Hermit crab breeding is very difficult. You have to be able to distinguish between a girl and boy crab and make sure you have one of each. It is difficult to tell the difference between a boy and girl crab even if they were willing to come out of their shells more often. Determining that you do, indeed, have a pair of hermit crabs your difficulties have only just begun.
Crabs lay their eggs in very special conditions that you are required to recreate. Also, in the wild, predators prey on the eggs of hermit crabs so a mom will lay a significant amount of eggs in order to ensure the survival of some hermit crab eggs. What I mean to say is, be prepared for a lot of hermit crab eggs! The actual number of eggs a mother hermit crab lays is dependent upon her size.
Another consideration that you face is that hermit crabs lay their eggs in the sand where the tides can wash the eggs into the ocean. When the eggs hatch they will return to the shore. You will be required to simulate this natural process.
First you will need to set up a saltwater tank so that it mimics the ocean. This may be difficult to create in your home and an outdoor pond is a wonderful choice.
Next you have to recreate the effect of tides and waves on a shoreline. It is believed that the movement of ocean waves aid in breeding process of hermit crabs. So, somehow you will need to generate waves.
You do have the option of standing out and waving a fan over the pond or you can choose to purchase a machine designed to create waves. Yes, there are machines that will simulate the motion of waves in your pond! Wavemakers by Sea Swirl Aquarium is one of the best and expensive brands in the market. If you take time to search you may be able to find a suitable model at a more affordable price that will adequately suit your needs.
As hermit crabs tend to breed at night you will need to create the illusion of moonlight. Romance under moonlight, is there anything better to encourage the breeding process? Moonlight bulbs may be purchased either online or at your local pet store. You should be able to find them for around $15. You will need to string them around your simulated ocean.
You have the ambiance, now you need the couple. If you are not sure that you have a male and female hermit crab you can purchase a breeding pair from your local pet shop. Discuss your needs and goals with an informed staff member of the store who I familiar with hermit crab breeding and they will be able to provide you with what you need.
You need to be sure that your simulated ocean stays in the 72 to 80 degree temperature range. This is the range that hermit crabs normally thrive. Temperature below 72 degrees will result in your hermit crabs to become ill or even possibly die.
Continue with the regular care of your hermit crabs to keep them happy and healthy. Ensure they have the correct temperature, salt, lighting and clean air requirements they need. Add calcium supplements to their diet if you are not already doing so. You will also need to stock up on a large supply of brine shrimp as that is the main diet of hermit crab larvae.
Now all you have to do is to wait while you observe your hermit crabs in their mating dance. It is fascinating to watch your pair in the mating dance. It may take as long as up to three months to successfully breed your hermit crabs so don’t get discouraged. When you observe your pair going through their mating ritual and return to normal crab behavior you do not have to keep them together any longer.
You will know you are successful when you see the baby crabs emerge. When they begin to come ashore the will need a home. You can purchase tiny shells at the pet store or on the Internet; but they must be very, very small as your babies will only be about 5 mm in length. Again, the informed staff at your local pet shop should be able to assist you in you selection of shells.
When your babies are safe in their shells does not mean that your job is complete. You now have the task of raising them to adult hermit crabs.