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Still deciding what to do with the new spawn. Put a few in the kreisels, but the majority are still in the 2 1/2 gallon tank and doing okay. I spent most of my efforts on updating the transition tank. I knew it wasn’t working. There should have been 22 megalopa in there and I just wasn’t seeing them. I took out the whole big bin and then the clock was ticking in terms of warmth and oxygenated water. Really hustled to try and find any survivors AND set up a new tank at the same time. They are SO tiny and I kept taking my glasses off, putting them back on, trying the magnifying glass and flashlight, hoping to find them without hurting them, examining the ramp and rock for hangers on, etc. Found five survivors and lots of dead ones. No matter how many times I tell myself that live sand is a good idea, it just isn’t. It’s too hard to keep clean in a small space with a tiny siphon. [Please remember that, Mary.] In fact, I would recommend the least natural-looking transition tank possible since it is SO hard to tell what’s going on in there. Contrast is your friend when it comes to transition tanks. Fortunately, two of the survivors look really strong, including the one from the shell picture yesterday. I found him among the sand and shells by rocking the bin and simulating a wave. When one of the shells moved, I knew I had found him. He moves fast. He also switched shells as soon as I put him in the transition tank, then started to climb out so I grabbed my camera to video it. This shell he took looks like a freshwater snail shell. Much lighter. After the video I put a shrimp on the ramp. Untitled from Mary Akers on Vimeo.   This new setup is smaller and inside a bin of the same size as the other. It’s a mini-paint tray that I silicone sand and some craft mesh on to make it easy to climb out. As you can see, he had no trouble. I was a HOT MESS the whole time, though. I think I’m wearing a Path between the crab tank and the sink. I tried to remove the shells to move them, but they’re so tiny they stick to my fingers, so I tried to “flick” them off my hand and into the small cup of previously sorted and cleaned miniature shells. When I did that flick, I accidentally flicked the whole cup and they went everywhere—into my trash can, and all...

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Yup. Someone else spawned. Too exhausted to take a picture of it tonight, but I found a temporary tank to hold them until morning–when I will have to figure out what the heck to do with them–on top of all the others. We have officially reached the Be Careful What You Wish For stage. And the crazy thing is, I was just finishing up an already insane day, wondering if I even had time to make a post. I was just doing one final check of things in the crab room (what my husband calls the mad scientist room) … and …”Hmmm, that saltwater pool looks awfully grey …. what the—?” I don’t know who spawned.There’s a slight possibility it was one of my new adopted Es. It’s doubtful, season-wise, but that E was the only one near the saltwater at the time I noticed the greyness and it was acting odd. So, the huge quantity of Day Four zoeae all shed today (a day earlier than the first spawn did). That was a time-consuming mess. So I did a full clean of both kreisels. Plus some of the megalopa in the transition tank are now crawling onto the rock WITHOUT a shell, the little buggers. (Gently squirted them back in—rogue wave.) I added a few more megalopa to the transition tank—for a total of 21—but then removed two dead ones later, so there are (probably) 19 in there (unless some have been completely eaten). The transition tank isn’t really working out that great. The temp and humidity are fine, but it’s down in the bottom of my 55, which makes it super hard to clean, to see, and to manage, especially when the megalopa are so microscopic. I will need to figure out something different with that soon. In the meantime, I’m totally overwhelmed. I’m going to need more saltwater mix (very soon), more Instant Baby Brine Shrimp (soon), and more Nannochloropsis. If you’ve been meaning to get anything from my Etsy shop, now would be a good time to order. I might be a little slower filling orders, but they would really help me out with these added costs. I’ve got plenty of burning bush leaves now, plenty of deer poo, and just made a big new batch of color-enhancing mix (with a new ingredient added–dragon fruit powder). If you’ve recently ordered (and I know some have!), thank you. I appreciate the support. Now to crawl to bed and try not to dream about baby...

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We’re getting so close!! The first megalopa has taken a shell and climbed out of the water onto a rock!! I am so ridiculously excited!!! The final stage to becoming a fully formed hermit crab will occur when the megalopa crawls onto land and molts in the sand. That on-land molt gives him the final hermit crab touches of two sets of antennae, land gills, shell legs, and pleiopods. Go little guy, go! In the first photo, my finger is pointing to the shell for scale—to give you an idea of just how incredibly freaking small this little critter is. The second picture I took with a clip-on iPhone macro lens so you could see some of the actual crab details. The megalopa is right at the water’s edge so he’s soaking wet, but you can just make out the walking legs—holding both him and the shell upright—and one black eye wondering, no doubt, what the heck I am doing. Although, come to think of it, for the past 35 days I’ve been siphoning him up through a narrow 30″ tube then shining a bright light on him and sucking him up again to deposit him back in the water, so perhaps nothing I could do would faze this little guy. After taking the picture, I put a single defrosted brine shrimp at the top of the rock (using a toothpick) and he climbed up and ate it! (I may die of cuteness overload.) He has since crawled back down the rock and into the water. This “land practice” will likely happen for a few days (much like a tadpole turning into a toad exits the water a bunch of times as his legs grow before becoming a full time land dweller). Stay...

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So stinkin’ cute—am I right? This was taken in a small Pyrex ramekin and this little larval crabby is tenaciously hanging on to the tiniest ridge of glass that runs around the inside. They are also super fast and shoot around the surface of whatever container they are in. Today there are a total of 18 megalopa (like this guy) in the transition tank, along with some day two zoeae from Lola’s second batch. They are mostly in there as a way to monitor conditions at a glance (canary in the coal mine), and also to serve as live food for the megalopa so they (hopefully) won’t eat each other anymore. There are also a bunch of shells in there with them. No takers so far, although I thought I saw one shell moving. I think I need to set up a time-lapse camera to record if they are in shells and moving around. There are also thousands of day two larvae in the two kreisels. We’ll just see how it...

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Three weeks. If nothing else, I’ve done that. Today was deep-clean day and I had a semi-emergency. Took almost five hours to complete because I realized (after completely wiping clean and drying it) that the left kreisel had sprung a leak. Freshwater was dribbling in. I must have wiped a little too vigorously at the silicone (it was filthy). I was home alone and needed about five hands, but somehow I managed to plug the outside (under water) with one hand, dry the inside completely with a second hand, and silicone the leak with a third hand. Still not sure how I did it. It was one of those emergency out-of-body reactions like lifting a car off of your child.  I let the silicone dry for 30 minutes and things looked good, then I added some water, put a few brine shrimp in, and when they didn’t die I added a handful of zoeae. I waited a few more hours before moving over half of them just to make sure the fresh silicone wasn’t going to be deadly. (It wasn’t.) And after staring entirely too long into the newly-cleaned water of the other tank, I’m confident saying that we are entering stage five. Next stage is megalopa!! (That’s when they get claws and start looking for shells.) Very excited/worried about that. Rough population count puts the total at right around 500. Deaths will go up today, because of the stressful deep clean of the tanks, but it’s always a balancing act between more dying from NOT cleaning the tanks versus more dying from cleaning them…and they had gotten pretty slimy and gross. The other source of additional deaths today will be from the difficulty of entering stage five. This picture shows one that’s half stuck in his exoskeleton (the shed exo is the pinker tail going vertical—the new, freshly molted tail is almost clear and extends behind the orange abdomen). It’s just hanging on, probably stuck on the new leg structures. I’m seeing this a lot today—as their bodily structures become more complex, the sheds become more difficult and dangerous. This is one of the reasons I went with reef salt, because it has higher calcium which I thought would help them to have sturdier exoskeletons. I did a calcium test just to be sure, and the numbers are good, even a tad higher than a normal reef. Now I need to go stream some mindless tv. I’m pushing the limits of my sanity once again, but thank you all for taking this trip with...

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Day Eighteen. Finally got a really good closeup shot today of one that I think is at Stage Four. I’m placing it side-by-side with a drawing of the various stages provided for verification. (Credit for the diagrams goes to: “The Larval Development of the Tropical Land Hermit Coenobita clypeatus (Herbst) in the Laboratory,” Author: Anthony J. Provenzano Jr.)...

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