Getting Along On the Reef

Some people have the capacity to get along with everyone. I strive to be one of those people, to have genuine compassion for people I meet, and to strive to find common ground.

Little did I know I would find an example – and a mentor – on my reef.

My smaller male seahorse, Ghillie, spends most of his time in hiding. He’s shy by nature, preferring the shelter of corals to the glare of the overhead lights.

Ghillie hiding

But when other residents of the tank decide to interact, Ghillie shows surprising patience and social facility. Red the fire shrimp sometimes tries to give Ghillie a “cleaning” by pulling the algae off the seahorse’s armored body. To my surprise, Ghillie tolerates the attention.

13B Ghillie and Cleaner Shrimp

A week ago, Cygnus decided to check out Ghillie’s feeding bowl – an inverted clam shell glued to the rock near Ghillie’s favorite hitch.

13B Cyg Watching Ghillie

I expected Ghillie to hide in a cave the moment Cyg approached, but instead he shared the bowl without complaint.

13B Cyg and Ghillie feeding

Most surprising of all, however, is Ghillie’s ongoing friendship with Emo the clownfish. Clownfish – maroons in particular – are territorial where their “hosts” are concerned. Our clownfish, Emo, hosts in a large anthelia at the front of the tank. He drives off other fish that approach, but for reasons known only to smaller brains than mine, Emo considers Ghillie a welcome friend.

13B Ghillie and Emo

They spend several evenings a week together in the anthelia, with never a hint of any trouble between them.

The lesson? Patience and proper temperament go a long way toward finding common ground – whether seahorse or human, a good thing to keep in mind.

2 thoughts on “Getting Along On the Reef

  • February 26, 2013 at 4:27 pm
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    Think I’m beginning to learn to tell your seahorses apart. Judging by this set of pictures, Cygnus is blue and Ghillie is brown. Or is that a trick of the camera? ūüėČ

    • February 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm
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      Nope, you’ve actually got it exactly right! Ghillie is brown most of the time (he can change to purple and reddish, but he pretty much blends with the brown rocks and pinkish-brown corals). He also has more defined stripes on the base of his tail. Cygnus is bluish-black (the only color he’s learned to shift to is white, which is hilarious because he can’t hold it for long) and slightly bigger. So yep, you’ve got them figured out!

      The female, Ceti, is black like Cyg, but much smaller and not as big through the chest.

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