Do Hermit Crabs Live in Water: Land vs. Aquatic Hermit Crabs

Some hermit crabs live in water, but most prefer to live on land. Additionally, many hermit crabs can control their buoyancy to live in water or land. So, while some hermit crabs live in water, it is not their preferred environment.

Two Types of Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are popular pet species, and they come in two types – land hermit crabs and water hermit crabs. Both need access to fresh water and some type of shelter from the sun and rain, but land hermit crabs live on dry land while water hermit crabs live in water habitats.

Land hermit crabs are the more common type; they eat small insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Water hermit crabs are more diminutive and eat algae, plant material, and other small creatures.


Land-based hermit crabs reside in tanks or terrariums – either living off plant food or eating small insects. There is even a type of land-based hermit crab that lives underground in volcanic tunnels! Although all types of hermit crabs can be kept as house pets, different species prefer different habitats. However, hermit crabs can only adapt to a limited range of temperatures. So, research which kind of crab best suits your particular needs before bringing one home!

Some remarkable examples of hermit crabs that live on land are the Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus), Australian land hermit crab (Coenobita variabilis), and the Ecuadorian hermit crab (Coenobita compressus).


Another type of hermit crab is the marine hermit crab. These crabs live in salt and fresh water habitats, including coral reefs and mangroves. Marine hermit crabs can eat various things, including algae, mussels, mollusks, and small crustaceans. Marine hermit crabs are not as common as land-based ones, but they have more exciting habits! Therefore, when researching hermit crabs for a pet, consider the type of crab you are interested in.

The most famous examples include Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crab (Calcinus laevimanus), Electric Orange Hermit Crab (Calcinus cf elegans), and Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab (Clianarius tricolori).

How Do Hermit Crabs Breathe?

Hermit crabs don’t have a respiratory system like humans and other animals. Instead, they need to breathe through their gills to get air from the water. Additionally, they can also breathe through their skin when they are on land.

The hermit crab’s body is divided into two sections – the front half and the back half. The front half of the crab contains its mouth and abdomen, while the back half contains its lungs. They need to breathe through their gills to get air from the water.

Can Hermit Crabs Live Out of Water?

The answer is yes; in fact, they prefer it. If you have a hermit crab that doesn’t seem to be drinking enough or is not thriving in its current water environment, it may be time to try a new tank. Ensure the new tank has access to fresh water so your crab can get the water it needs to survive.

If you don’t see your crab drinking or eating, and it’s been several days since you last changed the water in its tank, you may need to take it to the veterinarian. If you decide to move your crab, provide it with plenty of fresh water during the transition period.

In addition, the hermit crab likes to live in moist areas to regulate its body temperature. Therefore, if you provide your crab with fresh water and a moist environment, it may not need to be placed in a tank with added chlorination or salt.

Can Hermit Crabs Survive Out of Water for Long Periods of Time?

Hermit crabs can survive for extended periods if they have access to fresh water and their basic needs are met. Additionally, they can survive if they are kept in moist areas and their body temperature is regulated.

So, if you are providing your crab with adequate water and care, it should be able to survive out of water for a short period or an extended period.

Hermit Crabs: Staying Underwater

Hermit crabs can stay underwater for a short period or an extended period. Typically, hermits will stay underwater for about 20 to 30 minutes and then come back up for air. Ensure their tank has fresh water and sea salt, so they have everything they need to survive. Additionally, ensure they have access to a moist area to regulate their body temperature.

Keeping Hermit Crabs Alive

If you have hermit crabs that are from the beach, they may need to be brought in slowly and gradually acclimated to a new environment. Please provide them with fresh water and moist surroundings and allow them time to adjust.

Things You Need

To keep hermit crabs happy, you’ll need to provide them with the following:

  • A place to hide – some plants or shells will do.
  • A moist environment – they can’t live in dry conditions.
  • Algae and other tiny organisms inhabit the water.
  • You may need to add some salt or chlorination to the water for them to survive.


Here are some tips to help you get started with hermit crab care:

  • Always change the water in the crab tank every other day to ensure it is clean and fresh.
  • Do not place any plants in the tank as these can harm the crabs.
  • Provide your hermit crabs with a good environment – including water and food – so they can stay safe and healthy.
  • Please ensure plenty of hiding spots to retreat when they’re not being watched.

Hermit Crabs: Breathing Under the Sand

Hermit crabs need to come up for air and breathe, just like any other living creature. However, they have a little-known ability that makes their lives easier. Underneath their shells, they have a network of tubes that allow them to breathe and stay alive in the water.

Do Hermit Crabs Breathe Air or Water?

Hermit crabs can’t breathe air. Additionally, they can’t live in too deep water, so they must come up for air regularly. Hermit crabs spend much time out of the water in the wild and may need to breathe air occasionally. So, whether your hermit crab lives in water or air, ensuring fresh water and plenty of ventilation is essential for their health and well-being!

What Else Do Hermit Crabs Need to Breathe?

Hermit crabs also need to eat and drink. They can eat a variety of food, including raw or cooked foods. However, they usually prefer fresh insects or other small creatures they catch in their tank. Additionally, they need to drink water to stay hydrated. If their tank is dry, they may start to lose moisture and die.

Signs That Hermit Crabs Are Suffocating

When hermit crabs are not able to come up for air, they may start to exhibit some signs of suffocation. For example, they may begin to pant or show indications that they need fresh air. Sometimes, they will even go entirely still and refuse food or water.

If you see any of these signs in your hermit crab, it is essential to take them out of the tank and give them a chance to breathe fresh air before returning them home!

How Often Should I Change My Hermit Crab’s Water?

Hermit crabs need to drink water regularly to stay hydrated and survive. To determine whether or not your hermit crab is getting enough fluid, you will need to observe its body and behavior. If the crab appears droopy or refuses food, it may need more water.

You will also need to ensure that there are no rocks or other objects in the hermit crab’s drinking area, as these can block access to the water and lead to dehydration or death.

The frequency of water changes depends on the climate and size of the hermit crab’s tank, usually once a week in warm climates and every two weeks in colder climates.