plants for hermit crab habitat

What Plants Can I Put in My Hermit Crab Tank?

A hermit crabs tank is part of their appeal. To beautify the aesthetic, you can decorate it with a substrate, little houses, and plants. Choosing plants will improve the tank’s visual appeal and enable your hermit crabs to feel at home.

Hermit crab tanks can benefit from fake and live plants. When choosing live varieties of plants, make sure that they grow vertically and don’t have a thick root system. Tropical plants, as well as moss, will thrive in most tanks. Options include air plants, spider plants, sprouting plants, loose-leaf lettuce, pothos, and many varieties of moss. Ensure that the plants you select can handle humid and warm environments.

Once inside the tank, all live plants will be trampled, munched on, and picked at by your hermit crabs. This is a natural behavior. However, if you don’t want the flora destroyed, it’s best to use fake plants. All synthetic plants should be made of thick material that hermit crab pinchers can’t work through. Alternatively, you can cycle out your live plants to give roughed-up plants a chance to recover.

Can You Put Live Plants In A Hermit Crab Tank?

Live plants are a good choice for hermit crab tanks as they are natural décor with benefits. These include

  • 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 substrate, live plants can balance the layering effect of the sand. This makes it easier for your hermit crabs to burrow and avoid cave-ins.
  • Live plants can serve as food. Fake plants will be able to withstand a hermit crab’s claws and munching. Live plants let your hermit crabs enjoy a snack and a more balanced diet.
  • For your benefit, live plants can brighten up the natural aesthetic of your tank. If you choose the right kinds, they can provide bursts of color, seasonal flowers and improve the air quality of the tank.

How To Choose Plants for Hermit Crab Habitat

Hermit crabs aren’t the pickiest houseguests. They’ll be happy with any plant you put in their enclosure, as long as it’s not toxic to eat. 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 have needs, too. When placed in an environment that’s very different from their natural habitat, plants will also get sick. Keep in mind that a hermit crab tank will be hotter and more humid than most environments. The plants you choose must be able to accommodate this.

As a rule of thumb, pick hardy plants. They should be capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures, light levels and cope with too much or too little watering. For example, a cactus may do well in hot environments but not moist ones. A water lily should appreciate the dampness but will struggle with the heat. The ideal plant is adaptable and resilient.

A great starting point is plants designed for reptile habitats. They often have similar environments as a hermit crab tank. Snakes and lizards are also prone to munching or lying on plants. So, your top choices will already be hardy plants ready to take some abuse.

After this, tropical plants are a good choice. They will thrive in the hot and humid environment of a hermit crab tank, feeling right at home.

Is It A Vertical Plant?

Crabs love to climb on plants. To ensure they have ample space, choose plants that grow vertically. This also helps preserve the floor space of your hermit crabs’ tank. After all, hermies require open stretches of sand to explore and run. You don’t want a plant cluttering up the habitat.

As a bonus, the vertical design will prevent your hermit crabs from tucking themselves into the leaves full time, hiding from view. What’s the point of a hermit crab if you can’t enjoy watching it?

There are many plants that grow vertically and thrive in a humid climate. For example, ferns and orchids.

Does It Have A Light Root System?

To preserve your hermit crabs’ open space and remain vertical, choose wispy plants. They’re lightweight and won’t develop heavy root systems. Plants with thick root balls will take up space in your hermit crabs’ substrate. This will limit how much burrowing room is available. With that in mind, be sure to pick out vines and creeping plants.

Is The Plant Too Precious?

Always choose plants that you won’t mind being destroyed. Hermit crabs are prone to damaging the plants in their habitat. At best, the flora may last for a few weeks. On average, your hermit crabs will methodically strip down the leaves, vines, and stalks.

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

So, if you hate to see your plants being destroyed, it’s best to stick with expendable options. These can include fake plants, as well as cheap, easily replaceable live plants.

Best Hermit Crab Habitat Plants

With the above parameters in mind, you may wonder if some plants are better than others. Do hermit crabs have a favorite type? What live plants not only survive the tanks but thrive? Here are plants that will be a good addition to your tank.

can you put live plants in a hermit crab tank?

Air Plants

Air plants are low maintenance. Not only do they look beautiful, but they’re also very hardy. In normal environments, all they need is a fine misting every now and then. Inside a tank, they won’t need any water. Instead, air plants gather all necessary moisture from the air.

As a bonus, you don’t even need to plant them. Hang the air plants on the side of a tank with wires. This lessens your hermit crabs’ access to the plant and reduces their chances of destroying it.

If you don’t mind your air plant being destroyed, you can place it unattached on the substrate. Your hermit crabs will love pushing it around. It may not be nice to the plant, but it’s great fun for your hermit crabs.

Air plants refer to the flora in the Tillandsia species. This species has leaves that branch from the center and then taper upwards and outwards. As a whole, they look like thick grass or octopus tentacles. The most common types of air plant are the:

  • Ionantha rubra
  • Brachycaulos
  • Capitata
  • Bulbosa

Bromeliads

Do you like the appearance of air plants? Then you should also consider other plants in the bromeliad family. Much like air plants, bromeliads do not need soil to grow. They can be attached to a ledge, like a piece of wood, and can survive long stretches of time without water.

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

Sprouts

Sprouts refer to any seeds that can be eaten throughout their growth process. Oftentimes, 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. This easy and cheap growing process makes it ideal for a tank. Hermit crabs are likely to dig up and eat sprouting plants, but these are easy to replace.

Just place the sprouts in a dish with soil and set them in your hermit crab’s tank. Alternatively, you can plant them directly in the substrate. Any that survive your hermit crab’s hunting can brighten up your tank with color and greenery. What if your plants seem to be thinning out from too much hermit crab munching? Then you can add more seeds.

Sprouts are also healthy for hermit crabs. 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 on your own. Good sprouting seed choices include:

  • Chia
  • Millet

Spider Plants

Spider plants are one of the easiest types to grow. If you’re not a seasoned gardener but still want live plants for your tank, then they’re ideal. The spider plant’s beginner-friendly reputation is thanks to its hardy nature. It can thrive in a wide range of conditions.

A hermit crab’s humid, hot environment won’t faze a spider plant. Likewise, it can tolerate a lot of heavy handling, and it’s very climbable. This is 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 this fun to scale and hide inside of.

However, you should only buy pre-established spider plants. Their leaves must be long and their roots sturdy. This will fortify them against your hermit crab’s harsh treatment until they become settled in the tank.

Loose-Leaf Lettuce

Often considered the easiest variety of lettuce to grow, loose-leaf lettuce is a great addition to your crabitat. This plant earns its name from the loose bunch of leaves on its head. This contrasts with iceberg or crisp head lettuce, which have rounded and tightly bunched heads.

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

Pothos

Pothos plants strike a great balance between visual appeal and resilience against hermit crabs. That’s because hermit crabs dislike eating their leaves. If your pothos adjusts well to the environment of the tank, it will happily thrive, free of interference from its tankmates.

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

It should be noted that hermit crabs avoid it for a good reason. Pothos plants are high in oxalates, which have been linked to kidney stone formation. Additionally, it has been linked to the lower absorption of calcium, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For hermit crabs, this can be a concerning prospect.

However, hermit crabs seem to have a natural intuition for harmful plants. In the case of pothos, hermit crabs will avoid this plant. With that said, each hermit crab is different. If your hermies are particularly curious, they might try a few bites. This won’t immediately harm them.

Nonetheless, if you are uncomfortable with the harmful effects that it has on your hermit crabs, feel free to avoid it.

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 to your tank. These include:

  • Moss maintains humidity. With a humid environment, your hermit crabs are sure to be happier and healthier.
  • Moss can make burrowing more enjoyable for your hermit crabs. It helps provide layering to strengthen your substrate and improve their tunnels. It’s also soft enough for hermit crabs to break through easily.
  • Like other live plants, moss is great for munching. It contains a notable amount of vitamins and minerals. This can help with balancing out your hermies’ diets.
  • Moss can add a strong degree of aesthetic value to your tank. Ranging from green to silver to red, you have ample coloring to pick from. No matter the choice, it can make your tank look more natural and vibrant.

Irish Moss

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

Irish moss has a long history of being healthy and nutritious. In fact, it has been harvested in Ireland since the 1800s to be used as medicine. This makes it a great choice for hermit crabs that love to munch on plants.

Not only is Irish moss nutritious, but it looks beautiful, too. Irish moss grows small white flowers during spring, adding a new splash of color to your tank.

Because of its popularity, Irish moss can be easily found in stores. You may also find this moss under the names “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. This moss’s popularity also makes it accessible. You can find pillow moss in pet stores and aquarium shops, mostly under the name “frog moss.” It’s easy to care for and grow.

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 it the resemblance of a pin cushion. Some varieties come with silvery-white tips, earning it another name: white moss.

No matter its title, this variety of moss will suit a tank perfectly. Cushion moss will thrive in moist and humid environments, much like a hermit crab tank. In addition, cushion moss can be easy to grow and maintain. All it needs is a bit of misting and watering on a bi-weekly basis.

Fake Plants for Hermit Crabs

Of course, live plants require maintenance and replacement. This can lead you to wonder: are fake plants better for hermit crabs? And if hermit crabs are prone to destroying plants, won’t you risk them ingesting the silk or plastic of fake plants?

Hermit crabs know better than to munch on artificial materials. Your fake plants may earn a few bites before your hermit crabs move on to other food.

With that said, you may have a particularly stubborn hermit crab. That’s why it’s recommended to buy fake plants that are thick and hardy. This will prevent your hermit crab from breaking or tearing off pieces, which they may ingest.

Fake plants will not mind humid or hot environments. If made durable, they won’t need to be replaced. Your hermit crabs can still hide around fake plants and climb over their vines, enjoying the decoration as enrichment. Just make sure that even your fake plants are vertical. You don’t want your hermit crabs to feel crowded or stifled.

best hermit crab plants

What Do I Do If My Hermit Crabs Destroy Plants?

It can feel bad watching your live plants be routinely destroyed. You may also dislike the idea of using fake plants to preserve the lifespan of your decorations. Isn’t there a way to keep your live plants safe?

You can give your plants breaks. This is done by swapping out one for another, letting a ravaged plant be replaced for an untouched plant. The untouched plant will then take over a “shift” with the hermit crabs while the other recovers. Once it’s fully healed, you can swap it out again, allowing the now-roughed-up plant to take its break.  

Of course, this requires time and effort. The process will be indefinite, and your plants will still be destroyed, albeit partially at a time. Alternatively, you can find plants that hermit crabs won’t eat or plants that hold up to some rough housing. Tropical plants, because of their thicker leaves, can better withstand hermit crab pinchers. There are also plants that hermit crabs tend to avoid munching, like the pothos described above.

Of course, this will depend on the individual hermit crabs. Some will be more stubborn or curious than others. Even with preventative measures, you may own a hermit crab that’s determined to eat anything in sight. In these cases, that’s just the price of making your crab happy.

Are Succulents Safe for Hermit Crabs?

A succulent won’t cause any direct harm to your hermit crab. As long as there are no spikes that can accidentally stab your pet, a succulent will be fine.

However, succulents mostly thrive in dry environments. You may find the plant struggling to cope with the wetter setting of a hermit crab tank. That’ll cause rot and mold growth on the plant, which could pose a health risk to your hermit crabs. Because of this, it’s usually best to avoid succulents for hermit crabs.  

How To Transfer Plants To A Hermit Crab Tank

Before setting any plants in your tank, they must be correctly prepared. This involves removing any pesticides, as well as treating them for harmful bacteria. After all, hermit crabs are wise about avoiding harmful plants, but chemicals and pollutants are a whole different ball game. Even organically grown plants should be prepared, just in case:

  • Transfer your plant to non-fertilized soil
  • Water it with fresh, clean, and untreated water
  • Grow this plant for about 2 to 3 months
  • Once this period is up, place it in the tank with its own pot. Individual pots allow you to remove and transfer plants

Once it’s properly cleaned, your hermit crabs can safely enjoy the new addition. They may do this by stripping it down for nutrients, enhancing their diet. They may also show their appreciation by climbing, hiding, or burrowing under the plant. These are all good signs that your hermit crabs appreciate their habitat.