11 Mar 2008

Not So True Blue Two

Dear Blue Lobster:

Recently I bought a blue yabbie and a electric blue. I know electric blue lobsters are usually many different breeds all thrown into the same name but I have one that's exhibiting really odd coloring. He looks like the standard blue at 6 inches or so except his last molt he developed bright orange almost see through sides to his claws, the part that's stationary not on a joint.

One more thing, my blue yabbie was very brown except for his claws when i purchased him, after 5 molts he seems to be slightly turning blue and developing red spots along his tail but I'm worried if he will ever turn the bright blue or dark black I see from others pictures, and if so, how long should I expect?

Its amazing looking but I was hoping you could tell me the reason behind this. From your last posts I gather it may possibly be mating colors.

Thank you tremendously for your time and please keep up your highly informative blog.

Matthew McMullen.

Dear Gentle Sir:

Your guess of mating colors is a good one, though it's hard to tell what species you're working with as there are at least a dozen species with blue morphs; there are likely three or four times as many that just haven't been documented properly yet. One is lucky to see even the label "crayfish" at pet stores.

As to why the drastic change in color has happened so recently, another factor might be at play aside from mating colors. When cohabiting different species, mating colors can mean that the two species are attempting to intimidate one another in order to establish dominance. Since their tankmate's body shape and language aren't as expected, mating colors are a surefire way to show off.

There's no telling what direction their color changes might take unless you were able to identify what species they were; likewise their mating morphs might prove helpful in doing so.

As for worrying about the crays color changes, I would instead recommend that you sit back and watch the fireworks. Animal adaptability is a wonderful phenomenon to watch and, so long as your crays are not violent with one another, you might as well marvel at their chromatic displays.

For the record, species known to have blue color morphs include Cambarus diogenes, gentryi, and monogalensis; Cherax destructor, quadricarinatus, and tenuimanus; Orconectes immunis and obscurus; Pacificastus leniusculus; and Procambarus acutus, alleni, and clarkii.

4 Mar 2008

Freeze-Dried Fiddler Food

Dear Blue Lobster:

We just brought home 3 freshwater crabs from the pet store and my kids LOVE them, we would really like to take good care of them. The pet store sent home Freeze dried pellets for them and I am desperately looking on the web to see if these are appropriate for them to eat, or what the best food for these liitle guys is. Can you help? Also what kind of healthy behavior should we expect from Ashlyn, Cherry and Galatian?(the crabs not my kids:)


Dear Gentle Sir:

Freeze-dried pellets, while not optimal, are just fine for your crabs to eat. They are composed primrily of fish and shellfish offal and sometimes farm runoff as well and so provide nutrients however dried and pressed they might be. Live foods are usually superior because they are not processed and stored, both of which degenerate nutrients. Live foods are also not susceptible to the underhanded practices of big business.

In 1993, the aquarium industry was hit with a wave of strange deaths; thousands of vertebrates and invertebrates alike acted sluggish, then died. Over the course of several weeks animal death climbed some 15% above normal rates and eventually the Foodeaze line of pellets, from the now-defunct Fisheaze company, were blamed.

Investors and aquarium trade companies filed suit against Fisheaze and during the course of the trial the details became horrifyingly clear: Fisheaze had been buying and using not just fish, pork, and horse offal but also manure and farm sewage for their pellet lines, something clearly against industry regulation. The manure contained strains of deadly bacteria that, upon entering water, reactivated. It was like an aquarium Plague.

By the end of the trial, Fisheaze was required to pay out some $2 billion to the industry, the largest such judgement at the time. Perhaps the most disturbing result of this mess was that Fisheaze had invested in several fish farms where the animals were intended for human consumption and was supplying the farms with feed; the Department of Agriculture began investigations into the company before the folded in 1998.

Though nothing like this has since happened, it boldly underlines the importance of knowing the food you give to your crustacean friends comes from a trusted source. Fresh food is not only healthier but generally safer as well, since the responsibility is directly on you and not some process stretched out over thousands of people and tens of thousands of miles.