Category Archives: Tropical Fish

The Eviction

My daughter has had an aquarium for a year now. That has meant a year of fretting for the only person who takes care of its inhabitants: me. Just as I suspected, it has become a place of death, destruction and intermittent death.

The karked it roll of honour numbers: two snails, one sex-pest molly, two neons and a guppy. That’s 6 deaths in one year, an average of one death every two months. The total number of occupants has reached 16, so, if you choose to make this particular aquarium your home you have a 3 in 8 chance of dying. That’s nearly a 50% chance of death – how depressing.

There has been an ongoing situation between two angelfish. Some time ago the level of mild bullying stepped up a gear to outright aggression; in fact, it’s been like having a bear-baiting contest in the corner of the front room. I should have put my foot down then. I did not. Anyway, I found one of the angelfish upside down under the BAFTA mask last week and after a few days, when I considered it was a dead fish swimming (and seriously considered the final clove oil solution), it started looking like it might live. So the Bully Boy aggressor had to go. After a temporary Bank Holiday Weekend solution of partitioning the tank with a cheeseboard, the Big Bad Angelfish has been evicted and sent to Boot Camp down the road.

We now have one much happier, if slightly disabled angelfish, swimming in the tank with its few remaining friends. A happy ending? I don’t know, because we now have a Power Vacuum in the tank, which must be filled. In the meantime it has, without question, beaten the odds.

A fish in a pissed off mood

Trouble in Tank?

The angelfish have started lip locking and doing a rather fantastic and dynamic display of fishy acrobatics. Some people think they are kissing and having fun. I looked it up and I am going to have to break the news that, perhaps, they are fighting over space and at least one of the aggressive buggers is going to have to go…

We did have some eggs on the side of the tank though, so there is some doubt.

This is pretty much what they are doing. It all looks thoroughly exhausting and the other little fish are keeping well out of the way.

*22 days to Epiphany

Fishy Feet

I am breaking into my rantette about the National Wellbeing Index otherwise know as Happiness (not as you know it folks) to provide a public information service.

Did you know that, all over the country from Basildon to Barnsely, Dr Spa Fish is opening gaffs where you can pay a tenner so fish can *nibble your feet for fifteen minutes? Apparently it’s a cross between a beauty treatment and an all round healthy thing to do.

Here’s a testimonial from their website:

Twenty-nine of my friends have now had an enjoyable experience at Norwich and have found it beneficial to the Psoriasis on their feet and will be incorporating into their treatment regime.

Can you imagine a) having twenty-nine friends? b) all of them having psoriasis on their feet…

There’s another testimonial that praises the staff for being so quiet. Do they mean the fish? If they do, I’d like to say that’s quite normal for fish.

*Having researched thoroughly for a full three minutes I would like readers to note that the fish in question have no teeth so, technically, there is no nibbling. The fish “lick and suck” your feet. Nice.

It has, of course occured to me to save myself a tenner and the petrol money to Bas Vegas and plonk my feet in my own tank forthwith…

This is not a goldfish

It is a molly. Mollies are notable in the world of fish for being livebearers: the females pop out sprogs not eggs.

This one was rehomed in our tank for being an old rogue who constantly fathered molly babies, he came with his equally rampant son (who is not gold). They’ve chilled out a lot since they arrived, but that’s because there are no females (that I know of) in their new abode. He looks like he’s got no eyes to me but he’s ok in a freaky kind of way. I don’t know why, but in his new celibate state he puts me in a mind of a wizened old midget monk I met in a monastery in the Troodos mountains…

That’s another story.

Easy like Sunday Morning (not)

Hobble downstairs on stiff and twisted foot. Wonder why this happens

Make tea x 1.5. Thankful to have remembered the youngest insists on putting her own sugar in and I have averted being roundly abused. Feed dog.

Am informed by half a cup sugared tea drinker that there is water, “possibly wee” on the floor under a chair in the dining room.

Mop floor, notice badge-pressing hand is sore.

Am informed by same informant that Edgar the Guppy “may be dead”. Feed fish, guppy unresponsive. Anxiously prod fish alive. Think I might cry with relief.

Drink tea. Am despatched to make coffee and get extension lead. Am informed that two extension leads have been broken in the last month by myself or my mother. Am also reminded I have not yet “fixed” the upstairs televisual feed to bedroom. Retort that I have no vested interest in this.

Draw coffee drinker’s attention to my horoscope: You might get so angry at someone who is being obstinate today that you could lose your temper.

Impervious to zodiacal warning I am admonished for serving coffee in the Arsenal mug (oh I knew what I was doing). Am informed that the morning’s viewing (downstairs, remember no feed upstairs) will be Tweenies with half a cup as no desire to relive the Gunners baffling (yet predictable) dismal display.

Open cupboard-under-stairs, take out extension lead, chip loose football over Henry hoover and quickly shut door before it rolls out again.

Hide upstairs with laptop and incontinent dog. Perhaps they will forget I am here.

Life is like this in the morning: lots of potential, but blurry round the edges.

The Reluctant Consumer: stay on the sofa & cancel the Direct Debits

Some days seem to cost me a hundred quid.  Not all fortunately, but even a quick shopping trip to feed the family rarely sees me parting with less than £30.  We don’t eat smoked salmon all the time either.

There was a day in the summer holidays where I thought I’d stay in and save a bit of money, because leaving the house with two kids seemed to cause a cash haemorrhage on a daily basis.  What happened?  I’d booked a mobile hairdresser got the date wrong and wasn’t expecting her until the following week.  She duly knocked on the door for her money (I didn’t have it and had to hop off to the cash point leaving her to answer the door to me in my own house…)  I let her cut my hair anyway sort of in passing.  That seems to be the role of us consumers these days; even when we are lying low, trying to stash our limited cash and pay off the global trillions of debt (that is all our fault obviously), we are still consuming en passant.

We are locked into mobile phone contracts, direct debits for insurance policies (see my Swinton outburst), utilities, parking charges, council tax and most things come smothered with VAT like one of those cheap fake ketchups watered down with vinegar.  I sit in my front room looking at the relaxing fish relaxing but I am noting their innocent consumption of electricity.  Ok they aren’t eating it, but their pump and anti SAD light are and they are chomping on fish flakes and the occasional constipation-inducing bloodworm treats.  In short, they cost.  Everything costs!  But we are constantly told: consume less, stop costing the earth and yet that electrically run screen or box in the very same room incessantly blasts out the message that we need to buy more of more things.  No wonder I’m conflicted.

Today I should get my road tax.  Actually I should have got it last week.  Instead I have parked my car on the ex-front garden (not my doing, an area of hardstanding that probably contributes to localised flooding but handy nonetheless) and am having a bit of a protest.  I don’t fancy taxing my car.  I don’t want to give the government any money today.  I think I’d like to see how much they do or don’t owe me in the great tax code debacle first.

I am going to sit here, and do some work and enjoy holding on to my virtual money for a few hours longer.  I’ll have to give it up eventually, if I don’t no doubt (like the mobile hairdresser) someone will knock on the front door and demand it, but sometimes I think we should all just be a bit more awkward.  A bit less compliant.  Make these people (the I never knew about no phone tapping government, those licence to print money utilities, and those not far off evil Murdochian type firms) appreciate us and our ceaseless munificence just that little bit more.

Something for free from the blog

We’ve got a clash

That’s what the man on ATR says when they can’t start a race on time at Tramore because a contender is tootlinh down to the start in his own time and they are all on the button at some sand track in the Midlands.

The blog clash is to do with one post having to cover various subjects, plus the internal clash in various subjects, all of which are clashing with my school holiday summer tight timetable where I am under the cosh of a 6 year old. At my end, the din of the clashing would be deafening if I were not already so afflicted.

So forget structure, narrative and well-crafted points.

1) Meet the Molly. He is the son of a father we also have and there is a tale attached (insert tail pun of your choice here), but with no time to tell it you’ll have to wait. This fish is a bit of a bovver boy, it’s his genetic inheritance and he has been rehomed on account of his unsavoury activities down the road. His less fortunate bros were being farmed out to Pets at Home. Yikes. The father is now a reformed character, or a deeply depressed fish, or a fish on it’s last fins all being rather hard to photograph. To be continued…

2) York. Dick Turpin. Will he stay? I don’t know. I’ve been backing Cavalryman all year in the hope he will throw in a run to equal his Arc run. Could today be the day? I dunno. Twice Over has done me over at least once and thrice, so a no no? One thing I can say for certain: the Juddmonte has had small fields recently and whatever the outcome a cracking race is in prospect. Dick seems a bit short, but the Highwayman in York connection seems to have caught people’s imagination.

I’ll be thinking on.

Forget Goodwood

Looks like a pig of a day to me. I might be tempted to back Henry’s wronged Jacqueline, but that is it. Maybe.

Now, to the terrible tank news. I reported the missing snail a week or so ago. The good news is, it is no longer missing. The bad news is that it was found dead and calcified on the floor behind the tank. The other bad news is that the snail that kept rolling around on its back was actually rolling around on its back for good reason. I left it on the rock a few days ago, but it didn’t move, so when faced with one dead snail I decided to be brave and check the other for life. At first, when I picked it up, I was heartened. It recoiled into its shell when I poked it. I did it again to be sure. Could you imagine if I had buried it alive? Anyway, on the second occasion it recoiled further and then plopped out in a decayed smelly jelly mess. Nice.

What have we done?

Hard to tell they have turned up their toes


The calcification of the escapee is not hard to understand. Escapes to a dark corner, is not missed quickly enough and dies before search party is even despatched. The other snail demise is harder to work out, more a reflection on my mollusc-keeping abilities. Did it starve? Given my obsession with weekly water changes and the greedy angel fish there would hardly have been much food going. I thought they would snack on the plants.

I prefer to think it died of a broken snail heart when its companion escaped. Whatever, I do feel a bit culpable. Knowing something like this was bound to happen hardly softens the blow. 😦

Aquarium Catastrophe #1

I am standing by for a phone call from Obama to tell me how I have let down America and the world, but before he gets to me I thought I would confess all here first.

Actually I don’t have much to confess. But someone does.

I have been wondering for a while where the two aquatic snails are. I can usually see one, which tends to be the one that rolls around on its back like a stricken beetle. I usually fish it out, put it the right way up and hope it clings on to the rock. Now it might be falling straight off again as soon as my back is turned and it might be dead for all I know and all I am doing is re-righting an upside down dead snail like it is groundhog day, but what else can you do?

And I still remembered somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain that we had two of these snails and that one and one makes two, so I have been endeavouring to see the pair of them at the same time to set my mind at rest. There are rocks and BAFTAs in the way so it is difficult to see. That’s my excuse as to why the roll call has taken so long. Today, whilst changing the water, I took the opportunity to call the snail register and when only one (rolling around on its back, question mark dead etc.) answered I called in back-up. Reluctant back-up off the sofa. I said in the most bossiest I have been this year: I am hoovering and when I come back I want to know where the missing snail is.

I hoovered, I came back. The missing snail is behind the rock the back-up said. I said, well that won’t do. I need it present and correct at the front of the tank so I can tick the register and the world can carry on. Get it out and put it at the front.

Many excuses were forthcoming about disturbing the fish, disturbing the rock, with no concern for my great disturbance. Then came The Excuse. I don’t want to put my hand in the water. In case of what? I asked. You’re lying aren’t you? There’s no damn snail.

So I put my hand in the water and lifted the rock and poked around in the filter and generally satisfied myself that we are one snail down. And, if I don’t find it behind the tank later, tomorrow will involve the Great Snail Inquest and/or a chalked outline of a snail and potential witnesses will have to be interviewed and I can tell you now I am not buying the eldest’s brief offering which was:

Perhaps the fish ate it?

We didn't even get to race them

Trouble In Tank

Oh yes, it’s been stressful and it’s involved Bully Boy, whose “real” name is Amazon.

But not stressful in the beating up the little fish way you might think.  No, this is the story of one greedy angelfish and some frozen bloodworms.

The books and experts say that angelfish appreciate the odd bloodworm occasionally.  Rather inconveniently they come frozen in ice cube type blocks of multiple bloodworms. 

Oh yes I said, give them half a block.  Ok said CJ and gave them a whole one.  My fault of course for not supervising the process properly. 
So when I noticed the next day that Amazon’s belly looked somewhat swollen and his/her behaviour had become uncharacteristically reclusive I wondered what was up.  Perhaps imminent spawning?  More likely constipation, from overindulgence in bloodworms. 

So whilst the silver fish skulked (probably in pain) behind the BAFTA I googled the problem.  Constipation seemed the culprit, the cure: skinned, defrosted peas.

If you had told me that I would one day spend some considerable time skinning peas for fish and then fretting over a constipated angelfish attemping to take a giant crap behind a BAFTA, I would have told you to call the men in white coats. But there’s nowt so strange as folk. 

NB: The little guppies loved the peas, for footballing purposes!  I can’t call them Li and Di now given Argentina’s early exit, but I think Podolski and Schweinsteiger would be a bit of a mouthful.