There are around 500 varieties of hermit crabs in the natural world. These decapods crustaceans are connected by their common quality of living within a snail shell home in order to protect their soft abdomen. According to the habitat selection, the hermit crab species can be classified into land hermit crabs and marine hermit crabs. Though members of both the classifications have their baby hermit crabs hatch from their eggs in a marine environment, yet the adult land hermit crab’s physiology does not allow it to live in a water environment for long. Most marine hermit crabs prefer an alkaline environment to live. However, a few hermit crab species prefer to live in freshwater and so they are also known as freshwater hermit crabs. It has been observed until now that the hermit crabs of the Clibanarius species are primarily the freshwater crabs.
Before going into the details of the Clibanarius genus, it is important to have a clear idea about the relation of hermit crabs with fresh water. The fact is that all land hermit crabs need freshwater to drink and alkaline water to take a bath. A land hermit crab drinking freshwater can also be called a freshwater hermit crab. The marine crabs who live in alkaline water however accept alkaline water in their diet.
Of all the freshwater hermit crabs, the Clibanarius fonticola has been described as the true freshwater hermit crabs. All the species of the Clibanarius fonticola live in the empty shells of the snail Clithon corona as their hermitage. (See the image of the Clithon corona at http://www.planetinverts.com/hornednerite.jpg ). These true freshwater hermit crabs have been recorded in distant locations around the world. The first source, published in 1990, records their presence in a freshwater pool on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu of Southwestern tropical Pacific. (See http://www.jstor.org/pss/1548413 ). (McLaughlin & Murray, 1990).The Wikipedia, however records the freshwater hermit crab species near the village of Matevulu, in a true freshwater spring, filled by water from adjacent springs. This place is also near an abandoned airstrip. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clibanarius_fonticola ). It is unclear whether the two places are the same or not. Whatever the case, both the native lands of the freshwater hermit crabs are mysterious enough. An interesting point to note is that the rare pool is recorded to be in the coastal region. The magical confluence of the freshwater springs and the adjacent ocean has made this pool the only pool in the world where freshwater hermit crabs live.
However, in this respect, it is very important to mention that these freshwater hermit crabs are extraordinarily rare species and in no way they should be tried to be kept in another environment. These rare animals are protected by international wildlife laws and constantly monitored by concerned authorities. Any attempt to displace a single member of Clibanarius fonticola from their native pool is useless, because the hermit crabs will not live in any other environment rather than there.
If you want to have a freshwater hermit crab as pet, you can opt for other members of the Clibanarius species. Other species of the Clibanarius genus are Clibanarius tricolor, Clibanarius englaucus, Clibanarius snelliusi, Clibanarius signatus and Clibanarius erythropus. These are all very beautiful hermit crabs, and while keeping them, it is important to remember that the water where they live should be clean and oxygenated. Since land hermit crabs are also freshwater crabs in a way, so you can keep a land hermit crab too.