Coldest, oldest, fastest : 10 extreme sea creatures – these are amazing, both in looks and facts. Here are my favorite two.
Anglerfish inhabit the deep sea, and for a century they baffled marine biologists. At first only female anglerfish were known; where the males were and what they looked like was a complete mystery. Then a parasitologist began studying the worm-like parasites generally attached to anglerfish females. What he found, instead of parasites, were anglerfish males — each undergoing a radical transformation. When a male anglerfish is tiny, he finds and attaches to a female. First his jaws dissolve and his bloodstream fuses with the female’s. Then his brain disappears and his guts shrink. Eventually he is little more than a testis, fertilizing the eggs of one female, for the rest of his life.
Clownfish families were made famous in ‘Finding Nemo,’ but real ones have more peculiar lives than the movie lets on. In a sea anemone where the clownfish live, the biggest fish is always a female, laying all the eggs. The next biggest fish is a functional male, fertilizing them. And lots of smaller clownfish are immature males. When the female dies or is eaten by a predator, the biggest male switches sex to become female. At the same time the biggest immature male grows into a functional male that can fertilize the eggs. This conveyor belt system of parenting assures a constant supply of baby Nemos.
My son Maxim has been asking Santa for a gold fish. Among a billion of other things, of course. And while he wasn’t so sure about all those toys, he somehow was certain that Santa will bring him a gold fish this year. For it was an almost done fact. Something like tomorrows sunrise. It’s not here yet, but you know for sure it’s coming.
Neither me, nor my wife Olga know anything about fish. Except that it lives in the water and you can eat it in a variety of ways. But fish as a pet is weird. Still, we decided to go along with it. So, for the New Year’s Santa did bring Maxim a small glass bowl for aquarium with a gold fish in it.
Maxim was overjoyed. I think part of it was due to him expecting the gold fish for Christmas, and not getting it, sort of, downed his hopes a bit. And then he didn’t find the aquarium under the tree for the New Year’s. Santa was afraid that our cat will either eat the fish or knock off the aquarium and spill all the water, so he left the present on the table. And Maxim just didn’t check there. Yeah, I know, modern age kids. Back in our day we’d check everywhere! But I digress.
As I said, Maxim was very excited to have a fish. He wanted to do things with – watch it, feed it, put more water in the aquarium, move the aquarium around, put more stones on the bottom of the aquarium, feed the fish again, and watch it some more.
By the end of the day, I noticed that the water in the aquarium wasn’t as crystal clear as before. And the fish seemed to be swearing at us all. At least it looked that way. Now of course I think that the fish was trying to breath with its mouth. Anyway. Dirty water. So I changed it – spilled half of it out and put some new water in. The fish looked better. But not for long. The next day I felt like I need to change the water again. And again. And again.
Then it hit me – the Internet! I had to read at least something about the fish. Since I didn’t know which brand, model, class, or type this fish was, I just read a bit about gold fishes. And even that little that I read made me worried. Here is a list of things (I don’t dare call them facts yet) that I read:
- Aquarium gold fish don’t exists in natural habitat. They were created by humans for humans. And while some of them are beautiful, they are very fragile. One small mistake and the fish is dead. One big mistake and the whole aquarium is cursed.
- Aquarium fish is very sensitive to water. Preparing and maintaining the right water is almost as hard as sending human to Mars. Maybe not that expensive though. Aquarium has to be prepared with water before the fish goes in. Once the fish is in, it’ll take a couple of days for it to settle and adjust the water for itself. And then that’s what you’ll need to maintain.
- Gold fish needs a lot of space. Suggestions varied between a 10 liters and 20 liters of aquarium space per each fish. Our fish bowl was under 2 liters.
- Gold fish are a common present for office competitions, birthdays, and other holidays. But because most people don’t know how to take care of the fish, the fish usually survives only for 3-4 days. Oops!
Well, at least we tried. With water changing and everything. But that didn’t help. Today morning I woke up to a dead fish. Bob-the-fish was its name. And it survived in our custody from December 31st, 2010 to January 5th, 2011. That’s almost a week. And somewhat longer than the average for a gold fish present. Not even long enough for me to make a photograph of it. Sad.
Today we’ll probably have a family meeting to decide if we want to try again. And as much as I am for having pets in homes where children grow up, I am against torture and animal cruelty. If we are to try, we’ll need better preparations this time. We’ll need to learn something. And we’ll need to get a bigger aquarium. That’s for sure.