Good day! This week, I’d like to talk about an animal that means a lot to me: clam shrimp! The picture in the top left is a close-up view of these guys, while the other picture was taken with a phone, and is of some of my actual clam shrimp.
Many years ago, when I was a freshman in high school, I went on a trip to Jellystone park, which is apparently an actual place. In addition to poison ivy, I got a latch-top jar: so before I left, I filled the jar with stream water and put in a neat plant I found. Unfortunately, the plant died soon after I got home, and the jar was left on my windowsill to collect algae.
A few weeks or months later, I went with my class to a marine science symposium, where I got involved with many activities and booths. One of these activities was to glue stalks of kelp to paper and make art. I don’t remember what I tried to make, but I do remember what I did with the kelp: I peeled it off and put it in the jar. A few days later, I noticed that the kelp was completely swarmed with little moving dots: It was being devoured by clam shrimp! I’m not sure at what point they got into the jar, but they’ve been in there since. Even 6 years later, they’re breeding and thriving in that jar. Since then, I’ve added duckweed, more kinds of algae, and a marble column prop. The most interesting addition I’ve made, however, has to be the wild snails I added. They’re those little ones with the cartoony spiral shells, and they’ve been breeding in there for a good 3 years now.
It’s a fine reminder that anyone out there can make a self-sustaining ecosystem, even accidentally. I encourage you all to think about what simple creatures live near you, and to consider making your own Ecojar. Who needs sea monkeys? these guys are self-sustaining!