Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Twitch 03-13-2008 12:22 PM

Hermit Behavior?
I went to top off my tank with fresh water and took a look at the hermits who were cruising around the tank. I noticed two pairs of hermits with their shells "locked" together, meaning the opening of each shell were facing each other. Anyone know what this behavior is? Are they trying to steal each other's shells? Are they mating? What is this?

seba 03-13-2008 12:32 PM

are you there is two hermits or 1 with an empty shell. That is the way they switch their shells, also they could be fighting for their shell if it is 2 hermits.

Twitch 03-13-2008 12:51 PM

It is definatly two hermits. I have no empty shells in the tank. There is no movement coming from either hermit. They are just sitting there with their shell openings touching.

willow 03-14-2008 08:08 AM

i coould be a little out of watere here,as i don't know if this works the same..........
land hermits will compeat for a better shell,and sometimes they like to "try on" new shells,and if it's not the one for them they will change back.
is it possible for you to give them some spare shells. ?

MattD 03-14-2008 08:17 AM

With SW hermits, they are quite playful.

I mean this in the most literal sense too, they will actually wrestle eachother, it's quite funny to watch most of the time. If you can differentiate the two, you may even root for one over the other, lol.

It's not unusual for them to 'lock', mine do it often. I wouldn't be worried.

If they don't move for a while, maybe just a small separating nudge would do well, just to see if they're ok. ;)

SKAustin 03-14-2008 08:51 AM

In contrast to what matt said, I would be slightly worried. Under normal circumstances, hermits can be quite comical in their behavior. There are a variety of different hermits available to the hobbyist. Each species has different patterns of aggression. Since hermits dont grow their own shells, they need to scavenge for the shells that protect them. As they grow out of a shell, they will seek a suitable replacement. Given the fact that you have no empty shells available for the hermits to relocate to, they will seek to make themselves an available replacement by either killing off snails untill a suitable shell is found, or by invading the shell of another hermit. In the wild, there is an abundance of shells for these hermits to relocate to from the natural predation of the various snails in the reef. I would recommend a trip to your local LFS and seek out a variety of variously sized empty shells suitable for the hermits' growth for a long time. Empty shells also come in handy as natural reef plugs for fragments of corals like finger leathers, xenia, and branching SPS corals.

MattD 03-14-2008 09:05 PM

Yeah spare shells would do, forgot to add that. After all, unless you provide them, the hermits will never be able to change their shells as they grow.

Good luck.[/img]

MattD 03-14-2008 11:16 PM

By the way, watching a hermit change shells is hilarious. At my lfs I was watching one attempt to switch shells right in front of the tank, in full view. A fish a bit larger was harassing it, causing it to retreat back into its equipped shell, poor guy he must have been bothering him for hours lol.

Twitch 03-14-2008 11:30 PM

The hermits that were doing this (it happened another two times) did not steal the shells they were joined with. And at one point one hermit was upside down and another was standing near it as if guarding it.

I will definatly pick up some empty shells from the LFS on Sunday. Thanks for all the help.

melo 03-18-2008 11:56 PM

speaking of hermit crabs is it common for a chocolate chip starfish to eat them? Because I noticed that my cc was on the bottom which is unusual for him and when i picked him up his stomach was out and I caught him eating my hermits. Guy at the store didn't say anything about this, if so i just wasted 20 bucks on cc food

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