Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When Good Fish Go Bad--Kujo, our Midas Blenny

So we recently added a Midas Blenny to the tank. I read over and over that these fish are "ideal additions to a reef tank". They eat a mix of meaty foods and algae (unlike other blennies that eat mostly algae). He is supposed to be shy and peaceful, hiding in cracks and crevices in the live rock. He's long and swims in an eel-like fashion. In addition, the Midas Blenny is beautifully colored, a golden yellow with blue eyes and pink/orange stripes. He also changes colors depending on his mood! Originating from the Indo Pacific, they are hardy and reef-safe. (You need a canopy on your tank because they are expert JUMPERS!) Obviously, I was sold.
I was more than surprised when ours turned out to be a freak of nature. The first giveaway should have been his size. He's HUGE. I normally like to buy babies and let them grow up in the tank, adapting to the captive environment. But I thought this guy was cool (big warning sign--never buy a fish because you think he's "cool"). Instead of the average 4 inches, this Midas Blenny was at least 6".

I took him home and plopped him into our tank, where he hid for 2 days. I noticed his beautifully changing colors, pale and splotchy when scared and brilliantly orange-streaked when feeding. Then, he started turning into a terror. King Midas (or Kujo, whichever you like better) began emerging from his cave in the live rock more and more, swimming awkwardly across the entire tank.

He "claimed" the entire 75 gallons for himself. First, he picked on little Bonnie and Clyde, our peaceful little clownfish, banishing them to the powerhead region. Then, he chased Louie, our canary wrasse into the sand. He chased Phillip, our royal gramma, out of his cave, deciding to claim it for himself (only to return to his original cave, front and center, later). Much to my dismay, the carcasses of two of our newly added cleaner shrimp appeared the next two following morning. Our Banggai cardinalfish have gone into hiding. He even chased Pedro, the bluejaw triggerfish, away from some choice mysis, although Pedro didn't take his bluff. Finally, upon spotting an intruding hermit crab, cleaning near the mouth of his cave, King Midas flew into a tirade, grabbed the poor, innocent crab by the shell, who was just doing trash pick-up, and threw him into the sand. Subsequently, King Midas has done this on multiple ocassions to several, unsuspecting hermit crabs passing by. Every time Scooter, my precious little scooter blenny, hops by on the live rock, I hold my breath and break out into a cold sweat, especially since King Midas is about 6x bigger!

Upon digging a little deeper, I discovered that Midas Blennies are extremely territorial. Normally, you would get a little one, he would claim a small cave, defend that little area, and that would be it. This guy is just too big for our 75-gallon tank. He seems pissed off and all the other members of the kingdom are now living in terror, tiptoing around their suddenly shriveled domains. I do think we got a freak when it comes to Midas Blennies. Everything I've read about them says they're peaceful, full of personality, and loveable fish. Unfortunately, ours is just an asshole. Needless to say, I'm returning him today. Sigh. Live and learn. The first (okay, tenth) of many mistakes to come.

P.S. Returning a fish is NOT easy to do. Think about what you're adding to the tank VERRRRRY carefully! Because if it doesn't work out....you're going to have to C.A.T.C.H. it again. Easier said than done. We basically scooted King Midas into a cave in the live rock, hauled out the live rock (dismantling the entire aquarium), plopped it into a bucket with tank water, put a lid on it, and drove to the store where the staff then dealt with getting Midas out of the rock. Phew! I'm exhausted. But our tank kingdom is peaceful and calm again.

Links on Midas Blennies:

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