[updated 2021] Top 8 Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs (Reviews + Guide)

Believe it or not, the substrate is the most important part of a hermit crab’s habitat. They depend on your presence so they can dig when it’s time to move.

Hermit crabs don’t need an elaborate home, but the right temperature and humidity are vital to their health. Land hermit crabs come from warm tropical climates and therefore need a warm and humid environment to survive.

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It protects them in the process and is critical to their health and well-being. That’s why getting the best substrate for hermit crabs is such an important decision.

Top 10 Best Substrate For Your Hermit Crabs

Best Hermit Crab Substrate Reviews

1. Fluker’s All Natural Premium Sand Substrate Mixture

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

Fluker’s knows that hermit crabs love to dig and how important it is to fill their habitat with the right substrate.

Much of the sand sold for hermit crabs is pure calcium carbonate, which is made from small pieces of broken shells. Fluker’s uses something different.

This all-natural premium sand is actually a blend of all-natural silica sand, coconut fiber, sea salt, calcium carbonate, and an added probiotic. Together, these ingredients make the perfect mix for digging, but they also each serve a specific purpose.

Silica sand and coconut fibers retain water. Sea salt is added to mimic the natural coastal habitat and the probiotic helps keep the substrate clean by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that break down organic waste.

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2. Hermit Habitat Terrarium Sand

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

If you’re looking for a way to add some color to your hermit crab’s habitat, this beautiful, sparkling blue terrarium sand might be just the thing.

Don’t worry, the pigments are completely natural and safe for your pet.

This substrate is a great source of calcium carbonate that hermit crabs need to grow and form an exoskeleton.

It is 100% digestible and contains no silica or phosphates. That’s not all, it also has a great consistency for digging and a natural odor neutralizer.

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3. Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand for Aquarium

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

This Reptile Sciences sand substrate is made from 100% natural calcium carbonate sand.

It is obtained from all natural sources and contains no silica or phosphates. The fine texture is really great for two reasons – it’s 100% digestible and perfect for digging.

Another great advantage of this product is the natural white color. It looks very natural and can help you create an environment similar to what hermit crabs live in the wild.

This sand is also a natural odor neutralizer that comes in handy between cleanings.

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4. Zoo Med Laboratories Hermit Crab Soil

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs need a variety of substrates in their habitat to maintain ideal living conditions. If you’re looking for a convenient and healthy way to increase humidity, check out this hermit crab land from Zoo Med.

This product contains two compressed stones. Just add a little water and each expands to seven to eight liters of substrate. You can use it alone or mix it with hermit crab sand. It’s great digging and it keeps crabs busy and happy.

Each stone is made of coconut fiber. This eco-friendly, renewable material breaks down waste products and absorbs odor, keeping the living environment smelling healthy and fresh.

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5. Zilla Jungle Mix

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

This Zilla mix is a mix of peat moss and spruce shavings. Mix it with a little sand and it will help create an ideal home for your hermit crabs. Because it takes up more than its own weight in water, it adds the moisture that hermit crabs need to thrive.

Hermit crabs love to dig and this product has an ideal texture. It is smooth and light, which makes it easy for them to pass through. This 100% natural product has an earthy scent and is completely biodegradable, so it is also good for the earth.

You can choose from three different sizes: four quarters, eight quarters and 24 quarters. Change it if necessary to ensure that your hermit crabs always have a clean place to dig.

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6. Carib Sea ACS05820 Super Natural Moonlight Sand

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

If you’re looking for a great sand substrate to mix or use alone, Super Natural Moonlight Sand is worth checking out. The natural white color is simple but beautiful and makes a nice background for your hermit crab and the rest of your decor.

This product is made in the USA and contains no paint or dyes. Plus, it has no coating, so it’s completely safe for your pet. It’s also super fine and smooth, which encourages digging.

One of the remarkable things about the supernatural sands of the Caribbean Sea is that it is meant to mimic natural environments. It is a good choice for a hermit crab habitat if you want a more natural look.

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7. Fluker’s Hermit Beach Sand Substrate

Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

If you’re looking for the perfect substrate for your hermit crab tank, consider Fluker’s all-natural premium sand substrate. It is designed exclusively for hermit crabs to withstand moisture and encourage natural digging behavior. It contains all-natural silica sand, coconut fiber, calcium carbonate, sea salt and a probiotic to support your crab’s health as well.

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8. Exo Terra Coco Husk Brick Tropical Terrarium Reptile Substrate


Best Substrate For Hermit Crabs

Humidity is important in a hermit crab tank and coconut fibers are the perfect substrate to withstand humidity. It is 100% natural and also helps support your hermit crab’s natural digging behavior. It has a natural appearance, enhancing the aesthetics of your hermit crab tank, and it is very affordable.

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How Much Substrate for Hermit Crabs?

As we mentioned, the substrate is the most important part of keeping a pet hermit crab happy and healthy.

In nature, they have access to everything they need in their natural environment. If you keep them as pets, it is your responsibility to give them.

In the wild, hermit crabs burrow underground when it’s time to molt. One reason is that they need darkness to activate their bodies to start the process.

Once they shed their old exoskeleton, they are vulnerable to predators. Not only do they lack protection, but they are also unable to control their muscles until the new exoskeleton hardens. That’s why it’s so important to be able to hide.

Some hermit crabs can remain buried for up to 3 months while waiting for this process to be completed. That’s why it’s important to have a deep, moist substrate that needs little maintenance during this time so as not to disturb them.

The type of substrate you use is important, but there are two other things to ask yourself.

Are you using sufficient substrate? And is it wet enough?

To some extent, the amount of substrate you need depends on the size of the hermit crab. Tiny hermit crabs about a dime to a quarter in size need no less than 6 inches of substrate. Large baseball-sized hermit crabs need a substrate that is at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep.

A general rule of thumb is that the substrate should be deep enough so that the largest hermit crab in its habitat can dig 2 to 3 times its size.

However, remember that using the right amount of good substrate is not enough. Humidity is absolutely crucial.

Hermit crabs create an underground cavern with plenty of air spaces to move into. If the substrate is too dry, they will not be able to dig the tunnels and caves they need. Everything will collapse on them as they try to dig.

How wet should the surface be?

About the same as picking up sand or the consistency you would need if you were trying to build a sandcastle on the beach.


How to Clean Hermit Crab Substrate?

Like any pet that lives in a small space, the hermit crab’s habitat can become very cluttered, which can lead to strong odors and a large amount of bacterial growth.

This not only causes stress for your pets, but can also make them sick. A clean tank is a happy tank.

How often the habitat needs to be cleaned depends on a number of things: how many crabs you have, how big they are and how big the habitat is. A large tank with only a few small crabs may take longer between cleanings than a small tank with a large hermit crab.

Ideally, check the substrate every day and remove any obvious dirt from the substrate surface. Use a simple sand shovel to remove any dirt or lumps.

If you see any signs of mites or flies, or if you notice a strong odor, a thorough cleaning is needed.

So how do you deep clean the surface?

First of all, you should prepare for this by having a temporary second home ready for your pets. Humidity, humidity and temperature are very important for hermit crabs, so get this secondary home ready ahead of time.

Cleaning the substrate at the bottom of the tank is not easy and it is often easier to replace it with new material.

If there are stains on the surface that are difficult to clean, use hot water or a vinegar solution to clean them. Hermit crabs are very sensitive and most cleaning products will be too harsh on them, especially bleach.

When cleaning the substrate thoroughly, also pay attention to the rest of the habitat. Take out empty shells and toys and boil them in running water for a few minutes to disinfect them. Wood or live plants should also be cleaned with hot water.

Hermit crabs are smart. They can get bored, so swap out toys and different obstacles with every cleanup.



Hermit crabs are really cool pets and part of what makes them so interesting is watching them molt. To do this, they must burrow into the substrate and make a safe little cave for themselves while they wait for their new exoskeleton to harden.

It is precisely for this reason that choosing a substrate is one of the most important decisions you must make as a hermit crab owner.

That said, keep in mind that it’s important to use the substrate properly. You need to make sure it is deep enough and wet enough for your hermit crabs so that they can use it effectively when it comes time to molt.

Jesse B.

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