Bottom Feeders Rule

May 13, 2010 at 9:44 am (general life, Mental illness)

On Monday I went to a fish shop to see if they had a fish that might eat the ominous white fuzz that’s been growing in my tank. Their main comment was, “Woah, that’s WEIRD, man!” which wasn’t super helpful. I asked to look at a sucker fish, but they were clear that the sucker fish only eats algae, so I reluctantly left it there.

The thing is, that sucker fish was BEAUTIFUL. It was a bristlenose catfish, and in Gollum’s immortal words, “I wants it!”

Algae-eating fish are generally recommended, so I figured I’d wait a bit (to make sure the white fuzz wasn’t killing everyone), and then probably cave in and get one.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, I had a lot of work (preceded by a day of even more work). Shortly after writing yesterday’s blog I felt my mania beginning to fade, and decided on Ae Cunning Plan – to buy a bristlenose catfish, stat! This is a fine example of mania leading to over-sponteneity, over-optimism, and selfishness (since this lot of fish haven’t even outlived the last lot yet, so the chance of death is high).

So I went to the Belco Markets Pet Barn (my favourite fish shop, definitely) to buy a bristlenose. (I’d called earlier that day about the white fuzz, and they suggested it might be because of overfeeding, but they weren’t sure.) Bristlenoses also need special food, and special wood (plastic wood just doesn’t cut it). I bought a beautiful wood-with-plant arrangement, and a tiny, perfect catfish. Before I left the store, however, one of the staff arrived back from lunch – someone everyone else described as “the fish guru”. So I asked him about the white fuzz, saying I had neon tetras, a plant, and a fighting fish. He asked several questions, then made a startling declaration.

It’s snail eggs.

I have a tiny snail that came in with the first plant (I’d noticed it, but never suspected it of foul play). Apparently they breed way more efficiently than rabbits.

“But there’s this really cool fish over here,” he says, and shows me another bottom feeder, a pakistan, that eats snail eggs.

So I bought two cleaning fish – one that eats bad plants, and one that eats bad animals. Brilliant!

And because they’re semitropical, they’re beautifully shaded. The bristlenose is shaped like a comma, with a fast-flicking tail and beautifully-drawn tiny white dots all over his back. He likes to suck on the glass with his sucker-mouth, which is just as bizarre as I could hope for. Every so often he’ll actually swim a little way, then THOOK! he’s flat against the glass again, like a cartoon character who’s just run into a brick wall. Here’s some bristlenose pictures (not mine):

The carniverous one has beautiful leopard spots stretched into stripes. My fighting fish is a similar size (perhaps three cm long), and is utterly fascinated. The new fish alternates between hiding/peering out of our fake hollow log, and rushing about, madly sucking at the wall.

I spent considerable time thinking about how to name them. They’re so incredible, so naming them after a person should be flattering – but “bottom feeder” is such a negative term. What to do?

I considered calling them Flollop and Buck (after the way they move), Jack and Jill, Gollum and Smeagol. . . or naming them after politicians. In the end, and based on the carnivore’s manic behaviour and the catfish’s ability to disappear so completely at least three hundred times a day – we named the carnivore Sherlock Holmes and the catfish Watson.

Someday I’ll get a picture of whatever breed Sherlock is.

And now for something completely different.

I stumbled across a brilliant writing competition. It’s run by Publisher A (who still hasn’t replied to my email inquiry, but this could be a way to get back into their good graces – assuming I have indeed used them up), and the prize isn’t money or publication – it’s editing. But of course the chance of publication is much improved by the process, since it’s THEIR editors working with you – and for a whole week. The best book for it is “Waking Dead Mountain” or “The Monster Apprentice” (“Sol the Sea Princess” would be good except it needs a rewrite of the opening chapters), both of which are tied up with publishers.

But just in case it helped, I emailed Publisher E. They replied, and said they hadn’t been able to open the file I sent it with, so they’d asked me to resend it. . . last year. (FYI: This is the third time one of my books has been lost – and by three different publishers.)

It doesn’t particularly matter whether they stuffed up or I did, the important thing is that I can send a beautifully polished and ready manuscript to this great competition – which closes next week. Time to send my publication attempts in a new direction.

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