Artemis still has eggs today. This is now 28 days post-mating (Artemis and Kermit mated on August 17th). The eggs are extremely dark gray (you can see them as the uneven mass back in her shell on the right side) which means they are well developed and it’s time for her to spawn. The gray color is mostly a combination of the development of relatively large-for-their-size eyes and the dwindling of the orange yolk sac. They may hatch hungry. I would love to get a video of her spawning, but I’ll have to see how late I can stay up. If I miss it, I hope they survive until morning. I want to be sure that as many of Artemis’s larvae survive as possible. She is my most social and friendly crab. She comes to the sound of my voice and takes food from my hand. If I’m going to breed captive hermits, I want to do my best to select for the traits that will make them better pets than wild animals.
My first morning water change (1/2 gallon out of 2 1/2, so 1/5 of the volume) went fine. A little hectic with Molly (our new rescue pup) helping, but the first few days always feel 100% frenetic until I get in the groove (at which point it becomes only 75% frenetic). The larger tank volume is definitely nice, but I already get the sense that the Kreisel will be much harder to get and keep clean than the jars were. I fed three times today, small amounts, but I could make them even smaller and will try to do that tomorrow just to cut down on the waste. I feed a tiny drop each of Marine Snow, Nannochloropsis, and Decapsulated brine shrimp and watch it disperse. All three stay suspended well in the water column, which is helpful. Oh, I also hatched some live Artemia and added a dropperful of those to the tanks to encourage hunting behavior. I didn’t get a chance to watch for eating as Molly got very jealous very quickly.
Oh, and someone spawned in the fresh water last night. 🤢🤮😭
That was a sad and stinky affair (they can’t survive in freshwater). Thousands of dead and already rotting zoeae. I had to pull out the whole pool and clean it top to bottom. Too much stank.
Oddly enough, I think it was Lola who spawned in the freshwater (she was the one who dumped on the sand last year). And now that I think about it, all that weird guarding that Kermit had been doing of Lola for three whole days took place mostly near or right beside the freshwater pool. Was he trying to keep her from dropping in the freshwater?? I hate to ascribe too much “intent” to the actions of invertebrates, but this is certainly a curious possibility…
Off to do another 1/5 water change. Hoping that will hold them for the night. I have noticed that in the tank with the Nannochloropsis growing on the floor, the larvae appear to be dropping down and eating some of it. I’ll be able to tell for sure if their bellies turn green.
Today, just a few days after the August full moon, I’m seeing the first signs of guarding/mating behavior in my large tank housing all of my adult clypeatus. This time it is Kermit (as usual) and Gilda (a female crab who came to me as a male, and was formerly known as Guido). They mated last year, but I don’t believe she spawned correctly, so we’ll see how it goes this year. Lola and Artemis are usually first in line to mate with Kermit, and I did hear a lot of chirping earlier in the week, but didn’t witness anything firsthand as I have lots of hiding areas in my tank. But Artemis is definitely acting broody already, so I’m guessing Gilda isn’t the first to succumb to Kermit’s charms.
Because of Covid-19 and New York state’s slow rollout, we have had to make the decision to go virtual for Crab Con 2020. And our Crab Con 2020 tickets page is ready! I will break down the pricing for you here (but it’s also on the tickets page.)
- Our BASIC TICKET to the conference is only $10. And the Basic Ticket gives you access to view every single one of our Main Stage talks when they air. (We have 22 scheduled at present–that’s less than 50-cents per talk–and we now have three full days to talk about hermit crabs–YEAH!) The downside to this ticket is that you can only see the talks at the time when they air (no playbacks) so you will have to keep track of the schedule in order to not miss a special talk that you want to see. But it’s a GREAT DEAL for those on a tight budget, especially if you are good at remembering when to watch.
- Our FULL ACCESS TICKET is $59. The Full Access ticket holder can attend all of the main stage conference talks and presentations, view and participate in any of the special sessions, participate in virtual round-table discussions, view expert panels on specific topics (with Q&A chat), as well as enjoy access to the Crab Con Expo (sales area) where you will enjoy special offers from our participating vendors. The Full Access ticket also allows you to view and playback any of the talks or sessions that you might have missed or that you want to study more closely.
- Our VIP TICKET is $99 and grants the holder full access to everything all the other levels enjoy (talks, sessions, Q&A, Expo, etc), PLUS VIP ticket holders get the Crab Con 2020 conference bag complete with conference SWAG, vendor coupons, and goodie bags from our sponsors, vendors, and supporters (filled swag bags will be shipped out prior to the start of the conference). There are a limited number of these tickets available, since we will have only so many bags and only so much swag. They are a great deal for access to a full conference, even without the bags, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.
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.)
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.
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!
February 14, 2020
The babies from the 2018 spawn are now 18 months old and some are really starting to look like small adult crabs. It’s hard to believe I used to pick them up in an eyedropper. Others, from the same brood, are still quite small. The 2019 adopters and I are working together to try and figure out the reason(s) this very different growth may be happening. It’s mysterious, as it’s not tank specific. For instance, I have some of both, kept in the same conditions, with no discernible reason for the big difference in size.
The babies from the 2019 spawn are doing well–insofar as I can tell. I refuse to attempt a count of 700+ baby crabs that are still the size of peppercorns. Fortunately, the wonderful adoption folks at LHCOS are doing a fantastic job of approving an awesome group of adopters (application here) to give these babies new forever homes. Now they just have to GROW so they can get big enough to adopt out. Many adopters will pick their babies up at Crab Con in July, some will have them shipped after the conference.
The really exciting news for the breeding program, though, is that I will be working one-on-one with a nearby hermit crab enthusiast who has agreed to try her hand at raising zoeae–with some help from yours truly. Brianna will be taking any purple pincher spawn that I get this summer and raising them herself in a setup of my design and with my mentorship along the way. This is really exciting news, because we definitely need more people successfully breeding … and what better way than with a batch of already hatched zoeae and some personal instruction?
BUT! (Yes, it gets better!) What has me super stoked about this news is that it means I can focus 100% of my energies now on breeding the exotic species that I have in my care. Last summer, my female Ecuadorian (Coenobita compressus) had eggs, but she didn’t spawn correctly, so there were no babies to raise. And I now have strawberries (C. perlatus) that have been with me for eight months and I’m hoping they will gift me with babies this year.
AND …. drumroll …. through a very happy twist of fate, I now have a brand new species that (I believe) has never been captive bred before. Coenobita lila were only classified as a new species in 2016 and I am thrilled and super excited to have the potential opportunity to get some of them to land. The crabs are new to me (as of this week), so it make take some time–even years–for them to feel comfortable enough to breed in my enclosure, but for now they are pigging out, exploring their temporary quarantine tank, and seem very curious and healthy. I’m really, really excited at this opportunity to learn more about this unique and beautiful species. Wish me–and the new crabbos–luck! And stay tuned!!
Pre-registration for our new VIRTUAL Crab Con 2020 is COMING SOON, complete with details and pricing levels. Stay tuned!!
Want to learn more? Join our Facebook group or follow us on Instagram (@crabcon2020).
I’m pretty certain the Es mated this week (on August 6th). I have a hunch which of the two males mated with Saskia. I believe, based on follow-up protective behavior, that it was Frederico. This would put spawning for the Es sometime on or around September 4th.
I have yet to see any mating behavior in my Purple Pinchers and no sign of eggs. That’s fine with me. If they don’t mate until September, then I get a little bit of a break between batches. The full moon is still a week away, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they “went for it” then. My PPs are pretty reliable full-moon maters.
As for the strawberries, it’s now 31 days since Abby was observed mating and then was subsequently brought to me to give her eggs a chance to hatch. I’ve seen no spawning, but I did observe her shifting around and acting broody earlier this week. However, that behavior seems to have stopped as of this morning, so I believe Abby dropped her eggs overnight somewhere in the tank. I did a search, but didn’t find anything that looked like eggs. I’m guessing they were consumed by the other crabs. I really wanted this to work first time out of the gate, but straws, as a species, are completely new to me and I still have a lot to learn about their behavior, mating or otherwise.
I’ve also been spending some time thinking about the breeding program in philosophical terms, too, including the bioethics of what I’m trying to do. Also what my long-term goals are, and just generally trying to figure out what I want my role to be in this long-term breeding project. Last year, I tried to induce spawning in Blue when I was sure it was time and she wasn’t going into the saltwater on her own. She was terrified as she went underwater, scrambled out as fast as she could, and then spent hours drying the eggs (which clearly hadn’t been ready after all). Then two days later she cast them onto some wood in the tat and the other crabs ate them. (I gathered some and added them to the saltwater, but none hatched.) I had clearly interfered at the wrong time and I took that as a reminder that I don’t actually know more than nature and that it’s not really under my control–it’s all up to the crabs.
So, I won’t be forcing any human-induced spawning on Abby. I want her to trust me long-term, and we’re still just barely getting to know one another. Plus, I want this whole breeding thing to be a cooperative effort. I want the crabs to WANT to spawn and give me a shot at this. It’s an approach that I believe respects the animal’s role in this whole venture. I need to let her do her part and I need to learn more about her–and straws in general–and I need to remember that this is a process. Do I want straw babies? Heck yeah, but I want them to hatch on their terms.
Does this make me a little crazy in some people’s eyes? Probably. Do I care? Not that much, as it turns out. This is between me and these beautiful crabs I get to care for–and we’ll do it the way that works best for us, but I promise I will give it my all if Abby (or anyone else) gifts me with little baby swimmers.
Crab Con was a great success. If you attended, thank you! It was amazing to meet all my virtual crabby friends and share the adventure with them. If you couldn’t make it, I hope to see you next year. We should be announcing a venue within the next month, perhaps locating it in a different city next summer. Stay tuned!
I was also brought six strawberry hermits–one with eggs!–from various generous adopters and supporters of the breeding program and I’m hoping to get a shot at breeding straws this summer. Fingers crossed!
Now the adopters will all begin logging their quarterly check-ins so that we can track these babies growth and behavior over time. I’ll plan to post results from the October check-in as the first one is really just a baseline and we’re all sort of figuring things out.
We’re busily assembling the swag and getting items for Crab Con Marketplace ready for sale. These are the official Crab Con canvas bags with our new logo embroidered on them. They are sturdy, a sustainable, unbleached cotton fabric, and roomy enough to hold plenty of purchases. If you aren’t coming to Crab Con but want to own your own, we have a limited quantity available for purchase prior to the conference. You can find them here.
And here’s an example of the hermit-crab-themed pottery that will be available at the Marketplace. In addition to the usual pea pod dishes and flower dishes from my EarthWaterFireStudio Etsy shop, there will be pottery hides (especially for the larger hermits who no longer fit their cocohuts), pool ladders, ocean-themed dishes, puzzle feeders, and more.
Hope you can join us! July 13 and 14 at the Best Western Lockport. Be there or be … crabby.
Are you interested in attending the First Annual Crab Con International adoption event on July 13th, 2019? If so, our block of rooms in the (Best Western Lockport) conference hotel is filling up quickly. Reserve your spot now! We’ve got a variety of Saturday talks scheduled. Topics include: Creating and Maintaining a Bioactive Setup, Land Hermit Crabs Species Identification, Land Hermit Crab Breeding Methods, Involving Kids in Hermit Crab Care, and How To Build a Vertical Crabitat.
In the Crab Con Marketplace we have: a first-rate shell vendor bringing shells for all your adult and baby crab needs, including a selection of beautiful had-carved turbos in hard-to-find sizes; handmade pottery crab dishes, pottery hides, ladders, and sculpted dishware; conference swag (buttons, t-shirts, bags and more); custom-blended dehydrated hermit crab foods; crochet climbing nets and hammocks; lengths of freshly harvested and power washed cholla wood; foraged mosses, lichens, bark, and various deciduous woods, and so much more! Don’t miss out. Hope to see you there!
The adoption weekend will be July 13th and the form to apply to adopt hermit crab babies is up!
Some frequently asked questions:
1) Yes, there is an adoption fee. My goal has always been to see hermit crabs valued as exotic, long-lived pets. And if I–who painstakingly raised them from birth–can’t value these special little creatures in that way, then who will? It feels like it’s up to me, from Day One, to expect the world to place a value on captive-bred hermits. All adoption fees will go toward funding future breeding attempts.
2) Yes, you can *request* a species as we get closer to the date, but I absolutely cannot guarantee I will be able to honor anyone’s special species requests. There are still too many unknowns in terms of survival and species count. Also, it is my firm conviction that ALL of these babies are special, no matter their species.
3) If adopters want to swap among themselves to make sure they get the species/crab they most want, I have no problems with that.
4) The babies will come with official, signed adoption papers, a travel bin, and some basic supplies to help get you back home safely. (Adopters should plan to bring their own digital gauge for monitoring conditions on the trip home.)
5) Additional babies will *likely* be available at the end of the adoption weekend. If so, approved adopters may get more than two, as desired. I just can’t predict how many I will have until much closer to the date, so I’m being conservative now.
6) I will provide a sheet to each adopter with dates and information slots for the quarterly growth and behavior check-ins.
7) The first 50 (fifty) approved adoption applications will be guaranteed (as much as one can–barring any tragic, unforeseen losses). All applications received after #50 will be added to a waiting list and filled in the order they were approved.