Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Little Fishy (Or Two)

When we moved, our aquarium took a less prominent role in our lives, as it was tucked away in the office rather than openly displayed in our living room. Sadly, as a result, we haven't spent much time lazily gazing into the under water realm of our fish's lives.

In the meantime, our youngest brother, Jeremy, has moved in with us for the summer, while he stays in Nashville between his college semesters. He frequently passes the office in order to get to his bedroom. Thanks to the convenience of his fishly visit, Jeremy has somewhat assumed responsibility for the swimming family members throughout his seasonal stay.

Last week, he sent me a text message while I was at work: "Did you know you had baby fish?" No, I most certainly did not! (After all, it had been days since I'd even graced their presence, let alone examined the tank for teensy tiny little fishlings.) I was very excited! He must have sent an identical text to Brad, because he and I immediately started conversing (electronically, we were both at work) about our growing family!

You see, it was such good news because our fish population has been through some pretty tough times in the past. When we restocked our aquarium with nice schooling fish (no more "semi-aggressive" ones for us! We learned our lesson with our previous community of bullying Cichlids!), we naturally wanted a little bit of color.

Our local Aquatic Critter has a large variety of schooling fish to choose from, and Brad and I agreed upon schools of Head and Tail Light Tetras and Harlequin Rasboras, with Red Velvet Sword Tails to provide us with the color we wanted. We had done a little bit of research, and knew that the sword tails were live bearers, but we also understood that they didn't take much special attention other than the occasional birth that would most likely go unnoticed since they ate their own fry (babies) (Ew). And they were pretty, and brightly colored; we were sold.

Life was fine for quite a long time until one of our sword tails disappeared. His mysterious disappearance triggered a series of unfortunate events. When we replaced the one missing male, the new one apparently came infected with some sort of fish fungus. I was very concerned as I watched it grow ill, less lively, and noticed "white patches" developing on his body. He died within days, and I got a free replacement for the replacement from the fish store, along with many apologies.

However, the fungus was now in the sword tail community, and they all began dropping off. Thanks to their mating habits (since they are live bearers, they actually mate rather than fertilize laid eggs), they are constantly rubbing up against each other and spreading the contagious disease. Thank goodness they kept to themselves, and there was no cross breading going on. None of our other fish have ever been effected.

I don't remember exactly the chain of events. I know at one time we replaced six sword tails only to have all of them die, as well. We then waited six weeks with no live bearers in the tank to allow the aquarium to rid itself of the fungus. Once the time span had lapsed and our aquarium water had passed the test of the Aquatic Critter professionals , I eagerly brought home more of the oh-so-pretty sword tails. You'd think I would have learned my lesson, but the water had been treated, afterall; and they were so pretty! For this batch, Brad and I decided to buy a variation of the red velvet sword tail that had black fins. Basically the same breed, but with a little more "pop" against our blue background.

At some point, we noticed a few itty bitty babies. I don't remember if it was before or after the last batch had moved into the tank, that we realized their existence, but we were certain they were from the previous school of fish. In the end, only one survived into fishy adulthood. We she was a girl, because she did not have the male sword tail (the females do not share the signature sword-like fin), and I was very proud of our little baby as it continued to grow.

As time passed, we only had one remaining fish from the third batch of live bearers. Brad forbid me from replacing them, claiming that he was only looking out for my own good. (I was very distraught each time we had to send one of our fish to its watery grave.)

To our surprise, when our baby girl was about six months old, she became a he, as his tail grew more and more elongated. We profusely apologized for emasculating him all of those months, and happily accepted his new identity. As the fish match-maker, I joked about the two of them mating and raising up our own batch of fungus-free live bearers, since they were not related, and all. I must have planted the idea in their heads, because they have finally fallen in love!

And our little fish family has begun!
Here are the happy parents. (Mom on left, Dad on right with the sword tail)

Their first family portrait.
I couldn't be prouder of our little family. These fish generally have a "litter" of up to 80 babies in the beginning. Since these two have already made it this far, I hope we can watch them grow old like their parents. Who knows? Even though they both have inherited their momma's black tail, maybe one of them will develop his daddy's sword tail?



ahh i love lil fishy lol :) i wanted to invite you over to my blog again i'm hosting another giveaway until tomorrow evening & one again this friday.

Sasha said...

Very entertaining.. I hope the babies make it!

Bryan said...

Is this why you were looking at baby names all day at work?

Amy Lynn said...

How cute!! I love baby fish! How are things going at the office?? I miss it so much!

Mommy to 4 said...

OMG!! I have had so many fish fungus stories over the years..hehe...its good to hear it from someone else..hehe....congratulations on your beautiful baby fish...they are cute...lol

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