I'd like to think I am observant, after all it is one
of the important things in fly fishing. Things like
what you see stream side. Shucks of molted insects
in the foliage of bushes, caddis high in the pine trees,
swallows sweeping the stream searching for the newly
hatched insects. Rises of trout, sips of trout, bulging
trout picking off hatching emergers. Tiny seams where one
current of water joins another, making a nice hidden place
for trout to hide and pick up bites of dinner as it floats
by. Observation becomes very important to anglers.
It has been raining for several days, my yard is a mess
with broken limbs and one tree broke off and needs to be
cut up and the rail fence repaired where the tree limbs
broke the rail. But in the cold and wet, neither of us
are anxious to get that wet or that cold. It will wait
until the weather warms up. It is always possible to get
one more nasty storm here before the sun is too high to
allow snow. The tree isn't going anywhere, and we'll get
Stuck inside, I spent a little time observing our 'indoor'
fish. We have a small aquarium, just ten gallon but large
enough for a good assortment of fish. We would both love
to have a saltwater tank, but we have enough trouble keeping
this one up. Saltwater tanks take even more time and care.
As fish grow and get too big to live happily in the tank, we
take them into a shop in 'old' Silverdale. The owner has some
huge tanks and makes a home for them. We can't 'trade' them
in for smaller fish, but at least we aren't flushing or
When we take a big fish out of the tank, it allows for a couple
smaller ones. We have a delightful variety, some I had seen
before, and some which are so different I can't imagine not
knowing about them. One kind is a ghost fish. These are
see-through fish. You can see every bone and organ. Absolutely
fascinating. They are a kind of catfish, and have long whiskers.
Now here's the interesting part. We had just one of these
odd fish. And it didn't seem right for it not to have a
buddy. So we got another. Within just a very few minutes
they found each other. They hang out together, and hide
together under a nice convenient rock. How do they know
they are the same breed? How do they recognize each other?
I've noticed some of our fish seem to group by color too.
How do they know what color they are?
I know some fish are community fish and school together.
Some are loaners and find their own nitch. We also have
two Cory Catfish who are inseparable, but they had been
living in the same tank with others all of the same type.
We have one upside down catfish who claimed the inside
of a barrel decoration and doesn't come out. However
the bamboo shrimp go in and out of the barrel and don't
seem to be disturbed by his presence.
The ghost fish are a mystery. If a trout has a brain the
size of a pea, what size brain does a three inch fish have?
If I stand in front of the tank and talk to the fish, the
two ghost fish come out of hiding and their whole bodies
shiver. Very odd. What does it mean? Is it a greeting?
Perhaps that is how they recognize each other?
Why is it every time we become involved in something else -
even a little freshwater aquarium there are always more
questions than answers?
I was reading the little signs at the fish store (sort of
like reading cereal boxes or soup labels) and I noticed each
sign told where in the water column the fish like to hang
out. Some are bottom dwellers (even those who aren't
scavengers) some prefer the 'middle' and others are top
water fish. Those preferences are based on a water
temperature of 80 to 82 degrees. Since heat rises, is
it warmer at the top of the tank? Would those fish prefer
to live where the temperature is optimum or is it the amount
of pressure exerted on their skin? Or both? Or something
See what I mean?
Let's take it a step further - no I'm not kidding - how about
the specie of fish you fish for? Does it have the same kind
of preference? Yes, I know not all fish will survive, much
less thrive in too warm water, or in too cold either. Do
they live where they do in the stream or pond out of preference?
Or availability of food?
Have you noticed the lead fish in a run, the largest fish will
chase intruders away? It wants to be the first in line to feed.
And if that fish is caught, or removed, another fish will take
its place. There is competition - at least to feed - and probably
at spawning time too.
One of the reasons we take the 'big' fish to the fish store
is to cut down on the competition in the little tank - which
also cuts down on fish chasing each other and the possibility
of wounds and infection. It doesn't provide the most natural
situation however, but it does make it easier to maintain the
Something I learned from having the Koi ponds outside is you
can tell the general health of the fish at feeding time.
Someone told me to "make sure they all come when they are
That is a good rule of thumb. If a fish doesn't show up, it
might be a good idea to check under lily pads to see if one
The behavior of the 'guys' in the tank is fascinating - there
are always surprises. Like the time I watched as a large
snail cleaned the frog. The frog is an African frog and
quite small, maybe an inch and a half spread out. The snail
is several times that size. I called JC to come and see and
I was prepared to stick my hand/arm in the tank to remove the
snail. But as we watched it became obvious the frog could
easily move away. Either he enjoyed it, or it is just one
of those strange symbiotic relationships. Then there was the
day I found the frog's head sticking out of the Plecotemus's
mouth. I waved my hand in front of the glass and the frog
popped out of his mouth. And no, I don't know it the frog was
being 'cleaned' or eaten.
So even stuck inside on a rotten cold rainy day I can still
find things to ponder - and not have an answer - sometimes
I don't even know what questions to ask. ~ The LadyFisher
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