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Clibanarius longitarus

Blue Striped Hermit Crab
Lisa Walton (2014)

Photo: courtesy of Ron Yeo,, 2013



Fact Sheet



Habitat & Distribution


Population Demographics

Investigation: An up-close look at the unique and complex appendages of an aquatic hermit crab

Gas exchange

Internal transport


Nervous system

Feeding & Digestion


Development & larvae


Evolution & Phylogeny

Conservation, Threats, and Importance



The Blue striped hermit crab, like most other hermit crabs, are gonochoric, having two distinct sexes within the species. The female gonopores are located on the underside of the base of the third pereiopods, and under the fifth pereiopods in males. Unfortunately no studies have been found on the copulation and reproductive organs of Clibanarius longitarus, but papers by Hess and Bauer, (2002), and Tireli et al. (2007) investigated the reproduction of the closely related Clibanarius vittatus and Clibanarius erythropus respectively, which are most likely very similar. The males have paired testies which connect to the gonopore via a gonoduct, (Tudge, Asakura & Ahyong, 2004.) They copulate with a receptive female the same way many decapods do, with their ventral surfaces touching with the male on top, (female will be upside down.) The males transfer an adhesive spermatophore, a package containing sperm, directly onto the ventral surface of the female near her gonoducts (Hess & Bauer, 2002.) The spermatophores of anomurans are quite complex compared to other crustaceans, and can be described as a stalk like structure with a foot or pedestal on one end and a terminal ampulla on the other containing the sperm, (Tudge, Asakura & Ahyong, 2004.) After deposition onto the female, spawning occurs within hours. The eggs exit the female's gonopore and must pass through the spermatophore mass when moving to the abdomen. This is when (external) fertilisation occurs. The developing embryos attach to the pleopods on the females abdomen, which are more enlarged than males, (Hess & Bauer, 2002.) Once mature enough, females release the eggs into the water column by repeatedly rocking their abdomens in and out of their shells, (Ziegler & Forward, 2006.)

Reproduction in Clibanarius longitarus is not seasonal, and females generally reproduce year round, (Turra & Leite, 2000; Bertini & Fransozo, 2002; Macpherson & Raventos, 2004; Litulio, 2005.) A study done by Litulio, (2005) found that within a population there were more ovigerous females than non-ovigerous, suggesting that the Blue striped hermit crab has a high rate of reproductivty. This study also concluded that females start reproducing at a small size, and the number of eggs a female carries is proportional to her body size; the largest females carry the most eggs. The number of eggs produced by females is also related to shell size. The gonads are located in the abdomen, which is the most space-restricted part of the body because of its location in the shell. Females that have grown too large for their shell are forced to reduce the number of eggs made because of a lack of space. Therefore a lack of empty shells in a habitat can affect the number of eggs produced in a population of hermit crabs (Bertness, 1981.) Shells being a limiting factor can affect hermit crab reproduction in another way. The same study by Bertness, (1981) found that if the crabs outgrow their shell but cannot find a new one, they are able to restrict their energy used for growth and channel it into reproductive activities instead. This suggests that hermit crabs can be quite plastic and adaptable under limiting conditions.