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