Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:40 am

I have kept a small colony of Hawaiian shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) for about 6 years old now. More than a few females were quite gravid over the new year holiday and a swarm of (post) larvae was observed tonight during the LED night-time tank inspections. I set aside two in a vial tonight for photo ops in the morning. I'm hoping there will be plenty to see in the tank after I get a little rest tonight :)
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:53 pm

OK... it wasn't a huge spawn (just 21 dropped out), but they are as cute as a button :) But, hey, this is a micro-nano errr... tiny "display." There are about a dozen adult shrimp in a 30 oz glass cylinder. The post larvae are being separated to a like sized vessel (see pics below).

Pics shot freehand with a Canon 100mm macro.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:56 pm

A closer look at the juvies
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:11 pm

Cited at around .5" max adult size, mine are barely so, if even that.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:14 pm

Dead adult... siphon accent :( Still illustrative.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:36 pm

These are some of my nano vessels. The Hawaiian shrimp are kept here. Specific gravity in the wild can range at least as much as 1.005 - 1.015. I've always kept mine around 1.008 to 1.010 but recently raised it to 1.015 on reports that it favors spawning events. I can't dispute that yet :)
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby JimWelsh » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:55 pm

Anthony Calfo wrote:I have kept a small colony of Hawaiian shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) for about 6 years old now.


So, assuming that they aren't all 6 years old, I infer that you've successfully raised the larvae before.

1) (Most important question) Care to share your protocol, pretty please?

2) (Less important question; please don't let it distract you from answering #1) Have you been able to raise enough to "harvest" the adults?
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:43 am

Please don't ever hesitate to ask me anything, my friend. I hold no secrets.

My shrimp actually are all six years old. This species commonly lives over 10 years. Well over in some cases. I've seen my females carrying numerous times through the years, but I never seemed to catch (see) the hatched larvae. I travel a lot for work, but have been home for most of the last six weeks and have enjoyed my lionfish, several pairs of Banggai cardinals and now these shrimp all spawning.

My husbandry for keeping marine and freshwater species alike has not changed much at all in over twenty years. I am very "lucky" at getting things to reproduce. It has always been my goal when keeping any pets to get them to reproduce. My reckoning is that it is the ultimate compliment to one's husbandry if your livestock reproduces (stress induced aside). The protocol is very simple: 1) adequate space, 2) fastidiously clean water, and 3) over the top feeding (managed by the frequent water changes). You can get most things to spawn by correctly identifying a species' needs in these categories.

Space in this case is about as forgiving as it gets. The organism is usually less than .5 in./12mm. They live in nooks of anchialine (lava) ponds in Hawaii. 50 shrimp in 2.5 gall/10l would look lost :)

Water quality: I do nearly 100% water changes weekly on all of my "small" tanks (under 75 gallons). That largely spares me from needing to test water quality, use supplements for reconstituting minerals, using protein skimmers, reactors, etc. Most of which is not applicable here. It's not rocket science in this case. Whatever vessel you keep your shrimp in, it will likely be small enough (to concentrate feeding opportunities adequately) that weekly water changes will literally take tens of seconds to accomplish. And it will insure fresh, stable water quality.

Feeding: this is the make or break point for so many species. Feeding enough "fats" to aid in roe production... and a good, varied diet overall. My Opae ula get oyster eggs, rotifers, copepods, spirulina, freshwater daphnia, frozen plankton (superfine and soaked in Selcon). Dry feed is rather small (under 250 microns) and live feed is enriched or gutloaded (roti-rich, fresh phyto).

Hmmm... I think that about sums it up. Can you think of anything I've missed?

Kindly, Anth-
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby lance » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:42 am

great work Anthony

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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby fishtal » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:00 pm

Anthony,

I've been considering breeding seahorses since I was at Ocean Rider in Kona last year where I saw these shrimp in their natural habitat. They have a plentiful local supply and credit their awesome coloration results to feeding with these shrimp.

The thing is though is that they sell them for $2 each and suggest feeding a dozen a week, per pair... from what I've read they only spawn 4-5 times per year, 20-30 offspring. Do you feel it's possible to raise enough to have a continuous supply?

Sorry, you probably didn't start this thread as a food source but I thought I'd ask since you brought them up. :D

Great pics, BTW!
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby jadeguppy » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:12 pm

Very cute babies! Great pics too. Thanks for posting.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:37 pm

At the risk of sidetracking this thread, I will say... unabashedly, that what Ocean Rider has been doing with these shrimp is irresponsible IMO. The only people I have found saying the shrimp is plentiful... are the people selling them. Oh, and the Hawaiians collecting them. By any definition this shrimp's natural habitats have been decimated (albeit mostly not from aquarists... principally from coastal land development instead). Many studies cite as high as 90% of the original anchialine pools have been destroyed or contaminated (biologically). Scientists say the shrimp should be listed as threatened and prospects for recovery are bleak. The species has a staggeringly slow rate of reproduction and indeed has no practical means of spreading colonies (the pools are mostly restricted). Think "desert pup fish" and you may get a clearer picture. The US did not protect them adequately and the collectors kept saying they were plentiful, but it didn't take long for many folks to feel abjectly sorry.

And for all of the overwhelming concerns from so many different and respectable sources of science and conservation... it is the lack of adequate protection that allows collectors to harvest with a blind eye and have no desire to even know what is a sustainable harvest for this species. They are short-sighted and in some cases despicable.

Or am I being too vague here? ;) OK... in the spirit of disclosure, I was born in Hawaii, revisit, love and adore Hawaii. I may even retire there and may be a tad biased. Nonetheless, the black and white situation is that sober concerns require that responsible people check their actions pending clarity on that stability of this species. Otherwise we will just have another desert pupfish... or soon to be Banggai disaster. The hobby does not need another notch in the belt of species we have crippled :(

On the point that these shrimp really improve color in seahorses, that may be true but hardly makes it a unique feed. On the contrary. There are a staggering number of other organisms and ingredients on the planet that will color your seahorses and other fishes as well or better than endangered shrimp. Many sources are not even aquatic... take paprika for example. Care to guess what happens when you feed fishes paprika (check the ingredients on some of the commercial foods and many of the best home-made fish breeder recipes)? Gut loading mollies, guppies, ghost shrimp, etc with paprika-laced food does wonders. And frankly, there is an avalanche of crustacea around the world that are not endangered and serve as nutritious and color enhancing feed.

Please breed... not feed, Opae ula :)
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby fishtal » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:51 pm

Anthony,

Thanks for the info! I guess I was being a bit naive and general in my thinking. When I said that I "saw them in their natural habitat", I just meant that I saw the pool of them that they show off. I tend to trust some people too easily. I appreciate the insight for sure and will alter my plan.

Looking back at the conversations I had with Carol, I should have realized...

BTW, I love Hawaii too. It's my favorite place in the world. :D Sorry to sidetrack your thread. :oops:
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:30 am

Please don't apologize at all, my friend. This was very helpful. If anything I should apologize for getting so impassioned. I often answer a bit odd like this though as a habit from working on so many forums through the years; there is a mindfulness we learn for future readers and their needs (unanswered questions, broader back stories, etc).

I just get worried for having seen more than a few creatures get crippled through the years (hobby fault or otherwise) due to blind eyes or shortsightedness. I think the situation with the Banggai cardinals is perhaps a good analogy in many ways. While the exact population of Banggai cardinals is somewhat unclear, our obligation as aquarists and conservation minded people is the same. Indonesian legislators (with an agenda or perhaps bribed) and and collectors want us to believe that the population of Banggai may be larger than estimated. But the reality is that we don't know that yet. It may be true, or it may not. As such, we need to error conservatively because if we are right, then the species can be enjoyed by our children and many generations beyond. But if we are wrong and keep applying unsustainable pressure on wild populations, the ramifications will be devastating to the species. The apparent reality is that the rate of collection roughly matches the fecundity of the species. If true, there is no margin for error. Increased collection, pollution or natural disaster could lead to the fishes extinction in the wild. And at any rate, the species is a tiny fraction of what it was ~ 15 years ago. That is very scary... and the fear here is that Opae ula is suffering the same hash reality.

The species seems to be in dire straights (the state of duress, not the awesome Knopfler band). Any empathetic aquarist IMO will breed them, buy CB, or just leave them in the ocean. Please don't support collectors that sell them either and pass the word along please. With kindest regards, Anthony
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby JimWelsh » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:39 am

So, then, is this the first spawn of them you've had in six years, or do they spawn regularly for you, or something in between? If one of the latter two, please elaborate.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:20 am

This is my first witness of larvae and first successful rearing of offspring. I have only seen them egg carrying on occasion, my friend. That is partly due to my work schedule at times. Fundamental maintenance is always insured for my fishroom denizens, but the late night and early morning peeps for reproductive activity aren't always on par while I travel.

The thing that concerns me about this species' status in the wild is the extreme limitation (naturally) and uniqueness of their habitat and the pretty much universally agreed (state politicians, developers, conservationists) that the shrimp's habitat is mostly gone due to coastal developments. Again, some cite that number at 90% destroyed. Even 40% would be very alarming and call for action.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Tooshay » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:39 pm

Anthony, I find these little shrimp fascinating! Since seeing this post, I have scoured the web searching for any info I can find on raising them. One of the sites was that of David Fukomoto. Would there be any advantage to having porous lava in the systems like he has in his? Also, he doesn't have an airstone of any kind. What about the "Lava Rocks" that are used in lanscaping and available in big bags at Home Depot? I am just trying to figure out the best way to get started! I would LOVE to breed these beautiful creatures!
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:12 pm

Cheers, Tooshay

I am very glad to read of your enthusiasm! If you keep this species I think you will be pleasantly surprised; the pictures do not do them justice. By the way, one of the finest displays that I ever saw of this species was at the Waikiki Aquarium in 1997. The display was rather large... perhaps a few hundred gallons, and when you walked up to it you saw nothing. Nothing but a big empty tank, it seemed. Except for the rail across the face of the tank that held a mounted magnifying glass begging you to look through it. Then the world of Opae ula opened up :) Really a magical sight.

Regarding your question, I would agree that a lava substrate would be practical beyond being natural. Porous lave would readily grow (appropriate light and nutrients pending) a proper microalgae for the shrimp to feed, forage and frolic in. It would also be a better biological filter than the (more dense) coarse sands and rock available in the hobby otherwise.

For as little rock as you'll need though, pay the extra money to buy lava from an aquarium supply source. I worry about contamination (trucking, handling, processing) of industrial lava which need not guarantee it is safe for aquatic life.

I do recommend the airstone though for most any body of water for live aquatics. Oxygen saturation, higher livestock densities or longer periods between water changes, if necessary, etc and to be had. Evaporation is nearly a moot point as some folks like to complain about. My 30 oz. vessels are barely covered with plastic deli cup lids. And they are directly in the path of one of the big greenhouse recirc. fans. I only need to top off for evaporation about 3 times per month.

If you can't find a better reason for not using an airstone, my advice is to use it ;) Best of luck, my friend.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Midnight Angel » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:18 pm

Anthony,
Great thread :!: Cool pics :wink: And thanks so much for sharing this with all of us. I had no idea that these guys were being fed to the seahorses. And good for you for committing to these guys. Looks like they could really be in trouble so your efforts will go a long way in helping these guys in the future. Bravo :!:


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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby enigma » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:46 pm

Tal,

Don't be too hard on yourself, Ocean Rider has been running a game for many years and has a far less than stunning record of snookering novice SH hobbyists. These shrimp are a declining specie as AC said due primarily to habitat loss. Ironic OR is charging $2 each wen they are SO plentiful. These shrimp, whom I've had (got snookered early on) live remarkably long and are actually pretty hardy. From my experience they produce quite small broods, which is one reason their numbers can be impacting so easily .

We really need to get these guys going captively. Thanks Anthony for at least starting the effort.
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:10 pm

Small update... image here at slightly over 2 weeks old now. Developing nicely and presently at a size approaching 5mm (you can see the edge of the petri dish for comparison at the bottom of the uncropped image). I feed them a touch of Nano paste each day. There is a healthy growth of diatoms on their substrates as well as assorted microalgae. I also started offering extremely fresh (just hatched) Artemia and Coral Fenzy (<~250 micron assorted dried plankters, both zoo and phyto). They have had a 100% water change weekly and will continue to get that like most of my smaller aquaria. Kind regards to all, Anth-
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Tooshay » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:46 pm

My Opae ula are fascinating to watch. They are very active and are either exploring the crevices in the rocks or "Running" laps around the tank! They are really quite entertaining :) I am going to move them from their 3/4 gallon tank to a 2 gallon hex to give them more room. Hopefully soon I will have babies!
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Anthony Calfo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:45 pm

I hope you see offspring soon, my friend. FWIW I am inclined to agree with those that say leaning towards the higher end of the salinity range and, of course, water changes can stimulate spawning. All presuming they are well fed. Do you have a set diet for them?
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Re: Opae ula - Halocaridina rubra reproduction

Postby Tooshay » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:32 pm

They are in 1.010 now, and I will slowly increase the SG to 1.015. I raise clownfish, so I have a continuous supply of rotifers. I also have spirulina powder and Otohime A for a little variety. I am keeping the light on the tank on 12 hrs and off 12 hrs to try to stimulate spawning.
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