19 Feb 2008

Glow-in-the-Dark Yabbies

Dear Blue Lobster:

My red claw molted last night and came out with white spots on legs and claws as well as a white bad across the tail at a joint. I am wondering if this might be the white spot fungus (possibly caught from the feeder shrimp I buy at the local pet store).

Yabbie is about 3years old now. He lives in a tank with a few other small fish. I guy glass shrimp and sea monkeys once a month or so. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to help him, or if it’s just a sign of his age.

Thank you!


Dear Gentle Sir:

Unlike your grandfather, shrimp do not get spots as they age. This is plainly a sign of infection, though what your shrimp is infected with is debatable without seeing him in person. If the disease came from the feeder shrimp you purchased it's most likely a fungus, possibly Topicalis albinus, better known as White Spot Disease.

At the time of that article, however, I stated that tetracycline would be ineffective since it only treats bacterial, not fungal, infections. New research (Giles 2007) suggests that tetracycline does indeed have efficacy against albinus, though the mechanism isn't yet understood. Tetracycline is a safer possible solution to White Spot than copper, which is hazardous to invertebrates.

To administer the tetracycline, simply grind the pills using a pill grinder and mix the powder in distilled water, adding one drop a day to your aquarium using an eyedropper. If your cray has holes in his shell from his infection you might want to inquire about Actisite, a thread-like fibrous form of the drug usually used in dentistry; it make have similar applications for crustacean shells.

Though tetracycline is generally safe, one side-effect is that it causes keratin, found in bones and hair, and chitin, found in arthropod shells, to glow under UV light. This isn't a negative, however, as adding a UV to an aquarium is cheap and you and your family could become the envy of the neighborhood with your glow-in-the-dark yabbie.

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