Friday, February 21, 2014

A Lesson from the Fishes

Happy Friday, everyone!

As y'all may know from Facebook and Instagram, I set up my aquarium this weekend. 
29 gallons of Amazon River happiness. 

The tank is still cycling, so we'll see if everyone makes it through these critical next few weeks, but for now we have 2 striped angel fish, 6 lamp-eye tetras, and 6 cory catfish (3 different varieties: 1 green, 1 julii, and 4 sterbai...we kind of bought all the leftovers at the pet shop).

I knew that these fish were very different from each other (even though angels, tetras, and corys are a pretty common community tank combo), but since this is my first community tank, I'd never had the opportunity to see how different species reacted when introduced to a tank . 

By the end of the day, I had a few thoughts:

My apologies that they are so far away, but they are shockingly camera shy. Just trying to get this shot was an adventure--the angels love to hog the limelight!

So how did they handle their big ol' home?
As soon as the dropped in they just started puttering around like it was no big deal. They've explored some since, but they were overall pretty nonplussed by the whole thing.  


We call this guy Quatro (he has 4 stripes), and we also have Trip (3 stripes). Quatro is certainly the dominant one and has decided that he loves the camera...though he hasn't quite figured out how to hold still. haha. 

Anyway, these guys are about the size of a quarter and already growing. Quatro has shown mild signs of aggression (that dominance thing), so we're hoping that doesn't become an issue as he gets bigger (they'll both be bigger than my hand at full size). But let me tell you, that tough guy act was NOT a thing the night we put them both in the tank. They both had freaking panic attacks. If I hadn't been so worried about them adjusting well, it would have been funny. They had been moved from a crowded, bare store tank to my wonderfully planted Amazonian haven...and they were having a cow. It was ridiculous. 

Cory Cats

 If you are not an aquarist, this may be  the first time you've heard of "cory cats." Corys are catfish and members of the family Corydoras. They are small, usually growing to 2-3 inches in length, and they are much more active and diurnal than many other catfish. They are very peaceful and prefer to life in schools. Really, they're like a bunch of swimming puppies. 

The top photo is of my Green Cory and the bottom is a Julii Cory (We also have 4 sterbai--they look a lot like the Julii, but without the black dorsal and the stripes on the side). I bought the Green Cory first because he was just so active and playful, and we got the rest to keep him company. 

Unlike the tetras who took everything in stride or the angels who panicked, the corys seemed to embrace being introduced to a new home. As if on an adventure, they immediately began to explore their new tank and make themselves at home. It was only a day or so until I found they'd dug quite a hole against one of the logs to give themselves a new hidey hole, and I've found them everywhere from under the java fern to lounging on the Amazon Sword leaves. I often find them swimming excited laps or all piled together in a corner. 

So, what's the point?
Here's the point:
I want to be like the corys. 
I don't want to act like life is either no big deal or the scariest ride ever. 
I want to admit that I may not know or understand it all and embrace new things with a bit of excitement, making a conscious decision to focus on the learning, growing, and process of life rather than a race for perfection. 
I want to focus on the good stuff. For example, corys typically prefer to school with their own species, but we couldn't find 6 of any one species, so we just bought all the oddballs--and they all seem to be getting along just fine. They'd rather have 5 other corys of 2 other species than be alone I suppose. I want to embrace the folks in my life without expecting them to be perfect or just like me. I just want to do life together, each teaching and learning. 

As I told y'all, I recently started a job as "Mary Poppins" for a teen girl and her teen brother. We've been spending the last few weeks learning how to do life together. They and their dad keep talking about stuff that I'm teaching them, but let me tell you--I am learning so much and being so blessed by these kiddos. They ask me to plan and be patient; they ask me to try new things so we can figure out paths to success; they ask me to walk away from my homework for Apples to Apples or biking, or just a story. They ask me to laugh and love and, most of all, just be with them. They ask me to make time and room in my schedule, my thoughts, and my heart for them. We're not just alike; none of us are perfect. But, like corys, we're finding friends and safe places and room to swim and time to discover, and those are treasures. 

Keep calm and Cory on. ;-) 

Adventure well; Live fully. 

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