You’ll be pleased to find out that I just purchased twenty ghost shrimp on EBay. I thought the loach had eaten the previous herd of ten, but I was delighted to discover there were survivors. So now I’m getting a bunch more, figuring the loach will take his share but the rest will be around to partake in the great fish dying due anytime now, as the vast herd of platys reaches their life expectancy and bloops their last bloop. Some fish corpses float, some sink. The floaters I scoop up with the net and toss into the planter out front. No point in wasting good fertilizer. The sinkers are a pain in the ass. So the shrimp get those. They can reduce a fish carcass to nothing in a matter of days. I’d rather not think about it. And the platys own culinary kinks guarantee the population will not recover, because a platy’s favorite dish is fresh born platy. None of the babies survive the feasts, and as there is no longer a dense jungle of floating vegetation for the fry to hide in—they ate that too, for roughage I guess—the babies are easy pickings. You can see the adults gathering together and leisurely devouring platy DNA. It’s fucked up. But it did neatly stop the aquarium’s population explosion, and there was one baby, as in a single fish, that has made it to adulthood in the past year. They’re efficient, you gotta give them that. So efficient they’re eating themselves into extinction in our tank. Platys live three to four years, typically, but invariably fish in our tank live to the outer edge of their life expectancy, so I won’t be surprised to see many of them last for five. But eventually the lot of them, nearly all of which born in a single year, will go to fish heaven, leaving all sorts of niches for us to fill with species that don’t fuck so goddamn much. It’s like having an aquarium full of drummers.
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 is a lot of it in this fish tank. Damn. And you thought you had problems.