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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.

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. ūüė¶

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.

A Confession

In extremis (are you reading Chris Waddle) it’s calming to look at fish. In anticipation of a sticky afternoon I yesterday whizzed up to Fishy Business and explained my position:

Please Sir, we want a community tank filled with colourful little fish but someone, who shall remain nameless, came home with two angelfish in a bag and now the big silver one is running tings in the tank and will probably eat anything small and pretty out of greed, jealousy and sheer badness.

So Mr Fishy Business said hmmm. And I hung my novice fish-keeping head in shame and pleaded that I had planned the whole thing rigorously for maximum harmony purposes and I really needed some swishy-tailed guppies to calm my nerves. So he bagged a couple up for me and agreed that he would take in Bully Boy/Girl Amazon Angelfish if it put a fin out of line.

Here they are. I like them.

They are nameless so far. I am thinking Lionel and Diego.

This is the hitherto no photos please Bully. It knows it’s on a yellow card.

*Breaking Aquarium News*

They are all still alive \o/

“They” is a different configuration from the last time I posted. We have since added to the tank:

2 x zebra snails – one of which I thought was very dead at the weekend but is revived
2 x angelfish

There is a fisherman’s tale attached to the acquiring of the angelfish that goes a bit like this.

There is a shop up the road that we bought the tank and first fish from. The man in there is a great expert and not a little bit scary. He would never, ever have sold us angelfish because they are not a beginner’s fish. Plus the tank would be a bit on the skimpy side when they grow, which they do because they are greedy bastards.

I was being a good and compliant little fish keeper, following all the rules and only considering adding fish from the yellow stickered tanks containing hardy fish for thick feckers just starting out in their tank keeping career i.e. fish it is quite hard to kill.

The Guv’nor, almost instantly bored with poor Black Skirt Tetras Mini and RaRa (he’s an inveterate thrill-seeker you know) took himself off to a different shop with a compliant child and told all sorts of fibs to procure himself two angelfish. The fattest lie of all was when he said that the tank was twice as big as it is. A fisherman thing surely.

So a pair of angelfish came back and are most interesting. Of course we should not have a pair really because they can be aggressive and we definitely have a dominant one (bully) that squares up to the smaller one when food is about. The upside is that the little fish have stopped their permanent rock-hiding-behind rota. The angelfish are friendly, they come over to say Hi when you go over to the tank. On the other hand the silver one is probably saying Give me food or you will die sucker, but you can’t have it all.

Strangely the small one is quite happy to pose for snaps. The other Bully Boy, called Amazon, persistently turns his/her back on the camera. If I turn the camera, it turns its body away again. I will keep trying. In the meantime this is the nice one.


NB – Fish Photography is v hard ūüė¶

But I will practise!

Meet Mini (or RaRa)

You see, I can’t tell the difference and neither can anyone else thus far.

They arrived yesterday, in a highly inflated placcy bag. This excessive inflation probably saved their lives…

I think I may have alluded to the general freaking outishness that fishkeeping causes me? Tropical fish mark you. That’s fish that need to be kept at a temperature. The right temperature.

24 hours before the fish were expected to land in the tank I started a little light freaking out:-
I don’t think the water’s warm enough. How do we know the heater’s working properly???

By the morning it was proper full-scale freaking out with nearly swearing.
That water’s frigging freezing; put them in there and they’ll DIE.
I held an emergency briefing.
We need a tank thermometer and we need it now. Don’t even think of putting any fish in that tank before we have checked and verified the temperature!

So they went off without their freaking mum and bought:

1) another aquatic plant
2) a scary stone face
3) a thermometer with suction pad
4) two goddamn fish

The eldest, trusted with the task of transporting the bagged fish home seemd quite pleased with proceedings. We left the fish floating in the bag acclimatising. On closer inspection they looked a tad desperate to get out. I went down the road to grill the fish-owning friends. How long do you float them in their bags I asked. About ten minutes they said.

Satisfied sufficient floating had gone on for acclimatisation purposes and that the temperature of the tank water was not life-threatening I then erupted into stressy mother overdrive.
Let them out of the bag carefully! Don’t stress the fish!

Stress? This is nothing! the OH said. The eldest already dropped them the minute she got out of the shop. Thank God I wasn’t there. I would have been reading them their last rites right there on the pavement. Anyway, we are nearly 24 hours into this fish thing and they seem to be holding their own.

One of our weeny Black Widow/Skirt Fish


My eldest has been begging for an aquarium for about four years.  I gave her a kitten a few years ago hoping to stave off the fish scenario.  The cat, the same Bibi Snowball that graces these pages from time to time, went down very well, but the fish obsession has endured.

I can do dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, ducks and maybe even pigs (but not all in this house) with equanimity, but tanks with fish in are most worrisome.¬† It’s the environment you see.¬† With the aforemention animals you just stick them in your existing environment whether it be inside or out and let them fit in with it.¬† In the Rudi dog’s case this involved provided him with a whole settee and a kingsize bed.¬† Simple enough.¬† With these fish things you have to, and I think this where my anxiety stems from, create a whole new world.

Too cold, they will die.  Too boiling, they will fry.  Too toxic, death ensues.  Wrong types of fish in the same tank, they will eat each other, or fight to the death.  If the pump malfunctions they suffocate.  In fact, whatever way you look at it, fish die and they die a lot.  So even with the best will in the world, we will be bringing pretty little  fish home to die in the front room.  Slowly if we are successful, but as inexpert fish-keepers it could be quite quickly too.

Oh My God.

Anyway, the tank is full of water, the pump is finally working, we have de-chlorinated the water and fitted the filter.  We have one plant and one topical volcanic rock and some gravel.  D-Day will be next weekend. 

Cross your fingers for the little fellas.

I would rather keep a couple of shells like these I found earlier.