The Attack Of The 50mm Hogfish

Ah, summer.  I find I get a little lazy with tank maintenance in the early summer months, and the tanks are crusty and overgrown come July.  Since my parents left I’ve been working to get them back in shape and they are almost back in prime condition.  Oh, and the Teabox is nearly broken down, which is good, since the kitchen smelled like the underside of a wharf.

The Dudley Dursely of fish - not too bright and will bully anything smaller than itself when you aren't around

The Dudley Dursely of fish - not too bright and will bully anything smaller than itself when you aren't around

When I dropped by the fish store last week, I picked up (what I thought was) the second-to-last fish for the 65g.   The two-spot hogfish was sort of an impulse buy, as I had read about them but didn’t think they were colorful enough to merit the money.  They are incredible to see in person, tho’… the store had a beautiful full-grown male with vivid coloring and I had a fistful of coupons, so it seemed a match made in heaven.  I took him home, acclimated him, and dropped him in the tank.

The first couple of days were uneventful.  New Fish met Old Fish, Old Fish accepted New Fish, New Fish joined Old Fish, All Fish went for a picnic on the grass while singing about soft drinks or some crap.  But the other fish started to show up less and less frequently, especially Lydia (Fridmani pseudochromis).  Then, Tuesday night, Lydia vanished from the tank.  I couldn’t find her on the floor and the snails and crabs weren’t clustering over her corpse, so I got up on a chair, leaned over the tank, and craned my eyeball against the wall to see if she had jumped behind the stand.  Six feet below was a dark … thing … that was covered in dust and about the right size and shape to be a dead Lydia.

I was very bummed out about this – not only was Lydia a sweet little fish, she was also barking expensive.  The hogfish, I figured, must have chased her around the tank until she jumped and failed to stick the landing.  I started to watch the hogfish more closely and yup, he would charge the other fish whenever a human wasn’t around to remind him to beg for food.

I’m not sure how many hardcore reef geeks* read this blog, but I’m sure by now everyone has realized that this is not a restful hobby.  There’s almost always some major problem that needs to be fixed as quickly as possible or then they will die.  We’re surprisingly okay with this, and have adopted a zen-like approach to infinite potential catastrophes of water, electricity, and countless living things.  But if you ever wanted to make a reef geek’s eyelid tic like a watch, just ask him to catch a healthy fish from his own tank.  That’s… yeah.  He’s spent months – sometimes years – carefully cultivating his tank and watching his coral grow, and fish do not come when they are called.

Good freaking luck.

Good freaking luck.

I’d have probably let Hoggy stay in the big tank for a few more days and hope that the aggression issues worked themselves out, but while sketching last night’s comic I saw a flash of purple.  Whatever is lying in the dust behind the tank apparently isn’t Lydia; she went deep into hiding in the rocks and pokes her head out only when she was very, very sure the hogfish wasn’t around.  On the one hand, yay corpsefish!  On the other… now there was no question about catching the darned hogfish.

I’m now grateful I haven’t yet had the cash to invest in coral for the 65g.  I dropped the net in the water and let the fish get used to BIG NEW SCARY THING for a few hours, then took up the handle of the net while dropping a few small tidbits of food into the current.  During the frenzy, I sloooooowly brought the net up under the hogfish and… the f**ker swam away and hid in the rocks.

Or, to be more specific, he hid in one of the barnacles I had attached to the rock.  Sheesh, this is why we have thumbs and you don’t, dude.

I covered the end of the barnacle with the net and broke the bonding cement that held it to the main rock, then dumped poor Hoggy out in a Tupperware container.  Hoggy is now stuck in a spare 5g quarantine tank – there were some white flecks on him, so he gets treated for ich before I take him back to the store, just in case.  Lydia is out and about, but she has a nice gaping hole in her side where she was either attacked or slammed into the rocks.  She’s still eating, so I’m not going to worry about – or catch – her just yet.

* We call ourselves reefers.  Har har, drug joke drug joke drug joke.

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~ by KBSpangler on July 24, 2009.

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