plants for hermit crab habitat

What Plants Can I Put in My Hermit Crab Tank?

Last Updated on October 8, 2023 by Joanne Harper

To beautify a herm crab tank, you can add substrate, little houses, ramps, and plants. Choosing plants will improve the tank’s visual appeal and make hermit crabs feel at home.

Hermit crab tanks benefit from fake and live plants; tropical plants and moss will thrive. When choosing live varieties of plants, ensure they grow vertically and don’t have a thick root system.

Options include air plants, spider plants, sprouting plants, loose-leaf lettuce, pothos, and various varieties of moss. Ensure the plants you select can handle humid and warm environments.

Once inside the tank, live plants will be trampled, munched on, and picked at by hermit crabs. If you don’t want the flora destroyed, artificial plants are recommended.

All synthetic plants should be thick material hermit crab pinchers can’t work through. Alternatively, you can cycle out live plants to allow roughed-up plants to recover.

Can You Put Live Plants In A Hermit Crab Tank?

Live plants add natural décor with benefits, including:

  • Plants serve as terrain for your hermit crabs to scale up and climb over. The hermies may also use them for hiding places, burrowing around the roots, or tucking themselves under the leaves.
  • When planted directly into the tank’s substrate, live plants can balance the sand’s layering effect, making it easier for hermit crabs to burrow and avoid cave-ins.
  • Live plants are food, so your hermit crabs enjoy a healthier diet.
  • Live plants brighten up the natural aesthetic of the tank by providing bursts of color.
  • Seasonal flowers can improve the air quality of the tank.

How To Choose Plants for Hermit Crab Habitat

Hermit crabs aren’t the pickiest houseguests, so they’ll be happy with most plants you put in their enclosure as long as they’re non-toxic.

However, not all plants will thrive in your tank. You may encounter rotting, wilting, or a refusal to grow when a plant is ill-suited to the tank.

Can The Plant Withstand Heat And Humidity?

Plants will get sick when placed in a very different environment from their natural habitat.

A hermit crab tank will be hotter and more humid than most environments, so the plants you choose must be able to cope.

Pick plants able to withstand different temperatures, lighting conditions, and water levels.

For example, a cactus may thrive in hot environments but not in moist conditions, while a water lily will appreciate the dampness but may struggle with the heat. So, the ideal plant is adaptable and resilient.

A good starting point is plants designed for reptile habitats, as they often have similar environments as a hermit crab tank. Snakes and lizards are also prone to munching or lying on plants.

Also, tropical plants are a good choice, as they’ll thrive in a hot and humid environment.

Is It A Vertical Plant?

Hermit crabs love to climb on plants, so choose plants that grow vertically.

Also, this preserves the floor space of a hermit crab’s tank. After all, hermit crabs require open stretches of sand to explore, so you don’t want plants cluttering their habitat.

The vertical design will prevent your hermit crabs from hiding in the leaves constantly. What’s the point of having pet hermit crabs if you can’t enjoy watching them?

Many plants grow vertically and thrive in humid climates like ferns and orchids.

Does It Have A Light Root System?

Choose wispy, lightweight plants that won’t develop root systems to maintain hermit crabs’ open space.

Plants with thick root balls take up space in hermit crabs’ substrate, limiting how much burrowing room is available. So, choose vines and creeping plants.

Is The Plant Too Precious?

Always choose plants you don’t mind being destroyed, as hermit crabs will damage any plants in their habitat. Hermit crabs will methodically strip down the leaves, vines, and stalks.

This may sound disastrous, but it’s good news. It shows that your hermit crabs are in good health and willing to climb over new terrain and search for food. With the right plants, hermit crabs will gain nutrients and enrichment. However, this comes at the cost of the plant.

So, if you hate to see your plants destroyed, only offer expendable options, such as fake plants and cheap, easily replaceable live plants.

Best Hermit Crab Habitat Plants

Here are plants that will be an excellent addition to a hermit crab tank:

Air Plants

Air plants are low maintenance, look beautiful, and are very hardy.

In normal environments, all they need is a fine misting occasionally. Inside a tank, they won’t need any water. Instead, air plants gather all the necessary moisture from the air.

You don’t need to plant them because you can hang air plants on the side of a tank with wires. This lessens your hermit crabs’ access to the plants and reduces their chances of destroying them.

If you don’t mind destroying an air plant, you can put it unattached to the substrate. Your hermit crabs will love pushing it around. It may not be nice for the plant, but it’s fun for hermit crabs.

Air plants refer to the flora in the Tillandsia species. This species has leaves that branch from the center and taper upwards and outwards. As a whole, they look like thick grass or octopus tentacles.

The most common types of air plants are:

  • Ionantha rubra.
  • Brachycaulos.
  • Capitata.
  • Bulbosa.
can you put live plants in a hermit crab tank?

Bromeliads

Do you like the appearance of air plants? If so, you should consider other plants in the bromeliad family.

Much like air plants, bromeliads don’t need soil to grow. They can be attached to a ledge, like a piece of wood, and survive long periods without water.

Bromeliad flowers are much more colorful and vibrant than air plants. So, they’re a good option if you want a tropical look to match your low-maintenance plant.

Sprouts

Sprouts refer to any seeds that can be eaten throughout their growth process.

Often, seeds of this class don’t need a growing medium. Instead, you can soak them for two days, place them on a surface, and let them sprout.

Hermit crabs are likely to dig up and eat sprouting plants, but these are easy to replace.

Put the sprouts in a dish with soil and set them in your hermit crab’s tank. Alternatively, you can plant them directly into the substrate.

Sprouts that survive a hermit crab’s hunting can brighten the tank with color and greenery. What if a plant is thinning out due to hermit crab munching? If so, you can add more seeds.

According to Nutrients, sprouts have high levels of vitamins and antioxidants.

Sprouts can be found in most gardening stores. If you wait for them to flower, you can harvest the seeds and grow more. Good sprouting seed choices include chia and millet.

Spider Plants

Spider plants are ideal if you’re not a seasoned gardener and still want live plants for your tank. The spider plant’s beginner-friendly reputation is due to its hardy nature.

A hermit crab’s humid, hot environment won’t faze a spider plant. Likewise, it can tolerate handling and is very climbable because spider plants have long, tapered leaves that grow outward from the center.

When the leaves are sufficiently long, they drape down the sides of the plant. Your hermit crabs will find it fun to scale and hide inside.

Only buy pre-established spider plants. Their leaves must be long and their roots sturdy, fortifying them against your hermit crab’s harsh treatment until they settle in the tank.

Loose-Leaf Lettuce

Loose-leaf lettuce is a good addition to the tank because it’s the easiest to grow.

This plant got its name from the loose leaves on its head, contrasting with iceberg or crisp-head lettuce with rounded and tightly bunched heads.

Loose-leaf lettuce also comes in different color varieties, ranging from pale green to red-purple to dark purple. This makes them a great splash of color for a brown and sandy tank.

Pothos

Pothos plants balance visual appeal and resilience against hermit crabs because they dislike eating their leaves.

If a pothos adjusts well to the tank’s environment, it’ll thrive, free of interference from its tank mates.

The most common variety is the golden pothos, taking its name from the flecks of color on the plant’s leaves. The colors can range from light green to solid yellow. These leaves are pointed and heart-shaped, set on a trailing vine.

Pothos plants are high in oxalates, which are linked to kidney stone formation. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it has been linked to the lower absorption of calcium, which is detrimental when developing a tough exoskeleton.

However, most hermit crabs have a natural intuition for harmful plants.

Moss for Hermit Crab Tanks

When considering plants for a tank, don’t overlook moss. Not only is it cheap and easy to maintain, but it has practical benefits for your tank, including the following:

  • Moss maintains humidity. With a humid environment, hermit crabs can breathe easier.
  • Moss can make burrowing more enjoyable, as it provides layering to strengthen the substrate and improve any tunnels. Also, it’s soft enough for hermit crabs to break through easily.
  • Like other live plants, moss is great for munching, as it’s rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • From green to silver to red, moss can add aesthetic value to your tank.

Irish Moss

Irish moss is naturally found along Atlantic coasts in Europe and North America. It’s commonly reddish, but its color can range from greenish-yellow to dark purple to purplish-brown.

Irish moss is healthy and nutritious, so it has been harvested in Ireland since the 1800s to be used as medicine. Not only is Irish moss nutritious, but it looks beautiful.

Irish moss grows small white flowers during spring, adding a new splash of color to your tank.

Due to its popularity, Irish moss can be easily found in stores. You may also find this moss under “sea moss” and “carrageen moss.”

Pillow Moss

Pillow moss is a popular addition to many aquariums and terrariums. It’s proven to be reptile- and amphibian-friendly, so your hermit crabs will like it, too.

This is often found in a lush, deep green color. The vibrant green can balance out the visual appeal of an otherwise sandy tank.

Pillow moss is found in pet stores and aquarium shops and is mainly marketed as frog moss.

Cushion Moss

Cushion moss takes its name from its general shape. It creates mounds on the surfaces of rocks and moist wood. These mounds, when fully grown, have a dome-shaped top, giving them the resemblance of a pin cushion. Some varieties come with silvery-white tips, earning it the name white moss.

Cushion moss will thrive in moist and humid environments. In addition, cushion moss is easy to grow and maintain, as it needs misting and watering bi-weekly.

best hermit crab plants

Fake Plants for Hermit Crabs

Of course, live plants require maintenance and replacement. So, are fake plants better for hermit crabs? If hermit crabs destroy plants, won’t this risk them ingesting the silk or plastic of artificial plants?

Hermit crabs know better than to eat artificial materials, especially if they’re thick and hardy. Your fake plants may get bitten occasionally before your hermit crabs move on to other foods.

Durable fake plants won’t be affected by humid or hot environments. Your hermit crabs can still hide around fake plants and climb over their vines, enjoying the decoration as enrichment.

What Do I Do If My Hermit Crabs Destroy Plants?

Watching live plants routinely destroyed doesn’t feel right, and you may dislike using fake plants to preserve the lifespan of in-tank decorations.

The good news is that you can give your plants breaks by swapping out one plant for another, letting a ravaged plant be temporarily replaced with a new plant.

The new plant will take its position while the other plant recovers. Once the plant has fully recuperated, you can swap it out again, allowing the now-roughed-up plant to take a break.  

Alternatively, you can find plants that hermit crabs won’t eat or hold up to roughhousing. Due to their thicker leaves, tropical plants can withstand hermit crab pinchers better.

There are also plants that hermit crabs tend to avoid munching, like the pothos.

Are Succulents Safe for Hermit Crabs?

A succulent won’t cause any direct harm to hermit crabs unless it grows thorns/spikes.

However, succulents mostly thrive in dry environments, so you may find the plant struggles to cope with the wetter setting of a hermit crab tank.

This environment will cause rot and mold growth on the plant, which could pose a health risk to hermit crabs. For this reason, it’s advisable to avoid succulents for hermit crabs.