Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Bullies, devourers, thieves, and pacifists.

Continuing with the July assortment, these are animals in my aquarium and on local shores.

The bullies first.

Crabby. All blue-eyed innocence, except for those menacing pincers.

Crabs are fun to watch; always busy, always on the move. I had three in the aquarium, and they were thriving, molting and growing, scrambling everywhere, re-arranging rocks three times their size, rolling snails and tearing the sea lettuce. All well and good, until they grew big and fast enough to attack their tank mates.

There were three big rockweed isopods, inoffensive seaweed grazers, bigger than the crabs. They'd come in with seaweed long ago. The crabs grabbed and ate two; I caught ol' blue-eyes in the act.

They ate one of the big hermits. And my old red shrimp. There was no need for that: I've always fed them well.

So I fished them out of the tank and hauled them down to the beach, where they strutted into the waves, waving pincers, ready for action. They didn't know about fish and gulls yet.

The remaining residents of my tank breathed a sigh of relief. Or would have, if they were breathers.

Signal crayfish, Pacifasticus leniusculus. Identified by the white markings at the wrists.

We found this crayfish, dead, floating in the shallows of the Campbell River mouth. Another aggressive predator: they will eat anything, from rotting vegetation to live fish and their own relatives. My son had one that got in among his goldfish, ate them all, and grew very big.

They're a freshwater crustacean, but tolerate brackish water, freshwater mingled with tidal surges.

A bright orange starfish. (Blood star, maybe?) Stories beach. A notorious predator.

The Monterey sea lemon. Trundles around slowly, eating sponges and other sessile animals (fixed in place, like barnacles.) On Stories beach, at the south end of Campbell River.

Pale pink and green anemone in my tank. It arrived as a mere speck on a shell, and now has grown to half an inch across. I rarely feed these; they thrive on copepods and other plankton. Including, possibly, all those baby hermits.

Orange-striped green anemone, Duodumene lineata.

This one was on Stories beach, but a few tinier ones came home with me on a stone full of barnacles for my Leafy Hornmouth snails. I counted seven tonight after I cleaned the tank.

The tiniest of the fishermen; a two-tentacled worm (a Spionid) in a hole in an old shell. They catch detritus, which slides down the tentacles into the mouth.

Another, with leftover sand grains around the mouth. The worm cleans off the edibles, and spits out the sand.

One of my hermits, a Hairy.

These guys eat leftovers, dead critters, seaweed, hydroids and diatoms when they can. Totally inoffensive. Except when they see one of their friends with something good; they're not averse to rolling him over and stealing his food. Especially if he is smaller than they are.

It's a dog eat dog world in there.

A bully, a devourer of barnacles (Leafy Hornmouth snail), and the pacifist limpet, who putters mildly about cleaning algae off the rocks and the glass.

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