Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pink-tipped hitchhikers

When I bring home barnacles for my snails, they often come with hitchhikers. Last July, a couple of baby pink-tipped anemones came along for the ride. I looked for them yesterday when I cleaned the tank, and found four; they're multiplying*.

One has settled on a broken snail shell. This leaves it subject to rolling, being walked on, being buried in the sand, but also increases its exposure to possible foods.

Anthopleura elegantissima. Still a baby; they grow up to 10 inches across.

This one's a bit larger. The base is green, the tentacles tipped with pink, with white markings. And this one has a pretty striped oral disc. With a spiky hermit crab foot on the side.

Two pink-tipped anemones and a hairy hermit, on an oyster shell. The one on the right has something in its mouth. In the next photo I took, a few minutes later, only a tip was showing. Anemones swallow slowly.

Processing that last photo, I noticed a tiny critter near the bottom, too small to be seen clearly.

Here it is, with a section of hermit antenna for size comparison.

I don't know what this is. It looks like a snail, but not like any snail that I've seen on the beach or in the tank. It is slightly larger than a copepod, maybe 2 or 3 mm. long. Another hitchhiker, or a tank newborn?

I'll search the tank, and see if I can find in again.

(Update: I took dozens of photos of the area, and found another three of these critters, none as clear as the one above. I think they're baby snails.)

*That makes 8** anemones in the tank. That I know about. 4 pink-tipped, 2 orange-striped greens, one plumose anemone, and one burrowing anemone. There may be more, hiding among the barnacles or the algae.

** 9. 3 orange-striped green anemones.


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