Saturday, August 06, 2016

All those little eyes!

I had brought in a fresh batch of eelgrass for the aquarium, and a hermit crab in berry found herself a safe place there, far above the marauding crabs and nosy fellow hermits, where she could do a bit of housekeeping, and give her babies a bath.

I happened by just at the right moment to see what she was doing and took photos and a video.

Ma hermit and family.

This was three weeks ago, just before my family arrived and we took off on vacation. When I was back home and settled in again, she seemed to be baby-free.

I cleaned the tank, added fresh water, and, as usual, screened the old water before I discarded it. First, I strain out the big stuff, bits of seaweed and so on, look it over carefully, collect any stray critters, and dump the rest. Then I run the water through a fine sieve, check the sieve for moving critters, and replace them in the tank.

Finally, I strain the water through a coffee filter, and look over that under a bright light, watching for movement, even if the animals are too small to really see. And here, I found two tiny dots, about the size of copepods (under 1 mm.), that moved too slowly for copepods, and too fast for snails. I captured them with an eye-dropper, and looked at them under a microscope.

I could see, there, the tiny coiled snail shells. (I'm glad some of my baby snails don't make it, and leave their shells for other babies.) And in front of each miniature shell, I could also see the two tiny dots that were their hermit crab eyes, looking up at the world.

They went back in the tank. Maybe they'll have a chance to grow up.


  1. Excellent video! The "time for school, kids!" is totally appreciate. And I totally wouldn't expect the <1mm hermits to find shells... I wouldve thought they'd be planctonic.

  2. I was surprised by the babies in shells, too. I've seen other freshly hatched hermits with the microscope, before, but always without shells. These two must have been a bit older.

  3. What an amazing video! You are amazing! - Margy


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