Fish Tank Wars

We went to Gulf Shores beach today with some other homeschool families from Fairhope and Daphne.  Other than relaxing, getting to know new friends, etc., my goal for the trip was to collect some seaweed and maybe other creatures for our tank (which has grown to 2 tanks: the original 20 gallon and a 5 gallon).

We found plenty of little fish in the surf and Travis scooped up a dozen or so with the net.  They were little pin fish and some glass minnows.  That was from the Gulf.  Then we went to the Lagoon and collected 2 hermit crabs, since we have not had any for a while, and a baby sand dollar that looked broken.  I wanted to see if it would rehab in the tank.  While I don’t have sand in the tank (the bottom is all small shells) I was thinking of putting in a little sand just for this.  I’ll probably fill a giant atlantic cockle shell with the sand.

After much relaxing we headed home.  By the time we got there only one glass minnow was still swimming.  I put it and the hermit crabs into the little tank; the sand dollar into the bigger one.  I was concerned about the water temperature in the larger tank being too cold, which is why most critters went into the small tank.  One crab quickly switched shells.  I had a few various-sized shells in the tank.  It went from a ratty looking tulip shell (green with algae and speckled with barnacles) to a lightning whelk shell. 

 As I watched, the fish swam around (I thought it looked happy), then it explored near the sea urchins then near the aerator then near the hermit crab.  The hermit crab clawed it.  It was dead.  Right before me, my new pet killed my other new pet.  About 15 minutes later I watched the tank again and the crab had the fish in one claw while it ripped it with the other and stuffed pieces into its mouth.

Then, it started attacking the other hermit crab which tucked itself as far as it could into the tulip shell it calls home.  Thankfully that didn’t last long and the two are scooting around the tank away from each other.  There is plenty of sea grass for the crabs to eat but now I’m worried about the urchins.  I will have to move them to the big tank. 

I thought this would be fun to have new critters to watch.  I was wrong.  I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Salt Water Fish Tank part 6

I spoke too soon; the white crab is dead.  We hadn’t really paid attention to it for 2 days because now that we’re finished our spring break, we’re back to a full schedule of school work and projects.  But we finally looked at the tank to check on him he was gone.  Hmm, could he be hiding?  We checked all of the shells in the tank and suddenly an arm floated up to the top of the tank from under a shell.  We couldn’t find a body but found another arm.  Kind of gruesome but something happened and its now dead/gone. 

We’ll have to head to the beach for some more critters.  Perhaps we’ll change out some of the water as well.  I’ve been wanting to release the urchins and the boys are getting creeped-out by the “hairy crab” which was a hitchhiker on a hermit crab we’ve since released.  It has grown from pinky-fingernail size to pinky size.  It moves about mysteriously and with imaginations flowing, the boys have talked about it’s escape and terrorization of the family.  Nice idea for a horror flick but no where close to reality.  I’ll humor them and let them release it this weekend.

Edited March 29: The hairy crab had climbed into a large whelk shell we had placed in the tank and wouldn’t come out.  We sat the shell in a bowl and less than an hour later we found it on its back.  It must have fallen out of the shell.  Strangely, even in water, it couldn’t turn itself over.  It was still alive, and just as creepy looking.  After taking pictures of the hairy crab, just in case we wanted to make a horror flick, we put it into the canal across the street.  Check out a previous post on my blog for a picture of a hitchhiker: