That's Blue. He's my main fish. For him I bought a 55 gallon tank. A boy's gotta' swim.
And this is Minor Blue, not the kind of fish people talk about, you know, a quiet player, but he does bristle when angry.
And there's Lashes. You can't see him because he's hiding in the sand, although he is showing a tiny piece of tail. I knew he would do that, live in the sand, because he's a wrasse, and that's what they do. When we met he wasn't hiding, he was cruising above the sand at Petco. But he's hiding now.
And I had hoped he wouldn't be so emotionally unavailable.
If he ever comes out, I'll take a picture and it will look something like this:
Here's the story.
I texted my in town aquarist son:
I GOT A NEW FISH!!!!!!!!
You just want to scream it out loud, tell the world.
Not the biggest purchase, not on the order of say, a new car, or a new phone, even. Thirty-two dollars, ninety-nine cents, plus tax, and the animal is yours. Could have bought shoes, maybe should have.
Yesterday I dropped by my brother's office to say hi. He happens to work near Petco. It's one of those things aquarists do when they pass pet stores, pop in, take a quick peak, just say hello, see if there's a new fish, one with our name on it.
I personally don't like to have a lot of fish in my tanks but I do like to see new fish. It slows me down. But they're a lot of responsibility, basically because they're lives are in your hands. And the more the fish, the more the mess.
So I popped into Petco and lo and behold, a four inch wrasse glared at me and said, "Would you just look at me? Aren't I awesome?"
But I'm not stupid and didn't just bring him home, figured if it was meant to be, it would be. But Blue had to have a say in the matter. An ecosystem has to be friendly. You have to know that what you are introducing will be well-received.
Just yesterday the dog puffer (Dog) and Blue were shnuggling. Fish shnuggle, cuddle, and it didn't seem right to me to disturb their intimacy with one fell swoop of a credit card.
That's the dog puffer. He's ugly, but kind, and he does look a little like a dog. He was a present from my son-in-law who likes dogs.
So before purchasing the wrasse I went home and made dinner, listened to my son tell me how I should be adding even more garlic to things, whole cloves, if possible. I thought I'd retire early to ward off whatever viruses have been messing with my happiness, but before cozying down, had to Google dragon wrasse.
"Hey FD, just LOOK at him!"
"It looks like somebody had a good time painting on those lashes."
(Some people buy art, others buy fish).
"This is a metrosexual fish, dear," I continue, hoping to convince FD that this is a special fish.
A pitiful look.
On the LiveAquaria website, I find that Lashes is no juvenile, that he buries himself in sand, and that he moves furniture. Blue does this, too, moves rocks, kicks up the sand. Semi-aggressive, the dragon wrasse can probably hold his own against Blue, a Niger trigger, no small feat, considering Blue's sharp teeth.
But then again Blue shnuggles sometimes with the dog, and I can pet him sometimes. It's a tank of aggressive fish, and aggression here is about food, territory, and frustration, just like it is with people, and you really can't go hungry in my house.
Although there are those who say you can.
Anyway, I call Petco in the morning and ask if the dragon wrasse is still in the tank, then zip over there. A lovely, caring aquarist, I'm guessing she's South American or Mexican, helps me with the purchase, but not without first asking the twenty questions.
What kind of fish inhabit the hood?
Where do they hang out?
Do they gang bang?
What are they eating?
Do they have homes (meaning places to hide).
Do I give them vitamins?
How large a tank are we talking?
How many fish?
How this, how that.
A virtual census taker
Satisfied that Lashes is going to a good home, she raises an eyebrow. "So who cleans the tank?"
"Not too many women do, you know. Not too many have this hobby, seems to me. It's a guy thing. I don't know why." Then she tells me about her tank.
Hers is twice the size of mine, 125 gallons.
She goes on and on about her yellow tang, and the many fish who haven't made it, who seem perfectly fine until they're in her apartment, then die the next day. She also tries to keep the number of fish she buys to a minimum and she's the tank-keeper in her house, too, likes to keep that glass clean.
I ask her where she lives, immediately want to be best friends. But it's clear she lives miles and miles away from my house and I don't do much by way of traveling for friendship.
Yet there's a kinship there.
You know what I mean.
*chaval rhymes with dah-doll, soft "ch" Yiddish for, what a shame.