I felt bad for Claws, the coral crab. He'd regrown his pincers but still continued to hang out underneath the clam. He was eating extremely well but he was not living as nature intended and according to some articles these crabs are obligatory commensal in that they actually require a coral host for survival. I couldn't bear the idea of loosing him as well as Pebble (see its-a-pebble-but-its-a-really-nice-pebble), so I began searching for a new 'home' for him.
Whilst Trapezia cymodoce can be found hosting in amongst branches of Acropora sp. more extensive research on my part has indicated that they seem to be more commonly associated with the genus Pocillopora. Since I don't currently have any Pocillopora species in my tank adding particular crab turned out to be not the best livestock idea I've ever had. I needed to rectify that asap. To maximise my chances of Claws approving of a new coral home I needed a Pocillopora sp. that was large enough to to house Claws and make him feel secure but not too large that I couldn't actually fit it in my tank since space was becoming a premium.
After scouring the web I settled for a small maricultured Pocillopora sp. colony. It was listed as Pocillopora eydouxi, I have to assume that this is the correct identification but in all honestly I have no idea, Even after spending hours studying 'Corals of the World' by Veron I still can't really tell the difference between some of the different Pocillopora species. I just had to hope this coral would fit the bill.
The online listing showed the coral to be somewhat pink but when it arrived it just looked brown, probably due to shipping stress, but no matter hopefully it would colour up again once it was settled. I set the coral on the sand whilst I dealt with the rest of the order, I can never just buy one thing, lol. I also boosted the clean up crew in the from of a black spiny brittlestar, Ophiocoma sp. Once the star had been added to the tank and vanished under a rock, I took the time to really check out the new coral and.... WTH! It already had a crab living in it. This new crab was really, really tiny, about 1/10the size of Claws but to my eyes looked to be the same species. What had I done now? In trying to help Claws had I doomed really Tiny Claws?
I waited a week for the coral to acclimate before fixing it into position on the rocks. During that time Claws remained living at the base of the clam and Tiny Claws stayed happy in his comfy coral home. The morning after the coral had been stuck down I discovered Claws had moved in. I immediately searched for Tiny Claws and was amazed (and relieved) to discover that he too was still in the coral. Now either Claws and Tiny Claws are prepared to share or they are male/female and have paired up or maybe Claws hasn't even discovered his tiny new friend yet? Whatever, potential disaster has been averted for now.
Here is the (brown) Pocillopora.
Claws loving his new home.
Tiny Claws can be seen to the left with a partial view of Claws (bit of leg and claw) to the right.
In addition to the Pebble crab (RIP) I also received a commensal crab and a gorgonian.
The crab was a coral crab, Trapezia cymodoce. In the wild these crustaceans live in association with SPS corals, defending them against predators and feeding on the mucus produced by the coral. Unfortunately this individual had been through the wars, he arrived with one claw completely missing and the other broken (missing half of the pincer). The poor chap was basically defenceless, goodness knows what he'd been through before he'd been shipped to me. I introduced him carefully next to my largest Acropora but I discovered him hiding under a rock at the base of the clam the following day, he couldn't have been impressed with my choice of coral. Since he had no claws and no coral to live either in I was concerned about how he was going to settle. I gently pipetted a small piece of Mysis toward him and amazingly he managed to manhandle it with his broken claw toward his mouth. After that feeding him was a doddle, he greedily accepted food directly from the pipette. 17 days after introduction he moulted and reappeared with 2 complete claws, not just small claws but a proper pair of normal sized claws. Amazing!
The gorgonian was taller than expected which posed a bit of problem, where was I going to put it? One branch was stripped at the tip, another had flesh missing along its length and it was receding at the base. I had been advised by the shop that it was photosynthetic but as soon as I saw it in person it screamed non-photosynthetic to me. Not that I'm an expert or anything but it's not brown at all which I'd expect to see with a photosynthetic gorgonian. I had ordered it in the hope that it was the purple version of Menella, of which I have seen in photos online but never in person. This did not look like my yellow Menella, the polyps were smaller but it was here now and I would do my best for it. Fortunately it was attached to a reasonable size bit rock (coral skeleton) so I just placed it on the sand whilst I considered where it would go.
Here it is 4 days after introduction.
End on shot showing the whole gorgonian. You can see the stripped branch on the left and the small branch with missing flesh bottom left.
I decided to cut off the stripped top branch but leave the bottom one alone for the time being. After a few days it seemed the gap in lower branch was getting smaller or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I decided to take regular photos to confirm it one way or another. The pictures were snapped at random times during the day and zoomed with my phone so they are not the best quality, oh and the gorgonian was shifted around a bit as I tried to work out where best to locate it in the tank.
This was on day 7 (after introduction).
Day 30 and the gap is now closed.
When I realised the branch above was regrowing I decided to keep an eye on the stripped area at the base too. This was on day 8.
This was day 30.
And this was day 39.
I'm pretty chuffed with that recovery especially since I honestly feared it would waste away in few short weeks. Maybe it is photosynthetic after all, lol.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!