Natural Sea Shells

In the wild shell shopping is a hot real estate market. Hermits will gather to steal a shell from a current owner if there is a short supply of options . This act is called shell envy. The shell shop should at least have 5 appropriate shells for each hermit. Eventually you will need 10 shells per crab.

If you have Purple Pinchers they prefer shells with a round opening like turbos. If you own Violas, that have a flatter thorax, they prefer shells with a D opening like snail shells or whales eye. Having the proper opening will be comfortable for your crab. Having both options and several sizes is encouraged. It is important to upgrade shells as they grow.


When you purchase shells boil the shells in dechlorinated salt water. Lay them out to cool down and dry before placing them in the tank. Wiping them down with saltwater from time to time can encourage shell swap.

Circumstances to boil shells:

  • When you first purchase shells
  • Adding new shells. All shells are to be boiled at the same time.
  • New crabs in the tank
  • Cleaning the krabitat
  • When you observe or suspect shell envy

Shells with Round Opening

Black Pica, Magpies, Semanticus African Turbo, Dyed Copper Semanticus Turbo, Rapa Venosa are some popular options of round openings. Ruggies, Indos, Strawberry, and Purple Pinchers hermits prefer round opening. Ecuadorians and Blueberry will also try on round opening shells.

Shells with a D or Oval Shape Opening

Apple Murex, Whales Eye, Tonna & Tun, Babylonians, Bonnet and Natica shells are several shells with a D or oval opening. Aussies and Violas prefer these shells due to their flat thorax. Blueberries, Purple Pinchers and Ecuadorians will try them on.


Some hermits with a flat upper body will feel comfortable in a D shape or oval opening. You can be flexible to this rule. Ecuadorians (flatter thorax), Purple Pinchers (round thorax) and other species have an individual preference. Above Won Won who is an Ecuadorian is modeling this beautiful fluctuosus (aka Mexican turbo) with a round opening. Violas and Aussies tend to be more inclined to D openings. Shells are fundamental in your tank. Without them your crab would not survive molts, shell water keeps their lower body moist, feel safe when threatened and protection. An ample selection of fitted shells is encouraged.

 Never buy painted shells they are toxic. The paint can chip off, is uncomfortable and can make your hermits ill. It is well known the paint can glue your crab in the shell. 


Popular Shell Shops OnlineSHELLY BLANK2

  1. Hermit Crab Patch
  2. MyGann
  3. Naples Sea Shell Company
  4. Deltona Sea Shells

You can also fine natural shells in arts and crafts stores like Michael’s, Walmart and Hobby Lobby. 

For further information on shells visit Hermit Crab Owners/Shell_Shopping