We’ve had an aquarium in our home for as long as we’ve been married. When my wife was as a child she set a bowl on the counter for a goldfish. As the years passed these tiny worlds grew larger and larger. I know, they’re good therapy and can calm the nerves, but that’s just a thin layer in the depths of this fascinating, confined universe.
Debbie began studying the atmospheric pressures which determined the level at which her fish were swimming in the tank. She discovered that fishing conditions in Galveston bay paralleled the attitude of her fish. Scientific? Perhaps not, but certainly worth observation.
According to Viktor Shauberger, Fish Don’t Swim, they Swum. A seemingly straight forward question has intrigued ichthyologists for centuries. How does a fish swim? Maybe Shauberger is right. They don’t swim, they swum which could be a completely new theory.
Is that undulating motion just simply flapping their tail back and forth in the water? Does it require a shake of the head or is it restrained to just the muscles in the tail?
A friend studied dolphins one summer off a Hawaiian island in an attempt to discover how they could attain the speeds they reach. It was believed that these amazing creatures could actually change the configuration of their skin with a muscle system that overcomes the “hull speed” of a full displacement vessel. When the hull speed is approached it takes an increasing amount of power which eventually approaches infinity in order to move the vessel faster. The Dolphin apparently can overcome this barrier to a great degree by changing the configuration of its skin’s surface allowing it to attain speeds far beyond the amount of energy it expends.
Have you ever wondered why a trout always darts upstream when frightened? And how can that trout remain in place in a fast moving stream while expending minuscule amounts of energy. It has been discovered that as water passes over the backward lay of a fishes scales it creates a current vector that wraps back around the scales creating “lift” much like the wing of an airplane. This lift actually pushes the fish forward into the stream’s current. When frightened, the trout uses this free source of energy and shoots upstream out of danger.
Simple creatures? Not according to one ichthyologist who spent his life studying the fish. When he was very ill and life’s end was approaching, he was asked if he had it to do over, would he study the fish?
“Oh no,” he said, “I’d study the fishes eye!”
I like to watch my Calico Ryukin wiggle about the aquarium as the king of the realm. He is the biggest and the fattest and has now reached about half a pound which puts him in a place of high esteem in this confined kingdom. When he swishes about the tank, he moves masses of water unlike the Bala Sharks which are not really sharks, but glide through the water with alarming speed without leaving as much as a wake and bothering no one.
The tiny Cory catfish sniffs along the bottom of the tank. Often in a fit of pique of unknown origin he shoots to the surface to gulp in a breath of fresh air then sinks slowly back to work cleaning up along the bottom.
The almost clumsy Silver Dollar trundles about oblivious to any and all.
The African Brown Knife was never told he could only slink about at night like the rest of his species who are not allowed to enjoy daytime activities.
The almost too small to see red fry and the inch long adult Red Wag Platys dominate the surface of the tank in a brilliant array of shimmering red. They capture the scene when approaching the tank, but they are still only second to that crazy Calico gold fish who waddles about stirring up the water,
Lying somewhere on the bottom, behind a rock or clinging to the glass is the pleclostomus.
He glides like a stealth fighter from place to place without seeming to care. Lazy and laid back as he might appear, he never stops his work cleaning up the glass, the rocks, the plants and sometimes other fish if they’ll lay still long enough to endure his fetish for hygiene.
From this amazing world comes a view into the lives of these tiny creatures, a panorama of personalities that are truly individual among each species. There’s a pecking order to each group and to the entire tank. When feeding time arrives and before the light comes on, the platys swarm to the exact point where the food will be dropped. The sharks glide about waiting for the food to slowly settle to the middle of the tank and the brown knife slithers from his den in a tube at the bottom wandering about looking for a tiny morsel before it hits the bottom for the catfish to scarf up.
The pleclostomus flips his tail twice and glides behind a rock in the near corner like a fighter landing on the deck of a carrier. And the Calico? Well, he lives in a world of his own that brings us to the original premise, “do fish have an attitude?” Wow, do they ever! Among the platys there always a couple of females like the Pied Piper leading a retinue of males about the tank. The sharks group together as they glide through the still water and the catfish minds his own business as he works to keep the corners along the bottom clean. But that Calico? He never, never misses his chance to splash me in a glorious “good morning my friend” as he sloshes about with his head poking just above the surface pushing the platys away from his dinner. He gobbles up all the food in sight as if he hasn’t eaten for, well, at least a few minutes while he was asleep in his corner. He’s a picture of domination in the order of things, making sure the platys will never deny his need to satiate that voracious appetite.
So, when you have a chance to observe someone’s aquarium, stop for a minute and ask yourself, “what are these tiny creatures thinking as they scurry about?” Maybe, just maybe there is a message to share with us who live in the vast kingdom outside their tank.
Written By: Arlen Davidian