We have been patiently waiting for Gunther’s second clutch of eggs to mature. Tonight it appears that we are very close. The first spawn happened 20 days after mating. Tomorrow will be day 20 from the second time she mated. Tonight we took out the fresh water pool and replaced it with the larger saltwater pool, easy access bridge, and air stone. This time I am going to try covering the second salt water pool just to make sure we don’t have 2 pools to get baby zoeae from again. We placed a small dish of fresh water for them to drink from these next couple of days. The kriesels are up and running and ready for new baby Zoeae! We made a few changes that we hope will help us get further this round! Send all your good vibes! We definitely need them!
August 20 ,2020
We had a busy day yesterday and didn’t get home until around 8 o’clock. We checked the salt water bin and realized zoeae were in there! There weren’t that many so we checked to see if Gunther still had eggs and she did. We saw no guarding (remember from the last spawn, Monica was attached to Gunther for hours) behavior what so ever from Monica. Turns out, Monica just wanted to mate with Gunther again. These eggs were fertilized on July 31, right after our first clutch was spawned. These babies spawned 21 days after fertilization.
Since Gunther had began spawning already and for some reason stopped, we ended up putting her in the Krisel to finish spawning. What we figured out from this spawn is that Monica actually made the spawning process more difficult for Gunther last time by staying on top of her. Last time it took her around 3 hours to spawn all the babies and we only ended up with around 500 of them. This time, she spawned in about 10 minutes. The way they get the babies out of their shell is by shaking it up and down. Because Monica was on top of Gunther last time, she couldn’t do this.
They are already acting different than the other clutch. Something must have been wrong with the other babies. They were lethargic and they also didn’t have a yolk sac in their bellies when born. This clutch seems bigger in size to us but that may be because we’re used to seeing them. We also didn’t notice any dead babies last time. They just disappeared. We now know that dead babies turn white (we did have a couple dead ones already but not that many). We never saw a white baby with the last spawn but the numbers died quickly. They must have just gotten eaten. The last batch of babies stomachs didn’t turn orange either after eating. (These haven’t either but they’re not quite old enough for that yet), so lots of weird things with the other clutch. These ones seem much healthier! They swim so much faster (it’s tricky to get them in the pipette because they move so fast).
We did notice something weird. Some of the babies looked tangled in this string- like membrane by their tales. Unhatched eggs look similar with the membrane keeping them together. What we think happened is the membrane didn’t split properly and the babies got stuck upon hatching. They were still alive so we just sucked them in and out of the pipette until they came un stuck.
Over all, the babies are only one day old so not much has happened, they’re doing well so far. Luckily we have had practice with water changes so they only took an hour today each time. But it will probably take longer when they shed. They also are all in one Krisel because Gunther spawned in one and at first, we couldn’t decide if we should split them up or do Gunther’s eggs in one and Rachel’s (her eggs are coming soon) in the other one. But tonight we decided we will separate them tomorrow.
Spawning day seems to be the longest update! But I think it’s interesting to know. Hopefully you guys agree!
August 22-27: Days 2-6
Authors Note: Unfortunately, we were so busy during this spawn, we didn’t write as many notes daily as the last spawn, so there will be less information on this clutch.
Turns out our excitement yesterday was too hopeful (not that there isn’t still hope). These Ecuadorian babies may have seemed to act differently on day one, but they certainly act the same as the other clutch did for the most part. We do have much more zoeae this time, and so the changes took more time than the other set of zoeae. Some things we noticed were that again, we didn’t see any sheds in the water on shed days, and these zoeae do still sit on the bottom of the Krisel. Every day almost we are trying different ways to get the zoeae off the bottom. We tried different bubblers, more air, changing the temperature, the salinity, and nothing seemed to work. These zoeae just sink to the bottom like weights. After our other batch, we knew that this was going to be a problem but we couldn’t figure out how to get them to float. The days are pretty identical to the first clutch, so we won’t go in detail in behavior. We are seeing a lot more losses this time, probably due to having more zoeae to begin with. It is really discouraging to see the same behavior take place with this set of zoeae as the last set. We thought this one may be different, that we could figure out how to get them past day 9, which is three days away. We are just praying that some will make it through that change between day 8 and 9. Despite being discouraged, we will never give up on these guys.
August 28-29: Days 7-8
Yesterday and today were shed days! We still don’t see any sheds, so we guess that Ecuadorian sheds dissolve much faster than other species. The babies are transitioning into Stage 3. They’re so cute! They can now grab onto food and hold it and they are bigger. We turned up the temperature to 84 degrees to see if it would help them not be so lethargic. They don’t swim much and congregate at the bottom which is bad. Ecuadorian Zoeae are very cannibalistic, so if they congregate at the bottom they will eat each other. The raise in temperature along with 3 bubblers in each Krisel seem to be keeping them off of the bottom (we have tried a dozen different bubblers at this point). We still think we have a couple thousand Zoeae. We only have about 7-10 days until they become megalopa! The dead ones we think are getting eaten because we don’t see many dead ones. We also are very certain their gut tracks have developed. The water is a lot dirtier than before. Our other clutch didn’t make it past stage 3 or day 9, so we are crossing our fingers!
Now we have to get the transition tank up and running and order more shells. Time has gotten away from us! We are slightly worried that they won’t take the shells we have when they turn to megalopa. It would be so sad for them to get that far just to not take a shell.
August 30: Day 9
Numbers have dropped DRASTICALLY last night and today. Stage 3 seems to be a very difficult transition for these little guys. This is the same point our first attempt took a turn for the worse. We have added 3 new foods to our routine to see if we are missing something in their diet. We have raised the temp some as well. We are feeling discouraged but are trying to remain hopeful! We estimate we have about 1200-1500. Since we started with so many more… we have a larger margin for error. I hope we can figure out what these little guys need so we can bring them to land and find them loving forever homes!
August 31-September 1: Days 10-11
Well, we thought that maybe these guys had made it past stage 3. But we saw another exponential loss of numbers on day 10, and again on day 11. There was so much loss (yet we saw no dead zoeae floating around like the other clutch), that we could look into the Krisel for over a minute and not see a single baby. We are going to keep the Krisel up along with the water changes and feedings, but we don’t think they will make it much longer. There is no way we have more than 100 zoeae left. What we think may happen, is that some zoeae transition into Stage 3 before others, and the Stage 3 eat the Stage 2 zoeae. Again, we can only theorize because there are so many variables that can go wrong.
We regret that we didn’t take as many notes this time. But, we just grew increasingly discouraged throughout the days as we saw no changes in behavior with the changes we were making. This clutch didn’t make it much past day 11, but we tried our all. In the first batch, we didn’t make many changes throughout the trial because we were doing it for the first time. Overall, we feel extremely blessed that we were given these eggs from Gunther and that we had so much support throughout this journey. Our breeding is finished for the year (Rachel failed to spawn in the salt water), but we will try again in 2021 as long as we are given eggs! We are in progress of making the most epic tank build ever which will hopefully facilitate more breeding from other species. Before we decided we wanted to breed, we did get eggs from our Brevimanus’ twice in April and May, so we are hopeful we can try a new species next year! No matter how sad reading these updates can be, remember that these babies were given a chance, and even though they didn’t make it, we learned a lot about the differences in Ecuadorian zoeae compared to other species. This has been such a fun summer project, and we can’t wait to try again next year!