Last week’s Tuesday Tank post focused on Kirin, my largest and most dominant female.
Today, I’m introducing Vega–Kirin’s sister and broodmate.
When the seahorses arrived from the breeder last December, Vega was the only one who stood out instantly; she was black, while the others had snakeskin patterning.
According to the breeder, Vega was the largest and strongest of the more than two hundred baby seahorses in the birth group. She was also one of the few who took on solid coloring early in life, which also distinguished her from her mottled siblings.
She was the first of the babies to leave the safety of the acclimatization net, and the first to discover the other seahorse in the tank: my adult male, Ghillie.
In the months that followed her arrival, Vega’s physical advantages grew smaller. Ghillie outgrew her sister, and though they remained closer friends than any of the other seahorses during adolescence, by the time they reached maturity, Vega had become the “beta”–clearly second fiddle to Kirin when it came to size, aggression, and the right to choose a mate.
However, Vega didn’t let that stop her.
Although Kirin mated first, initially with Ghillie and then with my younger male, Moya, Vega persuaded both of the males to mate with her, too, when Kirin wasn’t watching. (And still does, with some regularity.)
Vega spends more time on her own than the other seahorses in my current herd. Some seahorses are bigger “loners,” and Vega is definitely more solitary. During the day, she prefers to hitch on her own, beneath the filter intake, rather than joining the rest of the herd on the sea fans at the other end of the tank.
She isn’t bullied, and she joins the others on the sea fans every night when the lights go out. (There’s safety in numbers, and the herd prefers to sleep together.) During her waking hours, however, she’s often alone.
Curiously, Vega has also taken on the “surrogate parent” role for the smaller and needier members of the herd. My special-needs seahorses, Weeble and Magellan, often hitch to Vega or follow her around when she’s out and about.
Small seahorses seem to take comfort in the presence of larger ones, and Vega never tries to buck the small ones off when they latch on. I don’t know whether this represents a real “parenting” instinct (I doubt it) or simply patience with seahorses she knows are weaker and more needy than she is (more likely), but it’s nice to see.
If Kirin is the aggressive leader, Vega is definitely the introvert of the current herd. She hitches by herself, but doesn’t seem depressed or sad–she simply prefers to keep her own counsel (as plenty of humans also do).
Introverted seahorses are harder to photograph (for obvious reasons) and Vega has never quite accepted the camera close to her face, which makes her even more difficult to shoot.
Because of that, I find it a little bit more exciting to capture a truly good photograph of Vega–the seahorse who, as an introvert, is probably most like me.