Fish Babies

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A while back I wrote a post about our fish tank and my efforts to bring peace and safety to the citizens of that watery world. We’ve had this particular tank for over twenty years and you get fond of the fish that live sometimes for years under your watchful eyes. Our red tailed shark had become large and hungry, and was devouring anything of a smaller size that I added to the tank. See the post “Lucy Moments”. After speaking to an acquarium expert at a specialty fish store, I added what I thought would be the new godfather and his henchmen: a red “devilfish” and a group of striped fish called “convicts”.

The plan worked but not in the way I expected! We have not lost a single fish since adding the larger species from South Africa and Central America. The red tailed shark has become complacent rather than aggressive. You can see him in the photos below.
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But instead of a kingdom ruled by a ruthless superfish, we have the devilfish acting like Wyatt Earp, with his deputies being the convicts. Everyone is getting along. The biggest surprise was when we had two of the convicts pair off and start making a nest in the front of the tank. They would pick up a small stone with their mouths, and one stone at a time they would move it to the edge of this nest that they created. When the depression was large enough, they just hovered there for the best part of the day.

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Lo and behold, one morning several days later, we saw about forty baby convicts. They were almost transparent at first and blended into the color of the stonebed. They all stay within this little circle around the nest, and they are guarded by either their mother or father. The mother is particularly alpha, she won’t let anyone big or little come close. In fact, she forces most of the fish to stay in the back half of the tank. You can see them best against the green backdrop of the plants. It has been about two weeks since they were born and as best we can tell, none of them have been eaten. They are big enough now to be seen through the lens of the camera.

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So we now have a peaceful community where families are starting to be raised. Amazing. Of course our dogs have an interest in what is going on, but not in the way you would guess. Although Lucy still likes to watch the colorful movement in the tank, the biggest draw for the rest is the taste of the fish food flakes that they all enjoy at feeding time. With the goldens being omnivores, there is very little that they don’t enjoy eating.

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The lesson here I think, is that life goes on in all planes, big and little, right under our noses all the time. And if you really think about it, our efforts at survival are not all that different from all the species of life around us. You just have to really look and pay attention.


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