Attempting to Breed Microcrabs - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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Attempting to Breed Microcrabs

I have a thread about my attempts to raise Amano shrimp zoeas and have commented a few times on my efforts to get microcrabs to reproduce as well. I figured it was time to start a separate thread on that topic in case I actually begin making progress instead of being continually thwarted.

I bought my first batch of microcrabs (Limnopilos naiyanetri) in August, 2011. They have been living peacefully in my mixed invert 20L since then. Of the original batch of 25, approximately 20 are still alive. The first batch turned out to contain roughly 15 males and 10 females, and unfortunately all of the deaths were females. I purchased a second order of 20 microcrabs recently and got a sizeable majority of females, bringing my sex ratio back into balance.

Microcrabs mate readily in an aquarium. For example, within the first month of introducing the first batch to my tank, I had berried females. Within 2 days of introducing the second batch to the tank I observed numerous instances of mating behavior between my existing males and the new females. Several of the new females are heavily saddled or berried, so hopefully I'll have zoeas in the near future.

Of the original batch of crabs, I had 4 or 5 instances where I was able to see a female crab that was berried and remove her to a smaller tank for hatching out. Unfortunately, in every case she dropped the eggs prior to hatching. In most cases the crabs held the eggs for weeks before doing so. I don't know whether the eggs were eaten or abandoned or whether the zoeas hatched and were consumed, as some have speculated. I intend to remove some more of the females to a hatching tank in the near future for another attempt. I also intend to leave some in the 20L and to allow their zoeas, if they hatch, to develop without any intervention.

I have been culturing green water for half a year now in anticipation of their arrival, so hopefully they'll actually want to eat the stuff...
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post #2 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 02:04 AM
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I'll be watching this. It is quite fascinating that most people have the same exact result at a specific amount of time. There has to be something missing from the environment at that precise point of development.
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post #3 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 02:11 AM
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can't wait to see you have success!
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post #4 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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I'll be watching this. It is quite fascinating that most people have the same exact result at a specific amount of time. There has to be something missing from the environment at that precise point of development.
Indeed. I'm hoping that something in the grab bag of stuff I've got going in that tank does the trick. There is plenty of wood, leaves, lots of microfauna, TONS of floaters (my RRF has been taking over once a week for the past 4 months...) some stems, moss, and recently, unfortunate quantities of algae.

If nothing else, I watch the tank several times a day and am hoping to catch the zoeas free floating. If that happens I can pipette them out into a growout tank and try to feed them directly. I've got all sorts of stuff to try on them, from fresh and marine phyto to wheat chaff infusoria from my garden. I expect lots of frustration before I ever get a hint of success, but I would love to see the first step actually happen and have a chance to fail.

Should have mentioned this, but I'm keeping them in a tank with pH 6.8, GH 4, KH 1, and temperature 73F. I'm concerned that it might be too cold for them, but I've got shrimp in the same tank that I'm also trying to work with that need the cooler temperatures. I love looking at my aquariums, but I much prefer actually working with the animals. I feed the tank flake food, sinking crab pellets, spinach and/or turnip greens (or whatever I pick from the yard when it's the right time of the year), algae wafers, and bloodworms once in a while.
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post #5 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 03:51 AM
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just a thought to consider...at the very point in time the female is ready to release all the zoeas,,I would automatically think what is the water current in the tank is???? my thinking is they would have to stay free floating with minimal effort exspended..if they exert to much energy staying free floating then they would problably die before they can actually hunt food..just trying to help,,,hopefully just a thought to think of...
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post #6 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 06:00 AM Thread Starter
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It's certainly worth considering. I know that amano zoeas are reasonably strong swimmers. I just don't know anything about these yet, honestly. Thanks for the suggestion.
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post #7 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 06:17 AM
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I will do his in the spring when it's warmer.

Do you have any filtration? I'm thinking any mechanical filtration will be bad, sucking in the zoeas. If raising them is like raising daphnia, use aged water only and don't use contaminated (excel, H2O2, medicated) tank water.

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post #8 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 06:46 AM
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It's certainly worth considering. I know that amano zoeas are reasonably strong swimmers. I just don't know anything about these yet, honestly. Thanks for the suggestion.
My zoae were always gathered at the top of the tank during the day whenever I saw them, usually in a corner. I tried feeding powdered spirulina, but either it wasn't appetizing, or just too big for them to eat because they'd always disappear after a few days. I was going to try chlorella, but ended up putting the adults into a container pond outdoors where they were promptly destroyed by dragonfly larvae *GRRRR*, this year, they'll be going into a container pond with a SCREEN on it.

I wish you luck! Would be great if someone could breed them indoors!
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post #9 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 06:23 PM
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Have you tried growing algae on the glass as well?
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post #10 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 07:07 PM
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Jason, keep an eye on those ladies. I found zoae this morning in my crab tank.
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post #11 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 07:41 PM
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Jason, keep an eye on those ladies. I found zoae this morning in my crab tank.
What do they look like?
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post #12 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 08:15 PM
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little dots that move in a floaty erratic motion. If I hadn't broken my speedlight I could take pics *frustrated*

They are in a green water tank, with lots of algae on teh walls and a 24 hour light, we will see.
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post #13 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-04-2012, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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My zoae were always gathered at the top of the tank during the day whenever I saw them, usually in a corner. I tried feeding powdered spirulina, but either it wasn't appetizing, or just too big for them to eat because they'd always disappear after a few days. I was going to try chlorella, but ended up putting the adults into a container pond outdoors where they were promptly destroyed by dragonfly larvae *GRRRR*, this year, they'll be going into a container pond with a SCREEN on it.

I wish you luck! Would be great if someone could breed them indoors!
Thanks for the good vibes. I've got spirulina and will likely offer that as a later food. I've also got the smallest of the golden pearl varieties, which might suit a crab's diet better.

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Have you tried growing algae on the glass as well?
It's not so much a matter of trying to grow it as trying to keep it under control.

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Jason, keep an eye on those ladies. I found zoae this morning in my crab tank.
Going to go check them out right now. ETA: No babies found tonight. I stopped the filter for 5 minutes or so and put the room into complete darkness. I then put a flashlight on one corner of the tank and waited a few minutes. There were a number of tiny crustaceans, but nothing that looked like what I thought a crab zoea ought to. The presence of healthy microfauna also helps put to rest concerns about filtration.

I missed a multiquote, but yes, the 20L is filtered. It's got a good prefilter sponge on there, and I haven't had problems with amano zoeas being sucked into it previously. I don't know about the size difference between the zoeas of the two species though, so it's worth considering. The smaller tanks are not; I've been using pieces of lava rock in the bottom as super low quality filters. They have been aged and are thoroughly covered in bacteria, whether they help keep the tanks in good shape or not remains to be seen. I was using bottles filled with lava rock as filters, but the microcrabs are able to get into even the tiniest of gaps/inlets in the bottles and hide inside. I wound up having to carefully cut them all apart to try to find the potential mothers.
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post #14 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-09-2012, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Still no zoeas, not from the two berried females I have isolated in a hatching tank nor from the remaining four females that are berried in the main tank. I check several times a day, before, during, and after the lights are in use as well. I had two females drop their eggs (I think) right after they got in the tank, but at the same time I believe that I've seen numerous instances of mating going on as well, so I expect the number of berried crabs to remain strong.
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post #15 of 78 (permalink) Old 02-11-2012, 12:12 AM
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I thought zoeas need brackish water in order to fully develop into crab.
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