We started this aquarium back in November when we we given a tank by the Extension office here in Sarasota. My boys are 4H clubbers and since we live closer to the beach than the other members of our club we took the tank and started the habitat. First, after cleaning it out, we covered the bottom with sea shells and added water from the Gulf. It had to sit 3 weeks for algae/bacteria to grow in the tank so that whatever life we put in the tank would have food. So, after 3 weeks we went critter hunting at South Lido Beach. This area is rich in sea life, probably because of the sea grasses. Directly across the Pass, on Shell Beach (Siesta Key), we couldn’t find this abundance of life.
We started out from the parking lot and went out to the Gulf, walked south to the Pass and up toward the Bay. We found some more cool shells to place in the tank. Heading up toward the Bay, my 12-year old, Travis, spotted a huge conch shell. We discovered it was housing for the biggest hermit crab we’d ever seen (about 3 1/2 -4 inches), plus a handful of snails and limpets. We put it in the bucket and moved on to find more crabs and shells. After collected some sea grass we headed home.
The boys named the crab Herman. He fit nicely into our tank. It was amazing to watch him climb around, eat the grasses, and move the shells in the tank from one end to the other. I let the boys take him out of the tank once in a while to watch him crawl across the floor.
Our dog, Dixie, became interested in the critter as well. After she got the smell identified, she’d sit with us on the floor and just watch. Then after Herman was put back in the tank, Dixie would sit and watch the tank. The table it sits on is just low enough that Dixie can rest her head on top and look into the tank. Herman is very active and often we’d find Dixie sitting there watching.
To be continued…