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Old 07-11-2010, 08:04 PM   #1
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Do Bristle worms eat hermit crabs?

Hi. Recently, I set up a saltwater tank. I got the conditions right, then added two small pieces of live rock, two hermit crabs, and three large pieces of lacerock. For three days, everything seemed to be going fine, both hermit crabs were still there, and I had discovered a "Pod" of some sort that had climbed out of the live rock.
Then I went of a two week vacation.
When I got back, the most noticable things were the brown algae of the nitrate cycle starting(its seems to have happened very rapidly and strongly),and the live rocks flourishing with anenomes and tons of smaller "Pods" covirning one of them.
When I went looking for my hermits crabs, I could not find them. I found both of their empty shells, and no signs that they had moved into any of the other shells around the tank. My sister then spotted one hermit crab, out of its shell, struggling on the ground, with all of its legs and claws eaten off.
Also as we looked, we saw what looked to be a small bristle worm dissapearing into the live rock. I am wondering if that could be what killed my crabs.
I did my research, and found that small bristle worms are only scavengers that do not harm other tank life. So far, I have not seen anything else other than the bristle worm, the "Pods", and the anenomes.
For the record, I have a regular 29 gallon tank, and all conditions were the same from when I started the tank, not even the nitrates showed any change. my salinity was a little high, but still in the safe zone, and my temperature was around 82 degrees, which I have now turned down the heater.
Any thoughts would be helpfull.
Thanks.
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:37 PM   #2
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It could have been the molt of your hermits that the bristle worms were messing with. I`ve never heard of that but I guess anything is possible. Also if you had not completely cycled your tank before you added the hermits they probably died from that. Just thinking out loud.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:12 PM   #3
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It was not a molt of the hermit crab. It had its whole body, and it was visibly struggling to try to move about. We have now removed him from the tank and put him in a small plastic bucket with water, two shells, and an air stone. We also had to put the hermit crab into one of the shells, as he could not move about without any legs. Once in the shell, he tucked back so far we could not see him.
My dad had the idea that maybe the other hermit crab ripped the others legs off, as one was a red legged hermit crab, and the other was different, but had markings similar to a dwarf zebra. But that doesnt explain why the other crab just disappeared.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:12 AM   #4
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dead hermits..yes live ones...no
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:45 AM   #5
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Red legged hermits will attack other hermits (and snails) for their shells. I found the same to be true with blue legged. Other folks may feed more and don't have a problem with hermits attacking each other and snails. For the most part I have relagated hermits to the sump.

Where did the live rock come from?
There could be a hitchiker crab or shrimp in there that is attacking the hermits too.
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Old 07-13-2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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the live rock came from the pet store. Also, the hermit crab with no legs has now molted, and he has re-gained all of them.
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Old 07-17-2010, 12:57 AM   #7
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Glad to hear he's doin good. I had a large red legged hermit crab that suddenly died on me too. Thought it was his molt til I started looking closer. I took it out and the crab never appeared back in it's shell or thebigger one I supplied him. Je was huge tho. But the previous owner took him from the ocean on a trip to mexico. Some how made it backfeom Mexico to Arkansas in a lunchbox filled with ocean water and survived a little over a year. Maybe he was old I guess. Good luck with them!
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