My son brings home some fish. He had faithfully cleaned the tank, changed the fixtures, and added back his cleaner-fish—the sole survivor of another tank full. We bottled up a water sample. Hope runs high as my son and big sis drive off to the store to gather new tenants for this lovely place.
Five tetras arrive home later that day. We place them into their new digs and remark how beautiful they are! Except for a bit of skittishness with one-another, and low-appetite, all seems well…. for a time.
They eat little at first, so we feed them slowly. They act upset. We chalk it up to the regroup and relocation. The next morning one fish appears ‘missing’–no dead body. I pick up the castle and this little guy darts out. He took refuge–not inside a room–but down underneath the pedestal. The fish all pick at one another… we struggle to find a source of the conflict.
One theory… hunger leads to cannibalism. On day two, appetite kicks in. We shower these fish with boatloads of food three times per day. Our corollary: a satiated fish makes a peaceful fish. But this lot manages to eat plenty and swipe at each other, too.
Yet the next morning, the same little runt turns up with fins and tail mauled. One of us accuses the little fish of bullying—his beatings must arise from natural fish-justice. Doubtful, I take a net, and corner my best suspect. I sequester him in a baggie for part of the afternoon. Time out. The situation calms. I put him back. Cynically, I wonder if we will solve the mystery only as the last fish still stands
We euthanize our first little fish after he developed pallor. He can barely swim. Infection set in, since scales were ripped open and vulnerable. Then… over the span of one more week, we lose the next two the same way.
Of course, sociopaths snipe while no one looks. So… Mr. Bully now lays low. Apparently his tank-mate manages him, for now. But fish tanks were meant to hold glorious life up close… not as a looking-glass of death.
Our choice? Add fish only to watch them die… or scrap it and start over.
We wisely watch and wait. Give it time. We will return our underwater window back to health and wellness. After all, it’s our tank.
Destroyers naturally self-destruct… and life will triumph.