Summer 2022 Breeding

Rimless tank for the new kreisel build.

4-26-22: I’m just now starting to assemble parts for the new-and-improved kreisel design, which will be larger and sturdier. This will be built in hopes of utilizing it for the 2022 breeding season. A larger volume of water should allow me to keep a greater number of zoeae alive with fewer water changes. So far, I’ve purchased a large acrylic cylinder and a rimless tank (to make inserting the cylinder drum easier). The jury is still out on whether I will attempt a full filtered kreisel or not. I’m leaning toward a hybrid version since the shed days have caused issues with overflow for others.

Acrylic cylinder for the inner drum.

The cylinder (interior drum) is simply a tall display stand, created from 1/4″ thick acrylic sheeting which will be repurposed as the interior drum of the kreisel. Measuring and cutting accurately will likely be my biggest issue. Still not sure how best to accomplish that, but once it’s done, I’ll be excited to begin construction in earnest.

9-6-22, Day One:

After lots of mating behavior and two previous missed spawns, I found (surprise!) C. perlatus zoeae swimming in the pool this evening. I’m estimating about 400 zoeae, which sounds like a lot, but with an ultimate survival rate of maybe 2%, that would mean eight on land. Since I’ve never gotten straws to land before, even eight would be a big victory for me. We shall see…

This new kreisel build has its issues. It’s not leaking, which is a win, lol. The rest of the things are fixable, I believe, so it will just involve plenty of tinkering–as does any new piece of equipment that one builds from scratch without a blueprint. I need to put something black behind the tank to make the videos clearer, but this is what we’ve got for now.

I’ve got the salinity at ~33-34 0/00 and the water temperature at 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’ve put my shop on hold to concentrate on this attempt. It would be wonderful to have enough survive to be able to learn about them from birth. Send lots of good vibes for their health and growth.

The new kreisel hard at work!

9-7-22, Day Two:

I tried the targeted feeding method today, which seemed to work well. Already their bodies appear less clear, so they are ingesting something. All in all, I’m feeling hopeful at the end of Day Two! 

One of my fellow breeders sent me spiffy new glasses as a gift. Lighted AND magnifying! SO helpful when they are incredibly tiny and almost clear.

600 C. perlatus zoeae in 4 ounces of seawater.

9-8-22, Day Three:

The C. perlatus babies are doing well so far (pinch me!). I’ve got some new foods coming to try out with them which I’m excited about. They aren’t yet eating the freshly hatched brine shrimp which kind of bums me out (it’s a much cleaner and healthier food source) but maybe they just need to grow a little larger. (I’ve seen a couple of them grab one and then drop it fast like, “Whoah! That moved!)

I forget in between attempts just HOW small they start out. Picking them out of the waste water is so very time consuming. I liken it to looking for shooting stars in the night sky. You just kind of have to stare without focusing too hard and keep your eyes prepared to pick up any movement then focus quickly when you see one move. Each time that I think, “Surely that’s the last one,” I wait a minute or two more and catch another squiggle to remove. This is the most time consuming part of the process: saving as many as you can. 

I did a rough population count and good news! I have 1150 zoeae, which is about three times more than I was estimating by sight alone. As you can see in the video, 600 fit comfortably in 1/2 cup of saltwater, so it’s easy to underestimate. If you’re wondering what a population count is, it’s a way to count (by estimating) large numbers of animals or animals in very fluid environments with lots of movement. In my case, I take a full pipette of zoeae, count out two or three of them, and find that the average pipette-full of three-day old zoeae is 50 individuals. Then for each full pipette, I say, there’s fifty! When they get too sparse to get a full pipette anymore, I count the last ones individually.

The new kreisel build is good. I’m learning its unique quirks and appreciating things I hadn’t thought of as I use it and find the best ways to keep parameters good across the board. I love having the outside water be saltwater, too. I can dip from it without fear of getting babies. The 300 micron mesh contains the babies well without clogging, however it does allow the smaller brine shrimp through, so I will have some of those swimming around in the outer tank to deal with. I measured today and my new kreisel volume (in just the drum) is five gallons!! That’s fabulous and will really help me to maintain water quality, especially with the outside water being filtered and able to be exchanged with the inner water.

I don’t think the babies have shed yet, but I added another high-powered overhead light today and will get a good look tomorrow morning.

So far so good!!

Four-day old zoeae…playing Chopin.

9-9-22, Day Four:

Broke out the microscope today and got some close up footage of a stage one perlatus zoeae. I’ve not seen any sheds yet, so I’m hoping tomorrow they will morph into stage two. I’ve been unable to locate a scientific paper on perlatus, so I’m unsure even of how many stages they will have. I’m going to guess four.

I’d forgotten how many strange muscles get used in siphoning, pipetting, staring into the tank, leaning over the wastewater, etc. Woke up sore in strange places this morning. Apparently I need to build up my crab-breeding muscles.

9-11-22, Day Six:

This is a video time lapse of feeding. It’s 45 minutes condensed down to thirty seconds. What you’re seeing is me turning off all the lights, bringing them to one spot with a bright flashlight, target feeding them (a new method innovated by the lovely Darcy Madsen of Crab Central Station), letting them feed a bit, then turning the lights back on, siphoning out the remaining food and (inadvertently) any zoeae still hanging out there (frustrating), then shining a bright light into the wastewater and pipetting them one-by-one into a small measuring cup, then pipetting/pouring them back into the kreisel. Followed by a quick salinity check and fresh saltwater top-off.

They are doing well…mostly. Some small number are having trouble with sticky sheds. (I bought more cuttlebone today to shave for them–increased calcium *may* help that.) Yesterday, day five, was the first day that any shed, maybe 20% of them. Today, it’s more like 60% have shed, and tomorrow the remaining 20% should shed–all moving into Stage 2. Shed days are usually a three-day event, with the middle day being the top of the bell curve and the most work. So I’ve been siphoning a lot today.

If they hold to the C. violascens timeline (no records to be found for C. perlatus), then the stage three sheds should begin on day 9.

I received some awesome new foods to try yesterday, from my friend Stacy Boltz (the Healthy Hermit) who recently got 16 Es to land! And they are doing great. The straw babies seem to be really digging the new foods for corals and inverts and you can see in the video that they are coloring up nicely. It appears they are also finally starting to eat the live artemia–maybe they just needed to grow and/or develop more mature catching/eating structures.

I am REALLY enjoying using this new kreisel build. Definitely worth the big expense outlay and time spent on the design/build. A lot of things I guessed about (what height to place the micron mesh, size of top opening, etc, have been spot-on, so that’s all really great. I think I am using my filtered kreisel a little differently than Rizky or Darcy did. The outer filter runs all the time, and there is some small passive exchange of water through the micron mesh, but I turn on the pump part only when I want to “flush” the water in the barrel, or when I want to fill the barrel. The really cool thing is, I can empty the barrel to clean it (which I did today for the first time) and then refill the barrel just by turning on the pump and that filtered outside water comes in by way of the spray bar. Then, when I add fresh water to the outside, that can stay outside the barrel getting filtered and up to temp, etc. It’s also really nice having it all be saltwater–no worries if I accidentally drop a zoeae in the outer water. I can just pipette them back up.

ALSO! See how green the water is? That’s my nannochloropsis multiplying in the tank because I’m not throwing away so much of the water every day. I love it. It’s making the nannochloropsis WAY more efficient for me to use.

I also love the huge volume of water, which makes everything SO much more stable.

I did another rough count today, and I’ve lost about 50, which leaves me with 1,100. BUT I’d say about 50 of those are still very small and pale. So they’re either not eating or failing to thrive for some reason. So I have about 1,050 strong and healthy individuals. If the sticky sheds continue, I’ll lose more to that, but we’ll see if the cuttlebone helps.

Trying not to get too complacent, as historically that’s when things get away from me….but also trying not to spend my entire day staring into the tank wondering what they need. It’s a balance, lol.

9-12-22, Day Seven:

Salinity is kept at ~33-34 0/00 and Temperature is at 81 degrees F. (This is lower salinity than the PPs get and higher temps, all conjecture/extrapolation based on where the adult crab species live and spawn, but it seems to agree with them so I’ll keep the parameters here.)

Straw babies are still doing well. They have colored up now that they are at Stage Two and are eating more foods– including (I believe) the live artemia.

The final 20% seem to be shedding today–much more manageable than yesterday’s sheds. Some 10% or so are still looking very small and pale and some of the colored ones are just really good at hiding in the detritus. I believe previous breeding attempts where the breeders have said, “They just disappeared!” are most likely due to these late bloomers and good hiders. Today, just to get an idea, I removed all of the obvious zoeae (when it would be logical to toss the remaining dirty water) and counted how many I found after that by just sitting and staring into the water and alternately “fluffing” the detritus. It was 54! I knew it would be a lot, but that number still surprised me. So…if people aren’t aware that these tinies and hiders exist, they may be tossing them. Losing 50+ (that are mostly invisible) at each water change would definitely lead you to think they had just disappeared.

I’m posting earlier because I’m going to tear myself away today and try to do and think of something besides baby hermit crabs. I’m going to a matinee of Where the Crawdads Sing! So….still in the vein of crustaceans, I guess. There’s no avoiding them!

9-13-22, Day 8:

I’d forgotten that the strawberry zoeae have green eyes! And they get these gorgeous fans at the end of their tails. Flukes, I guess, or separate lobes of the tail that fan out. I got that on video. Will try to post that, too. Just really tired. Long day….and one of those days that are filled with doubts even though there’s nothing visibly wrong. It got better, but the morning was rough and the first clean/feed of the day took three hours.

Most breeders will tell you this process is a big ‘ol fat roller coaster–even when things seem to be going right. For me, it’s mostly the weight of the huge unknowns. I like charting new territory, but it can also be overwhelming. Today was overwhelming. Tomorrow will be better.

9-14-22, Day 9:

In yesterday’s video, you can see the lovely wide tails I was trying to describe. (PPs don’t have these.) The scientific papers call it the rostrum, but in my mind, the rostrum is what it will become once it’s a hermit crab. At this stage, it looks like a beautiful tail, so I’m going to be stubborn and call them flukes.

I noticed quite a few more dead ones today, but also quite a few that are coloring up beautifully and clearly healthy, so I’m going to call it a wash and try not to stress about it. I think the dying ones may be those clear ones that never seemed to eat or grow no matter what I fed them. That happens in all litters sometimes, so I’m just going to let nature do its thing and be happy for the ones who appear to be thriving.

There were definitely a few that shed into Stage Three today, so that’s exciting. (Tomorrow will be busy when the bulk of them shed.) A few were definitely able to eat the live artemia, too, so I’ll keep feeding it. They are eating lots but also pooping lots now, so that means more water quality issues to stay on top of.

I’m hoping to get them out of the kreisel and into the transition tank before my PPs spawn, which should be on or around the 23rd. Juggling that is going to be hectic, for sure. Trying not to think too much about it yet since I can’t really control any of that.

AND! My local NBC affiliate does a wonderful morning feature called “The Deep Blue Ridge” and the reporter is coming to my house tomorrow to see my setup, take some stills and do an interview. She called this morning and asked for tomorrow and lordy! I’ve been cleaning almost since before we hung up. Not only the house, but the garage where my breeding setup is, the crab room and all three of my big tanks (gotta look spiffy for the camera!) I’m exhausted, which is actually good because hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight and will be less nervous tomorrow. (I think most everyone who attended Crab Con knows how I struggle with being on camera.) But, I’m just keeping my eye on the prize: “It’s all for the crabs!” So. Much. Outreach!!

9-18-22, Day (Lucky?) Thirteen:

The C. perlatus babies are (mostly) still alive. I hope to do a kreisel clean today and get a full count of what I have left. They are in all different stages at this point which is weird, but I can’t force them to grow at the same rate.

I wish I could mainly feed them live artemia at this point, because it would be so much faster, cleaner, and easier for me. Plus, I have tons of fresh artemia that I’ve hatched. They’re the perfect food and it’s what I feed the PPs after stage three, but these guys aren’t eating the live artemia for some unknown reason. I keep feeding them freshly hatched artemia (Delicious! Colorful! Eat zem, EAT zem!!) at night, hopeful that something will click, but every morning, there are still so many artemia, now larger, and having been a couple thousand more mouths overnight to eat the food, consume the oxygen, and make waste in the water. Plus, they seem to annoy the zoeae, who flick away from them whenever touched. So my job this morning was more about trying to remove the bazillions of artemia–especially the ones that have gotten larger than the zoeae. They look surprisingly like the zoeae after a certain size, so it gets tricky. It’s kind of the like the bonus round in a video game when they throw everything at you really quickly. “It’s a fruit! Yay! NO! It’s a bomb! Gah! Avert! Avert!” It can be sort of fun in a challenging way if you’re in the mood. There’s just no leveling up, lol. Just a constant bonus round of Zoeae Ninja. (And I’m well and truly over it.)

For some of them, this will be the final stage before megalopa, so in a few days I’ll start being on the lookout for that. Many aren’t growing nearly as quickly, so this may be a long process (probably why I never got any to land before when I combined them with PP zoeae). My PPs are on track to spawn in less than a week, and there will be waaaay too many of them, so I’ll have some tricky decisions to make at that point. I’ll probably move the straws to one of my old kreisels at that point so I have the big new tank for PPs, but there will be lots of cleaning involved for both tanks AND clean and setup for a transition tank, and I have no counter space left in my garage (or my crab room) so I’ll have to figure that out soon. Plus temps outside are dropping now so the garage will start to get too cool fairly soon. Anyway, just a lot on my mind. Makes it tough to find the brain space to create updates, even though I know folks are anxious to hear how it’s going. I’m grateful for all the continued support. And I’ll keep grinding away.

Stage Four zoeae of C. perlatus.

9-21-22, Day 16:

Got another shed under the microscope this morning. Should be Stage Four. BUT! It’s really hard to know where we stand in regards to megalopa. There is no roadmap for C. perlatus, so I’ve been going by a scientific paper on C. violascens and those made megalopa between 15-19 days after hatching.

Mine could be delayed a bit because of being a different species timeline–or there could be a fifth stage like C. clypeatus–or they could be delayed by the fact that I haven’t found a live food that they’ll eat. (Though I think they did eat some of the artemia overnight.) I’m feeling fairly anxious today, waiting for megalopa and also waiting for another experimental shipment of zoeae to arrive. (More on that if they survive shipping.)

Plus this time right before megalopa is a time I refer to as The Doldrums (named for that spot in the ocean where the gyre creates a dead zone with no winds and sailing ships used to get stuck for days or weeks waiting for the winds to return). I’ve experienced The Doldrums myself, every time I get to this stage with zoeae, and I’ve counseled other breeders numerous times that it’s just a troublesome period and to stay calm. The zoeae get less active (growing all the megalopa legs takes a lot of energy and time) and they don’t seem to make further progress and you start to worry that you are doing something wrong. The biggest danger at this point comes from trying too hard to fix something that isn’t broken just because you’re feeling anxious. Like I tell everyone else, “Just keep your head down and do the steps.” So I’m self-coaching these past two days. Steady, Mary. Just do the steps and trust the process.

C. lila megalopa having a feeding frenzy.

9-25-22, Days 20 (straw), 7 (lila), and 3 (PP)… All the Days

I definitely am overdue for an update but this will be very quick and to-the-point. I’m too exhausted to be clever, lol.

Darcy Madsen, lovely fellow breeder, sent me a spawn from her C. lila a few days ago. They are on day seven since hatching, 3 (or 4?) days with me. I can’t remember. But they all made megalopa today which I discovered at 5am. I was instantly awake, as I hadn’t even set up the transition tank yet. (Carol Hansen came today to help me out, angel that she is, and I had planned to do that setup with her. Nope! The lilas had other plans, as crabs often do.) This video is the lila megalopa having a feeding frenzy. They are hungry little buggers. 741 megalopa were moved to the transition tank. A dozen or so have since died, but many are still going strong, as you can see.

The straws are on day nineteen, I think, maybe twenty (too tired to check). I saw two megalopa today, but they were deceased already when I saw them. I will have to check bright and early tomorrow to see if I can save some as soon as they transition. A few are looking very “full” in the belly, with all their megalopa legs and claws developing underneath, so I think they will transition overnight or early morning. I don’t currently have a straw transition tank set up, either, but that will be another thing I do quickly and anxiously once it’s needed because that’s the only thing urgent enough to override the fatigue and get me moving.

My PPs started spawning three days ago. Lots. Carol came and counted them today (a population count) and the ones I’m keeping number about 7,400. The other roughly equal number are now in the home of Meredith Hass in her nifty new kreisel. She drove three hours each way to retrieve them. I was hoping I would have a fresh spawn for her to track from day one, but my other crabs still carrying eggs did not think it was time to release them yet, so she’s on the same three-day timetable as me. A head start isn’t a bad thing. I do expect those restless females to spawn overnight so we shall see what the morning brings.

Preparing to ship out zoeae.


Today I shipped out zoeae to Jaimie Marie and Heather Baumer so that they can give raising zoeae a try. (Thank you!!) Very nerve-wracking to do–lots of juggling involved. To date, Darcy Madsen has been the only one brave enough to give shipping zoeae a try and both her shipments arrived in great shape. Here’s hoping mine do as well. I experimented with several different water volumes, nannochloropsis, and number of zoeae so we can see if there’s an ideal method for future shipments. It’s a great relief to have been able to donate some of these babies to folks who can give raising them a try. (Meredith Hass also has some from an older batch, that she picked up in person, half of which I kept to raise.) My crabs are BIG producers.

The lilas are starting to look at shells and trying to climb out of the water already. That seems SO FAST! I’m not quite prepared for that. Tomorrow I’ll need to get a better exit transition tank set up, along with a land tank for them. Yowza. Never a dull moment.

The straw megas are doing okay, but they still aren’t eating great. I think tomorrow I will take them all out of the transition tank and try to target feed them in a smaller container. They don’t follow the light like the lilas and they don’t seem to hunt. So far, freeze-dried brine shrimp seems to be their preference because it floats and they don’t sink to the bottom much, but I need them to eat to feel confident that they’re going to make it to land.

As soon as I sent the shipments off today I felt a big weight lift. The past two days have been like triage after a huge disaster and I was just going from tank to tank seeing who had the biggest flesh wound and attending to them while the (mere) broken leg had to wait. I’ve still got too many tanks to tend to, but at least I can relax a bit more. That huge spawn was rough, but I’m proud of us for working together to give them a shot at life and definitely further our knowledge base and expand our list of potential breeders.

C. perlatus megalopa


All of the various spawns still have survivors. The strawberries are on day 26. Some are still zoeae, but most are megalopa. The megas are still not showing much interest in leaving the water. I did offer shells today for the first time and some were exploring. Every day there are dead ones, but also ones that look nice, dark, and healthy. Creating a way for them to exit the water, separate from the lilas , who are also megalopas, is giving me lots of anxiety. I just can’t seem to hit on the right solution …. yet. I’m telling myself I’ll sleep on it tonight and fix something up in the morning. Part of the problem is that the transition tanks I’ve made are so deep this year. It’s been great for holding water quality and giving them lots of space to swim and avoid one another, but I can’t see down to the bottom to monitor them and I can’t get the ramp at a shallow enough angle for them to easily exit.

The lilas are on day 14 and have been megalopa for about a week. They are also digging the water (different transition tank—I’ve got six tanks going in all, and two jars of artemia) and seem to be in no hurry to leave. Two days ago, I stopped seeing 90% of them swimming around, which ramped up the ol’ anxiety, you can bet. But Darcy, who successfully brought lilas to land earlier this year and who shipped me these so I could give it a shot, had already seen the same behavior (scared her, too), so I knew it was *probably* not a mass die-off. This morning I used my large siphon to pull up a bunch of the shells (and clean the tank floor) and also got a bunch of megas (about 100) and some were in shells, so that was exciting. Tomorrow I MUST figure out a proper exit for them.

The first PP spawn (that I shared with Meredith) is on day 10, coloring up nicely and looking good in the large kreisel. I’ve lost track of their stages with so many other things going on, but I think we’re at stage three, probably four tomorrow, with the way they’ve been eating.

The second PP spawn (part of which I shipped to Heather and Jaimie) is on day 7. These are in my older double kreisel, and I’m doing the minimum for them to see how they do and because I just can’t do more than that. The other three spawns have to take priority.

Went to order more nannochloropsis and it looks like my regular supplier (Mercer of Montana) has disappeared from the face of the earth. What the heck? I don’t have time to research a new company! I’ll just try to make what I have last, which will be easier if I move everyone into the large kreisel which multiplies the nano nicely. (Kelsey had a bunch of bottles left over from the generous donations all of you made, so they sent the remainder along to me so the nanno could still get used—thank you!)

The past couple of days any spare time has been spent sorting tiny shells to try and give them the perfect pants to wear out in public. It’s engrossing and fairly mind-numbing, but at least I know what I’m doing there. Everything else has me completely flummoxed and doubting myself. I don’t care HOW many times you do this successfully; it always finds a way to humble you.

10-20-22, Updates below, by species:

Day 45 (Straws): The strawberry babies—only 14 left—have been megalopa, living in the water since September 25th, give or take a day or two since they didn’t all make megalopa on the same day. They have now been megalopa for longer than they were zoeae (25 days versus 20 days). Only one has taken—and kept wearing—a shell. This is the one in the picture below, clutching a piece of oak bark in their separate transition tank which I had been laboriously maintaining for 23 days, until I couldn’t take it anymore. A couple of lilas accidentally ended up in the straw transition tank when I moved some shells from one tank to another thinking they were empty. Nothing bad happened in those two days of them in the same tank, so I finally decided to move the remaining straws to the deeper lila transition tank, which only has a handful of lilas left as most are on land now. I really, really, wanted to keep them separate for science, but my sanity and time is also important and those were suffering.

The straw pictured below started to come out of the water last night, but I did not remove him to the land tank as it would have been too risky with it being late and me about to head to bed. I’ve moved that crab over twice previously, thinking it was ready, and it went straight to the saltwater dish and looked very stressed, so I put him back into the water each time. I didn’t want to have that happen overnight and have me lose the only straw that’s currently doing what he’s supposed to do. (The others are still naked.) I’ve been feeding them more interesting things like cooked carrot and sweet potato, grape, cucumber, chicken, etc. They are eating great so long as I pipette each one out of the water and into a measuring cup of water with the food choices and a bright light shining on them. I DO NOT know what the deal is with them. It’s everything I can do to just let them be crabs. (With my constant assistance, of course.)

C. perlatus refusing to leave the water.

Day 33 (Lilas). The majority of the lilas appear to be on land now and seem to be doing really well. They are pigging out and many have moved up a shell size (still miniscule and barely registering any difference in millimeters, but visually larger). I’m up to 65 lilas on land, and unless there are a bunch hiding sneakily in shells, I do think we’re about done with them being in the water. Their land tank is giving me a bit of an issue because they drag so much water out in their shells and then are too clumsy to hold onto it, so the substrate in that small tank gets flooded and I have to try to angle it and pipette out the extra water.

Day 29, 26, and 7 (PPs). The first two spawns of PPs are pretty much all gone. Out of thousands and thousands, I got one megalopa. Pretty frustrating, for sure. Sad to lose them and also lose SO many weeks of work with nothing to show for it. Just lost time, sleepless nights, and stress. Ugh. This part is always hard. But the spawn from a week ago is looking very strong and they have been shedding into Stage Two today and yesterday, so we’ll see. I thought I didn’t have it in me to try again this year, but then that spawn came when I still had the kreisel up and running and Meredith was willing to try again with some, so I had to keep them alive to send to her after the weekend. And, well, after four days of caring for them I couldn’t very well pour them down the sink, now could I? (I’m a masochist, clearly.) I will have another very big spawn in about a week, though, so anyone who wants to give it a try, reach out, please and we can see about how to get you some of these last zoeae of the year. I CANNOT keep any of them. I just can’t. I’ve got too much going on in November. Even the ones I have now will be touch-and-go when I have to travel, so the fate of these last 2022 babies lies in the hands of someone else who is brave enough to say yes and relieve me of my guilt.

On the GOOD NEWS front, today we had a pretty serious power outage that lasted for hours (while we were away from home!) and the generator I had installed last year kicked in seamlessly and the babies were all fine. That was a huge expense for Hermit House, but it’s already paying off. It kept the bubblers and the heat going, so there were no losses. Hallelujah.

10-24-22: Approximately 3,000 C. clypeatus zoeae are shipped by overnight UPS to Jaimie Heard for her third (fourth?) breeding attempt this year.

10-25-22: Approximately 3,000 C. clypeatus zoeae are shipped by overnight UPS to Michelle Kuhn for her first (ever) breeding attempt.

10-31-22: (Day 56 perlatus; Day 44 lila). Broke down straw transition tank to find three dead C. perlatus that had made the final transition to land hermit crabs (without taking a shell) and drowned. Found two still-living megalopa and placed them in the saltwater drinking pool in the lila tank. One immediately took a shell and walked out, the other is believed to have done the same unobserved (no carcass was found). Final count would make it 76 C. lila captive-bred babies and 3 C. perlatus captive-bred babies.

11-4-22: (Day 60 C. perlatus; Day 48 C. lila). Moved all the babies from the large kritter keeper (that was the temporary land tank) to the 20-tall nursery tank. Moved 79 over, which (if I counted correctly when I moved them to land the first time), means there have been zero losses. However, for the first time since 2018, there are no C. clypeatus survivors out of all the spawns and all the attempts. None by me, and none by any of the other breeders who tried this year.

2022 Takeaways:

  1. C. lila do not appear to catch and eat live artemia and may even eat very little before making megalopa on day seven (after two larval stages), but nannochloropsis during the zoeal stages seems to be beneficial. They eat ravenously as megalopa and spend an extended amount of time in the transition tank as shell-wearing megalopa (15-20 days). C. lila thrive in a deep-water transition tank with tall driftwood for climbing out and above the waterline.
  2. C. perlatus also do not appear to eat live artemia as zoeae (not at any stage). C. perlatus do benefit from direct feeding, though–both as zoeae (in 4 larval stages) and after making megalopa (on or after day 19). They did not seem to benefit from deeper water in the transition tank the way C. lila did, but it did not appear to hurt them, either. They did not climb out on their own–not with a ramp, nor with the driftwood. They stayed in the water, eating and growing, but without taking shells for more than a month as megalopa. After successfully forcing the last few survivors to leave the water (as a last, desperate effort), I have concluded that captive-bred C. perlatus will benefit from/appear to require external pressure/environmental stress to encourage them to take shells and leave the water. If I had figured this out sooner, I would have had around a dozen survivors from that original 1,500 instead of three.
  3. Something is definitely missing for C. clypeatus in my new setup. The past two years (in Virginia, in my garage) have been a real struggle and there were no survivors at all this year. The only variable I can think that has completely changed is that of natural sunlight. In my Lockport setup, the kreisel sat directly in front of a window and received lots of bright, natural sunlight from the back side during daylight hours. In my new setup, the light has been very bright, but all overhead, and all artificial lighting. In 2023, I will try the kreisel in a location that receives bright, natural sunlight for C. clypeatus.