This is our aquarium. Or more accurately, Jim’s aquarium, given that he’s the one that set it up, stocks it, cleans it, measures the chemicals in the water, worries that they’re pooping too much or not enough, knows what they should eat, and tries, usually to no avail, to get them to stop eating newcomers. All I know is that they are Cichlids, that the big orange one in the middle is Orangy-McOrangy-Pants, the alpha fish, and that Diesel is up near the top. I know that if I walk over near the tank they will all swim excitedly to the top and will nibble bits of their fish food off my fingers and I can pet them and pretend they are real pets. But while I know alot about Shelties, and Schnoodles and blind Yorkie-Poo’s, I don’t know much at all about Cichlids, so that’s what I decided to learn about today.
Sitting down at the computer, I expected to read a few things I already knew. Such as facts about how Cichlids originally come from a few lakes in Africa and that they tend to get along best with other Cichlids from their lake. I expected to read that some Cichlids are mouth breeders, carrying dozens of babies in their mouths to keep them safe from predators. Or how if you notice babies in your Cichlid’s mouth and want them to survive, you should move the Mama to a separate tank, where she will release the cute little babies into the nice safe water. And how even if you think that after those babies have been in that tank several weeks you should change the water one night while your husband is out, that is not a good idea because they will all die within the hour and you will be responsible for the “great baby Cichlid massacre” (not that I would ever do anything like that, of course).
I also expected to find the things I don’t know, but don’t really care about. Such as how Cichlids have only one nostril on either side of their forehead or that “Malawi bloat” is the most common Cichlid illness. And I found those things and more. But then I saw something I did not know that interested me:
Tilapia is a Cichlid. I did not know that. I like tilapia. Now I wonder if I will feel weird eating one. Kind of like eating Orangy-McOrangy-Pants’ relative right in front of him. Probably not. Besides, having seen our cichlids in action, I know that fish cannibalism is perfectly acceptable. And if I walked over to their tank and offered them a bite of Tilapia, they would probably swim right up for a bite. Particularly if it is pecan-encrusted.