Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's a dog eat dog world out there.

About that family that Val ate ...

The eelgrass beds last week held a large population of proliferating anemones, riding high on the grass, feeding on the small animals in the diatom and hydroid fuzz.

Proliferating anemone, Epiactis prolifera, proliferating.

Like this one, most were adults carrying a column-full of babies and youngsters. Where they have been hiding up until now, I'm not sure; maybe half-buried in the sandy bottom, and now they have midgrated to the eelgrass to feed.

Another family, with one youngster already out on his own. The young stay on the mother's column for 3 months, then crawl away.

I transferred this blade of eelgrass to a bottle of water, and brought it home to the aquarium, where the family settled in happily.

The babies come in a range of sizes; they're not all birthed the same day.

Another view. The anemone in back has captured a chunk of hermit crab food.

Then their troubles began. The hermit crabs ripped the end of the eelgrass out of the clamshell I'd anchored it in, and it floated away. I moved it around to rest against the glass, and the mother anemone started to transfer to the wall. She would be safe there, but again, the hermits yanked the eelgrass away. I found her later, up against the back wall, busy moving onto a stone. That would have been perfect; only the crabs move stones around, and the three in the tank now are very small.

And then, before she was glued down, something moved her again and left her and her brood at the mercy of the current. Which was flowing towards the big burrowing anemone, Val, and her hungry tentacles.

Next thing I knew, Val's mouth was full. And the ends of the eelgrass were protruding. The only sign of the whole blue family was the hint of blue around Val's mouth.

Val's blue mouth. And a young hermit, trying to get at the crumbs from Val's dinner.

This morning, Val spit out the rest of the eelgrass blade, with a bit of slime, all that remains of the entire blue family.

Luckily, before the first move, two of the youngsters decided to leave home, and established themselves on the wall of the tank. They're still there, waving pale blue tentacles, eating and growing.

Young brooding anemone, not old enough to brood yet. 5 mm across the base.

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