Welcome to My Zoo

October 11, 2017

 

I have two African Dwarf frogs (Castor and Leda), a beta fish (Mr. Limpet) and pet moon jellies (Moana, Aquamarine and Mariana). My roommates and I share a cat named Dragonfly too, but besides making sure she loses weight after being pet sat all summer, there isn’t much to report with her.

 

As for my personal pets, that is a different story. Over the summer, I attended The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), meaning that I needed to find pet sitters for my pets. Mr. Limpet, Castor, Leda and my goldfish at the time named Nancy were driven down to the Bay Area when my parents came to visit me late May. The Charleston Marine Life Center (CMLC) that was across the street from OIMB were happy to take in my jellies and make them a temporary display next to Hank the Giant Pacific Octopus.

 

Essentially everything worked out great for the most part. My jellies were completely spoiled by the natural and fresh seawater and delicious blood worms and krill that the CMLC provided and my parents took good care of my freshwater pets…. That is, until they came to visit me.

 

 

The Frogs

 

For a bit more backstory, Castor and Leda (Orphan Black reference) had a tank mate: a fancy orange, black and white goldfish named Nancy (Stranger Things reference.) As soon as my Dad saw her, he fell in love with the wide-eyed fish with a bubbly personality (no pun intended). She would great him every morning in the kitchen, wagging her tail and bubbling against the wall of the tank for food.

 

In the past, there had been a bit of hostility between the frogs and Nancy. They would fight over the blood worms and occasionally a frog would take a ride on Nancy’s tail, which she didn’t appreciate. This hostility wasn’t too surprising since I, as a starving college student, shoved the three creatures into only a 2.5-gallon tank, when they really should have been in at least a 5-gallon.

 

Nevertheless, things went smoothly until my parents dropped in a weekend fish feeder and headed off to visit me on the coast. When they came back, there was no trace of Nancy yet very full-bellied frogs.

 

My guess is that the frogs didn’t like the fish food and instead, as carnivores do, decided to eat Nancy. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t there to witness this because it sounds kind of gory. Needless to say, my dad was super close to flushing the frogs, but with-strained for my sake, which I appreciated.

 

The most recent news regarding Castor and Leda, which by the way are boy and girl respectively, is that Castor has been hell-bent on mating with Leda for about a month now. He has been singing quite loudly (look up African Dwarf frog singing), and he is constantly attaching himself to the back of her. I researched the behavior and it is known as known as amplexus, according to davidcecere.pipidae.org. During this time, Leda will do all the swimming as Castor holds onto her abdomen, encouraging Leda to release eggs on the surface of the water for him to externally fertilize.

 

She hasn’t seemed interested.

 

Moon Jellies

 

Moana grew the most by far from the CMLC treatment, growing to about twice the size of the other two. When it was time for me to bring them back, I turned off the tank and removed half the water, so that I could drive them carefully back to Eugene. Once I got home, I removed the jellyfish and put them in a separate bowl filled with their seawater so I could start the pump up without risking a bubble incident.

 

Jellyfish are made of 95% water so they need special care. They need a circular tank known as a Krisel with a constant flow. If they did not have the flow, they would just sink down to the bottom of the tank and have no way to catch their food. And there should be no bubbles or else the bubbles will rip through the jellyfish.

 

Once the tank’s circulatory system started up again and I was sure no bubbles remained, I carefully poured the jellies back into the tank. They were fine for the rest of the day, but the next morning Moana and Aquamarine started to show problematic signs: their bells (their main bodies) were getting holes.

 

This had happened once before to me and sadly I lost two other jellyfish in the process. Mariana was the sole survivor from that batch. And just like last time, her tank mates suffered but Mariana was fine. However, I wasn’t going to let my jellyfish die again.

 

I took a water sample to a local aquarium shop to be tested and found that the nitrate level was twice of what it should be. This could be because the ammonium produced by the jellyfish producing waste changed to nitrate via the nitrogen cycle. I was recommended to do several 50% water changes throughout the next week.

 

Suspicious of the current seawater that I was putting into the tank, I only did a single 20% water change and waited. Moana and Aquamarine got worse. Moana had such a large hole in her bell that her feeding tentacles (the larger and fluffy tentacles) had moved through the hole so that they were hanging off the top part of the body, though still attached to her four stomachs (the four-leaf clover shape). Aquamarine shrunk more and decreased the size of her bell’s main opening.

 

Mariana was fine.

 

I decided to leave them alone and just observe. I didn’t do much more than feed them blood worms every now and then (which they didn’t seem to like anyways.)

 

Amazingly, they started to put themselves back together. While all the jellies shrunk due to lack of food, Moana and Aquamarine regrew their bells. Moana regrew her bell so that her feeding tentacles were still on top, which was very peculiar. I kept observing.

 

One day, I looked in the tank before heading off to my morning class and noticed something strange. There seemed to be a fourth jellyfish in the tank. I looked closer and realized that Moana detached her feeding tentacles and stomachs from her body and fused the top of her bell closed.

 

This is where we are at now. I have kept both parts of Moana in the tank and have bought frozen Mysis shrimp, which they like better. I am not sure which part of Moana will grow the new jellyfish, or if she will recover at all, but my guess is that “bell-her” will grow new stomachs and feeding tentacles. I think I can see a hint of new growth already. It has been five days since the detachment.

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