It has been a wild ride! Here are the updates:
Big Headed Ants:
We have been seeing a steady decline in the number of ants in the back up colony in AC.
– As of 11/19 there was no brood left in the brood box and humidity had been dangerously low due to the addition of a space heater in the room for the reptiles. In response we changed the way we added water to the tank to decrease stress and disruption.
– By 11/20, the queen had been removed from the brood box and hidden. I believe they had hidden her under the water bowl because shortly after she disappeared, a row of supers stood around the edge of the bowl as if on guard. In response to this, the lid was modified with a plastic cover to further reduce the amount of evaporation that was occurring.
– Between these two modifications, humidity had stabilized by 11/21. We also made adjustments to the food: cutting prey up, moving it closer to where we believed the queen to be, nuts ground up extra fine. Still no queen or brood was seen and defense responses to us were very high.
– Finally, after lots of TLC and a gentle touch, brood was seen again in the brood box as of yesterday, 11/30! The queen has still not been moved in to the brood box yet but some minors were carrying some almond dust under the water bowl.
– As of today, 12/1 the queen has been moved back to the brood box but brood is looking good and the defense response of the colony as a whole has calmed down leading me to believe they are less stressed. YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!!
All in all, we are on the rebound and I think we are looking good!
Coral Reef:
Please take a moment to welcome our new ambassadors!!! In the tank we have 2 Blue tangs, a prawn goby with a symbiotic shrimp, 6 chromis to join our other one, snails to buffer our cleaning crew and, one of my very favorites, a mandarin goby. These guys were brought in Thursday 11/29 Reef in Indianapolis. Sommer and I drove to Indy to pick them up and brought them back here.
One of the blue tangs (the fish that Dory is supposed to be) really worried us when we opened the box because it was listing on its side, breathing very heavily and was clearly stressed out. We were afraid it wouldn’t make it. After about an hour of acclimation, she calmed down, her breathing returning to normal, her swimming getting stronger. By yesterday morning she was swimming in the water column with the other tang, foraging for food and seemingly unaffected by her journey. The yellow tang has been a real bully to these two though. This is because tangs, specifically yellow tangs, are very territorial towards other tangs because they have similar body shapes and they fill similar niches within the marine ecosystem, causing quite a bit of competition. This is manifested in bullying from the dominant, established individual in the form of fin nips and chasing. Luckily, the two blues have been sticking close together and seem to be tag teaming the yellow when he gets excited two balance things out.
The prawn goby is a small, bottom feeding fish that is white with orange stripes and a black spot on its dorsal fin. This little dude has a symbiotic relationship with Alpheus randalli, a sand burrowing shrimp with poor eyesight. The shrimp digs a burrow in the sand for the goby and itself to live in. In exchange, the goby provides sentinel services, keeping the shrimp and the burrow safe from adversaries. The goby was spotted yesterday under the toadstool coral in the South west corner of the tank, however it was not seen there today. I still have not seen the shrimp, but fear not, it can sometimes take as long as a couple weeks for them to find each other again, after all, 300 gallons is a big world for such a small pair. Look for mounds in the sand as a sign that they are close by.
The chromis seem to be adjusting fine. You can tell the difference between our original one (which has been in the tank literally since day 1) and the new shoal because he is about 3 times the size of the rest of them. They seem to have accepted each other and are now 1 cohesive shoal! You can see them swimming together in the column throughout the day.
Our mandarin goby has eaten already! This is hugely significant because mandarins are notoriously difficult to establish feeding routines. They often times have to be trained to eat in quarantine where they wont be bothered by other fish or stress out. Since we do not have a quarantine set up, our little guy has been placed directly into the display tank. To get him to feed, I hand fed him with a pipette of sinking pellets. These are bottom feeding fish that stay exclusively close to the ground and wait for food to float to the sand bed. They eat copepods from the bed and help keep the sand bed healthy by eating the scraps other fish dont finish. This keeps the leftovers from having a chance to decompose and pollute the water. We lucked out and our goby took right to feeding after just 2 days.
All has not been perfect, however. We brought home 2 mandarins on Thursday but yesterday, one of them was killed when a rock that was not stable enough fell on him. This was a completely preventable death of a perfectly healthy animal and one that we have not taken lightly. To prevent this tragedy from repeating, every rock in the tank has been checked and rocks that had any visible give to have been stabilized by digging them deep in the sand bed. My sincerest regrets and apologies for this little life. RIP little dude……..
Our Copperband Butterfly fish, which will eat all of that hideous aiptasia, has not come in yet. It is on a rolling order so every Thursday I will call reef to see if they have gotten it in. We have reserved the first copperband they get.
It is getting colder and the bee numbers have severely dwindled. We have installed pipe warming strips on the tube that grants them access to outside and we have closed the opening so that it is only 1/3 of the way open. This has definitely been keeping the bees warmer and I have seen some increase in activity since adding the warmer but I am still a little nervous about how they will fair over winter.
Exhibit Development:
You will see some changes here very soon! On December 10th the installation of the coral reef build out begins. This will include some very large, very rapid changes so hope you all like what we have done with the place! There are many different conversational messages interwoven into the story of the exhibit and I encourage you all to check it out!
Histology reports came back form the vet and unfortunately, they do not she much more light on the situation than we already knew.
Dexter: The wound in her mouth was a mucosal papilloma (a benign epithelial tumor of the mouth). Surgery has cured it and it will no longer be a problem. Fibrosing vacuolar hepatopathy (cytosolic glycogen builds up in the vacuoles of the liver cells). I have asked the vet what the implications of this are and what that will mean for her future. Obvious ovarian granulomas (inflamed cells of the body that defensively grow around foreign bodies to block it off from the rest of the body to impede spreading). This is the follicular stasis I have been telling you all about. Eggs were deposited on the ovaries but they went no where and the granulomas began. Interestingly enough, even with the slight swelling of her gallbladder, it is histologically normal. I have also asked the vet what she thinks this means.
The granulation tissue noted on the surface of the gallbladder and bile duct and fibrous adhesions between the ovarian follicles and hepatic capsule indicate a high likelihood of resolved previous coelomitis (gallstones). The gallbladder wall and tissue surrounding the bile duct were also disrupted by regions of fibrosis and smooth muscle atrophy (loss of muscle function), however the gallbladder mucosa was unremarkable. The exact etiology of the gallbladder lesions was not evident. The clinical history of related dragons with enlarged gallbladders suggest a congenital/developmental anomaly or common nutritional-related disease, however no specific lesions were identified to support either theory. Speculatively, pericystic granulation tissue and suspected previous coelomitis in this case could have impaired gallbladder contractility, resulting in swelling. The mural fibrosis and smooth muscle atrophy then would reflect a degenerative change secondary to chronic distention.
The bottom line is that Dot was most likely ovarian disease that adhered to the fibrosed, abnormal liver; Dexter was also terrible with ovarian disease, without liver inflammation.
Neither case can clearly give a cause and effect for the ovary causing enlarged gall bladders.
I have asked the vet what the implications are for Dot’s liver and how that relates to her shaking and tremors (if at all). I asked how this will affect her future and the implications for Harley’s health since they are related and have been raised on the same diet.
This is a rather giant email as is so if you have any more questions, please ask me.
Sam Couch
Animal Exhibits Manager