Breeding Program Spring 2020 Update

Crab Con (IN-PERSON) isn’t looking good this year, like so many other planned gatherings. I will make a formal, definite decision soon, but please know that if we can’t meet in person, we will definitely have a virtual conference–and the plus side of that is that then anyone can attend. 🙂

My Caribbean crabs (clypeatus) are all down and I will have “Pet Sand” in there for the foreseeable future. I am in the process of moving all of my tanks to a ground-floor level room, though, so once they come up they will be getting an all-new setup.

The exotics (perlatus and lila) are in a new 90-gallon tank with huge water features and they are loving it. One of the strawberry females is now carrying eggs. Not sure when she will drop, but we do have a full moon approaching, so I’m getting prepared in case it’s soon.

Also…we rather unexpectedly reached a whole new level this week in terms of furthering and expanding the breeding program. My friend Kelly Kurtz (who is also a fellow crab keeper) lives about 5 hours away and got an unexpected spawn in her saltwater pool in a tank that houses mostly exotics. She’d seen some unusual behavior from her straws and violas the previous week, and so we are thinking (and hoping!) that the zoeae came from one (or both!) of them. (It’s also generally not the season yet for PPs to spawn.)

Have zoeae, will travel.

So…baby crab lovers that we are, we both scrambled to find a way to get the zoeae here. She rushed to siphon them out of her saltwater pool, purchase large Mason jars, an extra air pump, an inverter for her car to power the air pump, splitters for the airline tubing, and a whole bunch of sticky hand warmers to put on the jars for warmth. She then put the jars in a box and hit the road (with her seat-warmer on high because the temperature was only in the 40s).

While she was doing that, I was getting the kreisel ready, mixing saltwater, setting up a holding tank for aerated, warmed, filtered saltwater, locating their special foods, and then I hit the road, too. We met in the middle, handed off the larvae, and I sped home. Only trouble was, there were three jars and only one splitter. So for the third jar, I inserted a pipette through the hole in the lid and every five minutes or so reached over and gave the bulb a couple of squeezes to shuffle the zoeae around, making sure to shoot some air bubbles in there, too.

In the kreisel at last!
Deceased mystery zoeae.

And it worked! There were very few losses–especially considering how long they had been without food and how much their conditions had fluctuated. And the deceased ones turn a vibrant pink color (see picture), which my PP larvae never did, so that bodes well for them being a different species. It’s all crazy! And crazy exciting! I feel so much more confident now about meeting people to transfer unexpected spawns to raise (if they are unequipped, don’t want to, or don’t have the time to try).

This means great things for me, because now I don’t have to acquire and keep a tank for every single species I would like to raise. AND it also means great things for the breeding program, because if we get some certified regional breeders who are willing to drive within a radius of their home and meet people looking to donate zoeae, we could really make a dent in the wild-caught trade. Super exciting!

The 2019 babies are growing well and all have been moved to the 55-gallon now, where they are enjoying a great deal of extra space. I did a full count as I moved them and also kept track of the various size ratios. If you recall, 726 were moved from water to land, each only after they exited the water on their own, and each wearing a shell of their choosing. In this recent move, I counted 615 initially, then 18 more resurfaced in the three weeks that followed, for a total of 633, which is an 87% survival rate from first walking onto land–with me doing nothing other than providing food and water and good heat and humidity conditions. That is super encouraging! In 2018, their was a 14% loss rate, so we’ve improved that to 13%, which makes me happy.

The 2018 babies are doing very well in the large 120-tall tank with their parents. In fact, some are getting so big I will need to move them soon if I want to know who they are because they will soon be big enough to confuse me!

A big THANK YOU to all of the people who donated recently to the breeding program. Your thank-you notes are coming, I am just crazy behind on everything. Happy spring!



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