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Ugh. I don’t even know where to start. Was feeling so good about everything yesterday when I closed the door and turned off the light at 8pm. Woke up at 3:30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking of all the things I have to accomplish and how I might do that. Finally got back to sleep sometime after 5, then overslept and didn’t start the first water change until 8:15. Went to light up the newly hatched brine shrimp only to discover that somehow the air pump had gotten knocked last night and stopped working–lots of brine shrimp, but all dead and already stinky. Couldn’t feed those and that is currently the only thing the zoeae are reliably eating–probably because they are such killing machines they like their food alive and kicking. The later water change (from oversleeping) meant that at least 300 megalopa were already dead because they had morphed and gotten killed by the blue stage-five zoeae while I wasn’t there to intervene. SO. MUCH. CARNAGE. And they aren’t just killing for eating anymore, it’s clear, They target them and dispatch them quickly. it’s just straight up killing. I think it’s a resource competition thing…or the fact that once the megalopa harden up, THEY start to kill the zoeae. I don’t believe in an ONLY competitive model of animal survival (cooperation is seen a lot, too, just not generally in babies). When it comes to babies of any species, that selfish gene rules the day. Babies will do anything to outcompete their siblings because it really is a matter of life and death. And these zoeae aren’t even siblings of the PPs (I don’t think–still pretty convinced they’re Es). But I think they are “smart” enough (in a selfish gene sense) to know that it’s kill now or be killed later, so they are killing now with a vengeance. And the carnage isn’t even the problem. per se–there are still tons of zoeae, and truthfully I couldn’t handle 300 more megalopa right now. I’m already incredibly overwhelmed just by the ones I’ve managed to save. BUT once dead, the carcasses foul the water quickly and then more die just from the fouled water. OR I work my butt off changing the water SO MANY TIMES …you get the idea. Woe is me. Threw out my back around 9am–putting on a sock. How does that even happen? That made the water changes even more fun. Had a 10:30 appointment for my back that I barely made after the carnage. Got home around 12:30 and got right back into it only to have more catastrophes. I’m...

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🎼Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64….days old?🎼 Apparently, yes, I will, little crabby. One of the land babies was out today, pushing shells and seeds into the pool. Apparently they hatch knowing how to be mischievous. Maybe that one should be Loki. Lots of megalopa doing handstands at the tideline, drying their butts and I guess practicing land breathing. Several streakers, but I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll see the first ones from the second spawn event start to come to land. I also have to sneak up on them when I need to siphon them up. I have to get them from behind. If I don’t, it’s like trying to get a cat in the bathtub. They spread their legs wide and grab onto the end of the pipette like, “Uh-uh! Nope.” And they will not budge. Lots of water changes in the right kreisel, which is SO full of zoeae still. I’m ready for them to transition! I am incredibly behind on everything. Yeesh. I hate that feeling. And my Thanksgiving company starts arriving Monday. Whew. Somehow we’ll make it all...

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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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