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Pompom crab puts out on the first date!


Flashy Fins
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Ordered a couple of pompom crabs this week, and since this is my first time keeping them, I was a little concerned to see a significant size difference between them when they arrived yesterday. Hoping there wouldn't be any issues with the larger one picking on the smaller one, I searched the web to see if others had an issue with that and determined that no, it shouldn't be a problem. Females are larger, and I likely have one of each sex.

 

This morning, while feeding the fish they're (temporarily) sharing a QT tank with (still waiting for my coral/invert QT to cycle), I noticed the crabs were seriously intertwined and scuffling. Despite my research, I thought, "Oh, no! They ARE fighting!" But then I saw it... a huge clutch of bright red eggs on the female!

 

That was no fight - I literally caught them in the middle of baby-making!  :hidesbehindsofa:

 

Tried to get a picture of them mid-act, but failed miserably due to their location between rocks and the fact that the female hid immediately after. The male sat there staring like he could go for a cold beer, or at least some copepods.

 

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Shortly after, I saw the female reemerge, and the male has been waving his legs out to her ever since. Impossible to make out much, but I circled where the eggs are.

 

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Here's a MUCH better picture of what she looks like. Puts my pictures to shame, but I console myself that firsthand pictures/stories have an immeasurable value! :laugh:

 

Tank mates are a bluestripe pipefish and magnificent firefish (like the purple firefish, but with a yellow body and a few other slightly differing traits). Got all four critters from Diver's Den for the same price they go for in most stores. VERY pleased with the livestock quality and shipping. I love our local shops for corals, but I've had the worst luck with fish and am happy to go the DD route re-stocking my tank after my brooklynella nightmare last year.

 

Diver's Den rarely offers firefish, so I lucked out getting mine. Site was updated at 3pm, I purchased at 3:01 (would've been quicker, had I not needed to dig my credit card out of my purse for the 3-digit security code!), then laughed when I saw the email update come through at 3:08, knowing those who waited for it were 7 minutes too late! They had another of the same fish the next day, which someone else snatched up just as quickly, but I think I got the better looking of the two. :)

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That's awesome!!  I wonder what the rearing requirements are.  Any idea how the young would aquire their own anemones in captivity?

 

Hmm, good question about the nems! When a crab loses one, they split the remaining one in two, so I imagine the parents would provide that way.

 

I have heard of lone crabs substituting other animals in the event they lose both anemones - coral, aptasia, jellyfish, whatever they can find. One person reported having two crabs, one with both nems and one with none, and the lucky one allowed the other to split both his nems, so they ended up with the proper number of 4 between them.

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Most critical is feeding them in the planktonic larval stage. This might be a good time to start phytoplankton/rotifer cultures.

 

Oh, I don't think I'll be taking on rearing anytime soon! They would likely need something smaller than rotifers at first, if fish breeding journals are anything to go off.  But it's cool to see breeding, and I'm sure my fish will appreciate the tasty treats.

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Yes, it is always good to see everyone in the tank happy! You must be doing something right! :)

My Cardinals spawned again the other day. and I should be expecting more free-swimming fry around April 5th.

 

Nice! I've reared cichlids before, but those were as easy as separating the mother and hatching BBS to feed the babies, barely any work at all (actually, a few times babies made it without me catching the mothers, but usually only 2-3 fish out of each batch would manage to avoid predation). Never tried rearing any marine species (unless you count culturing tisbe pods), but I'd like to try one day. I had a pair of bluestripe pipefish before brook wiped everyone out, but I never saw any eggs, just the two fish swimming together almost constantly. I imagine the fry would be very tiny.

 

If you ever want to set up a 10g w/sponge filter to attempt raising some Pom-Poms, let me know. I should have phyto on hand!

 

Thanks. I haven't tried culturing phyto (just fed my pod cultures dead phyto when I had them), but I would at least try culturing some calanoids or another protein source if I were going to give rearing a go. The crabs are in a 10g QT at the moment, so I could just leave them there after the fish complete their stay, as I'm sure they'll continue to produce eggs, but I think I'd rather just enjoy them in the reef tank.

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That's awesome!!  I wonder what the rearing requirements are.  Any idea how the young would aquire their own anemones in captivity?

From what I have read, the crab uses the Stinging Anemone Triactis producta. It is is reported to be one of the most venomous of sea anemones. If one of the anemones is lost, the crab will split the anemone and have two! Looks like these guys invented fragging! I would think they split very easily and would be simple to propagate for someone raising Pom-Poms in captivity.

Edited by JManrow
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... magnificent firefish (like the purple firefish, but with a yellow body and a few other slightly differing traits).

Meant to say exquisite firefish (not magnificent). Just corrected myself on another thread over the same thing - you'd think I could get the name of my own fish right! ;)

 

Anyway, the exquisite firefish seems none too wise about avoiding the pompom crabs' anemones. I watched him swim right up to one and try to bite, thinking a nem was a piece of food after I tossed in some mysis. No damage was done, as he barely missed the target, but I did notice a couple of dark spots on the fish's side last week that were suspiciously the same size and space apart as the larger crab's nems. The spots were exactly like the marks clownfish sometimes get from their anemones, and they cleared up in a couple of days, so I assume fish and crab had a little bump. Pipefish is smarter and stays away.

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