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.

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