This Post is Going to Tank

I’ve had a few requests for more salty tales of my aquatic adventures (read: updates on the new salt-water aquarium), so from now on Tuesday is Tank Day.  I’ve deliberately self-edited until now, primarily because I wasn’t sure my ramblings about this-or-that-creature-you’ve-never-seen would actually hold any interest.  Several of you have proven me wrong on that count, so here goes.

The aquarium is currently inhabited by a variety of invertebrate life forms, including a blue tuxedo urchin, two starfish, six large tubeworms of assorted colors and five shrimp – wherein lies a tale.

Deimos, the lone cleaner shrimp, has found a unique solution to the fact that the tank (being new) has very little “leftover” food available at present.  Every evening I add a pinch of powdered food to the tank, along with liquid plankton for the filter feeders (who make up most of the population for now).  Deimos loves the powdered food, and used to spend more than ten minutes chasing particles around the tank.

No longer.

On Saturday evening, Deimos noticed me put my fingers in the tank to distribute the powdered food.  He immediately shot to the surface, grabbed onto my hand, and pulled the food from between my fingers in (for him) large clawfuls, which he shoveled into his mouth as fast as he could manage.

I was so startled to have a two-inch shrimp hanging from my hand that I didn’t even realize he’d eaten most of the food until he let go, floated back to his favorite rock (the one we call “the volcano”), and began performing some kind of six-legged victory dance.

On Sunday, he did it again.  Actually, he did it twice, because he ate so much of the food on Saturday that I decided to feed the tank twice on Sunday, in the morning and again at night.  Deimos helped himself “a la fingers” both times.

Monday morning I fed the tank before work, just to test a theory.

As of today, it appears I’m the proud owner of a trained cleaner shrimp that intends to hand-feed at every opportunity.  (Not that I get much credit. Pavlovian conditioning is hardly worthy of applause.)

I’m aware that most people probably couldn’t care less about feeding a shrimp by hand. But I have to admit, it’s kind of cool to have one of these zip up to hang from your fingers every time you put them in the tank (even if I know it would run just as eagerly to a pencil if there was food involved):

It’s just another advantage to being easily amused.