15g Caribbean Mantis Build

Steve Erekson

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Hello R2R I'm here to begin documenting my new build dedicated to my soon to arrive Florida Keys Stomatopod. I have had the idea for this tank in my head for about 6 months and finally got everything rolling on the build recently.

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This is a very simple build so far as you can see. It's a bone stock Aqueon 15g tank with a 240gph Hydor powerhead, a heater, and some rock and sand. The 15lbs of rock is from KP Aquatics and is their starter rock, or the stuff that's only been in the ocean for about a year. The coralline coverage is thicker than it appears here, there's still some sand stuck to the rocks from adding that. There's a little marinepure I had cycled from another tank sitting down in the corner for good measure, it won't live there forever though. The sand is Marco Rocks Bahamian Aragonite, it's a very fine and silty sand so it was quite the sandstorm but I really like the look for this build and it has a nice mixture of grain sizes.

There is a lot of open space in this build as you can see, the eventual goal is to have a nice mangrove growing in that big open area of sand, as well as grow different macro algaes, gorgonians, and other Caribbean stuffs all throughout the tank. The mantis species I'm hoping I end up with is known for being quite inquisitive and active so having open space for him to explore around will be really enjoyable for me watching.

And speaking of the guest of honor, lets talk about it! So the mantis should be arriving tomorrow, I am adopting it from R2R's very own @IKD who discovered the little bugger on his own shipment of KP Aquatics rock last month. Based upon the behavior, location, and what I can tell from pictures it appears to be N. wennerae. This is perfect as I had been hoping to find wennerae for this build. It is still very tiny, possibly less than 1 inch long. The wennerae is known to grow to a little over 3 inches maximum size, so this is no peacock mantis, but what they lack for in size they make up for in personality. And being this small means it is still very young so it has a nice long life ahead of it.

And that's all for now! I hope you folks enjoy reading about the build and I hope to get some more pictures and posts coming soon. See ya!
 
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footgal

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I love your choice of mantis! Very atypical nowadays to find a mantis build and even more so for a species that isn't peacock! It's a beautiful critter, duller than the peacock but still full of color and as you said, personality! Sounds like this is gonna end up being a stunning tank! Are you planning on growing out just 1 mangrove propagule or several? Are you planning on feeding it live foods or frozen?
 
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Steve Erekson

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Thanks for the comments. I'm thinking just one mangrove and I'll use some tricks to get a very spread out root structure. For food I plan to feed a mix, probably frozen PE mysis early on while it is young and small. When it gets bigger I'll probably still feed mostly frozen but have some snails for it to hunt in the tank and feed some live crabs or ghost shrimp as well.
 
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Steve Erekson

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So the mantis showed up today and here we have it:

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I'm almost certain it's N. wennerae so super excited. It's very tiny, maybe an inch. I dropped it into the tank and haven't seen it since, but I do hear a little clicking every so often. It's not old enough to sex yet, but on the 50/50 chance it's a female I dub thee Carole F. Baskin. Welcome home Carole.
 
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Steve Erekson

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So it's been a few days and Carole has been quite shy but she's been very busy too. I hear a lot of clicking coming from her rock, it really almost sounds like tapping on hard plastic. I'll hear a few clicks in a row then sometimes see a puff of debris exit the rock. Clearly renovations are going well.

I've narrowed down the hole to the burrow that I believe she is using the most. Sometimes when I shine a light into it I can see her inside moving around, twice I've caught her with a little chunk of rock she's chipped off and is hauling around to some spot or another. I can see a spot where she's made a small pile of stones to block up a hole, I guess there were too many entrances for comfort.

I'm starting to see a few victims as well with broken snail shells (hitchhikers on the rock) and my little pencil urchin I found dead in the sand. I left it there and this morning it was completely gone, who knows where. I still gave her a snack because she's a growing girl and stuck a tiny piece of shrimp by her burrow, it was just as big as her. She hung onto it for a while nibbling and after about 20 minutes let go of it and I grabbed it and threw it away.

20201024_150838.jpg


Here's a picture from today, this is the hole I can catch her inside of mostly. Underneath that hole you can see a few little chips and pebbles starting to pile up from where she's been excavating. It's been really fun so far and I'm excited for her to become more adventurous and start leaving the rock more.
 
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Steve Erekson

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Sooo this is weird. Last night I found the mantis had blocked the burrow off, which signified to me it was probably about to molt. I wake up this morning and the burrow was unblocked, a nice successful molt I suppose. Then I find the molt in the sand behind some rocks, except I look at it very carefully and it's not a molt, it's a dead mantis, I used a jewelers loupe and cut it open to check. It's about the size of mine, color was different because it had turned pink, which dead shrimp usually do, but when I first found it there was some tinge of green (I left it in the tank for a while before the autopsy).

Where it gets weird is I'm still sort of hearing clicking coming from the rock? Did I have a mantis this whole time and just never knew it? Am I hallucinating?
 
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Ksull72487

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I’ve seen this one. This is where the Raptor at the end of Jurassic Park comes through the glass.

hahaha!:) Very cool!!! Mantis and Pistol Shrimp. Ocean Beasts!

Sorry for your loss...Hopefully it’s a bonus and you still have a mantis!
 
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Steve Erekson

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Sorry for your loss :(

The clicking is possibly another mantis which attacked yours, as they’re very territorial, but it’s also possibly a pistol shrimp which is more common. Their cavitation bubbles are no joke either. Where did you get the rock from?

Rock is KP Aquatics which people are getting wennerae mantis' in theirs pretty commonly. The thing is this mantis showed no signs of a battle. In a fight with another mantis or possibly a pistol I'd expect some dismemberment, nothing. Perfectly normal corpse. Female by the way, was able to determine that during the autopsy.
 
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Steve Erekson

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More detective work I suppose ... did the clicking noise exist before? Is it routine, periodic, sporadic?

Probably more observation is required.

It's the same click, I don't recall hearing it before I got this mantis but I could be wrong. This is not nearly as frequent as it was the last few days but if the mantis is still recovering from a molt that wouldn't be that surprising.
 

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Rock is KP Aquatics which people are getting wennerae mantis' in theirs pretty commonly. The thing is this mantis showed no signs of a battle. In a fight with another mantis or possibly a pistol I'd expect some dismemberment, nothing. Perfectly normal corpse. Female by the way, was able to determine that during the autopsy.

I got two shipments of KP with no mantis in either, but four or five pistols. Small sample size, but just sharing anecdotal experience. It could have just been a bad molt that killed it, though, unfortunately.
 
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This is interesting. I know you said you did an autopsy so that should rule out a Molt but I'm still suspecting your mantis is hiding in there somewhere... If you positive it isn't then maybe a fish trap is in order so we can get a look at what your dealing with
 
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Steve Erekson

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It’s just a 15 gallon tank, right? You don’t have very much rock in there. You can always pull it and drop it into a bucket. You might catch whatever it is under the rocks, in the sand.

Yeah that's definitely possible, I might give it a go in a few days if I can't figure out if there's still a mantis or not.
 

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What I’m reading is that you have a very new tank, minimal biofiltration, and no mechanical filtration. So I’m fairly certain that your tank was simply not ready, able to support life yet. Live & learn. From personal experience I can tell you there are few things more deadly in this hobby than impatience. I’m sure this sounds harsher than I mean it to.
At any rate, keep going!
 
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Steve Erekson

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What I’m reading is that you have a very new tank, minimal biofiltration, and no mechanical filtration. So I’m fairly certain that your tank was simply not ready, able to support life yet. Live & learn. From personal experience I can tell you there are few things more deadly in this hobby than impatience. I’m sure this sounds harsher than I mean it to.
At any rate, keep going!

I've been in the hobby for almost 10 years. I am monitoring ammonia on this tank and it is not a problem. Also mechanical filtration isn't a requirement on tanks.
 
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