RIP, Clack

We’ve had many fish over the years and many have died, but Click and Clack were our very first fish, and I’ve loved them for a long time – days shy of 11 years.

When we got them, Sharon was still in college and hunting for her first job, Bush still hadn’t been sworn in for his second term, the Red Sox were only two months recovered after winning their first world series of the 2000’s, and I was still spending my days in our Kirkland apartment, waiting for a software job to appear from the ether. (It would, in just three short weeks.) The blog was barely born. We named the tiny clown duo for the Car Talk guys because they were brothers (then. Clownfish are hermaphrodites.) and seemed to just yap and yap at each other.

Clack died this afternoon, somewhere in the commotion between the end of naptime and Kevin’s next salinity check. Clack fell (drifted?) down to the sand, and we notice the snail and crab commotion before we notice a clownfish missing. A horrible joke, but we said that Clack’s last gift was to die in easy range of a net instead of wedged under or inside a rock like a certain gramma we still remember… He looked hopelessly wrong scooped out of the tank in a plastic cup – a fish who should be swimming. Clack was fast (especially the few times I had to scoop him out of the tank, to move), bright, food-motivated, and a treat to know. She laid many, many sets of eggs. Click and Clack were captive bred and seemed mostly unaware of appropriate hosting spots (we weren’t the anemone type), choosing at different times the plexiglass, the PVC pipe, and the cleaning magnet, but also xenia, the leather, and bare rock. Clack laid the eggs, and Click fertilized them. They spent a long time back and forth competing for the right to be female before Clack ultimately won — first one slightly bigger, then the other, before settling into their roles. They survived our fish-keeping learning curve as well as the 2006 windstorm, a move to a new house, a move to a fancier tank, and countless vacations that we took to visit family and friends, leaving them with friends and neighbors roped into the role of “fish person”.

We will miss Clack, the tank is missing a major character. I checked, Click was swimming in their sleeping spot, solo. 🙁

A sad night in the Weston house and fish tank. For more Clack posts from time gone by, see the ones tagged fishtank. I particularly love this one from 2008, with video.


We’re watching Clack closely today. He (or rather She, after twelve years you would think I would have finally come around to hermaphroditic clown fish, but habits die hard)… he has gotten very pale and skinny, and has a white film covering the back of his head.

We’re lowering the salinity in case it’s just an infection that he can still fight off. He’s still swimming like his normal self, but isn’t eating, which doesn’t bode well.

We brought them home January, 10, 2005 (when Sharon was here to visit!) and eleven years seems like a long life for a small fish, but I’m still hopeful Clack will pull through.

(Ollie was on the other side of the tank, hanging out under the big branching coral, but this is most of the gang.)

PS. As I type this at the brown table, I’m keeping an eye on the tank on my left, and watching it snow softly on my right. Beautiful. It’s been flurrying for the last hour, and then switched to real flakes a few minutes ago. I’ve been wishing and wishing for snow – we had one snowstorm in November 2014 and not a flake since, and I’ve missed it. Even if it doesn’t end up sticking, let alone turning the world all white, to get a snowy afternoon while I can sit with my coffee and watch it so quietly is a treat.

New corals and the tank

Kevin got a slew of new corals (mostly zoos! yay!) that are settling into their new home, and it’s a great excuse for a tank photo shoot. The unfortunate rejoinder to all these posts are “…and xenia!” which are doing their level best to take over the tank, wretched things, in spite of me tweezing them out as fast as I can.

First, something that isn’t a purchase at all — some Christmas tree fans that appeared out of nowhere. They’re teeny, maybe 1/3 of an inch tall, and spiraling into a tree shape. I love them.

And many corals, mostly acropora and montipora (both branching and plates).

Hello, Ollie, party crashing and hoping for Nori.

Hello, Ollie, again, staring me down from inside the rock.

This kind of coral is called a “bird’s nest” — delicate but lovely.

Captured alive, one crab of horrors

Kevin called me into the fish room with an urgent voice – he had the Crab terrible trapped and needed me to assist in the capture. So I did, with Henry and Claire watching avidly (amazing the things you carry off as a parent that you would never do without an audience).

Here’s a quick shot (he takes up WAY too much of a solo cup) before we relocated him to the bottom tank.

Tank photos

Two neat sets of tank photos after the lights went out!! First, I had a looming sense of things not being right with the tank, probably thanks to how much reading I was doing about terrible crabs – I think that big black one is a Black Mithrax crab. People seem to agree they are bad news. They’re related to the Emerald crab, which gets more mixed reviews (can cause damage in a tank, but generally people excuse it because they’re pretty). So I went to check on the tank, hackles already up, and found TWO cleaner shrimps, and the one I saw first was moving completely the wrong way…

Of course, I realized a moment later that the shrimp had just molted, and the ghostly one was really the shed shell, attached to the rock by its feet and blowing in the current. Whew. Here’s our shrimp, safe and sound.

The second set of photos was from the next night. We final got a view of more of the body of the amazing white spotted chiton. He is much longer than he looked before. Kevin can see the chiton classification, I believe it but still can’t make it look like one.

You can see that there are several bands of grey and cream, and in addition to the three circles that we could see clearly, there are several more that range from looking like circles to looking more like red slits. This photo almost looks like one of the red slits is the eye of an angry octopus – it’s very easy to let your imagination run away when looking at this dude.

This one is zoomed out enough so that you can see his size compared to the turbo snail and blue legged hermit crab — their shells are on the left side of the photo. He’s not small!

He’s harmless and neat, but so unusual!

More tank photos

Some of the chitons were out, so I went to grab the camera and take pictures. They’re so pretty. This one is a mottled purple and yellow.

And a similar color scheme but much lighter down below the strawberry lemonade birdsnest coral.

The shrimp is dancing, perhaps he would like to clean the camera?

Click and Clack are nearly nine years old – crazy!

One of the many nassarius snails, out doing its rounds.