aquarium drama: a death, a murder, and a tyrannical tank dictator

It’s been way too long since I updated regarding my fish (because normally their day to day lives are pretty much the same). 

The murder: In June, my female molly, Chell, beat up her mate, Bowie, ripping his caudal fin to shreds. She stopped letting him eat, and when I found him, he was nearly belly up but still alive. I moved him to a different tank, gave him some meds and food. I hoped for the best, but I assumed he’d be dead the next morning. Surprisingly, he made it through the night, and was swimming more upright, and was looking for food. I hoped he would make a full recovery, but I think he was just too stressed, as he died a week later. Bad Chell.

R.I.P. Bowie…

The death: Chell died mysteriously a couple of weeks ago, in perfect condition. I still don’t know how. I found her dead body under a plant, so maybe she got stuck in the leaves. I don’t think my betta, Michelangelo, killed her, as he is a calm and relatively non-aggressive fish. Who knows? Despite how mean Chell was, I didn’t want her to die.

My two bettas, Michaelangelo and Spock, have very different personalities. Michaelangelo (in a 5.5 gallon tank) has always been secure in his rule of his tank, so he doesn’t chase and bully the other fish. He might flare up and patrol the perimeter, or he might intimidate another fish if it’s not respecting his territory, but generally he doesn’t seem to mind the other fish in the community. He’s always been like this, even when I had him in a 2.5 gallon tank. Michaelangelo is also very smart for a fish, and knows that when I come near his tank there’s a good chance he’ll be fed. He knows that when I open the drawer, I’m probably going to feed him, and waits by the feeding hole in the top of the tank. He also checks on me when I’m sitting nearby doing homework or gaming, hoping I’ll feed him. He’ll swim over, look at me, swim to the feeding hole, and repeat that pattern, looking to see if I’m watching. (The way he acts, you’d think he never gets fed, but he gets two meals a day.) He snaps the food up efficiently as soon as he gets it.

The tyrannical tank dictator: Spock (in a 2.5 gallon tank) is completely different. He’s prettier than Michelangelo, but not as smart. He’s also more aggressive, and I caught him bullying and chasing the otocinclus, Kirby, one too many times. I moved Kirby to Michaelangelo’s tank with the other two otos, Mario and Luigi, and they all seem happier. When it’s feeding time, Spock will see me and try to attack me through the glass, every single time. It also takes him a while to find the food. Bullying Kirby was probably more a sign of tank overcrowding than anything else, since there’s also a mystery snail named Shelley in his tank, so hopefully he’ll be able to calm down a bit now. Shelley can hide if needed, and they’ve always been good tank mates.

As for Kirby, he’s adjusted well to his new home. I don’t think Spock ever actually hurt him, as Kirby is a fast swimmer and had a lot of plant coverage in the old tank, but he’s definitely better off with Michaelangelo. Otocinclus are shy, except with their own kind. He’s been hanging out with Mario and Luigi, and he’s not as pale as he was before. (Paleness can be a sign of stress.) I’m glad the rest of my aquarium friends all appear to be improving.

Michaelangelo… I can still see you.

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