Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Something in the water

Does the phrase 'mad as a fish' ring any bells? I can't remember where I first encountered it, but it was probably in connection with the ISP.

This post has very little to do with the internet, and rather more to do with my aquarium's denizens. I last posted about the aquarium here, since when the tank has been successful. I regard a major part of the success being the low numbers of dead fish. My Siamese fighting fish Betta splendens were not successful. The three females and one male only lasted a week before they went belly up and ended up riding the porcelain express. I suspect that the fish were on their way out when I first bought them; none of the other residents have perished, at least not since I removed the crayfish, which was less fish and rather more Kray.

I found a shoal of clown loach Botia macaranthas in my local aquarium shop and duly took five of them home. I'd read somewhere that these are naturally shoaling rather than solitary fish, so would be a lot happier in like-minded company. The same book suggested that clown loach are timid by nature. They prefer to cower under things at the slightest provocation, and they're also crepuscular (most active at twilight). They can eventually be coaxed out over time, or so I'm advised.

Not my loaches. That would be too easy.

The tiger barb Puntius tetrazona comes in several flavours. Several of mine are the classic tiger-striped orange and black. Tiger barbs are extremely boisterous, constantly chasing each other and anything else. They're 'in yer face'. "Look at me. Look at me! I'm a tiger barb!"

One of the features of the clown loach is its orange colour with black vertical stripes. This pattern appears to be close enough to the barbs' pattern for the loaches to have decided that they must all be the same species as the barbs, and should therefore exhibit the same behaviour. And there we have it. The supposedly timid clown loaches, all up at the front of the tank demanding constant attention in a "Me, me, me. I want attention!" sort of way.

Not that I'm complaining. I think it's excellent that the fish are visible and not hiding under or behind the aquarium hardware.

As if crazy loaches aren't odd enough, the aquatic asylum also features a surface-feeding catfish Hypostomas plecostomas. Two of these are supposed to keep the algae under control by slurping it off the inside of the glass, and this indeed is what one of them does. The other prefers to swim upside down just beneath the surface, sucking up flake food instead of eating the sinking pellets specifically provided for the bottom-feeders.

This link is to a 38-second video of the aquarium's occupants. There's a lot of movement, so at over 13MB it's not recommended for Ye Olde Dial-Uppe.


Mme Cyn said...

It's the orange and white stripes that makes them both lovable and boisterous(NB Mme Cyn's avatar...).

secretdubai said...

When I first came to Dubai I bought a small aquarium, and made the mistake of buying these colourful "painted glass fish" for it. I had no clue until after I bought them, and they started dying (the other fish I bought, such as tetra, were fine) and I went online that they are artificially injected with fluorescent dyes, and never live very long. A really cruel practice.

Tiger barbs are beautiful and usually quite resilient. I love Moors, but they always seem to die on me, whether in the UK in colder water or in my aquarium here which was much warmer, as I rarely had the A/C on.


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