I set up my aquarium for seahorses, but it isn’t Cygnus, or Ceti, or even Ghillie, who ended up hogging the spotlight.
Instead, the tank’s biggest star is a fish I almost didn’t acquire at all, and who nearly forced me take him back to the fish store.
Our watchman goby, Emperor Maximus Angryfish, has easily as much personality as anything else in the tank. His constant glare never fails to make me smile.
His photos garner the most attention – on Twitter, on Facebook, and on this blog – despite the fact that I’m sure he would thoroughly disapprove of such shenanigans.
Yet he started out as a canary in a coal mine.
The seahorse reef was my first marine aquarium and I worried about keeping the salinity levels constant. I didn’t know, for sure, whether I could keep the delicate saltwater species alive. Two weeks after I set up the tank and arranged the live rocks on the reef, the fish store owner suggested I add a single fish to help with establishing the ecosystem (I ran it “live rock only” at first to help the nitrogen cycle get started without too much bioload).
He suggested an “easy” fish that would get along with the seahorses and not cause trouble with corals: a watchman goby.
Only one problem: watchman gobies are yellow – and fairly plain. (At least, I thought so at the time. I’ve since discovered that Max has tiny blue spots on his sides and red on the edge of his fins, though he only flashes the colors when truly angry.) But they’re also inexpensive, and hardy, and if you need a canary for your coal mine, yellow is the natural choice.
So I brought the fish home.
But that isn’t the end of the story….
(Tune in next Tuesday for the conclusion of Max’s tale.)