30 May 2007

Moving My Tadpole Shrimp

Dear Blue Lobster:

I am soon going to move to a new house, and I have a longtail tadpole shrimp (Triops longicaudatus) at home in a small plastic aquarium (10 cm by 10 cm by 15 cm). Short as its life is, the tadpole shrimp might live to see our moving day. Now, I have started planning how I will move him; I have a smaller jar with a lid where I once kept tadpole shrimps, and I'm going to wash it with distilled water and then put him in the jar along with some food. Do you happen to know how I can move him safely, if there is a way at all? It is about 5 km from my current home to the new house.

Mikhail Makogonov

Dear Gentle Sir:

The travel itself will not present as much of a challenge as moving him from tank to jar to tank again will. The same water from his tank must be used in the jar, but in doing that you disturb any silt and leftovers and old shells still in the water, which will suffocate your shrimp. So what is the solution to this catch-22?


Yes, the simple act of freezing your shrimp might be the thing to save it during the move. As with crayfish, lowering the body temperature of the crustacean in question slows its metabolism to the point where it doesn't need to breathe, eat, sleep, or perform any other metabolic function. In this hypothermic stasis, the shrimp can be taken great distances while incurring no injury.

Freezing the shrimp follows much the same steps as freezing a crayfish. However, if you're only traveling 5km, you may want to just chill him. This would require removing any heat sources from his tank — lights and heaters — and allowing the water to fall to room temperature. Afterward, you must then place the shrimp and water from the tank.

Using a banana boat, mayonnaise jar, or some other small but sealable container, scoop up enough clean water from the tank for your shrimp to swim in, followed by the shrimp itself. Immediately place the container in a cooler with ice and transport. It is important to estimate how long the trip will last since the cooler won't prevent the shrimp from warming past an hour or so.

As for the tank, now is the time to clean it. Do not remove the water, however. Simply clean the tank of all debris and then, once in your new home, let it set until any remaining dust has settled. Afterward you can dump your frosty friend back into his home and watch him regain motility. Be sure to keep an eye on him for odd behavior, but he should return to normal within a couple hours.

Failing all of that, you could just flush him down the toilet.

23 May 2007

Decorating for Fiddlers

Dear Blue Lobster:

i am going to buy two fiddler crabs and i want to know the best way to decrorate their tank


Dear Gentle Sir:

Fiddler crabs are gregarious creatures who love companionship and a lively environment in which they can explore. So on top of the stones and gravel and rocks and plants that any Fiddler tank should provide, you can also feel free to liven it up in a number of ways.

Fiddlers love light. In addition to the default imitation sunlight lamps you can mix things up a bit with colored bulbs. For Christmas, try a red and a green bulb, and for Easter purple and yellow. Halloween might be a fun time to try out a black, or "UV" bulb that can bring out some interesting patterns in your crabs' shells. To recreate sunset on a Hawaiian beach, try GE's new pink bulbs that produce a soft, dying-sun glow that can send you and your crabs straight to the tropics. The only thing missing will be the piƱa colada.

Underwater caves and grottos are important too: your Fiddlers need to feel safe, secure, and at home. A meeting place created by conjoining pipes or crevices can give them a secret meeting area in which they can molt or mate.

Filling the tank with free-floating plants enables your crabs to enjoy hours of acrobatic fun, jumping and floating from one bunch of plants to another. And if the plants include an extra crayfish or shrimp, all the more fun! Just make sure the crays or shrimps aren't larger than your crabs or you will be left with a Fiddler holocaust.

Posters of teen idols can augment the morale of your tank. After reaching breeding size, the Fiddler lives to interact and breed on the beach. This perpetual childhood can be celebrated by using collectible trading cards as "posters" taped to the outside of your tank for the crabs to enjoy. Kirk Cameron, Scott Baio, the Coreys, and Michael J. Fox are all appropriate choices. Cards with their visages can be had on eBay for little more than the cost of shipping.

With these ideas in mind, the possibilities for aquarium decoration are endless. Just recently I set up a Fiddler crab tank with pink lights, rooted plants, and a couple trading cards of A.C. Slater and Zach Morris in the background to recreate the Malibu Sands episodes of Saved by the Bell. The Fiddlers have never had more fun!

16 May 2007

Jamaican Crab Festival

Dear Blue Lobster:

I'm going to Jamaica this week for this crab festival thing my friend has gone to before. do you know what it's all about? i want to get stupid drunk and eat crab all week.


Dear Gentle Sir:

It's that time of year, in the Ides of May, when local populations in Jamaica gather to celebrated the natural wonder of the mangrove crab's fantastic journey to the sea during the breeding season.

Mangrove crabs are the many species that inhabit forests and swamps near ocean shores. In Jamaica, this means about thirteen species from three different families. The crabs range from grey to green to red, and some have adapted color or shell patterns to match tree bark, leaves, and even fruit.

In the Spring, the crabs molt into their breeding phase which is often marked by bright color patterns or additional spikes or mottling of their shell. One species even grows an additional set of foreclaws during this time.

After their molt, the crabs begin migrating from their mangrove home to the beach, where they will congregate and mate for a period of only seventy-two hours.

During their migration, the crabs walk overland, covering the surface with the clattering of their chitinous legs. During pre-Columbian times, the native Carib tribe held fertility rites. Today, commerce and business stop for the three days of crab travel and the locals take part in helping the animals toward the sea.

Jamaicans consider it bad luck to kill or harm a crab during this period and contests are held to see which child can collect the most trapped or endangered crabs and do not eat any seafood during the week in observance of this holiday.

Harming or molesting crabs during this time is considered a criminal offense, so Americans traveling to Jamaica are advised to follow the letter of the law. Sorry, but eating crab during your vacation seems like a bad idea.

9 May 2007

Do Crayfish Have Souls?

Dear Blue Lobster:

This morning I woke up and walked over to my tank to find my crayfish not moving attached to a plant. I used the net to pull him out and while he is moving occassionally, he is pretty still. Is he about to molt or has he passed on?

Thank you for your time.

Dear Gentle Sir:

Indeed, your cray has passed on, or as some in the profession called it, "crossed over." What hasn't been established at this time, however, is whether crustaceans have a soul to enjoy some sort of pleasant afterlife with. It is a long, ugly debate that is still currently raging within crustaceology circles today.

Most recently Pope John Paul II announced that animals do posses divine existence beyond this world. The sticky point, however, is that since the word "animal" as used by non-scientists usually only refers to amphibians and their descendants, do arthropods, and therefore crustaceans, possess divine essence?

Current research by crustaceologist Dr. Henry Philamore has further compounded the issue; he published a paper regarding strange electrical emissions from crayfish upon expiration which he claims to be evidence of a soul escaping the cray's body. Opponents to the theory claim it is only a maelstrom of electrical activity in the cray's nervous system before death and nothing more.

As the debate continues, pet owners can bet safely and treat their dead friend in the manner most comfortable to them. Some flush their crays down a toilet while others bury them in the back yard. One young girl actually made a biodegradable coffin from a shoebox complete with a tissue-paper tuxedo and tophat for her cray; the ceremony gave her the closure she needed and the coffin and its contents were decomposed completely within a year.

The choice between a flush or funeral is entirely up to the owner of the departed crustacean and their own personal religious or philosophical beliefs. I wish you well in this time of sorrow, gentle sir.