Sunday, December 09, 2012

Babies growing up!

Even a worm can be beautiful:

Polychaete on barnacles

I moved all my animals into a larger tank two weeks ago, transferring the sand, the planted eelgrass, the stones and shells, then the hermits and crabs once everything was going again. While I was combing the sand with my fingers to make sure I got out all the scrambling critters before the serious earth-moving started, I came up with a 3-inch polychaete. I don't know who was more startled, and I dropped it and/or it slithered out of my hand instantly.

The only worms I have brought into the aquarium have been microscopic. I've been watching them grow and make their tunnels, skinny red wires reaching up to the sand surface. I'd seen no sign of one of these big (and they do get big!) paddle-footed predators. It must have grown up in the tank in the few months it's been operational, since the beginning of September.

(The one in the photo is from 2010; I didn't chase the newcomer down. I'll let it grow for a bit.)

And something small, that will grow, soon enough:

New "grain of rice" hermit, on a fragment of molted crab shell.

By the dotted antennae, I gather he's a hairy hermit. He's too small to see if he has blue knees.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, the beach!


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2 comments:

biobabbler said...

woah. So, I take it your polychaetes are not poisonous? I remember looking at a very cool worm at low tide in Baja California ('cause the storm-stirred waters = zero snorkeling visibility and sharky-heaven) and thinking about touching it, but then remembered a friend (and marine biologist) told me where she learned to dive, she also learned never to touch anything, as so many things where she was are poisonous. So, I didn't.

Looked it up later, and it was a "fire worm." Apparently SPECTACULARLY painful thing if touched. Famously so. But, that's there. So, now I'm wondering about yours. =)

Susannah Anderson said...

I'm not too sure of the species, so I'm assuming these can at least give a painful bite. Which is why I was startled enough to drop the worm. I should probably be wearing surgical gloves when I plow through sand, but I hate to lose sensitivity, with the danger that I could hurt one of my critters because I didn't feel it.