4 weeks with the babies
- I really can't call them babies any more ... I have to start calling them
When we first rescued them, they were 1/4 inch long more or less. Ebi was
slightly smaller and transparent, Zaregani was opague.
For the first week we would see Zaregani inside the loofah that we got for
them, and Ebi stayed under the sponge so we only saw her occasionally.
By the end of the first week, they were both about 1/2" long, and looked more
like mutant ghost shrimp than anything else. The front claws were there but
Ebi disappeared for about a week and we thought she was fish food. When she
reappeared, she was motoring around the bottom of the tank like there was no
tomorrow and cozying up to the fish. Zaregani, while 1/4 inch longer, was
quite timid and rarely strayed more than 2 body lengths from the sponge.
At this stage, Ebi and Zaregani were both fairly sociable, sometimes eating
meals together and sharing a hidey-hole for sleeping.
I caught Zaregani stalking the fish in the tank. While he did not represent
an immediate threat because of his size, both he and Ebi were moved to a new
tank before hunting became an issue.
In the new tank, the two shared a burrow under some Java Moss for a few days
before Zaregani started becoming territorial. Ebi lost a claw in the first
fight, but they appear to have resolved their territories for now. Zaregani
prefers one of the caves under the rocks, while Ebi keeps the burrow under
the Java moss and the other rock cave.
Both of them will drag any food into the java moss burrow, but they eat alone
now. Ebi avoids Zaregani now.
Ebi is a full 1 3/4" long today, while Zaregani is still 1 1/2" long. Ebi is
also heftier than Zaregani now. This reversal in size is sudden,
unexpected, and caused me some confusion.
When I looked into the tank today, I thought Zaregani had lost a claw! After
a moment's panic, I found Zaregani calmly munching on an algae wafer with
both claws still intact.
Both are showing good front claw development, and the claw tips are starting
to show blue like their mother's. Their overall coloration is so close to
that of the sand bed in the aquarium that I have trouble seeing them if they
They are averse to light early in the evening, but they no longer react
strongly to light once they are fully active.
When we drop algae wafers in the tank, Zaregani runs around and gathers them
all up, then runs around the tank until he is exhausted. He looks like a
runaway christmas shopper on methamphetamines, with algae wafers in each claw
and stacked on top of his head.
When they get a bit bigger I'll have to separate them - at 10 gallons, my tank
is too small for two crays as large as these should get.
I tried to get pix, but digital cameras are a poor choice for macro shots into
an aquarium. You can't get a decent focus with the autofocus, and there is
no manual focus :o(
I still have no idea what species they are. Unfortunately, the first steps in
formally tracing the taxonomy of crayfish is to disect the first pleopods of
a mature reproductive form male. This is hard on the crayfish, and requires
a certain facility with "in-close" work, not to mention it doesn't help when
you have juveniles and species that revert to juvenile form at the first molt
- This is is the first time I have ever heard of crayfish carrying
things on their head. The marching around I first heard about when I
read on the internet, an account of the behavior of freshwater shrimp
in a commercial operation that raised them for food. The group forms
a pack with the larger ones in the front and middle. They march in
one direction, going in circles since it is a round pond. I wondered
if this behavior is because of high population densities and the
differences in the wild. In the ocean crabs form lines and march
several miles a day when they migrate.
In my aquariums I don't feed them too much, trying to help keep the
tanks clean. I know that an abudance of food helps them get along.
When I first captured crayfish I put at least 7 (seven) Signal crays
in a 20 gallon tank. They were between 3 1/2 and 7 1/2 inches long.
I had bought and fabricated many caves or hideyholes. When I learned
that a 20 gallon tank will support one 3 1/2 cray, I returned all
but 3 to the river I had caught them in. I would have eaten them but
the river is in an industrial area and I was worried about pollution.
I started collecting small aquariums to give the crayfish privacy or