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dickey_moe

Enjoying My Little Shell Dwellers

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Well, I got my tank under control and went and picked up my fish. They are very entertaining! I have been enjoying watching them out- manuever and browbeat each other till they finally settled where they wanted to be.

I didn't have alot of shells in there so I tried to get them separated so they would not fight. This is how it went:

I am calling them north, south, east, and west until I come up with something better.

North came out of his shell and decided the shell next door was better, he moved in. He might not have liked the pink paint on his old shell. What guy would?

East came out of his shell and was set upon immediately by north and west, who seem to like each other (neighborhood thugs) poor east was afraid of his own shadow. I moved him waaay up north where none of the fish go. He is in fact exiled. We will call his corner "Siberia"

west enjoys her original shell and is the only fish who has not moved. I think west is a girl. the shell seems too small to me though. (in the fish world it's probably the equivalent of a studio apt.)

south came out of his shell after a looooonnnng while. In fact I thought he died. nope. just lazy. he did not like his shell and tried one closer to west. West did not like that and chased him into the hole in the tufa rock where he stayed for a while, and then probably missed the closeness of his shell. He moved into a shell on top of the tufa rock that is actually closer to west than where he was previously, but his being north of her does not seem to bother her. He is up higher. I am calling his house "The Heights"

Everyone is busy guarding his or her respective home and buffer zone. At last there is peace in the valley. :D

These guys are fun!!

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:lol::interesting: creatures they are for sure! Sounds like they are all getting a case of "nextdoor envy" breaking and entering at random into each others homes. Hilarious. Those thugs- better watch them. So East got the cold shoulder (Siberia :whatjust: )And clever little West staying home all day..its a dangerous street to live on!

They sound heaps of fun Rach and we would love a pic sometime (especially that pinkish shell- sounds wild). Congrats on your new little dwellers.

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Thanks!

There have been developments overnight: North has decided that he is envious of South's shell and wants one of his own. The trouble is: the only other shell that looks like that is in Siberia right next to poor East. They are both up there now showing off their "i'm mad at you" stripes.

It will be interesting to see who wins the face off.

I need more shells and a longer tank. I am thinking of buying a 20 long........real lonnnnnnnnnnnnng. :D

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O.k. I don't want my little fish to stress ..so I moved the coveted shell from siberia and placed it back where north's original shell was, and then I figured the heater may have been too close to the shell and that might have been why north wanted to move. so I moved the heater. Lo and behold everyone stayed in their positions all day. I did see north go back up to Siberia and show his colors (just to keep him in his place, or nyah nyah him about the shell) and I see west has been eyeing the purple shell that was once south's. could she be planning a move?

They have all been doing basic housekeeping chores such as sweeping away the sand in front of the door. They are landscaping too. This makes me think they are finally happy.

will west move into the purple shell? will north and east ever get along? What's up with south? stay tuned... :D

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O.k. here is a photo of the tank so far. I did buy a 20 long today to give them more room it will be quite a project to switch them. THe filter fell down today which prompted East to move back to his old shell but he still claims Siberia and will chase anyone who goes over there. West has been in the South shell. North has dragged his two shells together and doesn't seem too interested in claiming Siberia now.Shell dwellers

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They look so cool! Sounds like they provide you with heaps of entertainment!

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Hee Hee! I am not sure if they provide me with great entertainment or..A) I am easily amused. B.) Have no life at all. :D or (C.) BOTH!!

Today Siberia belongs to North. I put a new shell in and it was immediately claimed by East. West has taken the unclaimed shell that used to belong to South.

South still has the hole in the rock and is guarding it well.

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Oh my goodness they look so cute :heart and .....active!!! I didn't know they could have sand like that, it looks so nice 'n comfy!!

(But you know what they say about building your house on sand :lol1 )

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I was amazed that they actually move the shells around! I have also read somewhere that they will sometimes fill the openings of the shells with sand so no one will go in them.

the female will dig a huge pit around one shell and it will be the nursery, she lays her eggs there and guards them and all of the little ones will stay in that shell until they are big enough to go looking for shells of their own.

A male can have a harem of females in his territory. They are so fascinating! Everyone I have talked to on other fish forums says that they are prolific breeders and will build a colony in no time. So I got the 20 long and I am setting it up this evening when my honey comes home with the stand.

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Here they are in their new tank:shell Dwellers I don't know who is who anymore because they abandoned their old smaller shells the moment they got a look at the nice roomy ones I put in there. I didn't see it happen! :D

I have found out that they are curious about me. I have them right next to where I sit on the couch and I have looked up many times to find a little row of faces looking at me all lined up close to the glass. :D When I move they all dart into their shells!

Edited by Chickey

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Well, I have finally figured out who is who. It was because they may change their shells but they did not change their personalities. who's who

I got lucky with west because She never really totally left her shell, South is still unconcerned with anything going on, north and west both still hate poor East. East has been digging quite a hole. You can see it in the photo. I think the poor thing wants to go to China, and get away from North who is menacing him.

They move the sand in mouthfuls :D They suck up a big mouthful and go to where they want to put it then spit it out. I thought they did it with their tails!

East is burying the thermometer! It's funny how south and west get along, and west and north but no one likes poor east. :(

Edited by Chickey

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I like your tank setup. The sand looks like a very fine grade. Have you had any problems with sand in your filters?

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Looks like a nice tank Chichey, I always wanted to get some shell dwellers. They are fun to watch!

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I like your tank setup. The sand looks like a very fine grade. Have you had any problems with sand in your filters?

I rigged the filter to keep the intake away from the sand, but of course some fine grit is getting in. the impeller is turning kinda rough. I can only filter so much out. I am doing maintenance on it more often.

Thanks Aquaman, they sure are fun to watch, especially when they are digging. It's cute when they spit it out. I have learned that the edges of the pits they dig are the edges of their territory.

I also found a source for the shells. Pet stores sell these shells for 2.99 ea. for Hermit Crabs. Amazon.com sells them in bags of 24 for 9.00 They are sold in the gourmet food area to be used for escargot.

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I purchased some ciclid salts for trace elements, and some buffer to help me keep the ph stable for my little guys. They seem to be doing o.k. I haven't noticed any change in them since I put it in, but it makes me feel better to know that they are now in water that is ideal for them.

what I have learned lately:

They don't like floating food. They are very skittish about going to the surface at all. so the extra food pollutes the tank. They are not fond of the crumbles either. The only food they seem to like is the forzen brine shrimp. I will need to find some other food to give them more diversity. The only time there really is no territory is when they are feeding. Too busy I guess.

I learned a good lesson about poop: get it out of the tank before they bury it. :D They move alot of sand. They like alot of crevices in their living space. Right now east is digging another hole-to-nowhere that is covering up poop that collects in the back of the tank. He is creating a crevice under a shell that is not usable for living.

I still have not figured out the relationship between south and west. their territories seem to overlap, yet they do not fight and are often close to each other. They also do very little digging. There is a ridge between west and north and west will be quick to defend it if north is too close to it. South never defends anything. I am thinking they might be a mated pair and that is why I am seeing no little territorial disputes.

For a brief period west, north and south were "nodding" at each other alot. Maybe this is some kind of a mating dance?

I wonder if any of the shells has eggs in it??????? I have not seen any signs of fry.

It's great learning all this about my little tenants!

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Great lookin tank Chickey!

Mating for shell dwellers usually involves the female clearing out a shell and then dancing at the mouth of the shell until a male swims by. She'll swim in, lay her eggs, then leave so the male can fertilize them. When the fry are born, they'll stay at the mouth of that shell. The females generally care for the young, the male will guard the shell, if he's not distracted by anything else.

Just some more information for ya :-)

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I had to do a water change for my little tenants so I took a picture that shows their territories

territories the green arrows show the shells they have moved from recently. the red arrows indicate the shells they currently live in. The red lines show the ridges that are formed by all the digging. These are the borderlines.

Edited by Chickey

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I thought I would c&p this post here. It is the OMG Babies topic i posted seperately. I thought I would put it here so the whole story is together.

OMG Babies!

I was feeding my little tenants and saw something moving...at first I thought it was another brine shrimp floating by, but NO it was a baby!!!

Hooray my shellies have done it! They are living in the shell with mum right now and there seems to be only 5 of them. Probably the others didn't survive because I had no idea they were there and didn't give them proper food. Too sad I am thinking I should go buy something for them.

Well, at least now I know who the female is! It was South all along. I thought it was West, but then West had a growth spurt and got bigger than South. The only way to tell sexes is by size: the females are smaller.

The babies are spry and quick and look exactly like adults, there's no yolk sac and they behave just like the adults. Already, you can tell they are territorial. I will try to get a photo, but they are so small I don't think it will be worth it.

The nursery

The babies stay in the nursery area, it's a small area outside of the mouth of Mom's shell. She dug out all of the sand in between the shells to make little crevices to move around in. Mom can stay out of sight and move between the shells and check on her little ones.

Two of the babies hover like mom over the nursery, but the other 3 are still hugging the bottom and are very hard to see. Pop comes over from time to time to check me out, I now have rigged up a magnifiying glass so I can see the little ones better. I have discovered that they are not so much interested in me as they are suspicious of me :D

The two babies I can see well are almost transparent. they are really just bellies with eyes and they appear to be snapping at small bits in the water. That's good, it shows they are eating. I bought baby fish food and put some in the nursery area, unfortunately, both Ma and Pa seem to enjoy the baby food. :D Pop is allowed to come and go in the nursery, but the babies avoid him.

hopefully, I will be able to get a photo soon.

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Well I have done some reading and looking around on the internet and I have discovered that the babies I saw had to be at least a week old because their egg sacs were gone, and now the babies are gone! It seems that now that they swim and eat they are no longer sticking close to home and mumsy is no longer hovering over the shell. The parents are not so interested in territory invasions anymore. They are far more tolerant of North and East's little forays onto their turf.

I have only seen one or two of them for days. I continue to drop food in the nursery and wait for them to come out of hiding. I can't be sure I am seeing the same two fish or different fish on different days. They look good though. It is very likely that they have adopted their own shells and are keeping a low profile. There are lots of little nooks and crannies they can hide in. There could very well be more than just the 5 I saw!!

There could also be more than one spawn in there. From what I read: the female can lay eggs every 4 weeks. :blink: I have been watching the female and taking note of what she does. I saw a video on the net that showed mating behavior between the shellies and I have seen my girl "enticing" the male. She is looking around at the shells again as if trying to choose one.

I saw her lay across the opening on her side and flutter. The male came down and fluttered on top of her for a few seconds and then swam away. She is not hovering over that shell but she is sort of in between it and her own. I don't know if she laid eggs or not.

I am no longer worried about cleanup in the tank. Those little ones move very fast and aren't likely to stick around with all that disturbance. I am just careful around the mouths of the shells. I also am not worried about Daddy eating them- he had the opportunity one day and seemed to know the difference between a brine shrimp and baby, even though they looked about the same color and size.

I can't wait until they are bigger and start to hover up where I can see them better. Then I will know how many survived.

Mumsy has demonstrated what seems to be a strategy for finding buried food. she swims in the sand! It kicks up a big cloud of sand and she snaps at the food that is loosened up with it. :D smart girl!

East is working on re-excavating his pit after I disturbed it to clean the poops and food that collects there. It is his lot in life to live in the toilet of the tank :D the current in the tank deposits alot of the waste in his end of the tank. I have to get it out quick or he will bury it. On the flip side- he also gets alot of the drifting food. :ymmu

Something else I read about my Shellies: They don't like water changes so experts recommend small weekly water changes but there are additives like the trace elements and the salt. It is hard to measure it for less than 5 gallons. I am thinking of getting a big rubbermaid tub to keep treated water in which will simplify the process. I don't like the thought of trying to measure salt for each small addition. There would be a real danger of salt creep.

I do their water changes very slowly, and I shut off the filter when I am ready to add it back. The sand gets kicked up alot with just putting the water in. I solved the problem by putting a board over the top of the tank and placing a bucket full of temp. matched water on top of it. I start a siphon with a piece of airhose and just let it trickle in. I then fill the bucket with more water as it goes down. The trickle doesn't disturb the fish and more importantly: it doesn't disturb the sand. I can leave it alone and go do whatever I want until the bucket needs to be filled some more.

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I have seen a baby coming out of his own shell!! He adopted a shell near mumsy that is pearly on the inside. He is the only one I have seen.

Mumsy is hovering over the shell she fluttered in . I think she has eggs there. If the male goes too close she gets in between him and the shell. There are alot of articles out there about shell dwellers and they say that the female lays eggs in the shell and the male goes in after her and fertilizes them. I think that is not true. I think what I saw was the actual mating that took place at the mouth of the shell. The eggs would have fallen inside, and Mumsy is now guarding and tending them.

East and North are busy re-excavating their pits. It's funny! East is throwing his sand into North's pit.

I had to do another large water change. The nitrates were quite high. I am not sure if all the additives make the test results look different, but the fish will not mind the fresh water. :)

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Good grief Rachel. You are fast becoming the resident internet expert on these fish!! I think you have just about covered all the questions and then some that we might ever think up to ask you :tomuch: I find it totally captivating and look forward to more diary extracts. There is so much I had no idea about, and imagine seeing a whole new kind of breeding like that- puts the milt on eggs theory in the dark ages :rofl

I so LOVE the set up. It reminds me of a museum archive. You know where you cant open the lid but they have all those cave people tools or whatever inside. Beautiful. And totally fascinating. Can't wait for some close ups with the new camera. Your Shelldweller Place is on my dramas to watch check list.

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