Fish feast like people

One of my favorite times to watch my tanks is right after feeding. The types of fish I keep come together at feeding time, for the most part peacefully. I love watching tiny eyes peak out from around the leaves, hesitant to go any further than the shadows. Well, that is until the urge overcomes them and they dart out into the bright light. First one, then another, and a third, and as the fourth and fifth arrive they begin to greet each other.

The dynamic is one of distrustful welcome. As the pellet is realized, the cloud of loaches appears, circling the food in a mesh-ball of movement. The larger push out the smaller, and all of this happens in tiny bursts lasting only a few seconds each. And spin and break. And spin and break. All the while, tiny nibbles of the pellet disappear down hungry throats.

And once the feast is near its end, I can usually get a full head count on how many of each fish I have in my large and heavily planted tank. It’s about the only time I can – and I guarantee everyone that keeping accurate headcounts is crucial to stopping algae outbreaks and nutrient spikes. So, it’s super important. Do it. End of PSA and back to writing now though.

The last few crumbs are squabbled over only by the smallest of the species. They are the hungriest and the most unaware of the face that watches them intently from across a pane of glass. Of the ten wild-caught Kubotai loaches I had acclimated only two weeks ago, seven remained in the open. One I found dead without apparent cause, floating in the tall grasses. The two who did not come to feast tonight are presumed dead. The feast is too important a ritual to be missed.

While the youngest are still intent on finding every last morsel, the older, bigger loaches sit back contentedly just beyond the shadow. They stretch from time to time, as if moving their belt buckles a notch looser. Other, as if drunk on the pleasure of feasting, shoot around the tank, intent on causing havoc. They harass the others excitedly, sometimes enticing a partner to dance wildly with them. A spinning mass of white and black blurs, pausing every few seconds in truce before continuing once more, plays across my tank screen, and I am content.

Though my tanks have been through a lot in the last few years, and I have not posted as frequently, they still bring so much joy to my life.