Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crustaceans in the kitchen

I try not to look at the glass vase on my kitchen counter any more. The creepy-crawly things that live in the vase freak me out, so I try to avoid glancing in that direction. But you know how it is...whenever you don't want to look at something, THAT'S when you find yourself staring in horror!! Yeesh!

The boys are raising triops as a sort of homeschool marine science experiment. Our science book suggested that they should and the boys are all about doing every single thing the book says. I thought, "I'll just tell them that we'll order a batch of triops online and then make up some junk about the package getting lost in the mail or the company going out of business, and they'll forget all about this nonsense!"

Right.

They were lurking through the aisles of Hobby Lobby before Christmas while I shopped....and lo and behold, guess who sells triops kits?? Who would have guessed Hobby Lobby would stock everything needed to grow your own triops right there on the shelf beside the magic crystals and moon sand?

If you don't know what triops are, that's perfectly alright. You aren't missing out on much. In fact, I would venture to say that I probably could have lived the rest of my life without knowing these creatures exsisted. Triops are tiny crustaceans that are sort of shaped like horseshoe crabs only you can SEE STRAIGHT THROUGH THEM. As their name hints, they do indeed have three eyes. Three eyes. Three! Skin crawling yet?? No? Keep reading.

So, after much begging and pleading, stomping and pouting (on my part, not the twins...they know better) I somehow ended up standing in my kitchen holding a little plastic pop-top container filled with microscopic eggs. Also, a small bag of nasty, foul-smelling pellets (triops food!) and a booklet with pages of instructions conveniently printed in GERMAN! Well, how very helpful. According to the free online translator, all we had to do was dump the eggs into a clear vase or fish bowl full of distilled (???) water and stick a lamp over it to ensure the purified water temp remained between 75 and 85 degrees. What the..??? In the wild, these things survive in pond scum, but I've got to buy distilled water?

Well, we bought the water. We heated it up and checked the temperature. We tapped about 20 trillion eggs into the water and waited. Forty-eight hours later, if we squinted really hard and held the light just right, we could almost imagine that we saw some tiny floating specks wigglig around in there. And forty-eight hours after that, we actually could see itty bitty whitish specks! And forty-eight hours after that, we were able to confirm that, yes, we had hatched TWO measly triops. Out of 20 trillion eggs. Two. Oh well, the whole kit was %3.99.

On day eight, I stumbled into the kitchen at 5:30 AM and FREAKED OUT. Literally. And I've freaked out every morning since. Because those things have doubled in size daily! They're almost two inches long now! And extremely odd-looking! And the water? The distilled water? Yeah, it's all clouded with tiny exoskeleton carcasses because triops? They MOLT! It's how they grow. Bleh! They have all these fluttery little legs that twitch all the time and they sort of resemble see-through, swimming roaches diving around in the vase. The vase that I'm tempted to throw in the trash when they die!

Because triops don't live that long. The instructions promise that their entire life cycle only lasts between 30 and 90 days. Here's hoping! If they don't die by then, I'll have to put them in the swimming pool in the back yard. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll turn the light on one morning and find them climbing the walls.

Or not. They breathe with their feet...through gills...gills in their feet. Told you they were freaky! At least they're quieter than the stupid dog!

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