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I did a lot of rearranging today. So many megalopa transitioned this morning I lost count—and there will be at least as many tomorrow—so I needed a new plan for them and an easy way to see when they were taking shells. I cleaned the left kreisel and put all the megalopa I could find into that with shells and about five inches of water. The right kreisel has all the remaining zoeae. It will mean extra cleaning in that, but only for a day or two, because as they transition to megalopa I will move them to the left kreisel—provided I can get to them before the murderous zoeae. Since they transition mostly in the morning, I expect tomorrow morning to be busy. Oh, and I also have a plan for a second transition tank to place in the 55 gallon which keeps temp and humidity good. I siliconed the ramp and added sand for gripping texture for little crabby toes. I’m hoping it will be cured enough tomorrow. I think it will be fine given that my earlier emergency kreisel repair (that now seems SO long ago!) only had 30 minutes to cure and was fine—no zoeae died. Still nobody on land in a shell, but several streakers keep trying. Maybe...

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Crablandia is out of control. The megalopa in the transition tank are climbing out of the water naked. The stage six zoeae are killing the megalopa in the kreisels as soon as they transition. The babies on land are MIA. And I have no clue what to feed anyone anymore. Some of the bizarre things I spent today doing: 1) Sitting in front of the kreisels, pipette in hand, waiting to spot a newly transitioned megalopa swim past so that I can reach in and whisk it out of the kreisel before a stage five attacks and kills it. 2) Performed 4 exo-cisions, a special procedure by which when I spot a megalopa stuck in his exo (it usually hangs off the claws and if they can’t remove it, they eventually drown), pipette him out and into this tiny antique salt cellar, move it under a bright light, and using a toothpick very carefully pin down the exo. Normally the megalopa backs up and separation is completed. If not, I drag him a bit, using his body weight to help release the exo. Then pipette him back into the intermediate tank. 3) Spent several hours sifting through my bag of live sand in search of miniscule shells. Then carefully determined if they were intact, with no holes, if so, I then used a straight pin to clear the opening, trying not to push it through the other side and make a hole in the process. 4) Carefully constructed a “shell wall” of sorted and cleared shells at the border of the sand in the transition tank, thereby insuring that if a crab insists on crawling out naked, he will at least have to climb over a wall of appropriate shells, opening side facing up, so that in the process of streaking he might accidentally slip, drop his butt into a shell, and think, “Hey, something about this just feels right!” 5) Doubted everything I’m doing, sweated, worried, and fretted because each time I managed to stabilize conditions in one tank, something went haywire in another. 6) Finally called it at 7:30pm (they will have to do on their own until the morning), finished dinner, played with the dog, then opened a beer and found a perfectly timed message under the...

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Here’s a video with info and a quick tour. It’s the fastest and easiest way for me to do this. Mondays are really busy days here and I’m staving off a meltdown today. I really, really, really, REALLY wish I knew what I was doing!!! Gah, some days are just so freaking hard. Everything is always changing, each tank has different needs, sometimes they start dying and I have no idea why. 😭😭 I know how miraculous this all is and how lucky I am to be able to experience it and to have the time and resources and support to take it on…but Lordy, some days. Honestly, it’s pretty consistently awful drudgery, punctuated by moments of sublime wonder and excitement. But this constant uncertainty and so many little lives in the balance and all the unknowns make me crazy! A big part of why I’m doing this is to make it easier for those that try after me—creating a record of what worked and what didn’t to take away some of the guesswork for others—but day-to-day that goal gets subsumed as I fret and worry and try something new when the old stops working. Ugh. I’m not someone who likes playing god (except in my fictional worlds) and the other day (to get through a rough patch where I couldn’t save all of them) I told myself, “You aren’t playing God, you’re playing Ocean.” Adopting that slant helped some, especially when I thought about all the times I’ve been in or on the ocean. Sometimes the vast ocean is comforting, a cradling, crackling, salty womb, but other days it’s wild and dirty and scary, completely indifferent to my piddly little life to the point of seeming mean. On those days when I’m struggling hard and losing some of the zoeae without knowing why, or fumbling in my efforts and causing unintended issues, I just tell myself, “You’re the ocean, Mary. And today the ocean is dirty and mean.”...

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I noticed today that a couple of the stage five zoeae aren’t orange like all the others have been, they’re an unusual blue (sort of grey-blue like an uncooked shrimp). In this picture, you can see the blue one above the two shells (center) and an orange one just to the right of the shells for comparison. Quite a difference. More than just a food thing (because they are all fed the same), I think this means that the last surprise spawn actually WAS from the small Ecuadorian that I saw near the pool (I adopted three late this summer and have been mostly leaving them alone so they could adjust to the new digs). I’m not prepared to call it as 100% an E, but I think this makes a lot of sense, especially given the level of cannibalism I’ve seen in this newer group. It’s off the charts—and they are fierce about it, too. Plus, many of the zoeae have been extremely fast and acrobatic in the wastewater when I try to put them back in the tank and many also haven’t colored up as quickly as the last batch. If so, I’m really stoked that this may be the case, but also worried for all the remaining PPs that are currently transitioning and getting eaten before I can even get to them to move them to safer waters. I probably lost several hundred today. Since they tend to transition first thing in the morning after I turn on the light and feed them, my new strategy is going to be trying to spot as many as I can (first thing in the morning) either pre-molt or mid-molt and move them over to the intermediate tank where they actually have sand and small shells to hide in while they harden up. Let’s hope it...

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Both of the land babies are now in black turbo shells so I can’t tell them apart anymore, but both are still happily climbing and eating. Numbers are down somewhat in the kreisels (predation) and a few of the megalopa that I moved to the transition tank are still looking good and strong. Also set up an intermediate tank just as an experiment. Some of the stage five that looked very ready to transition to megalopa (they get sort of bulgy and pregnant looking with all those extra legs ready to pop out…and/or their eyes start to get farther apart) I moved into that intermediate tank. It’s a 2 1/2 gallon beta tank with sand and shells in the bottom and about 3” of heated and aerated saltwater. The idea being that they will have more camouflage and places to hide and will hopefully be better able to transition without getting eaten. After they are megalopa I can move them to the transition tank. So, yeah, I lied when I said it got easier today, because I made another tank for me to monitor. Doh! Let’s see… that’s how many now? 1) big tank 2) kreisel #1 3) kreisel #2 4) transition tank 5) baby tank and now 6) the intermediate tank. Oh, and two mason jars of brine shrimp I have to keep warm, aerated, and hatching and spaced out so there’s overlap. Yowza. My crab room is full of air pumps, heaters, lights, and bubblers. 😜...

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I’ve set up the transition tank and moved a few zoeae over just as an experiment. I’m having a weird issue that isn’t currently a huge problem but it does concern me. Lots of the stage five zoeae are transitioning into megalopa, which is good, BUT the other ones that are still at stage five appear to be attacking and eating the megalopa as they are molting so that I’m only seeing dead ones. I currently have way too many zoeae in the tank, so it’s not a problem to lose a few, but it just seems weird. Last time, it was the megalopa that were eating the stage five, which makes a lot more sense to me. I don’t know if the fact that my population of survivors is so much higher this time around is part of the issue, or what. There’s no other obvious reason that I can discern. I’m feeding mostly newly hatched brine shrimp since they are losing interest in the other stuff. Also did a full clean of both kreisels today. The two already on land are okay as far as I can tell. Saw the one in the little dark turbo shell, but didn’t see the one in the spiral shell. Gave them their first popcorn and it was like Mount Rushmore to them—the big rock popcorn mountain. Ha! Also tried a tiny dab of organic, grass fed ground beef. Didn’t see any interest in that. May remove it before I go to bed. Still keeping them alive, but really ready for it to start to wind...

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