Are You Smarter Than a Squee-Horse?

Tuesday “Tank Day” means another post about my aquatic obsession hobby, and specifically what Tesla has begun referring to as my “Squee-horses.”

He gets full credit for that pun. If this isn’t squee-worthy, I’m not sure what is:

(That’s Sputnik, the female. The all-black male is Cygnus.) The seahorses are growing and happy, after a scary week in which Cyg almost stopped eating due to a parasite. Two freshwater dips later (Yes, fresh water – think the scene in The Abyss where they put the rat in the liquid oxygen – the first one almost gave me heart failure) little Cyg started eating normally, hunting in open water like the female.

But then his appetite fell off again, and I worried. He swam around the tank, chasing down food he couldn’t catch, and then hitched his tail to a piece of coral and stared dejectedly at the live rock. Poor, sad little seahorse. Hungry seahorse. Something must be done.

I found a pipette, loaded it with food, and fed him – one piece at a time. I squirted food onto the live rock and he snicked it up until his belly was full. Crisis averted, he returned to swimming around the tank.

This happened three days in a row, three times a day. I offered food. Sputnik ate it. Cygnus watched it float along with no success, then swam sadly to his hitching post and hung his head. I fed him with the dropper, and he returned to the water, happy and active as before.

On the fourth day, I realized I was being played.

Cygnus surrendered all pretense of hunting. The food hit the water and he ripped to his hitching post, hung his head and looked at the rock as though saddened that there was no food available. I got my pipette but waited to see what he would do. When no food arrived as expected, Cygnus looked at me through the glass and then hung his head and looked at the rock. He repeated this process three times, and every time he looked more upset.

When I fed him, he perked up immediately, wolfed down his dinner, and re-joined Sputnik in the water.

As it turns out, I don’t really mind feeding him by hand – it lets me get him some more nutritious food he ignores otherwise. But I have to admit, it’s a humbling to realize you’ve been outsmarted by a brain the size of a popcorn kernel.

Anyone else been outsmarted this week? Hop into the comments…and share.