Poor Fish Girl.

It’s kind of like watching an abusive relationship play itself out, right before my eyes. Except, it’s accepted, because it’s an expected behavior in their species. Mr. White is the abusive husband, and the females are his abused wives.

Cichlids are described as being “aggressive” and “not for beginners.”

The females routinely get knocked around, beat up, injured, and on Friday, murdered. Mr. White body slammed her so hard, she hit and lifted the tank cover, and flew out the back of the tank. She eventually ended up on the entryway tiles and died. Tony found her when he came home from work on Friday. He called me to tell me and later said it was one of the toughest phone calls he’s ever made.

I fed her that morning and didn’t know it’d be the last time I’d get to watch her eat.
(She’s on the left, “kissing” under the feeder ring…)

They’ve lived in this tank for 4 1/2 years and we’ve never had one of them come out of the tank. I know it can happen, I’ve been around fish enough to know that. But when I do my water changes, I leave them unattended for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, with the tank covers off, while I refill my water jugs, and they’re fine. Never had a problem. It’s a total fluke that this happened and such a senseless loss of life.

Shortly after I bought the tank in February of 2006, I came home to find one of the cats sitting on top of the cover. I noted to Tony that if that cat managed to somehow fall in, he would drown or electrocute himself — and kill everyone in the tank in the process. In response, Tony built a cover over the cover, so the cats couldn’t see to get up on top of the tank.

We were so intent on keeping things out, we had no idea we needed to reinforce the covers to keep the fish in. Tony did that this weekend.

The whole point of having the male (Mr. White) in the big tank is for breeding purposes, but it appears that Mr. White is sterile. So, I spoke to my Fish Whisperer, because I want him to keep a look-out for another Mr. Blue. Fish Whisperer said he’d help me look for a Mr. Blue, but recommended putting a mirror up against the tank while Mr. White is still in there. Apparently him seeing his reflection will make him think there’s another male in the tank, and that is supposed to soothe him. Or something like that. Even weirder is, Fish Whisperer was right — as usual. Within seconds of putting the mirror against the tank, he noticed it, he was afraid of it. Within a couple hours, he was contentedly checking himself out, hanging out with his reflection like it was a long lost buddy. Weird.

How does Fish Whisperer know this stuff?

I cried when I buried her on Friday, the female Mr. White murdered. She was one of four albino fry that I hand-picked to keep and raise (out of the 300 baby fish born four years ago). She was the one who, when I introduced a new food, took all of it in her mouth and took off for the corner of the tank, swallowing and swallowing, hogging it all to herself. She was the smallest of them all, and yet when I held her in my hands to bury her, I realized the tank must distort their size, for she was much larger than I had thought she was.

And isn’t that the way of life and death… when someone dies, the loss is always larger than you think it will be.

(Look below the momma fish at the rocks. Look closer. It’s not all rocks, there are baby fish there, one of those was the one who died on Friday.)

Growing up… still babies, though.

She is in the forefront, swimming alongside Mr. White…

I still have the two females who I isolated in a hospital tank (they each had a fish equivalent of a human black eye), they are looking much better and I’m hoping to put them back in the big tank in a week or two. I type that with a dose of optimism and confidence that I’m a little leery about feeling, just so you know.

*All images in this post can be clicked and enlarged.



Filed under Kid Substitutes

18 responses to “Poor Fish Girl.

  1. Who knew fish were so complex? I always thought they just swam around and ate stuff.

    Sorry about your fishie. Hope your other ones pull through. I’m sure with your care they’ll be just fine.

    • I suppose they’re like any species. My sister-in-law was telling me that even starfish fight and are territorial. They’re so slow moving, though, it just takes them about a month to get near each other — talk about a grudge building! And God forbid someone should reach in and pull one out to look out, then they’d have to start all over again.

      I have to admit, I’m a little scared to put those two hospitalized fish back in there when they’re all better. Yikes! It’s hazardous in there!

  2. Caryl

    Wow. Thank you Tony for caring.
    It’s good you have pictures of her.
    Really something about the effect of the mirror.
    Who would know?
    Love you,

    • I would have thought the mirror would have the opposite effect. Isn’t that weird? I guess the fish think there’s more fish and and that the tank is bigger?

      I’m so glad Tony cares about them, too. Enough to help me make their tank more secure. Button down the hatches!

  3. Hi Honey, I’m so sorry you have such a mean fish. God bless those females. Hugs, S

  4. grrrace

    i’m sorry that you lost a fish, honey. 😦 😦 😦

    the fish whisperer has probably gone thorough it himself… that’s why he’s the fish whisperer…


    • Thanks. 😦 I just want her back. Unrealistic, I know, but still.

      Yeah, you’re probably right, he likely has gone through it all. I’m so blessed that he’s able to offer me his guidance and wisdom. And sympathy.

  5. tony

    I am sorry sweetie, I hope I do not have to make another phone call like that anytime soon……have a great day and I love you soooooooo much. XXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

    • I hope you don’t have to make a call like that either again. I felt so bad for you, and then bad for that poor little fish girl. 😦

      I love you too. You’re the best.

  6. I’m scared of fish. There, I said it. They really freak me out.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your fish- it’s never easy to lose a pet.

    • I know they freak you out. I remember when you told me during my visit with you in Texas. I remember thinking how odd it was, given how they freak you out, that you were keeping an online fish tank. You weirdo. 😀

      Thanks for the consolation. I know you know the loss.

  7. noonie

    ahhh so sorry.. even worse when it’s one you’ve raised from birth.. not just chosen at the pet store. Hope he behaves himself, or the females fight back a bit more.

    Also thanks for ant post.. loved it… maybe the ants could visit the fish and sort out Mr….

    • Yeah, it smarts because she was “chosen.” I mean, I raised them all from babies, so any loss hurts. But still, she was chosen.

      You’re welcome… hmmm, not sure if the ants are allowed to visit Mr. White. Hmmmm.

  8. I’m so very sorry my dear Jammie…I know how all these wonderful creatures crawl into our hearts and then, how painful when they die. And it sounds like it was a very mean death…..!

    Thanks, dear, for your kind words about my Sweetie…I’m hopinh–all things being equal—that he will be able to come home on Saturday…..I’ll let people know.

  9. I’ve been keeping up to date with your site, but just don’t always have time to comment (sorry). Just thought I’d say hello again so you know I’m here!