Atypical mite case

For the discussion of any creepy crawlies that may have taken up residence in your tank, including mites. Please note that isopods have their own forum.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:25 pm

OK - question... if the mites are parasitic, would food being left in the tank for a length of time encourage of discourage mite activity. I can see where rotting food might be of interest to fly larva or other such insects but would this be the case with mites? One reason i am curious is that usually i leave fruits and veggies and stuff in my crabitat for about a week. the riper and more deteriorated the food gets, the more activity it gets from the crabs. i've never really had an issue with food molding, but i don't really have any natural wood or other surfaces that would encourage mold growth or allow a harboring place for spores. plus - and this might be contested my some - i would think that - being scanvegers - that aged and perhaps moldy food would not be out of the norm for a hc in the wild.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:34 pm

Honestly, Crabdad, most mites are very specialized and will be parasites, suck plant sap or will eat detritus. Some very few, like the hypoaspis miles will eat plant detritus and algae but can't lay eggs on that diet and will die out. I'm not an expert on parasitical mites by a long shot, not on animals anyway, but plant mites I'm quite familiar with. I don't think a mite that preys on haemolymph is going to be able to eat the crab food and live. I think mites that come for the food will be unable to prey on the crabs.

I might be wrong about this, but I don't think that mites that came in with the food are the issue. They are not the same as the mites that are bugging the crabs (literally).

I'm going to email Dr. Williams and see if he can shed some light on those great red mites.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:37 pm

cool! i didn't think my method of feeding the crabbies was harming them or putting them in danger or anything - it's kindof been the method i've gone with for the last year - but i just wanted to make sure.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 29, 2005 4:07 pm

Here's a thought - how do you know for sure when the mites are gone? I haven't seen the mites in a long time, but I don't want to just forget about them. I guess that's where more detailed information on this particular kind of mite would be helpful. I keep worrying that the reason I haven't seen them is because they have somehow buried into my crabs.

As for the leaving of food out: I think that leaving the food out may help to sustain the parasitic mites while they are in nymph stage. I don't think that just because they are parasitic in their adult stage doesn't mean they have to be during juvenile stages? I don't really know anything about their life stages, but its a thought.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 29, 2005 6:03 pm

Julia_Crab wrote:That's not my advice, but thanks for the kudoes anyway! :D
oops! :oops: i thought it was you who suggested the x2 salt water, well, it worked first time anyways.

i really think the only way to tell of the mites are gone or not is to keep checking, and if you don't see any, they're gone.

it would be really interesting to hear more about these mites, and why they're showing up. the ones i had were the red/orange ones too, and i couldn't find them anywhere else in my tank, except for on the crabs. it would seem like if they were coming in for the food that they would be in other parts of the tank. so i think you guys might be onto something there.

and i've gotta agree with crabdad about the hermits being exposed to rotted food and mold and things like that in the wild. i don't think i've ever seen the crabs eating anything moldy (i think the only thing i can think of was strawberries that have molded lately), but they seem to love the stuff that's all gross and rotted. especially extra smelly things like fish. they almost don't even touch it the first 24hrs. then when it's stinking up the house in the middle of the next day is when they want it (which i don't especially like cos that's when i want to get rid of it :) ).

Topic author

Post by Guest » Thu Jun 30, 2005 9:46 am

I got a reply from Dr. Williams. Very interesting stuff -- especially the tiny mites on the c. perlatus I sent him; this was before I used the Hypoaspis miles.
Dear Julia,

Sorry, I thought I sent a note indicating I did receive the specimens - things were very busy this spring. Right now I am away in Oregon teaching an Invertebrates Zoology course for the summer. So the details I'm providing below are from my memory.

I can't give you a scientific name for the mites but the red ones aren't any of the symbiotic mites that are known to clutch onto the gills as described in the scientific literature. I believe these mites are free-living species that came in with materials when setting up or adding to the crab tanks. Then they opportunistically moved onto the crabs.

However, the large crab that you sent had hundreds of very small mites clutching onto the setae along the sides of the carapace (these were not observable with the naked eye). I did not find any of them within the gill chamber or clutching onto the gills. Again this isn't the position of the known symbiotic mites of hermit crabs but they could be something new. OR they could be the young of a mite that was introduced into the crab tank but their position suggests otherwise. I'll need to send these out to a specialist to put a name on them (if this can be done). I really don't have any idea if these mites led to the death of the crab.

My suggestion is to be very careful when setting up crab tanks and adding materials to them. Stay away from wood and other materials collected outside that may harbor the mites. However, if the crabs have the symbiotic mites attached when purchased, these would be very difficult (perhaps impossible) to remove since they are able to efficiently clutch onto the host and maintain their position.

I'll send out the mites when I get back to Hofstra in Sept. and let you know if I find out any more information.

Take care,

Jason D. Williams, Ph.D.
Biology Department
Hofstra University
The plot thickens.

Topic author

Post by Guest » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:54 am

Well, thanks for posting the email. I agree with you, it is really interesting, though I really wish we could get a positive ID on these mites. I wanted to try and figure out just when and where they got the mites in the first place, but in thinking about it, I realize the possibilities are endless. If they got the mites between capture and delivery to the store, I don't think I could figure out where they were from at all. I tend to think that these crabs had the mites when we purchased them, but I have no proof so I don't want to rule out the possibility that they became infected after getting to my house.

Argh, these little things are quite the challenge. Luckily, I still haven't seen any mites, but paranoia still drives me to search for more info.