This Actually Happened – August 20th, 2011

Tank Life


Many people are under the impression that aquarium fish live boring lives and they have no personality. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fish in our two aquariums have their own personalities and quirks. (I say our aquarium since I share an apartment with two of my cousins.) This is an account of our experiences. The one thing I noticed is how difficult it will be to determine the actual size of the fish according to the pictures. They are larger than the images may suggest!

Moving the tanks into place sucked ass. They are massive and weigh a ton…not literally! (New trend!) Keep in mind, our apartment is on the third floor. We officially established the tanks last year. Every fish has been purchased since then, except for “Scarface.” We don’t really care about the gender of the fish, so for the purpose of the entry, I will assume that all the fish are male. As you’ll see, through trial and error, we have become veterans and our tank waters are crystal clear!

************We do not have names for any of the fish so I will create some for this post.***********

The first Picture is of tank one. This is the community tank, where most of the fish live in harmony, except for some minor bouts during feeding time! This tank holds 130 gallons and is slightly larger than the other one. (Excuse the bottles of liquor at the bottom, we drink! Oh yeah, we also use the shot glasses while playing beer pong, but I have to get clearance from all participants before I can release that story!) {1}

The second picture is of tank two. This is where the new star of the show lives. This tank is usually empty except for “Shamu,” tank, two smaller catfish, and “food.”  This second tank holds 120 gallons. For me, Tank two is special because the first base that we had was rotting at the bottom, so we built our own base from scratch! (We definitely got our Bob Vila on!) {2}

My favorite fish is the Big Shark. (I mentioned him in my post about sharks.) He called an iridescent shark but is not an actual shark; he’s a catfish.  He has been with me the longest. Before my cousins moved in I had two sharks, but the other one eventually died. The Big shark will be called Scarface. The name is appropriate if you read about the stingray incident in my shark post. There are two smaller, identical sharks, and I’ll refer to them as the little ones. Scarface usually never ate in the past; in fact the first time I saw him eat was this May. Now, he eats on a daily basis during feeding time and he seems to be growing more rapidly. I have yet to see either of the little ones eat. I guess they scavenge at night! You would think these sharks would bully the other fish, but they have been fed flakes since arriving in the tank, so there is a lack of aggressiveness. That being said, they control the left side of the tank! {3}

The lungfish is probably the most polarizing of the fish. People either love it or hate it. The lung fish has been with us for a little over a year. He has feet and can walk. The fish looks like some sort of eel and has to swim to the surface in order to breathe. (It’s pretty cool!) The most interesting aspect of the lung fish is the fact that he can survive outside of the water! We’ll call him “Walker.” Walker is pretty much the garbage man of the tank. He’s slow moving and only eats the leftover food. For the most art, he remains either under the massive piece of wood, or the large rock. It’s hard to tell how big they are from the pick, but if you compare them to the bottles below the tank, you can get a better idea. Currently Walker has been acting weird and posing. I’ll post two pictures of him, one will be a pose. (Upon further review, they’re both pictures of Walker posing!) {4} {5}

The next fish is a Leopard fish. I’ll call her “Diva.” Diva has spikes on her body and cannot be touched, unless you want to get pricked. I call her Diva because we have noticed that she only eats krill, which are basically small shrimp. It is best to feed fish a variety of foods to ensure the best health and growth, but Diva only eats krill. Most of the fish are intelligent enough to know when they are about to be fed, so she’ll wait by the opened top and allow the different types of food to pass, without moving. As soon as the krill is inserted into the tank, she will begin to feed. You’ll see in the picture, she’s not the easiest on the eyes! (Is it sexist that I called her Diva and made her the only female? HA HA!) Diva can be seen in picture five. It’s difficult to capture a good pic of the fish, so I found this picture online. {6}

We have a kissing fish. He has wide lips and is always attempting to kiss the other fish. He will lock lips with them which I think aggravates the others. When we first placed him in the tank, he was docile, but as “lips” grew, he became more aggressive. The pick is another from the Internet, but Lips can be seen in Picture 4 with Walker. {7}

The next fish is Cock-eye. He was an aggressive fish when he arrived and was the bully of the tank, especially during feeding time. He ate to his heart’s desire and fended off the others, but something changed. I call him Cock-eye, because he has a puncture in his eye socket. We’re not sure when the incident occurred or who the culprit is, but he hasn’t been himself. I haven’t witnessed him eating anything in three weeks! He is on suicide alert. (Yes, fish commit suicide. They will be frightened which will cause them to stop eating!)In picture 4, Cock-eye is the fish entering the frame. The picture was taken before his eye was injured. I attempted to get a pic of Cock-eye’s injury, but it doesn’t show up on camera. {8}

Cock-eye’s story leads us to “Billy the Bully.” Billy is a convict cichlid. They are called convict due to their white and black striped bodies. We placed three convicts in tank one. They were tiny but the convicts are also extremely aggressive. Tank two was empty for a few months because we planned on getting Piranhas. They are illegal in the state so we abandoned the idea. When we purchased Shamu, we decided to move the three convicts into tank two. Although Billy and the boys are bullies, we decided to make the move in order to give some life to the tank which seemed empty.  Billy was clearly the leader of the pack and grew faster than the others because he ate more. After several weeks, we were forced to move the boys back to tank one because of Billy; he continuously bit pieces of their tail, and wounded them. The smaller of the two convicts appeared to be on his deathbed. The move worked like a charm and the boys regained their strength. They are now thriving in tank one. They are smaller than the others, but they each have carved out their spaces, which none of the other fish dare enter. The boys usually fight each other, which is fun to Watch. Recently, Billy hasn’t been himself. He witnessed some traumatic events and lost his aggressive nature. Billy began to hide behind the pipe inside of tank two and barely ate. I would place live worms into the tank for Shamu, but Billy would quickly eat them. We were forced to move Billy back to tank one, but the move was costly. Billy is extremely quick and it took us a half hour to capture him. When he arrived in tank one, all of the fish seemed to gravitate towards him. It was as though he was telling them what he had witnessed in the other tank. Regretfully, Billy stopped eating and died this evening. He was a great fish. RIP BILLY *Tear*{9}  {10}

“Lil O” was our third Oscar. We previously had an Oscar which looked exactly like Lil O, but he died a few months ago. “Big O” was the undisputed king of the tank. When he was alive, we didn’t own tank one, so all of the fish were in tank two; Big O was the top dog. He grew to be fairly large before dying. Lil O on the other hand was timid. He arrived on the same day as Shamu. Lil O was twice Shamu’s size, but he was frightened of Billy. Lil O is no longer with us. (More details about his death, below!) {11}

Tiger Oscar Cichlids are one of the most aggressive fish and they eat a lot. A clear example of this is “Oscar the Glut!” When he first arrived in the house, he was placed in the previous tank one as a replacement for Big O. We were super disappointed. OTG was the most timid fish we had ever seen. He literally looked like he was too scared to survive. Every day seemed like his last. To our amazement, OTG grew to be a dominant force in the tank. He is the king when it comes to consumption. OTB is always among the first to eat, and literally jumps out of the tank in search for food. There was one occasion in which he hit me on the hand with his mouth, while trying to eat. We have to be careful, especially when he is hungry. In the picture of tank one, OTG is front and center. He is white and pink. I have pictures of Oscar but they are all out of focus because he refuses to remain still. The picture is from the Internet.   {12}

The next two fish are truly unique. I’ll call them Big Skitz and Lil Skitz. Skitz is short for schizophrenic. Not only do these fish have multi-personalities, they change color according to who they are. They can be all black, white and black with red tail, or a mixture of the two. There have been numerous occasions in which people ask, “didn’t you have a black fish?” Yeah, he changes color; there are two of them. Tonight, I was attempting to get a picture of Cock-eye, until I realized I was taking a picture of Lil Skitz. He was rainbow colored. First time I ever witnessed that. I’ll post a pick of the rainbow colored lil Skitz. Big Skitz can be seen in Picture 4. {13}

We have a Dinosaur Bichir. It is a small snake like fish which always attempts to eat pieces of food which are way too big for his small mouth. He will be called the Alex fish, since my cousin Alex donated him to the tank. He is the only fish who has not grown. We’ve had him for a year. The Picture is from the Internet, but ours looks exactly the same. {14}

The Jack Dempsey is probably has coolest colors. He usually keeps to himself. {15}

The final fish inhabiting tank one is the Gold Severum. I honestly barely remember this fish is alive. {16}

We have lost some great fish, so I will show a few from Tank One.

Angel fish {17}, Fire Eel {18}

I already mentioned the fight between Scarface and the stingray in my post about sharks. {19}

The Pianiceps catfish was one of my favorites, and ended up being the first casualty in tank two. I can’t be certain, but I think Billy the Bully may have scared him into committing suicide!  {20}

There are a few feeder fish in the tank, but I’m sure they won’t survive the night. (Feeders) {21}

I also placed some treats for Shamu, tasty blue crayfish. (They are too tiny for me to capture on camera.) {22}

The Red Tail Catfish, Shamu! He is the star of the show. We were let down when we discovered that Piranhas are illegal in Massachusetts, but there was an alternative. It’s such a great feeling when a plan unfolds perfectly. When I saw videos of Red Tails online I was excited, but my enthusiasm was curbed (Shout Out to Larry David!) when I saw Shamu in the store. He was miniscule. “It is going to take forever for him to grow?” I thought. Shamu is amazing. He grows daily. At first, we only fed him krill, flakes, pellets, and worms. When he tripled in size, we decided it was time for the feeders. Shamu devoured all 24+ in one night. We were filled with excitement. We have a killer on our hands. Piranhas? No thanks!

Shamu proceeded to eat everything we fed and he grew daily. (When I say he grew, I mean he grew. You can literally notice his daily growth!) One day, I noticed that Lil O was missing. Where could he be? Shamu ate him! Then we lost Coors. (He’s was a silver bullet!) {23} Billy the Bully often picked on Shamu when he was tiny, but things changed. Billy witnessed all of the carnage, which is why we attempted to save his life. Billy was traumatized and never recovered.

Shamu lives with Tank. He is a Pleco, more commonly known as an algae fish. Tank should be safe since he has a hard body, which is difficult to digest. We’ll see how long he lasts! {24}

Shamu also lives with small twin catfish. They like to bury themselves in the sand. I haven’t seen the other one in a while, so I’m not sure if he is still alive. {25}

I will show a few pictures of Shamu, displaying his rapid growth. {26} {27} {28}



Tank One {1}

Tank Two {2}


                                                                                                      Scarface {3}


                             Walker, Lips, Cock-eye, Scarface and the little ones, and Big Skitz {4}


Walker & Diva {5}


                                                                                                 Diva {6}

                                                                                              Lips {7}


                                                                         Cock-eye scrounging for food {8}


                                                     Here is Billy kicking a young Shamu out of his favorite spot {9}


                                                              Billy  during his reign as tank Bully {10}


                                                                                  Lil O hiding from Billy {11}


                                                                   Oscar the Glut {12}


                                                          Lil Skitz in rainbow form {13}


                                                                        Alex Fish {14}


                                                                           Dempsey {15}

                                                                       Gold Severum {16}


                                                                    Angel Fish {17}


                                                                         Fire Eal {18}


                                                                    Stingray {19}


                                                                    Pianiceps catfish {20}

                                              Feeders with Shamu lurking in the background {21}


                                                                  Blue crayfish {22}

                                                                          Coors {23}


                                                                       Pleco {24}


                                                                  One of the twins {25}


                                                    Shamu about two weeks after purchase {26}


                                                              Shamu a few weeks later {27}


                                                                  Shamu tonight {28}

The tanks are great to have and we love observing the fish. I’ll definitely lose a part of me when I move to LA!







Published by Peter Teixeira

First and foremost, I enjoy writing stories. I recently completed my first novel, and I successfully co-wrote a short film script, which won the grand prize in the words made easy competition.

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  1. cool post… These fish have it as bad as we do! Fighting for food, violence, bullying, suicide, alcoholism.

  2. Nice tank! Me son lives fishes. (Atlantis, Bahamas) was perfect for him, *biggest under ground fish tank in the world** from sharks to sawfish, giant sting and manta rays. (You should go there)

    So we bought Eli a fish tank, we had two small catfish, and 12 little rainbow fish and 2 snails, he watched them for hours. One day my girl called me at work. Eli decided to give the fishes, bubble bath…RIP to the whole village! Is what I thought, but one snail survived. So he lives there alone. Eli asks ” Daddy where the fish go?” I said “gym” *that’s to only place I can go without him crying.*

  3. I was so being sarcastic when I asked for this post, but I’m glad I did! It was like watching the Discovery Channel. I saw the tanks and the base you guys built before the fish and I never believed you guys would actually get all these fish. You can get a new aquarium in LA and fill it with all kinds of Hollywood fish…you know the type, the ones with personal assistants, agents, a ton of plastic surgery and the constant need for attention and admiration!

    1. It’ll will be weird to see the fish with the gill enhancements and fake enlarged fins. I hope to set up a tank in LA, hopefully piranhas are not illegal in California.
      Thanks for the reminder…comments are a major influence on the blog!

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