26 Oct. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project

A Small Fishtery

I know very little about tropical fish.  They happened to me when my housemate's niece stayed with us for a summer.  After she found a tiny, empty aquarium under unremarkable circumstances, we encouraged her to commit acts of fish nurturing, something she had done at home.  One thing led to another and now we are possessed of a modest (as opposed to tiny), charmingly hexagonal aquarium, with tastefully arranged rocks and the odd bottom baubles as you can see in the photo.

What we hardly have at all are actual fish.  There are three.  A neon tetra, a platy, and what I think is some other persuasion of tetra, although I can't find it in the "picture book of fish."  Perhaps because they are all alone in their spacious quarters, they seem be thriving.  I really like the little neon tetras, probably because they're blue and possibly fluorescent.  (Not that the others are much bigger, but the tetra in the photo is about an inch long.)  Now here's the fishtery:  Over a year ago, we added a bunch of the neon tetras.  They are great fun in a group, because they swim in a synchronized fashion, and are mesmerizing to watch.  (As a recent article pointed out, I'm easily entertained.)    But right after this population augmentation, the tetras began disappearing.  Not hiding, mind you, with some behind the rocks and a diabolical place-switching scheme to convince me of their reduced number.  I mean vanishing from the tank.  Pfft.

Seven out of the eight performed this trick within a couple of weeks.  The remaining one, pictured, has been living a carefree and sheltered life for over a year.  Am I harboring a fishtidigitator?  A magical fish capable of changing the reflective properties of the tank and accessories?  A serial murderer?  Or simply a fish survivor?  If I carefully check the tank, will I find a month's supply of food flakes and a small tank of oxygen? 

I did mention that I know very little about tropical fish.  Perhaps, some day when I get as bored as the fish must be after a year-plus of the same routine, I will do some research and perhaps find out the fate of the seven little tetras.

Richard Factor

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