About five days ago, I noticed that Zoidberg suddenly stopped eating. Was he sick? Yes and no, I guess. I read all about crayfish and it shouldnt be a surprise, but it turns out there are hundreds of crayfish enthusiasts and message boards full of people who will tell you anything you want to know about caring for crayfish as pets. They refer to them as “crays.” Whatta bunch of dorks.
If your crayfish stops eating and becomes really inactive, it means he’s either dying or about to shed his skin. In Zoidberg’s case it was both. Yesterday afternoon I noticed something very odd in the crayfish tank:
At first I thought Dr. Claw had captured Zoidberg and was eating him. Upon closer inspection, it was Zoidberg with two tails, meaning he was shedding his skin. At first I was happy- it meant that not only was he not sick, but he’d been healthy and thriving enough to have outgrown his old skin.
I had already read that when crayfish molt, they’re completely defenseless and extremely vulnerable while their new skin is hardening, so I removed Dr. Claw from the cage so Zoidberg could finish molting undisturbed.
After two hours had passed and Zoidberg appeared not to have made any progress, I started to worry. It seemed like he was not able to pull himself out of his old skin and he was stuck. Periodically he would thrash violently, trying to free himself. We felt helpless watching, because there really was nothing we could do. Then I started to notice another problem.
What’s all that weird white pulpy stuff? It seemed like a bad sign, and within about an hour he was dead. We examined him after death and found that apparently he’d been thrashing so hard that he split open his new skin around his thorax, and his guts had spilled out. Poor Zoidberg.
The crayfish-people on the aquarium message boards said that he’d suffered what is know as, in highly technical terms, a “bad molt.” Crayfish run the risk of a bad molt and they can easily die from it. Their suggestions for helping out a crayfish to molt better is to supply the water with calcium and iodine supplements. I checked Amazon and they do sell aquarium supplements like these, but they’re usually for saltwater tanks when people are trying to keep coral and stuff.
I would shrug and say “Oh well, Zoidberg was my least favorite anyway…besides, he was only 15 cents.”, except there’s a new problem.
Both Pinchy and Dr. Claw suddenly stopped eating yesterday and aren’t interested in food today, either. That’s extremely unusual, because they’ve always had constantly voracious appetites. It’s likely that both of them are about to molt, too. I’ll be pretty bummed out if I lose them.
I can go to the petstore today and pick up some iodine and calcium water conditioners, but I’m embarrassed by the idea of spending so much money on these stupid animals that were meant to be food. They don’t even have brains, they just have a mass of nerve ganglion and nerve bundles going down various body segments. And yet I’ve grown really fond of them. Am I going to cave in and buy these stupid supplements to try to help these guys?
“Please help Pinchy….”