Salt Water Fish Tank part 5

The red hermit crab died.  My younger, Travis, saw its body lying at the bottom of the tank.  Then he saw it being pulled under a large conch shell by a little crab.  It was dead and would soon be lunch.

Red hermit crab with a hitchhiker

Red hermit crab with a hitchhiker

The white hermit crab, now lacking algae, looked hungry so we headed to the beach for more seaweed.  He has picked up the red crab’s hitchhikers, but he also moved into a really small shell.  He’s been there for a week so I guess he’s happy now he’s downsized.  I know that I’m happy since we downsized, too.  I have a smaller house to clean and less space to accumulate junk.  I do miss the garage, though.

White hermit crab coated with algae

White hermit crab coated with algae

Our snails are doing great.  We picked up a really large one with a red body the day we went out for seaweed.  Its in a fig shell.  Last night I watched as it completely covered the tank filter with its body, sucking off algae, and scooting on.  What resulted, for a short time, was that the filter couldn’t pump air into the tank as usual.  Instead of the regular million tiny air bubbles coming from the filter, a periodic large bubble would find its way out of the snail’s clutch and rise to the top.  It was amuzing.  Later that same snail tried to escape from the tank.  We have a sheet of plastic over the top and the snail had lifted the sheet and continued up the side of the tank and started going over the top.  Travis found it and we guided it  back into the water. 

the red bodied snail

the red bodied snail

The real reason the sheet of plastic is on top of the tank is to keep the water from spraying when the water bubbles break at the top.  When this happens, the water sprays in all directions and when the water droplets evaporate the surface of the wall behind the tank, the table top and the floor is coated in salt.  My dog even finds this distasteful.

Salt Water Fish Tank part 2

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.Herman

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…