Sunday, July 29, 2007

my poor fishies

My fish are dying. At first it was one by one, now it's several at a time. We just set up our aquarium a week ago, so at first we thought there was something wrong the the pH, or something. Then we noticed that all of the fish that were dying had missing tails. They drift for quite a while before they finally actually die. It's really sad. When I talked to my mom on the phone the day before yesterday, I had 12 fish. Now I have 4.

By process of elimination, based on which fish we got when, and which ones are left, it's a neon tetra that's killing all the rest of the fish. This is truly bizarre, because neon tetras are very peaceful fish. According to Wikipedia: "They tend to be timid and, because of their small size, should not be kept with large or aggressive fish who may bully or simply eat them." And here's one of them, being the bully. A fish who "should be kept with at least six other (preferably ten others) of their kind, as they are considered 'school fish'," killing four of his own kind. (And four feeders. And a fantail goldfish. And two zebra danios. God help him if he goes after my guppies.) A freakin' neon tetra, for Pete's sake.

Unless it's the ghost of Hardcore Holly.

See, we used to have a Convict Cichlid named Hardcore Holly. We didn't name him that; we were the third family who had him. He was a Navy orphan fish; whenever his owners transferred, so would he - to another family. He must have been five or six years old by the time we got him.

Here's what Tim's Tropicals has to say about Convict Cichlids:
"Convict Cichlids are among the most aggressive cichlids, both toward fish and toward anything else in the tank. They should be kept either alone or in groups of at least four. They will rearrange any decorations and plants in the tank. Water quality is not an issue for them. They will eat almost anything, including cichlid pellets, freeze-dried blood worms, flake foods, brine shrimp and small live fish."

Holly was crazy. He ate smaller fish; that was a given. That's just the circle of life. But he didn't just eat them. He played with his food. I remember one particularly plucky feeder fish who, apparently, wasn't about to just give up and be eaten; rather than trying to swim away and hide, he decided that a good offense was the best defense. He started attacking Holly. And Holly let him, for a little while. And then Holly bit him in half. He didn't even eat the front half; he just let it float away. As a warning to the other fish, I guess.

He tolerated algae eaters, but only as long as they did their job. If they got lazy, or if they did too good a job and there was no longer any algae left to eat, Holly would terminate them. And he would often bite the fins off of a feeder fish or two if they got too uppity. Like I said, he liked to play with his food.

He was smart, too. In our first apartment in New Orleans, his tank was right next to our table. When we sat down to eat, he would tap against the glass to get our attention until we fed him. (He was huge, so when he tapped on the glass, you could really hear it.) And he liked to redecorate. He'd pick up pieces of gravel in his mouth, carry them to the other side of the tank, and spit them out. He was constantly digging holes and creating hills - he would dig straight down to the bottom of the tank. He was quite the landscaper. And you know those little plastic "jewels"? He'd sort them out by color. I swear to God.

Anyway, about a week ago (around the same time that we set up our new aquarium), we put a picture of Holly up on the living room wall. (I sketched it based on a photograph. I'm really proud of it, seeing as how I don't really have any drawing talent and it actually came out good.) So I really am wondering if the ghost of Hardcore Holly is haunting our tank. Because, as Tara put it, "Katrina man, wow, that killed some peeps, huh?" And maybe he doesn't want us to replace him.

RIP, Hardcore Holly. We miss you like crazy. But really. Rest in Peace! Stop killing my new fish!!!


Mother Hoodwink said...

Aww, Hardcore Holly. Definitely the coolest fish ever. I forgot about all the rock moving he did. He was smart. Whenever I was at the computer desk, he would hang out on the side of the tank that was closest. Hardcore Holly was the only fish I ever talked to. He seemed to really listen. He really was a cool bitch.

Also, I think it's safe to say that you do have drawing talent. That picture is awseome.

Kerry said...

Thank you. :)
And another zebra danio died. All that's left is my two guppies and the neon tetra. This is insane.