Back to School (of Fish)

My most recent obsession has been my aquarium.  I’m anxious to get it completely up and running with bright colorful, unique fish, coral, and live rock.  Although permanently           quarantining sea creatures for aesthetics goes against everything Nemo and his Dad taught us, I love caring for the fish and I want my kids to see how beautiful the oceans are and       always have a respect and appreciation for sea life and water.  After all, the human body is made up of 90% water, which means we are all very close to drowning.  The last time we     moved I was able to save all the fish in my tank, give them good homes and even donated a clownfish to the Clearwater Marine Science Center (home of the beloved Winter the             Dolphin, star of the movie Dolphin Tale) via a friend that volunteers there.  I mention that as there’s only so much name-dropping that can be done in a Blog that’s in good taste.  As I learned to be an adult (still learning), I also learned the hard way of how to be a               responsible Aquarium hobbyist.  At one point, I recall light-heartedly bragging that I had put down half of the animals at Sea World.   Looking back now, I realize how wrong it was to jump into it without proper research and knowledge given that it was at the expense of those beautiful fish as well as to my bank account.  I’ve always had an appreciation for life and again, want to instill that in my boys.

Look who we found!

The Dragon Wrasse

It is also a frustrating hobby.  Yesterday, I bought a new fish for the tank.  It is a Dragon Wrasse.  It is a very pretty fish and I’m happy to have it.  However, this morning, it is nowhere to be found! I’ve looked all over the tank, inside and out.  I tried feeding in hopes of drawing it out and right now, my only hope is that it found a safe place to hide from the lurking hermit crabs.  Very frustrating.

I’ve had tanks for the last 15 years and always had to break them down and set them back up each time I moved. This is about as much fun as changing a stinky overfilled diaper in the dark while standing on Legos and wearing wet socks.  It’s an expensive hobby but it is rewarding.  There is a show on Animal Planet called “Tanked” that I have been watching.  It’s entertaining as it’s about a company that creates unique aquariums and brags that they are the number one aquarium maker in the world.  There’s quite a bit more to it but if you’re interested, I recommend checking it out as their tanks are incredible.  Even though it’s a reality show, I like what they do and there is minimal drama.  I’ve read up online about the show and the company.  They are criticized for the way they fail to acclimate their fish for their tanks when it’s time to unveil their finished product.  The criticisms are unfounded.  While there are definitely steps to take to make the transition seamless for the fish, editing and the hour time limit minus commercials does not allow for much dead air and it’s not an instructional show on how to create your own tank.  Go to for more information.

I had always been in awe of a certain eel, the black ribbon eel (juvenile)/blue ribbon eel (adult).  Here’s a great video, you’ll be amazed if you’ve never seen one. It is a beautiful fish and is difficult to keep as it is an escape artist.  It is fairly blind and in order to keep them alive, they need to be fed live food.  The last time I had one it had worked its way all the way through the filtration system and found it in the reservoir below the tank.  Thankfully it survived.  I am far from an expert but it is considered an expert level to keep this fish.  Since it is nearly blind, requires live food and expert care, I had to give it as much attention as I do to my dog.  I had a separate tank that just held goldfish for feeding.  What’s worse is I had to put the goldfish on the end of a stick and put it in front of the eel until it ate every day.     AJ is always interested in whatever I am working on, on the laptop, I showed him the website that I shop for fish told him about the eel and showed him pictures.  While I would love to care for another Ribbon Eel, I know I don’t want my kids to watch me stab a goldfish to feed this sea serpent every day.    I carefully explained that the eel eats live food and at 4 years old, my boy does not have much understanding of mortality, as he shouldn’t.  He offered an alternative to a pet that eats other pets.

After explaining to me that he knows everything, (yes, he literally said “because I know everything”) AJ told me “we should not get ribbon eels, they are the meanest eels.  Maybe electric eels and I-love-you eels which are the nicest eels.  What about reading eels and baseball eels?  Or two-faced eels because they are very funny.” I love the way his mind works and I will take his advice, think I’ll skip the electric eels but will look out for the other 4 types of eels and will be happy to add them to our aquarium when I find them.

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