July 21, 2021

This morning I didn’t go to the crab room like I do almost every day because I had to take my daughter to band camp and then I had a nail appointment. It was lunchtime before I made it into the crab room to check on everyone. WHAT IN THE WORLD!!!!! SOMEONE SPAWNED IN THE SALTWATER POOL!!! 1000’s of zoeae were happily swimming around the pool. It is the biggest spawn we have ever had, bigger than if you put all three of the past spawns together! The zoeae look so big and healthy too! WOW! What a shocking surprise! We immediately checked our female strawberry crab that we knew was carrying eggs. She still had them! We looked at our Ecuadorian that we knew had eggs. She still had them! We have absolutely no idea what crab species this spawn is from. We will be referring to them as C. Enigmus Gigantuous. We have been working on some pretty big changes in preparation for the strawberry zoeae and so our kriesel is not ready!! EEKKK!! Time to go into overdrive and get the kriesel ready for this new clutch.  

This attempt we have made the following changes:

  1. We will use exclusively RO water 
  2. We have modified our kriesel to be filtered (learned this method at CrabCon from Rizky Putranto from Indonesia). We are excited about less water changes! 
  3. We will not be feeding marine snow or nanochloropsis
  4. We will be using a LED light instead of a grow light
  5. We will include a live rock from our established saltwater pool
  6. We will include 50% water from our cycled saltwater pool in the hermit crab tank and 50% RO water.
  7. We will be using a spray bar to create a circular motion rather than airstones
  8. We will be adding a glass lid to help reduce evaporation

Today we attached (silicone) mesh (200 micron) to the inside section of each kriesel. We added the RO water, filter, spaybar, and live rock to the kriesel. We also filled the holding tank with RO water, live rock, filter, and airstone. The zoeae are looking really good in the saltwater pool in the hermit crab tank. They are eating something from the live sand and live rock in that cycled tank. They are swimming well, darting all over the place. We removed all the rocks/shells/decor from the saltwater pool, then carefully dunked each item in a bucket of RO salt water to get any zoeae off and then added the water from the bucket back into the saltwater pool. I also added two additional airstones to the pool to help keep the zoeae from gathering in the corners of the pool. For the evening I put a lid on the pool to keep other crabs out. Tomorrow…. We will finish up the kriesel and add our zoeae!

Field notes:

  1. Surprise zoeae creates a lot of motivation
  2. A trip to sonic helps you calm down so that you can think out a good plan of action
  3. Having a team of people to help do all the work is so great! 
  4. These zoeae look and act different than any other spawns we have had
  5. We are so happy to see that our crabs completed the breeding process 100% on their own. It makes us really proud and happy that we have created an environment that our crabs feel so comfortable in! 
  6. The work is never done… just keep swimming….swimming… swimming….

(These were the parameters in our saltwater pool in our crab tank that the zoeae were naturally spawned and hatched in)

Heat- 78.0 F


 July 22, 2021

The kriesel silicone is dry! YAY! It’s time to start moving these zoeae over. We were a bit nervous about how on earth we were going to be able to catch all the zoeae in the 10 gallon saltwater pool that sits inside our 125 gallon tank. To our surprise, it was pretty easy! We turned out all the lights in the room and used a flashlight to get the zoeae to gather together. Brooke held the flashlight and guided me to the zoeae, and I sucked them up into a bucket using our small straw siphon. There was a SEA OF ZOEAE! They came to the light beautifully! It took us only three gallons to gather almost all of them. We ended up dumping all three gallons into the kriesel, water and zoeae. This water looked clean, was cycled from our pool, and the zoeae seemed to be thriving in it. Easiest move yet! Holy Cow, the kriesel is full! How many zoeae is too many in one kriesel? We are about to find out. We are trying to keep kriesel one open for the strawberry zoeae that are on the way. It is looking really crowded though in kriesel two, so we are brainstorming some other ideas to help spread these C. Enigmus Gigantuous out some. We fed the zoeae some food, they seemed happy about that! Then we spent the rest of the day replacing the water in the hermit crab tank saltwater pool, setting up the birthing suite for the strawberry, and getting everything cleaned up in the crab room. Oh, and also VLOGING the process!

We placed the Strawberry momma in the birthing suite but she was very restless. We watched her for several hours while we were working in the room and finally ended up letting her out. She was just so unhappy. We then worked on the flow of the spray bar in kriesel two for a long time to try and find a spot that kept the zoeae moving nicely. It was a very long day! Things are looking good and we are excited!

Field notes:

  1. A filtered kriesel wasn’t too difficult to set up, we are hopeful
  2. RO water takes MUCH longer to prepare
  3. Maybe allowing our crabs to spawn naturally in the tank pool isn’t so bad afterall
  4. Captive breeding uses A LOT of salt! 
  5. Amazon is your friend when breeding captive crabs
  6. It is important to always be thinking days ahead so that you have the supplies/items you need
  7. We are already tired

Heat- 79.0 F


July 23, 2021

  The zoeae are looking good this morning! We have lost a few, maybe 20. It is very obvious to see the living vs passed babies. We are wondering if perhaps we are not feeding enough. We have been so careful to not overfeed in our past attempts, but our numbers were also much smaller and we didn’t have a filtered kriesel. We are going to increase the amount we are feeding as well as how often we feed. It looks like some of the food is being sucked into the mesh and we are wondering how much of the food is actually available to the zoeae. Our salinity is lower than we would like it to be, especially as we prepare for the strawberry zoeae. We are mixing our saltwater the same way we always have, yet our salinity is lower than in the past. After speaking with our mentors we believe the amount of calcium in our tap water was giving us false readings for our past attempts (which could have also added to all of our problems). We begin mixing new RO saltwater at a higher salinity concentration to try and raise the kriesel salinity slowly. Finally we achieved our goal of 35ppt. 

   I began working on updating the CCS birthing suite as it seemed too uncomfortable for both our Ecuadorian and Strawberry mommas. I rebuilt the base to be more sturdy (made from light filter, craft mesh, and zipties) and now sits higher off the water line. I also added an aquarium background because it seemed like they were distressed being able to see their tank and tank mates through the glass but not being able to explore beyond the small birthing suite, which is nothing but saltwater below them. I also added a small plant and coco hide to the platform. Tonight we will try and place momma strawberry in the new birthing suite to see how she reacts.

  As we peer into the kriesel, it just looks so crowded. We are concerned about space, water quality, and having enough resources for all the zoeae as they continue to grow. We are really wanting to keep kriesel one open for the strawberry zoeae. Therefore we take a trip to PetCo to buy additional supplies to set up a third tank/kriesel. We decided to use a 5.5 gallon, mostly due to space but also thinking about the price of RO saltwater and additional tanks to care for. Since the C. Enigmus Gigantuous seemed to do so well in the saltwater pool in the tank, we are going to set up the 5.5 gallon like the pool and take a small amount of zoeae to test it out. If they don’t seem to do well in the square tank, we have bought additional supplies to create a round kriesel in the 5.5 gallon for them. But, science will not advance if no one is willing to take a chance, collect data, and share what they learn! Since we don’t know what species this is, and we have so many of them, it is a great opportunity to do science! We could not put the zoeae in yet because the live sand needed time to settle. We will add this to tomorrow’s task list.

  Without having water changes, we feel like we are forgetting to do something. It’s an uneasy feeling. We sit in the room and stare at the tank thinking of what needs to be done, what could be done. It seems like with more time on our hands, we over analyze and maybe ‘over think’ things. Then make additional adjustments that may not be necessary? Or maybe they are? Either way, we are having to adjust to this new filter kriesel process. 

  We tried to get the strawberry momma in the birthing suite but she would not let go of her cholla log. So, we took out all the decor from the saltwater pool in case she decided to spawn on her own. 

  Finally, we ended the day with the last feeding at 11:00 pm, OH NO! The mesh has become clogged with food debri to the point that the rate of water being let out of the kriesel is slower than the rate of water being pumped in and the kriesel is nearly overflowing. We walked in at the perfect time as no zoeae had spilled over yet. We used a small brush to carefully brush away the debri as well as squirting a pipette of water on the mesh. This leads us to believe that perhaps the 200 micron mesh is too small and a 300 micron mesh would work better. That helped clear the mesh and the water line receded to the correct level. Crisis averted! We said goodnight to the zoeae, and called it a day! 


Field notes:

  1. Never stop thinking of what can be done better…. Different
  2. Observations are super important in science, take notes, document what changes you make and what behaviors change
  3. Never be afraid to ask for others opinions
  4. How will we ever count the amount of C. Enigmus?
  5. Will the strawberry please spawn already???
  6. Filtered kriesel gives more “me” time
  7. Perhaps 200 micron mesh is too small. Doesn’t let enough food particles out
  8. Keep an eye on the mesh in the kriesel so that it doesn’t clog up and overflow your kriesel

Heat- 82.2 F


 July 24, 2021

  Day three started out great! Zoeae looked good this morning, only a few deaths. We spent the morning catching up on business stuff – BLOG, VLOG, answering emails, YouTube, IG, FB, and TikToK questions. We even did a ‘live’ on TikTok to help new viewers understand what in the world “breeding hermit crabs” is all about. 

  Brooke worked on testing the water quality in the filtered kriesel. We realized the kit we bought did not have an ammonia tester, so we ordered one ASAP. It will be here in a couple days. The kit we have is able to test nitrate, nitrite, and PH so we tested those and everything looks great! The nitrate level in the kriesel was a 5 and the water in the middle chamber was at 0. We decided to do a small water change in kriesel two, concentrating on gathering dead zoeae, leftover food, debri/waste, and cleaning the filter mesh. It went really well, we were able to get it cleaned up pretty quickly. Then we did a 25% water change of the middle chamber. 

  The 5.5 gallon tank settled and was ready for the zoeae, however the temperature was too cold at 77F. Brooke thought up a great idea to help! She placed a glass jar in the tank, filled it with water, and placed the tank heater in the jar. This is heating the outside water but will not hurt the zoeae! We got the temperature up to 81F and moved some experimental zoeae over to the tank. There are definitely some dead spots in the corners of the tank, we have to turn the air stones up pretty high to keep them from gathering. They seemed to start eating from the sand right away! There has got to be something great for them in live sand! We also saw orange bellies – YAY! It appears some of the zoeae have developed gut tracks which means we have some sage two zoeae and the pooping has begun! We will need to keep an even closer eye on the mesh and water quality now.

  We kept the mesh clean throughout the day so that we didn’t run into the clogging issue again. We also altered the amount we fed, feeding less of the powdered food especially. The amount of times we are feeding seems to work and the variety of foods is good too – so far! Our feeding times are: 7 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm, and 11 pm. The foods we are feeding throughout the day are (Instant baby brine shrimp, live artemia, chlorella, spirulina, gonipower, phyoplan, reef roids, reef power). 

Field notes:

  1. RO water seems more difficult to stabilize salinity
  2. We need more electricity in the crab room
  3. Science is both awesome and exhausting 
  4. Zoeae are amazing creatures to watch
  5. Orange bellies are awesome to see
  6. Start a new artemia hatch

Heat- 82.0 F