I have no idea if this is a natural behavior, but it happens quite regularly in the Box of Slugs. This slug is perfectly healthy, she just seems to have decided to drift in the water column for a little while before going back to feeding.
It probably explains why they never seem to survive very long in reef aquaria, which have strong currents and plenty of pumps to suck in a floating slug and chop it to bits.
There is a total of five ponies in the tank, and I introduced two of them a few days ago. The other three were feeling neglected, so here they are.
From a distance, this male does not look all that interesting, A closer look shows just how handsome he is.
This female is not as colorful as the others, but is larger and more robust than her girlfriends.
Last, but absolutely not least, is this little green beauty. She is still small and skinny, but is an amazing yellow-green that does not show up very well in this photo. Like the rest of the cohort, she spends a lot of time hanging quietly in awkward positions, with occasional sprints to new locations.
Yes, this is a blog about slugs. Not much news at the moment about them, though. One of the students is helping me work out protocols for raising some babies for anatomical studies. Mostly, though, they sit on the Bryopsis like a herd of legless aquatic cows. They have taken on a wonderful deep green color.
The populations of ‘pods (iso-, cope-, but not so much amphipods) have been growing astonishingly. As mentioned below, I am becoming concerned that the isopods may be eating eggs and larvae of the slugs. I muttered to myself “What species of small fish could I add to eat some of the little bugs?” A species that stays small, but has an appetite for small, moving creatures? Seahorses, of course.
More specifically, dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae). They stay tiny, and a small group should be sustained indefinitely on the mounds of live food growing in the Box of Slugs. There is a nice little outfit called Seahorse Corral that breeds the little guys, plus H. erectus, so I ordered two males and three females to give my idea a try.
Although Fedex mangled the address here, the guy who runs the loading dock at the institute next door was able to call Beth at Seahorse Corral and figure out where I was, and I got my delivery. They seem to be settling in well, and doing what seahorses do best, mostly sitting in one place and waiting for food to swim by.
Here is one of the little males, looking pretty. He is one of the more adventurous, having traveled from one end of the tank to the other.
This little female is the real daredevil, having zoomed all over the tank.
So far so good. We’ll see what they are doing tomorrow morning.
The clusters on the Udotea are gone, and one hopes that some of the little guys will stay alive and settle. In an effort to improve their chances, I got rid of the old circulation pump (a low-flow Hydor Ekip pump/heater combination with screen over the intake) for a potentially more plankton-friendly airlift system. The idea was to use an air pump to generate flow, but to contain the bubbles to reduce salt creep from the splash.
Here is the unit, being assembled. Just some 2″ PVC pipe and fittings.
Insert the air stone, and there it is:
Here it is in the tank. The good news is that it does indeed move water and minimize fizz in the tank.
The less optimal aspect is that, when you think about it, a chamber with bubbles rising in it is….. a protein skimmer. I am still working on keeping glop from being ejected from the top of the unit. Also, I hope little planktonic guys are not being extracted by the process of foam fractionation.
Nonetheless, we will still have some larvae to work with. We have at least three egg masses still developing, including this rather spectacular coil of eggs. Anyone care to count them?
Stay tuned for a few more exciting developments over the next few days.
Things got a little slow during lab today, so I put some eggs on a slide and took some pictures and video. Looking at a still photo, they look fine. It looks like it has its father’s eyes. Not sure what all the other parts are.
But that doesn’t tell us whether they are still alive, does it? Well, here is a little video. Not all of them were moving, and it is still not clear whether they are hatching or getting eaten, but at least some are wiggling energetically. After their brief moment of fame, all went back into the Box of Slugs.
The number of eggs seems to be decreasing, but it’s hard to know if they are hatching or getting eaten by the massive number of isopods in the system. If I have time, I will have a look at a few eggs tomorrow and see if there are signs of life.
They are still there, but the embryos must be itching to hatch. Lots of Bryopsis waiting for them to settle on.
I have no idea what triggered it, but someone has laid the first cluster of eggs. Cassic spiral form, right where they can be photographed. We’ll see how long they take to develop, and whether any of the little veligers settle, but for now it’s fun to see them.
Nearby a proud parent or auntie. Which brings up the question of how to refer to a mommy/daddy or uncle/aunt who is a hermaphrodite.