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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hehe it really is! I have been trying to set up this 72 gal bowfront tank for them for a year and a half. First, I wanted a drain bc if the sand gets too saturated it causes issues. Pretty reasonable, right? Wrong. Had to design a complete drainage system, bc additionally, when we attempted to drill out the bottom we discovered it was, after all, also safety glass. Grrrr. Did you know they do this with most all tanks? Which is silly bc so many ways require drilling a tank, even just a saltwater setup. Anyway.
That was a big hurdle, and then we got chickens! Then I had sand but used it for other stuff and needed more etc etc.

Point is, today I have my cocofibers already soaked in a bucket ready to mix and dump. Anyone wanna help me hand mix 400lbs or so of material? No? Ah, well, I'll share the results once I get it done. I'm trying to move my big ones over before they hit the molt mark in just a few weeks- the Jumbos only go down about once a year, but it's for 2-3 months at a time. I'm down to about 13 crabs to swap over, I've taken some losses the past couple years. Which is ok, I knew I would which is why I didn't mind having as many as I did for a while. (24? I think.) And I have 3 others waiting to come live here too.

I am trying out a way of having a climbable background; it is cocofiber mats ziptied to that egg crate/fluorescent lighting stuff shown. Will see how they do- it will have about a foot of sand to start, and it'll probably settle out to about 10" for them. Hoping it all comes together good finally!

*on the drainage; we filled the entire bottom with bartop grade epoxy- it's what makes them so shiny and impermeable- and durable! We poured that in and then drilled it, added a drain made for live wells- it has two crossbars so nothing can go thru it. Then there is a layer of the egg crate with pea gravels in the squares, and then we used a layer of cloth filter stuff, like they use in a lot of water filtration systems. It's pretty neat. Sand will not permeate this! And then another layer of egg crate with slightly larger gravel to pin it between the two, and prevent any crabs getting stuck under it! Always a huge concern, those little suckers will shove their way in these crazy spots sometimes!

Alright, that wasn't very informative but lengthy, I think I'm procrastinating.... I'll share some pics later of the whole process. It's been a long road! Oh and custom painted cabinet for it too. With sea glass cabinet pulls.


 

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I'm excited to see what it looks like when it all comes together and the crabs are in their new homes.

How did you solve the drainage issue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
PJ- I have not yet, but now in the new environment with the soon to be upgraded pools I might. To reproduce it of course takes them being satisfied and comfortable w their surroundings, but also proper water conditions. The female carries the eggs for I think it's about two weeks, and then she releases the hatching zoeae into the saltwater. Which means we need a proper saltwater setup within the tank, as you would do for fish. It's coming. Just not there yet. My BFF crabbing friend has had her exotics release the babies, and a professional (check out https://maryakers.com/inthecrabitat/ ) has raised them to land thus far. I am to receive 4 of them when they're ready to rehome. They're barely larger than a grain of sand to start- so cool. Anyway. That is that.

Robin- the drain is unique. Once the bottom was busted out, we decided to marry the tank to the stand by simply pouring a bottom. We shimmed it so that one corner would be lowest, and placed a live well drain over there. On top, I used one layer of the 'egg crate' they use for fluorescent lighting, with screened to size small pea gravel filling in all the holes. Next is a layer of nano- technology type filter that is used to filter particulates from water professionally. A whole huge sheet of it laid across the top, then a second layer of the egg crate and slightly larger gravel to pin the layer in place and prevent crabs from picking at it and/or getting stuck underneath it. (They're curious, kinda like chickens, and go to the weirdest spot you can imagine while exploring- and then trash the tank when you aren't looking! Lol

I finally moved them last night. Still waiting for the glass lid but they are doing good so far! Several shell changes, lots of movement, no major fights yet.

This is Ryder, my strawberry crab. They are one of the most curious and busy breeds, notably during the day more often.


This is Princess, my largest and one of the most tame. She is a purple pincher, and guessing by size can say she's for sure more than 20 years old, likely more like 25? At a guess. You cannot know for certain unless you count their antennae growth which requires an autopsy...



And lastly, here we have Miss M.E., which was Mr EnDoh. Then Misserendoh. Anyway- she's an Indonesian crab, waiting on 3 other Indo friends to come live with her!



And there is a shot of the tank before I moved them in. I added one large round log on the right also, and extra shells, and food, but here it is, a year and a half later.... oops!
 

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I don't think I've ever seen them as big as Princess. Being in your hand really gives an idea of her size.

Love their habitat. It's pleasing to look at I can imagine it's a focal point for everyone that sees it. What are the two dishes for?

I could sit and watch them interacting with each other or just exploring their new digs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
They are funny to watch- they'll all try to pile in the wheel at once, or one climbs on the outside while the other is inside, acrobatics, antics, always something to see... ok usually. They're silly things.

One dish is fresh water and the second is salt water. Both include some craft mesh to help them climb in and out. Sometimes they do like to go swimming or soak.

Princess is considered a 'jumbo'- and believe it or not she will continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate now of course. She's a good girl- I got her <from a guy leaving for college> at the same time as the other jumbo (who runs like the sand is on fire when I get too close), and the Indo too. And the strawberry, Red Ryder, came later... He's got a story... the previous owner cleaned out the tank when he was giving me all his crabs- was supposed to be 8, including Ryder and a second strawberry, but Ryder had disappeared. They took all sand out, still nothing... figured he must've died molting or something. 6 weeks later I get a text from the guy- they found him crawling around the basement! My husband happened to be passing Va Tech while his parents were coming to visit, and so we could play musical chairs with Ryder to get here. Crazy crabs!!! Dunno where he was but we think he molted in a pot during this time- otherwise? I don't have a clue how he would've found what he needs. Anyway, sorry!

And thank you. I'm really pleased with the outcome. I tried something a bit different with the cocofiber background. I used, you guessed it, egg crate, and ziptied the cocofiber mats onto it, built the shelf and ramp etc. I don't think I'm first ever but one of the pioneers anyway! They seem to love being able to climb it so easy. Will see how long it holds up now. They also love to pick. At everything.
 

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Fascinating! I had no idea they came in various species and sizes. Will you be making it a community setup with different species and niches? This kind of hobby could grow and grow in intricacies; only limited by the imagination and pocketbook.
 

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I could sit and watch them for hours interacting with their habitat.

So, Ryder is an escape artist. I hope you had him in mind when putting the new digs together.

You did post a pic with the fiber part way up the egg crate. That stuff is so useful for so many things. I use it in my orchids water tray.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No, thanks for giving me said venue to drone on about my totally non chicken related pets.

But then, on the subject of velociraptors, and ancient creatures... crabs are pretty far back too!
 

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See? We're not so closed minded and make it about chickens only. It's what keeps the group interesting and fresh.

We just have to figure out how to get some of the others to venture away from the topics they started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lol! Sorry, y'all, it's weird bc I'm still home all the time but suddenly feel busier? Who knows!?!

Crabs are loving the new digs though. They're all over the place, and I've been able to get some good pics too.




And I thought I'd include one with the chicken whisperer here.
 

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You'd be in trouble if I lived closer. I'd be there watching the tank for hours.

Do they have a certain time they molt?

The birds look like, "yeah, save me the work. Tote me around for a while." It's great you have one that a natural when it comes to the birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I do too- I'll be in the middle of walking past to do something totally unrelated and get stuck at the tank, looking at them and poking around. We live in a ranch home, and it is basically right at the center, at the end of the hall just in the living area, so we pass it constantly. Enough that I even will cover it some nights so our shadows crossing back and forth don't startle them as often. They're kinda like chickens, their instincts override their habits sometimes. A shadow means danger, doesn't it?!

They're neat critters. How often they molt depends on a host of factors, but the main one is size. The smaller they are the more often they have to molt to continue growing. Obviously they grow faster than the older and larger ones, and once they reach my Princess' size they molt about once a year. It is time right about now, usually the shortest days of the year. The littles molt in just a couple weeks or a month, and the jumbos take 2+ months. It's all relative. If they do not have access to sand or a safe place to Molt, they can also put it off for a while. Unfortunately this does cause a buildup of excess toxins, but they are generally able to shed those when they finally do molt. Usually one molt will take care of them, but sometimes more are needed, depending. And there's your hermie lesson of the day!
 
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