Why Do We Find This So Fascinating?

Discussion in 'General Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Paul B, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. Paul B

    Paul B Well-Known Member

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    Why do we find this stuff so fascinating. (I actually posted this quite a few years ago somewhere, I think)


    I don't know about many of you guys but I have been watching fish for well over half a century and today as I was sitting close to my tank watching every move of every tentacle I started thinking. Wow, I must "really" be a fish Geek. My wife hates it when I come to breakfast dripping salt water all over the floor when I climb out of the tank in the morning.

    After all these years and countless hours peering at fish in my tank, in other tanks, on my plate, in LFSs, on TV, and while diving, everything about them still fascinate me and I never get bored.


    I mean, I still like looking at Supermodels, scenery, my boat, my Grand daughter and did I mention Supermodels? Fish are such a large part of my life and always have. (wait a minute, I think I have something stuck in my left gill) It is in my genes as my family has been in the fish business as far back as history goes. I think they had a tank during the Roman Empire. Of course I do other things and have other hobbies, like bungee jumping. Yeah bungee jumping, thats what I do. I do that almost every morning before breakfast.


    As I was looking at the tank just now, I turned off the pumps after I filled the baby brine shrimp feeder with new born shrimp. In a minute or two, the two mandarins stopped their eternal hunt for pods and made a Bee-line to the feeder.

    Did the shrimp text them that it was dinner time? Do mandarins smell pods? Do they hear them? I don't see ears on my mandarins and I can't hear baby brine shrimp. Do baby brine shrimp make noises when they bump into each other? That is one of the mysteries about fish keeping that keep me up at night. (That and poking my head above the water occasionally to breathe)


    The copperband butterfly also knows exactly when baby brine shrimp are served and he just finished eating a large portion of fresh clams and live worms so I am surprised he can still eat.

    I turn on the pumps just for a minute to scatter some baby shrimp through out the tank, then again turn off the pumps. Now the fun starts because the zinia start pulsing as they sense the shrimp hitting their tentacles and thin tentacles pop out from every crevace. Tiny hermit crabs that I didn't even realize were in there set out looking for food that they smell.


    The clams I feed are their favorite food, and they literally run in every direction until they find a piece, often crashing into each other. I wonder if they recognize each other, give a high five, remark on the new shell they may be sporting or just ignore each other.


    The sheer number of tentacles emerging from every place is also a wonder. How do all these things ever get enough to eat? How do they know exactly where the food is?

    It is not like I dump in a Happy Meal from Burger King. Food by necessity is kind of scarce, except at feeding time, and then it all is devoured as soon as it hits the water.


    If I look even closer, I can just make out the tiny faces of amphipods trying to determine if it is safe to venture out for a bite of something. (After you have been doing this for forty or fifty years you can identify each amphipod just by the expression on their face). I collect them in the summer and dump them in, but they seem to like the tropical temperatures of the tank and even re produce. I find them in the skimmer bathing in the ozone infused water. So much for ozone killing everything and being so dangerous.


    The large volume of bristle worms remain hiding but if I look under the rocks or in the dark recesses in the back of the tank, I can see them just chilling with each other. They know, that I know, they come out at night hunting for prey and that prey could be anything on the gravel from a clam to a freshly shed crustacean or a piece of chicken that a Grand Child inadvertently throws in the tank when you are not looking. I can easily trap them with my bristle worm trap but that is an ongoing task as these things have been in the tank from the beginning and the gene pool goes back to when Nixon was President. (He was after Lincoln)


    Of course while I am checking out the tiny stuff the fish keep blocking my view, they just don't care. I have these two fireclowns that are very old, and they spawn. But even when the female has no eggs, the male keeps trying to push her into his pad (broken bottle) where he has been cleaning a nest since before Myley Cyrus was born. Way before. I can't blame him though, I would do the same thing, she is cute.


    I had hermit crabs that also did that, but I am not sure if the larger one wanted to mate or just steal her shell or make interesting conversation. She was a cutie and very sexy with her above the knee shell and long eyelashes on her eye stalks. I lost them a year ago when they were about 13 years old. I am not sure if that is old for a crab, as Social Security doesn't keep records on them. But the male (I think) would chase the female, (not very fast) and he would push her into a coral, then jump into her shell. I always stopped looking at that point because I am not A perv, but I think they spawned many times. It is hard to tell with hermit crabs but that is what I think because I would then see him standing on one claw, leaning against a rock smoking a tiny tube worm.


    My all time favorites are the pipefish. Such interesting animals that really should not exist. They are not fishlike at all, they are not even slimy. Instead of scales they have plates and they have an inner skeleton like fish and an external skeleton like a bug. Their toothless mouth has no real jaws but a silly flap that opens upward like a landing craft. The males have the babies (better them than me) and they have prehensile tales like a monkey. No stomach, just a short tube. If you cut one open, their insides look, and feel like styrofoam. I mean, Really! How did these things evolve?


    Being a fish Geek isn't to bad unless you are in mixed company with a bunch of people you just met. Like last night, my Son N law opened a new restaurant and it was just for friends and family but there were quite a few people there that I just met. When they ask me what I do, I am not going to say I am a fish Geek and I put on magnifying goggles, kneel in front of my tank in the dark with a flashlight looking for amphipods and worms. Of course not, I say I am a Martial Arts instructor, test pilot, body double for George Cluney, secret service agent, Navy Seal or all of the above. I will be married 40 years this year and to this day my wife thinks I am Sylvestor Stallone's personal body guard and I haven't even told her yet, that we have a fish tank.


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