Our clown loaches are getting big! And one of the guppies dropped a batch of fry, three of which have survived to adolescence. (That small diagonal line just above the center-left of the plant at lower right is one of them.)
When we first set up our 46-gallon aquarium a little over a year ago, Kady and I figured that things would be a little easier in our little box o' f15h if we put together a "stag" tank -- no females for the males to get aggressive over. (This would also have the side benefits that the tank would have more booze-laced tiny frat parties; and that our felines wouldn't have to put up with endless soap operas during daytime FishTV™.)
Of course, we also figured that this was a pipe dream at best, neither one of us being particularly omniscient in the realm of fish sexing. Mindful of the stereotypical embarassment of pet owners finding out that their beloved George or Cojones is suddenly expecting a litter, I pressed to give our first batch of aquatic denizens names that would be suitably gender-generic. And because 1) I am a geek, 2) I had some weird, ultimately-aborted plan of giving the first f3sh temporary names and naming them by online poll, and 3) I am really a geek, I hurtled screaming off of the edge of generic into the abyss of metasyntactic.
(Yes, I named our first fish -- a tiger-speckled guppy -- "Foo." And "Bar" was bicolored, with a very sharp, straight separation between the silver front half and black back half. Kady and I chose the name "Boing" -- a Danish metasyntactic -- for our plecostomus, and it stuck. Perhaps because giving him a name suggesting that he was a tank-jumper ensured that he'd never get into the habit.)
Fast-forward several months. At which point it's pretty obvious that our "stag" tank has more "doe" than a pizza parlor. We'd been noticing for some time that poor Foo had an almost continuous escort around the tank, and Baz and Quux were getting their tails rather severely bitten in the contest to accompany the tiger lady. One of the other gups was getting Quite Hideously Large, and Foo was looking kind of preggers as well. Ah, the joys of the great circle of life.
Sure enough, one day we noticed some little swimming punctuation marks and a much thinner guppy.
"How cute!" I said, leaning down to eye the miniscule babies swimming blithely around the tank, as about 14 pairs of beady fish eyes tracked their movements. The tiny schlorp of salivating ichthyoid tongues echoed just under the hum of the water filter. "Let's name them sushi, sashimi, snack, morsel, and hors d'ouevre."
Fish, you have to understand, aren't particularly picky about cannibalism. And, while I could have gone out and gotten a tank partition to protect the new arrivals, the hassles of fish breeding seemed pretty large compared to the payoff: separate living quarters, all-new feeding strategies, new and expensive snacks for the babies, etc. Kady and I decided we'd just let the fry fend for themselves and see what happened.
By the next morning, our babies were down to just Sashimi. Sometime later that day, the adults found the garnish they'd been looking for, and he vanished too.
This cycle repeated at least once more (that we noticed). "Sashimi" became our generic fry name, a strategy which proved as effective as it was cynical.
Not only that, they survived the next day. And the next. And suddenly, it's been over a week, they've grown to a size where they'll only fit in the mouth of the larger fish instead of everything in sight, and it's looking increasingly likely that our tank capacity has increased by three.
I'll be darned. A batch of them finally out-thunk Darwin.