But Doctor, Will He Be Able to Play The Piano?

He couldn’t before.

In the nightmare that is the Teabox resides a small flametail blenny.  There is a decent chance he has a broken spine. and… I have mentioned I loathe the Teabox, yes?

The Teabag, Version 2

The Teabag, Version 2

After the Great Teabagging Incident of 2007 – well, the one that had nothing whatsoever to do with nakedness – I broke down the tank and started from scratch.  The objective was to have a little easy-to-maintain zoanthid garden with a small clown goby, a blenny of some sort, and three ornamental sexy shrimp.  Honestly, I just wanted a cute tank that was easy to maintain and could serve as an overflow for the frags in the main 30g tank.

The tank was set up sometime last … July?  Always keep a tank diary, guys, it helps you remember when things started to go wrong… Anyhow, the tank did what new tanks usually do, which is go through a period where everything flourishes and makes you feel as though you are the benevolent creator of a tiny savage garden.  And the tank sustained this, long past when it should have undergone a mini-crash where your private garden decides it’s had enough of your curfews and nagging and is old enough to have a life of its own.

Little Monty Burns, sans tented fingers and the ability to purr in a menacing fashion.

Little Monty Burns, sans tented fingers and the ability to purr in a menacing fashion.

In early January, the blenny disappeared.  He was the second fish in the tank, added after Monty had grown comfortable.  Monty was a fairly large clown goby and weighed in at a whopping three inches.  Usually it’s smarter to add the smaller fish first, but Mister Smithers showed up late.  Still, Smithers is a blenny and they are notorious cowards, so when he was added to the tank there wasn’t a peep of competition or territoriality from Monty.  They had a good life together, albeit a short one, but I don’t know if it even registered with Monty when his little black-and-yellow buddy vanished from the tank.

And I mean vanished.  Smithers was gone.  There was neither scale nor bone left of him, and I assumed that he had jumped out of the tank and been eaten by one of the dogs.

Then there was a sudden algae bloom, and I assumed that I hadn’t found his body.  As with the teabag, Smithers’ decomposing corpse was throwing off the nutrient balance in the tank.  I fought to get it under control but after about a month I threw in the towel and decided to break down the tank until I found what was left of him.

Now, an odd little habit of some blennies is that they like to hide in rocks.  Not just in a hole in a rock, mind you, but wedged into the smallest holes you can find – apparently, you can’t be eaten if the predator can’t get to you.  On Valentine’s Day, I broke down part of the tank and took Monty back to the store.  After Brown and I got home from dinner, I tackled the second half of the breakdown and…

… were those eyes?

Two tiny black eyes, staring out from a deep crack made from two pieces of rock cemented together.

Brown held the flashlight while I busted up the rocks with a screwdriver, and Mister Smithers fell out.  He looked exactly like you’d expect after being trapped in a rock for over a month. Bleached white and emaciated, he thrashed on the bottom of the tank until he found a large discarded shell, then hid inside.

Over the past month I’ve been hand-feeding him back to health.  His color has returned and he has more energy, and he’s excited to see me.  He does a little happy-dance with the upper part of his body and that’s about all he can do because I think his spine was broken at some point during his captivity or his release.  He can no longer swim, and crawls across the bottom of the tank when he wants to travel.

The crawling doesn’t bother me too much, as many blennies tend to pull spend time on the substrate.  The fact that he can’t eat unless he’s hand-fed, however, is a very serious problem for a fish.  I’m going to give him another few months to see if he improves before I decide what to do with him – as he is now, he can’t go back into any tank with other fish, or even a slightly hungry clean-up crew.

The Teabox, it is cursed.  Cursed, I say.

~ by KBSpangler on March 10, 2009.

4 Responses to “But Doctor, Will He Be Able to Play The Piano?”

  1. Maybe you should break it down and sell it on ebay as a cursed tank!

    • I don’t know what I’ll do with it! I’m thinking fire….

      • id say fire but the smoke from burning it might make you or anything nearby sick.even outside.maybe just use it as a flower pot?

  2. […] Level – The most high-maintenance fish I’ve ever known, but for reasons beyond our control.  These days, Smithers is a fat and happy goober who lives in a big barnacle and demands nothing […]

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