary supplements, including calcium and magnesium .

When a crab molts it normally eats its exoskeleton which is rich in nutrients but occasionally part of it is discarded and left on the surface. It tends to look pale and faded and many a new owner has confused this discarded skin with their hermie’s shells starting to become white and have feared the worse – that their beloved hermie has in fact died. In actual fact he is probably snuggled up into the snail shell, recovering from his molt.

So, hopefully you’ve stopped worrying so much about the color of your hermie’s shell. After all he is a choosy little creature and will often fight to the death in his quest for the perfect house, regardless of color. Hermit crab shells turning white is not such a big deal and can be controlled by supplementing his diet with calcium rich foods so relax and have some fun with your new found friends.



Source by Tod Schaffer

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