Thursday, February 07, 2008

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

When Shelley was here a couple weeks ago, we were in the living room. I remembered I forgot to feed the fish. I'm not obsessed with them anymore, so I don't spend every spare second watching them. And if you forget a feeding here and there, it's actually kind of good for them. Mimics nature, like. Which is about the only thing that mimics nature in that tank.

I opened up the shrimp pellets and was concentrating on breaking them up into smaller pieces while Shelley watched the fish schooling and jostling excitedly in front of me.

"How do you feel about them now?" she asked. "You know, now that Eric..."

That was the gamble, right? I got into fish keeping because of him, at least partially. With some of his encouragement and a lot of his help. I did spend a while thinking about it before jumping in, so I was pretty sure that I was doing it because I wanted to and not to have something in common with my boy. But hearts and minds are funny things, and you just never know.

"Ohhhh. They make me so happy."

I don't spend as much time with them as I would like, but when I do, they fill me with a sense of deep contentment. They just are, you know? They swim, they push each other around, they shit, they beg for food, they eat. It's pretty basic stuff. But there's always something going on in there. The plants change all the time, the fish switch up their favourite spots or who gets to chase who.

What's in there right now (sort of in pecking order):
- 2 Red-Bellied Flags (Dwarf Cichlids), Laetacara thayeri
- 1 Firemouth (Cichlid), Thorichthys meeki
- 2 Kribesnsis (Dwarf Cichlids), Pelvicachromis pulcher
- 2 Bolivian Rams (Dwarf Cichlids), Microgeophagus altispinosa

By rights, the Firemouth should be boss, since in its peer group it's the only non-dwarf. But it's the same size as the dwarf fish, and has been for months. Shows no size of growing. It was absolutely terrorized by the formerly bastard Firemouth now in ex-ile at Eric's. I think that by the time it realized it was no longer being stalked to within an inch of its life, it's position had already been cemented. So it's second fiddle to the Flags, but I have also seen the bigger Krib chase the Firemouth away from a particularly deletable looking bloodworm.

The Rams puzzle me. They are undoubtedly the most pecked. Their fins usually have a tear or two, they never get the shrimp pellets first, and if one of them is chasing another fish, it's another Ram. But they are the most adventurous and playful. They're the only ones brave enough to try to eat my fingers when I put the food in, they playfight kiss, they get themselves right up into the suction tube I use to change the water. They will go where other fish fear to tread. But once everything's back to normal, they're getting nipped again. They are the high school nerds, figuring shit out on their own only to get beat down once they get back to school.

Outside the cichlid group, I have
- 9 cardinal tetras
- 3 khuli loaches
- 1 bristlenose pleco

It is here I have suffered the most losses. I started with 9 khulis, but they don't have scales, so they took the hardest hit in the time of ich. A harlequin tetra snuck in when I bought the cardinals. They tolerated it, but it was always an outsider. Until it was gone. I felt sort of relieved when I realized that. A schooling fish without its own kind is a morose fish.

There are plans, too, you better believe. A few more loaches, a few more cardinal tetras, and a siamese algae eater. And one of these days I'm going to figure out how to make a CO2 diffuser and get my plants all happy too.

I guess I figured right.


Aggie said...

Beautiful posting.

Anonymous said...

From one fish lover to another, good luck with your tank. (make sure you get an air control valve so you can shut of the CO2 at night)