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It can't be eggs in my tank !

by George J. Reclos

This was the first thought that crossed my mind when Johnny called to tell me that there were some little things like eggs in my small planted tank. Why couldn't it be ? Imagine a tank with 5 Xiphophorus variatus, 5 Corydoras sterbai and an LDA016 brown ancistrus. And then one day you see a small cyst on the front glass measuring a mere 2 mm with something resembling eggs inside. After shooting some close up pictures you can verify on your screen that they are eggs alright. As we all know, Xiphophorus are livebearers so it can't be them. The Corydoras sterbai produce far larger eggs (actually one of their eggs would be the same size as the whole cyst) so we have to forget about them, too. The Ancistrus is the only fish of its kind and I have seen photos of their eggs which are much larger that the ones I could see in my tanks so it can't be it either. After close inspection of the photos it was apparent that the eggs were fertile (not all of them as you can see in the photo below, but most of them) and something really tiny was in them. Take into account that the whole cyst is about 2 mm in diameter and then you can imagine the size of those creatures.

We decided to wait and take photos of the eggs at 12 hour intervals to see how those creatures develop. I have never seen this kind of pictures in other sites so why not ? After all, it is always nice to see life taking shape in front of you, not to mention the mystery that made it even more appealing. We decided to show you the pictures taken in 24 hour intervals, just to make the development more profound.

After 24 hours it is evident that there is something growing in there. It doesn't look like fish so it must be some kind of snail.. The infertile eggs are still transparent as you can see while the creatures are growing rapidly.

After 24 more hours it is evident that those creatures will hatch in less than a day. They have already filled any available space in there. It is still not clear if it is actually snails in there but it definitely doesn't look like fish.

Mystery resolved. Twenty four hours later (72 after first spotting those eggs), we were lucky to see the last of the snails still in the cyst while its "brother" had left it only minutes ago. Ten minutes after this photo was taken, the last snail had left the cyst, too. With a naked eye all you could see is a white spot almost the size of a grain of salt moving on the glass. The only thing that reminds us of the whole process is the empty cyst and a mass of ruptured membranes. Still, we are happy that we had the chance to view the development of those creatures. Life is always fascinating and should be appreciated even in its simplest forms ! All photos by John Reclos /MCH

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