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Old 12/20/2007, 09:42 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA, USA
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The virtues of small Odontodactylus species

O. latirostris, O. brevirostris and O. havanensis are all very similar in size (maximum length 65 mm), personality, habitat requirements, and husbandry needs. They all live at depths below 10 m in open habitats where they construct u-shaped burrows. They are strictly diurnal, hunt away from their burrow and are incredibly fast swimmers that can propel themselves several inches out of the water. They are nearly always watching from their burrow and quickly learn to come out to feed.

Unfortunately, they are very sensitive to water quality, solvents, low oxygen and pH, etc. In a stable system with good water quality, they will live for a couple of years, but in smaller systems, a single perturbation that wouldn't phase a Neogonodactylus wennerae is often fatal. One bit of good news is that they are not prone to shell disease like larger Odontodactylus. Also, you cannot keep a male and female together. Believe me, I have tried dozens of times and even in 24x72 tanks, the out come is always the same, one kills the other.

The ideal tank for any of these species has little or no illumination, a substrate with a mix of sand, gravel, shell, etc., and lots of open space (not much LR and small pieces at that), and good water flow. I usually provide about an inch of substrate with one three or four inch flat rock on the surface for them them start their burrow. At first they will excavate under the rock and construct a burrow with two entrances. Gradually they will gather up pieces of rock, shell and rubble from all over the tank and build in mound over the burrow extending the entrances. This is exactly what they do in the field. Don't be surprised if some day the animal seems to go crazy and tears apart the entire structure. They often remodel, particularly just before a molt.

Because of the need for good, stable water quality, open space, and because they jump, these are not the best animals for small cube systems. However, if you can supply a tank with a large, open area, these small Odontodactylus species are probably the most interesting of all stomatopods to keep. In fact, almost all of the research going on in my lab right now is on these species.


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