A new species of deep sea Snailfish has been discovered at a depth of 27,349 feet, an astonishing 3,280 feet deeper than what had been thought of as the deepest deep sea fish. If you think of the depth they’ve been found at in terms of height, that 27,349 feet is taller than all but five of the world’s tallest mountains, all of them in the Himilayas. This is one depth loving fish. Dig its wiggle. It wiggles merrily and you’d be smooshed like a crushed coke can. Hard to size them from the picture, apparently, species of Snailfish range from a couple inches to a couple feet. Anyway, you won’t be seeing these guys in your local aquarium any time soon, unless they build one as tall as Mount Everest, I suppose, so they can scoot around the bottom. (Or however tall it would have to be above sea level to equal the pressure of 27,349 feet below sea level, if there’s a difference. They didn’t teach us this in school, oddly enough….) I dunno, maybe some billionaire will go at it when they get bored of making skyscrapers thousands of feet high. Kinda cute, though, these Snailfish. Not the weird piscine grotesqueries they usually find skulking around in the pitch dark abyssopelagic zone, flashing their bioluminescent protuberances.

Running out of adjectives, I better stop.

Platys up the wazoo

Damn, man, got an overpopulation crisis in the aquarium. Platys up the wazoo. They’ve live bearers—as opposed to egg layers—and being really awful parents they tend to devour their own offspring. You can see them hunt them down, moms and dads and extended family members all in an orgy of devouring their own genes, evolution be damned. Of course, this keeps the population in check. Now in the wilds of Central America the newly born hide amongst the vegetation. In your typical aquarium with its handful of plastic plants that is not much of an option and the entire litter (or whatever a bunch of fry is called) is lunch. Alas, our tank is positively lush with plants, real plants, unplastic. So a mess of the little fuckers made it. And now they’re adults, beautiful, happy, healthy adults. On the handy side they’re amazing algae eaters, better even than the impossible to spell otocinclus. And they don’t make a lot of noise. Or pick on the other fish. The tank looks like a freshwater tropical reef, plants and fish everywhere. Have no idea what to do. Maybe consider them an investment, being that they’re running four bucks each in the shops now so eventually we can retire. But we’re already retired. They’re too small for a Friday Night Fish Fry, and too big to put down the garbage disposal without years of analysis. If anyone has a fish tank that could use a few of them, you can have as many as you want. It’s an incredibly healthy aquarium—we haven’t had any fish diseases since the 80’s, three tanks ago. Our damn fish live forever.

In the meantime I’ll sit here and watch them swimming and blooping and chasing each other and think about life. There sure are a lot of it in this fish tank. Damn. And you thought you had problems.

July, 2019


Another Steven Kovacs shot from a dive off Grand Cayman, this time of a soapfish in full fin. It’s a little over half an inch long with I’d guess a finspan, tip to tip, of maybe an inch. Turns out that the soapfish (there’s a mess of different species of soapfish) is part of the same fish family as the Giant Grouper, which is bigger than a zillion soapfish, fins and all. (Amazing thing, Wikipedia.) Which means at some point (I’ve no idea how long ago, and don’t feel like Googling the day away researching seranid evolution) this splendid little fishling and an 800 pound grouper shared a common ancestor, that is, they were the same fish. That’s some crazily adaptive evolution, not to mention genes gone berserk. The things you can when you can float around…. You can be huge, you can be tiny, whatever works. Amazing thing, marine evolution. I mean, we’re not doing bad out here amid all this air and gravity, and humans themselves show amazing size variation within the species (e.g., me) yet we’re many millions of years from when I’m a grouper and you are all species of soapfish. But I digress.

Soapfish off Grand Cayman, photo by Steven Kovacs.