Friday, June 28, 2013

All cracked up, and pooping

It all started with Val, the anemone. Beautiful though she is, she's deadly. All tentacle, mouth and stomach, and no mind, she sits in her corner where the water currents are strongest, tentacles waving merrily. Waiting. Sooner or later, something falls off the wall into her open maw, and the tentacles close in quickly, trapping and stinging the unfortunate wall cleaner. A minute later, it has disappeared into her stomach, and she spreads out her empty net again. The snail (and it's usually a snail) eventually reappears as an empty shell, ready for occupancy by a growing hermit crab.


Val, just beginning to open up after a meal. With a leftover snail shell.

The two bubbleshells were part of the crew of glass scrubbers. They wandered around happily, eating algae, mating, laying more eggs every day. Then one, the big one I called Hammy II, disappeared. Sir Ham, the smaller one, moped for a bit, then went back to work. I kept a close watch.

Then, a few days ago, I was just in time to see Sir Ham, all curled up, caught in Val's tentacles. I quickly reached in and flicked him out with a fingertip. (Val was not pleased; she sulked for hours.)

The bubbleshell was still moving when I moved him to a bowl of water. Barely moving. I needed a lens to see it. I was sure he would die, but I set him up in a "hospital tank", with fresh water and a protective covering of sea lettuce, and kept an eye on him.

Hours later, when I was going to bed, he was almost black, curled up tightly, not moving at all until I touched him gently. I left him overnight in the fridge; warm water would stress him even more. And he was still alive in the morning! I was surprised; he even seemed to be starting to stretch out a bit.

For three days, he hovered between life and death, but last night, he looked at the sea lettuce and found it interesting. And this morning, when I looked, this is what I found:

A trail of bubbleshell poop!

Sir Ham is eating again!

This evening, when I changed the water, it was full of little poopy pellets. Good on you, Sir Ham!

Sir Ham, convalescing.

But look at his photo now: The shell is cracked and scored. It wasn't before. I'm starting to wonder if maybe the largest crab hadn't tried to split it open to get at the delicious bubble meat inside. And maybe that's why Sir Ham wasn't strong enough to resist the current any more, and fell into the anemone's mouth. Predation in tandem: not fair!

So there he stays, for now, in the hospital tank, while I decide what's to be done. Return him to life as it is, dangers and all, or provide safer housing in a corner of the tank? And I need to find him a new mate; don't those eyes look lonely?

(Cleaning the tank, I found Hammy the Second's shell, all cleaned out. So he probably met the same fate, but without a rescuer handy.)



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1 comment:

Powell River Books said...

You always amaze me with your critters. - Margy