Monday, August 4, 2008

Poor Puffer Fish

Sorry for the graphic picture. ... We had a death in the work aquarium today, and I thought it was sad ... in a sort of, I realize it's a fish and let's keep it in proportion, kind of way.

My office has a large salt-water aquarium. After several re-orgs of office space, I ended up volunteering to feed the fish—since I was one of the few people working near the tank before and after desks and cubes got moved around.

The fish have an automatic feeder that dispenses some food three times a day. The supplemental food I was giving was mostly for a large puffer fish, although all of the dozen or so fish in the tank would eat it. The puffer fish was super animated; it had so much personality for a fish. It's fins looked like they spun around like little propellers when it moved through the water.

When I go to feed the fish—stinky, dried krill that I drop in from the top of the tank—the puffer is the first fish to come up for food. He didn't come for krill, and none of the other fish seemed too excited to eat. I knew something had to be amiss. I looked around and found him dead, wedged between two pieces of coral (as in the picture).

Initially I was concerned that my feeding had upset his balance. Fish can be so sensitive, since they live in an entirely contained environment. But the aquarium expert who came to take care of his remains and clean the tank thought he had just died of old age. He was around three years old, and apparently that's a decent lifespan for an aquarium fish. Also, I found out that the fin movement I thought was so cute was actually over-activity due to stress in the aquarium environment, and that stress may have shortened his life some. Sigh. Poor puffer fish.

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