When one of my hermit crabs decided to upgrade his shell, I gave his old home a prime position in the tank front and centre next to the glass. Why did I feel the need to feature an empty shell? Well, this particular shell is home to an abundance of neat hitchhikers.
Aside from the purple coralline algae there are the the bumpy pink blobs, these are a colonial foraminifera called Homotrema rubrum.
These forams feed on tiny particulate matter, bacteria etc that they catch using fine filamentous protoplasmic strands that poke out of the pink shell. Apparently the pink colouration is due to an iron salt that is incorporated into the shell. Pretty cool huh!
Then there are the teeny tiny barnacles. There are at least a dozen scattered over the surface of the shell. I love watching them extend their feather like cirri in and out sifting for food. I fully expected them to starve quite quickly in my tank but they must be finding enough food as they are still doing their thing.
Additionally in the photo above you can just about see a pair of dark/transluscent coloured things (no idea what that is) top left and another pair of whitish siphons just to the right of them, a tunicate or sponge maybe? There are also some small chaetopterid worms and vermetid snails too (they get everywhere). Last but not least a baby sun coral has decided to join the party too.
So much life on one small snail shell and that's not even counting the amphipods and mini brittlestars that are taking shelter inside and underneath it. Too cool!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!