Right now, CJ and I have six fish.
Gandalf is a male siamese fighting fish. He can’t live in a tank with other long-finned fish because they’ll attack each other, but in general I’ve found him to be surprisingly placid.
Frodo is the last of our neon tetras, and is reasonably old now (named “Frodo” on the basis of being the last one of the tetras, all of whom are clearly small and helpless and thus names after hobbits). He doesn’t bother anyone, and is the smallest fish. He’s of indeterminate gender. Usually tetras are happiest in groups, but he appears to be coping with his newfound solitude. Sometimes he hangs with the guppies (who are the next smallest).
Our guppies are Aragorn and Gimli. Aragorn has a big decorative tail like a butterfly’s wing, and is more aggressive than Gimli. Gimli is orange – a colour most find unattractive (although there are some who REALLY like that sort of thing), hence the name.
Our bristlenose catfish is Watson, because he pootles about being a bottom feeder and generally cleaning up messes.
Our reticulate loach is Sherlock, because he runs about maniacally and is generally peculiar and fascinating. (Another bottom feeder, but a carniverous one – the last one bit off Sam’s eye. Sam has since died. Bad, naughty, violent Sherlock.) He’s also of indeterminate gender (which I can only presume is good news for Watson).
Gandalf is elderly now, and deserves his own tank. Unfortuantely, the new tank is infested with snails – so I bought Sherlock to deal with them. Gandalf took an instant dislike to teeny tiny Sherlock, and chased him excessively. Naughty, crochety Gandalf! He used to be so good-natured before I let him have his own pad.
Aragorn has been biting Gimli ever since Gimli arrived. I spoke to the pet shop staff and discovered that, basically, that’s what boys do. The only way to stop them is with women – LOTS of women. (Rather disturbingly, a single female with two guys will be killed in the battle for her love. Does that add insight into Lord of the Rings, or is that just me?)
Aragorn and Gandalf don’t get on (I never expected they would).
In an effort to maintain peace while simultaneously killing the snails in the small tank, I moved Gandalf to the big tank with Watson, Frodo and Gimli. Aragorn and Sherlock both buzzed around happily in the small tank, not killing each other. Gandalf hid in a plant and Gimli left him alone. All good!
Then the filter in the big tank broke.
Most fish need the filter for oxygen as well as cleanliness. So I moved Gimli and Frodo into the small tank with Aragorn and Sherlock. Aragorn and Gimli immediately resumed their territorial wars – but at least it’s a match of even strength.
Gandalf is fine without a filter (in the short term) and Watson is big enough that I’ll see signs of distress before he’s in any real danger – so they’re remaining in the big tank. For now I’m manually adding oxygen (ie periodically picking up water in a cup and pouring it back in again to create bubbles), and keeping an eye on everyone.
Every so often, my neighbours hear one of the following plaintive cries:
“Aragorn! Leave Gimli alone!”
“Sherlock! Eat the snails. The SNAILS!”
“It’s all right Gandalf. You can come out of your tree now.”