Everything I know in case I go Senile (From 2014)

Paul B

paul b
I posted this someplace 5 years ago and figured I have nothing to say today except build things in my Man Cave so I am Re-Posting it again. If it contains anything not PC, irritating, racist, not ethical, unrealistic, argumentative, political, religious or anything else that is considered irritating to any living creature, please delete it fast.
These are only my opinions and in no way does Nancy Pelosi agree with them. I didn't ask her so maybe she does.

From 2014:

I have theories about just about everything and unfortunately, most of them are probably to radical, simple, inane, old school, or complicated for many people to understand, comprehend, agree with or even bother to read, so if you are one of "Those" people, don't read any further, just go and watch TV, I think there is a re run of the Opera show where she gives away Cadillac's to homeless cats.

Now I am far from the God of fish tanks, corals (SPS, LPS, leathers, suede's, velour's or velvet)

I am however the God of UG filters and maybe bald heads which I have always aspired to be famous for. In my many years of reading, diving and learning I have noticed a few things. Much, or most of what we do or want to do with regard to this hobby is either wrong, almost wrong or even dangerous, but what we can all agree on is that it is expensive. I will get to that as I feel it is a very cheap hobby. I just may be rich and this money is just a drop in the bucket or else I am poor, or to cheap to spend anything so I can feed my family. The truth is that I am neither, I am like most of us, in the middle, in the "fusion zone" as I like to refer to it as. I would also like to say imperically that I do not have the nicest tank on here, probably far from it, but it ain't to bad either

I am getting old (er) and in a few years I am sure I will start forgetting many of the things I learned through trial and error, the things I picked up in the 50s 60s and 70s that is all but forgotten about now as parchment paper degrades over time. I am fortunately still sharp as a tack, OK maybe a slightly duller tack, but a tack none the less, OK a finishing nail, not one of those aluminum Home Depot finishing nails, a good steel one from an American hardware store, a store that was started in the 40s after the big one.

Much of the things I do to my tank I can not print as I am sure I would be put away. Things like using Clorox in NSW to eliminate red tide or heating the water to kill paracites without affecting the parameters. Curing PopEye in a few seconds with a hypodermic needle or cleaning a fish of ich, flukes or flounders in a day. I won't even mention putting in copper pennies before they invented liquid copper. These are things I have posted in the past with regret because of the flood of hate mail. OK, maybe not a flood, one or two E mails, but to me that is a deluge. As I said in the beginning, some of you should be watching Opera and not reading this, I think she is just about to give away one of those cadillac's.

I mentioned a few times that I have no need for a quarantine, or hospital tank, Whoooa, I was bombarded after that. The Idea that I let all my fish become sick, infected with all sorts of things such as crypocaryn, velvet, black ich, jaundice, hemorrhoids or psorisis. I usually say that if you don't have my tank, maybe you should quarantine. But of course I can't leave that alone although I do try. I think that in "some" instances, paracites are good. OK I said it. Now will you please stop reading as I am only wrighting this now because I am bored.

It seems to me, and I also posted this numerous times, that so many people, maybe even the majority of people have problems with things like diseases (or those sweat stains in your armpits) You can use things like Priazo, copper, KicK Ick, (Oh God) or any number of things. I myself am 65 years old and the only thing I take is fish oil. I also give it to my fish but that is not what this is about. Ok, it is a little about that, but only a little. Fish in the sea probably never get sick. Why is that? No it is not that they have free access to Priazo from Obamacare. They also don't get eaten right away if they get a few paracites. They don't get sick because of their immune system. Their immune system works better than ours does. It makes sence as they have been around longer than us and their immune system has to work in the water. The water that they live in contains everything that ever was, including dinosaur poop, Wash water from Columbus underware, and Amelia Airheart. No, Literally, Amelia Airheart. Our piddly immune system only has to protect us from airborn stuff like excess gas from those chili houses in Texas and maybe some simple viruses. Diseases can get around much easier in water than in air so a fish immune system has evolved for that task. In the sea, fish eat live, "whole" food such as fry, fish eggs, shrimp, seaweed or Happy Meals. Most fish don't spit out the guts, heads, scales, fish hooks or bones. In many tanks they have to do with pellets, flakes dried nori, cardboard, dried ants or some frozen concoction. (in the 50s tropical fish food was dried ants, no, really) Many of the frozen foods are very good but they are not live food which is vastly different. Flakes and pellets have a purpose, I use them to feed my worms, but it is live, or at least frozen "whole" food (with the guts) that will keep a fishes immune system up to where it can fight off things including paracites and sea gulls. You can tell if this is working if the fish is spawning or making spawning attempts to spawn as only fish in excellent health will spawn. I personally have never seen a fish that was spawning afflicted with any disease but some people tell me that is not true. I have a word I like to call those people, and that word is "wrong". OK maybe one fish got sick while it was spawning, he don't count. But anyway, this post was not supposed to be about immune systems because I have posted that to death and if you ever had a fish get sick with any disease, it is because it's immune system did not protect it and unfortunately, that is our fault, not the fish, the dealer or the old lady on the corner who collects tin cans and cats.

Thats enough about food and immune systems. As I said, I am posting this because I know, in time I will forget, and then, even if no one else reads this (and I am quite certain only me and the night watchman at the OTB office will see it) I may again come across it in 10 or 15 years in my nursing home, and in my stupor, I may remember some of it and hopefully someone will at least get me a goldfish to occupy my time. A goldfish and maybe a picture of a Supermodel.

Continued below

Paul B

paul b
I see people use all sorts of chemicals to control things that our bacteria are supposed to do for us for free. Things like Rowaphos, Rowanda, Rotweilder or whatever it is called. I am not sure why you would need it but I would imagine if you need those silly Bio-pellets in a reactor you would also need that. I never used any of it so I am sure I am doing something wrong. I guess my bacteria don't mind doing what they are paid to do. Of course i also collect bacteria as I feel that if you don't do that (and I realize one or two people don't live near the sea) the only bacteria in your tank is that stuff in your dealer's tank and all he has is the stuff from his wholesaler and all he has is the stuff in the shipping water that is mixed with bilge water from some canoe that also has some of columbus wash water and possably ear wax from Jimmy Hoffa. I hear all the time that people get the horrors because their nitrate measured 12 or 15. I don't think my nitrate was ever that low, not that I have a test kit but I do get it tested just so I can write these rediculous threads. My nitrate is now about 40, it could be 50 but even if it was 680, I really don't care because if it was to high, the corals would let me know right away. I feel the same about phosphate, anthrax and calcium. but I do add calcium in the form of driveway ice melter at a cost of about $10.00 a year so I don't want to waste it. I also use baking soda for alk, I think that costs about 99cents if I get it on sale and once a year or so I add some Epsom Salts after I soak my feet in it. Maybe that also adds beneficial bacteria, I can't be sure. (that expensive calcium you buy is driveway ice melter and baking soda)

Then we have nusience algae. It grows on every healthy reef and it is not a nusience there, but in our tanks it sometimes is. I don't want it growing on my corals although in the past my tank has looked like a produce stand. I still have a slight amount but just as much as I want. The first thing people ask when they hear about an algae problem is "what are your parameters?" Then they all say "change the water" Does that ever work? No, but people still change massive amounts of water every day in the hope of eliminating a natural substance that has nothing to do with changing water but what do I know? Stores have to make money also so changing water is good. It won't do anything for algae growth except maybe make it grow faster but we keep doing it for lack of a better "cure". If you take RO/DI water and put it in the sun, and an ant dies in it from exhaustion after doing the macarana, it will grow algae. Try it. New tanks with all brand new water grow the most algae, I wonder why? Maybe algae can grow with just a tiny smidgeon of nutrients, but wait a minute, there is also algae in the tissues in the coral so if we eliminate all the nutrients (like that was even possable) we may also kill the corals. OMG, it is an unfixable connundrum, like a paradox. I love paradoxes. I really don't know why algae sometimes grows and sometimes it doesn't but you know something? No one else knows either. We think we know, like we know all about paracites, Obamacare and global warming, but we don't. Some day we will know everything and I hope that day never comes but for now we don't. I bet the Neanderthals thought they knew everything until they were taken over by Liberals. If you have a tank long enough you will see cycles of all sorts of different, colorful and annoying algae's. Most tanks don't have a long enough lifespan to notice these things but I do. Every few years my tank would get an outbreak of something even if I didn't change anything. I think the next outbreak may be Brocclirabe, onions or tent catterpillars. I stopped those cycles a few years ago by installing an algae trough but an algae filter would do the same thing. Now I really don't care what causes nusience algae as it will only grow where I want it to grow and I realize I can't completely stop it as that would be unhealthy. After all it grows everywhere and if it didn't what are all those urchins, slugs, snails, rabbitfish, chitens, sea hares and tangs eating?

If we really knew what caused algae, ich or cyano don't you think we would have eliminated it 43 years ago when the salt water hobby started? I think it was on a Tuesday about 1:00-1:30 in the afternoon. I mean, Really! But alas. We will still continue to change massive amounts of water, increase circulation, cultivate a clean up crew, buy newer light bulbs, vacuum our substraits, add magnesium and look at pictures of Supermodels, but we will also still have hair algae, cyano and ich. I can not eliminate any of those things but I have found a natural way to allow them to live side by side in my tank, with my healthy, spawning fish and corals while at the same time changing a modest amount of water and not adding one cent of manufactured chemicals "and" having fish living happily for their natural lifespan that is sometimes older than Myley Cyrus. Actually all of my fish are older than her but that isn't saying much.

I said before that paracites "may" be healthy for our fish. Of course the fish won't think so, so don't ask them. But I remember after I got drafted and was going to Viet Nam, they inoculated me with everything you could imagine. 6 shots at a time in each arm. Plague, jungle fever, malaria, diptheria, cholera, parot fever, jaundice and Play Doh. I didn't get any of those things. Those vaccines were made out of weak or dead disease organisms. We can't get weak or dead paracites but live healthy paracites work even better. Yes, they may kill our fish, but if they don't, our fish will become immune from those paracites. Why, you ask. I have no freekin Idea. What do I look like? A researcher? No, i am an electrician but a very good one. I also have been keeping fish for 60 years so if you find someone who has been keeping fish longer than that, don't ask him anything as he is probably senile and will just snot and drool on you. I do remember that the Vietnamese people didn't get malaria, but I had to take a pill every day. When I got home my wife and I went to mexico. Big mistake. I never get sick but in Mexico, both me and her ended up in the hospital. Do you who who else was in that hospital with Montizuma"s revenge? Americans thats who, not Mexicans because their immune system was used to paracites in the water. That is why i don't have to have a quarantine tank. I know, all 4 of the people reading this are saying that my tank is a time bomb and will crash any time now. Maybe it will, but it has had one heck of a run.

I run a reverse UG filter, virtually unknown by anyone under 57 years old. People think it is old school. Well it is not. Regular UG filters are old school but not reverse UG filters. DSBs are much older (I think). Speaking of old school, the school I went to was heated by coal. There was this old guy (he was probably 30) who used to shovel coal to heat the school. And when the teacher would send us to empty the waste paper basket, we would go down to the basement and give it to that guy who would throw it into the furnace. But I digress.

If I have any more ideas, I will post them. But in the meantime, if you have any colorful, connotations, cures, quatations or comments, I would be extreamly happy to hear them.

I just came back from my boat and had a few Harvey Wallbangers and Long Island Ice teas so I will most likely forget what I wrote in a few minutes. But of course, that could be senility.


Paul, you are a hoot! Maybe it’s because I am getting older too, but I enjoy your writing style. Loved your book by the way. Keep up the good work!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Paul B

paul b
This was also from this forum on my tank thread from 2011, but 93% of the people who read that are now in nursing homes so I am posting it again. If you read it then, you are a Geezer.

It is common practice in Long Island to add zinc orthophosphate to the water supply to control corrosion in the pipes. All of Long Island uses well water and it corrodes brass very fast. The zinc forms a film on the inside of the pipes to protect them. The brass screws inside valves just crumble.
I have resins now that specifically remove zinc, I get it from "The Filter Guys" I don't remember what type it is but I need to order some more.

This zinc is what stopped me from using tap water like I did for many years. The first time they added the zinc I lost all my corals, and that was about 20 years ago. (40 now) I don't think it is too much of a problem every day but if I happen to change water with a batch of water just after they add the chemical, my tank is in trouble. It seems that my RO/DI does not remove enough of it in those cases. It also happened to the large LFS a few blocks from my house the same time it happened to me.
blue devils cost $7.00 in 1971 in Manhattan, that's like $50.00 today. I initially filled my tank with water from the Long Island Sound as there was no ASW for sale then. There was also no live rock or any rock, we used dead coral skeletons for decoration and we removed then every couple of weeks to bleach so they were pure white. All tanks looked like that.
I added livestock then like I do now but we had to keep copper in the water continuously because everything had ich. The tanks were not very healthy due to not having enough bacteria and there was no salt water food available. There was almost nothing in print, no books and no computers so no internet. No fish forums, and no one with a salt tank, except me. I bought the first blue devils the week they became available for sale 40 years ago next month. (48 years ago now)
I change about 20% of the water 5 or 6 times a year and I only add homemade 2 part calcium.
The first 5 years the tank was in smaller glass, here it is circa 1972. You can see the bleached corals and the blue devils.
I got them to live 7 years and they spawned for many of those years.


Paul B

paul b
Understanding Old Tank Syndrome
March 16, 2016 by Paul Baldassano

In a few years, my reef will turn 50 years old. I believe I’ve avoided old tank syndrome by using the procedures outlined in this article.

Old Tank Syndrome, or OTS, is something we have been hearing about since the hobby started, and I am not quite sure exactly what it means. Is it due to parameters, loss of diversity, lack of interest, diseases, metal accumulation, global warming, locusts, or all of the above? I think it is much simpler than “all of the above,” but some of those things are probably on the list of causes—especially locusts.

It’s about bacteria
In my opinion, OTS has to do with bacteria, or lack of it. Bacteria really run our tanks, and we are just there so the bacteria have something to make fun of. Without bacteria, our tanks would crash in less than a day. Of course on the other side of the coin, bacteria are also the cause of tank crashes. Bacteria can work for us or against us, and even the same bacteria can work both ways.

Some bacteria can double in numbers in an hour (I wish my tomatoes would grow half as fast as bacteria!). Just put a dead fish in a container of water (preferably in your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s house) and see how quickly it stinks. If you put a live, healthy fish in a container of water, nothing will happen—the water will remain clear, for a day or so anyway. What is the difference? How do the bacteria know that they should foul the water?

It is simple. The healthy fish has an immune system that prevents the bacteria from decomposing it. As soon as the fish dies, its immune system also dies and the bacteria hear a dinner bell and start consuming its body—not just the bacteria on the fish, but also the bacteria inside the fish, mostly in its gut, which is filled with bacteria.

Of course, if we leave the fish in that container of water for any length of time, bacteria will also kill it, but for a different reason. In this case, there are not enough bacteria in the water to convert the ammonia that the fish excretes through its gills into something less toxic, so the fish dies of ammonia poisoning. In a sense, it’s not the ammonia that kills the fish, but the lack of bacteria.

A matter of multiplication
Luckily for us (and our fish), bacteria usually “know” how many of them should multiply in a certain situation. For instance if we overfeed our tank, the bacteria will multiply very quickly, and because bacteria can’t really swim, or even dog paddle, all the available spaces on the rocks will be covered in bacteria, forcing the overpopulation into the water column where they cloud the water. (I assume they learn how to swim very fast, but I really don’t know.) In time, the bacteria will consume all the food and the tank will clear.

The problem with doing this is that most of those bacteria that are clouding the water also use oxygen, just like the fish, and they can easily use it all up, causing the fish to gulp air at the surface. The majority of fish were not designed to live like that, so unless they are lungfish, they can die.

Bacteria and OTS
What does all this have to do with OTS? As I said, we need bacteria and bacteria live on and “in” all the surfaces in the tank. Many of those spaces in a tank are inside the rocks. These are places we rarely think about, but they’re home to the types of bacteria we need to purify the water. Bacteria certainly live on the surfaces of the rock, but there is much more surface area inside the rock where the bacteria like to party. In time, those spaces, or pores, will clog. They will clog with detritus, which in boating terms we call “flotsam and jetsam.” That means just about anything that is a solid and in the water. It could be dead bacteria, pod exoskeletons, or anything else we have in the tank that eventually gets ground down by animals and currents.

Remember, at one time, eons ago, the sand was rocks, meteorites to be exact. Then storms, volcanoes, and lightning broke up the rocks, dinosaurs and Bigfoot walked on them, and, finally, SUVs finished the job. Eventually those rocks became sand, and that sand, even today, keeps getting smaller and smaller, sort of like my bank account.

This is a clogged pipe I removed from my house. This is what happens to any hole or pore given enough time.

In the sea, fish like parrotfish chew on the reef and excrete sand, but the stuff they are chewing on is not really rock, but coral rock, which was made by calcium-secreting creatures. Anyway, this also happens in our tanks to a smaller degree, and those tiny particles get trapped in the pores in the rock just like old plumbing pipes eventually get clogged. That leaves fewer places for the bacteria to live. Fewer bacteria equals less capacity to purify the water. This happens in tanks at the same time that the organic load is getting larger.

In older tanks, we have more fish and larger fish because we have gotten older, our boss has given us raises, and our kids have (hopefully) grown up and moved out, so we can go out and buy more fish. Do the bacteria care? Of course not. They can’t elevate their numbers because the pores in the rock are clogged, and besides bacteria being stupid, they are also lazy and won’t even try to clean out the pores in the rock. Instead, they will let the pollution build up in the tank in the hope that the fish will die so they can all feast on Thanksgiving dinner.

Typhoon time!
This does not happen in the sea for a very good reason. The sea has Mother Nature caring for her, and we have Old Aunt Ester. Mother Nature (or Al Gore) invented typhoons. Typhoons were a wonderful thing before she mistakenly invented humans who insist on building condos near the shore. In the sea, typhoons completely churn up the sand and everything on it. I have gone diving in places right after hurricanes and typhoons and have seen brain corals half the size of my house upside down. I have seen sea fans hundreds of yards up on mountainsides alongside yachts. These occurrences destroy some corals, but they also allow others to flourish. It’s like forest fires; they are needed to restore forests, kill insects, and keep insurance companies in business.

This undersea carnage helps to keep the pores in the rock open, and the wave action breaks open rocks to allow access to the virgin pores inside them. Those pores will quickly fill with bacteria that purify the water.

We can carry our tanks to an airport, get on a plane to a tropical destination just before a typhoon, and set them down on the sand to be stirred up, but the airlines frown on that. What you can do is take a canister filter (I use a diatom filter) and put a restriction on the output hose. I use one of those little plastic funnel-looking things that florists use to keep cut flowers fresh. But anything that restricts the water flow is good, and you can use that just like a power washer.

You will be amazed at how much gunk will come out of reef rock when you put this device right on the pores. Don’t hit the corals with this pressure unless you don’t want them. I do this twice a year on all the rocks that I can reach. In my setup, I also stir the gravel all the way down to the bottom of the tank, but if you have a deep sand bed, you should not do that (which is why I do not like DSBs). The more you can stir things up, the more gunk you get out, the more spaces for bacteria, and the longer your reef can last.

This is all just my opinion, of course, and you surely do not have to believe me. In a few years my reef will be 50 years old, and I believe it got to that age because of this procedure, which only takes me an hour or so twice a year. Of course at that time, I will be 120 years old, so I may take the tank down then and set it back up in my nursing home, where a retired supermodel will do this maintenance for me.

"The Avant-Garde Marine aquarist" Which is a silly reference since I wrote it. :D

Paul B

paul b
Relax! Have Fun! It’s a Hobby!
I realize that many of us take our aquarium keeping very seriously, but we have to put it in context and remember that it is just a hobby. A hobby, by definition, is something that gives us pleasure, not something that is necessarily important (except, of course, to us and our fish and corals).
Actually, they are not even our fish and corals. Most are wild creatures that we decided to “help” by rescuing them from the sea, housing them in fake water, feeding them foods that they never saw in nature, and illuminating them artificially while providing a vastly different water movement system and forcing them to live with creatures from the other side of the planet whom they’ve never met.
Between the aquarium and the deep blue sea
Besides that, we love what we do and some of us are very good at it indeed. Many of the fish that we “rescue” actually live longer in our care than they would in the sea. If given a choice, I am not sure whether the fish would want to stay in the sea or come and live with us, given that some of us watch reality TV in full view of our tanks. Who knows whether fish even like reality TV? I mean “Dancing with the Stars” shouldn’t excite fish much, as they don’t have legs. I would assume the National Geographic Channel would be a better choice. Also, some people identify as liberal or conservative, but what about fish? I am not sure how fish would vote. Which party is for which fish?
In contrast to their wild counterparts, fish in our care are prone to the same afflictions that we are due to lack of exercise. My dad, many years ago, was a seafood peddler, and every day he walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, pushing a very heavy cart full of fresh fish, crustaceans, and ice. I just walk over to the fridge and grab a shrimp cocktail. Long before that, our great, great, great, great, etc. grandfathers had to run down game if they wanted to eat. They were in great shape. However, now we can drive our 300-horsepower, 3,000-pound cars three blocks over to McDonalds and drive away with a small part of a cow that someone else caught and made into chopped meat.

Fish in the sea have a hard time finding food and often have to swim after it and then fight with it while simultaneously fending off other would-be predators that either want to steal their meal or eat them. This happens to wild fish at almost every meal, but in our tanks, they kind of float there, waiting for someone to squirt some food in their face at about the same time every day. That’s how they feed supermodels; they just spray some chicken soup into their face once or twice a day.
Fish, like us, have muscles, and although I am not a fish strength trainer, I assume their muscles atrophy just as ours do if they aren’t used. I think if we released our fish into the sea (please don’t!), they wouldn’t make it ten minutes, as all the rest of the fish (after making fun of them for being in such terrible shape) would be flying past them from all angles to catch prey.
No contest
Many of us lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish by yearning for the best tank, in which everything grows and spawns, corals grow up the walls, and we can have the honor of Tank of the Month or Post of the Month or just Something, Anything of the Month. But this thought is completely wrong. This is not a competition, and there is no end game. I know because I have been doing this for over 60 years and I am still not done. We try desperately to get to the point where we’ve won, where everything is perfect, but if we think like that, we are sure to be disappointed.
Aquarium keeping is like sailing. When you go on a sailboat, you don’t usually even have a destination. It’s the act of sailing that is the fun. If we actually get anywhere, that is great, but then if we needed to be somewhere, would we really jump into a very expensive sailboat that goes maybe four miles per hour in a good wind and splashes us every five minutes? I mean really.
It’s called “aquarium keeping,” not “aquarium finishing” because we will never be finished. It is the ride, the act of keeping these colorful and expensive little creatures alive that is the thrill. And keeping them alive is only part of the fun. Changing water, cleaning glass, testing, dosing, re-aquascaping and writing about our experiences are all part of the fun, too. Even when something dies—yes, even when something dies—we can find fulfillment in figuring out what happened. If nothing ever died, we would call it stamp collecting. Now that’s a thrill.
Challenges are part of the fun
So when cyanobacteria, hair algae, flatworms, ich, or any number of other problems occur, be happy for the experience and don’t think of it as a disaster. A tornado is a disaster, an earthquake is a disaster, a supermodel gaining a pound is a disaster, but something happening in a fish tank is not a disaster. It’s just part of this wonderful hobby, a hobby that makes us happy.
I’ve enjoyed this fantastic hobby every day of my long life, and I will keep doing it until they put me in a nursing home. It has helped me through hard mental times and just boring times. Sometimes I spend days on end “working” on the tank, and sometimes weeks go by where I barely have time to feed the fish. I have had large die offs and constant spawning. But I’ve savored all those times and have never been disappointed. You can put whatever you want into this hobby, and I’ve loved every minute of it!
Photo credit: Paul Baldassano

Paul B

paul b
Fish Are Superior to People!

When viewed at depth, a copperband butterflyfish looks much different than the colors we’re familiar with.
Why do I make this claim? Well, primarily to capture your attention. But think about some of the things fish can do that we cannot. For example, we two-legged beings can go forward, backward, and from side to side. Fish can do that too, but they can also go up and down, and they can do that just by thinking about it and barely moving a fin.

If we get up in the middle of the night because we hear a noise or are thinking about that Victoria’s Secret catalog on the table (strictly for research purposes, of course), we would run into walls, doors, windows, or, if we’re lucky, a beautiful cat burglar. (I would probably just trip over a cat!) But a fish would not run (or swim) into anything.
Have you ever gone fishing, sat there all day putting worms on a hook without getting a single bite, and then quit in disgust after throwing the rest of your worms in the water only to see 47 fish come up to devour all the worms you just dumped in? It happens all the time. They know there’s a hook in there. But how?
Put it all on the line
How are fish able to do all these things that are well beyond the capabilities of us “highly advanced” humans? Because fish have a lateral line that lets them know what is around them, even in pitch darkness. If a fish loses an eye, it barely notices and goes about life as if it just had LASIK surgery. It’ll get along fine just by relying on its lateral line. Everybody here who has a lateral line raise your hand. Higher! That’s what I thought.
Gender-bending ability
Many fish species can do something else that people can’t (without expensive surgery, anyway): They can change sex. Then, if they get bored, they can change back again.
I have some fire clownfish. Actually, I had one for a long time and then decided to get another one. That first one was either male or female; I have no idea. This fire clown sat there in a broken bottle for years and just looked out the glass at me. He (or she) kept guard over a nest and would keep it neat, blowing away detritus along with arrow crab poop. There wasn’t another fire clown within, perhaps, a 15-mile radius.
Then one day I added another fire clown and the two of them fought. I don’t know whether they both thought of themselves as boys, girls, or politicians. But then after a few years, they started becoming friends. Then they were more than friends if you know what I mean. So one of them became a female (I could tell by her eyelashes and the fact that she started to smell better).
Now I don’t know what possessed that one to change into a female, but I do remember walking in front of the tank in my underwear. I don’t know if that would have caused the transformation; my wife just tells me to get away from the front of the TV.
A kaleidoscope of colors
Another weird thing about fish is that the tropical ones are, for the most part, beautifully colored. Why is that? To attract mates? Scare predators? Look good in magazines? No, it’s because where fish live, the only color you can see is blue. If you descend in the ocean about 40 feet, or somewhere thereabouts (I’m a diver, but I never take a ruler with me), everything becomes blue because blue is the only color of the spectrum that gets through that much water. So all fish appear blue in the sea. A copperband butterfly would be blue with darker blue bands, and red appears black. The fish probably know why they have those colors, but no one else does.
Also, while we are seriously (or perhaps not so seriously) thinking about this, why do fish from temperate waters have drab colors? Ever see a bright red or blue flounder with yellow stripes? I didn’t think so, but why not? Why is it that people from tropical countries aren’t bright purple, yellow, and blue but tropical fish are? Despite having varying degrees of melanin in their skin, people from New York, Alaska, and Greenland are more or less the same colors as people from everywhere else. Why are fish so special?
So who’s really the superior animal?
Remember we spend thousands of dollars on fish, then spend more thousands on rocks, then spend hundreds on medications, test kits, books, etc. On top of that, we spend $12.00 for tiny little cubes of clam or mysis to feed them. What did a fish ever do for you? Nothing, right? Except die, jump out, or get ich, pop-eye, or swim bladder disease!
These are just some of the things I don’t know. There is a whole plethora of other things I don’t understand—an unimaginably vast expanse of knowledge I don’t possess. I mean we could go on about what is at the end of the universe and we would all have different opinions, sort of like ich threads. I think at the end of the universe is a brick wall with tar paper on top of it, and beyond that are strawberry fields forever. Prove me wrong. (Editor’s note: Pepperland, peopled entirely by Blue Meanies, actually lies beyond the universe…or is it across the universe?)
I guess we should save some room for your thoughts and then start on why invertebrates are smarter than we are.
Well, smarter than “some” of us anyway.

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Zoom Tour of Joker and Slombari's Reef Tanks June 9th @ 7PM