18 Oct 2006

A Look at the Lazarus Shrimp

Dear Blue Lobster:

I just bought a triops packet, i have no idea what it is but it says it's the world's oldest crustacean so i thought i'd ask you. they sell something called daphnia to hatch and raise for food, but the guy at the store said you can just let them eat one another.


Dear Gentle Sir:

A usually unheard of but incredibly old type of crustacean, the Lazarus shrimp (also known as the the shield shrimp or triops) is the perfect kind of crustacean to introduce into your aquarium. It displays interesting behavior and gives you a glimpse into the past while at the same time entertains for hours on end with its antics.

Diverging from other crustaceans early on, the modern form of the shield shrimp has not changed for 220 million years, making it quite possibly the world's oldest extant group. It is commonly believed to be related to the Horseshoe Crab, though this is not true. Their similar physical characteristics are due to convergent evolution, or one species liking the look of another and evolving to match it.

Being so old requires being crotchety and the shield shrimp does not disappoint in this regard. Used to a short life in a rapidly-drying seasonal pool, the shrimp hatches within four hours of exposure to water and begins molting incessantly. It feeds on anything smaller than itself, so have plenty of sea monkeys handy. If sea monkeys can not be found, it is perfectly suitable to let the triops cannablize until only one, the greatest and strongest, is left in the tank.

After natural selection has worked its magic, it's time to introduce your powerful triop into your community tank! Make sure there's nothing smaller than it in there, as it would prove to be an unfair fight. A crayfish of similar size would make for an excellent battle, and a dozen or so ghost shrimp will provide additional targets for both the cray's and the triop's predatory advances. In addition, they'll serve to help "clean up" the loser after the victor is done eating his fill.

I suggest while your cray and triop get to know one another you film in high speed so that when played back, the creatures look large and slow. Filmed properly and with the addition of some monster movie music, you will have a short five minute clip begging to be uploaded to YouTube or Google Video. Perhaps you can title it something using their taxonomic names to make it sound exotic. For instance, Procambarus vs. Triops sounds like something any child would love to tune into on a Saturday morning.

Good luck with your Shield Shrimp and please share the link to your monster movie once complete!


Anonymous said...

Whats the best food to feed triops?

Anonymous said...

What do you think the best food to feed a triop would be?

Anonymous said...

of course its related to the horse-shoe crab (Xiphosura, Chelicerata), just more distantly related than you assume as horse-shoe crabs are not crustacea like these are. Theyre still related though, albeit distantly. Also, the not-changed for 220 my is a misleading fallacy, just because the major body stuctures look like in fossil ancestors says nothing about the potential for huge genome changes, development or ecological shifts, etc etc,,

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