Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Good Work, Ladies!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
In Cliffie's In-Box
All I need to know I learned from Pleco
Life lessons come from a lot of different sources. Maybe you learned from a master’s class in college. Maybe a mentor gave you that nugget of wisdom you needed then and still need now. Mom is always good for pearls of motherly knowledge.
Sure, I learned from those conventional sources. But a chance encounter with a fish on Monday renewed a few of those long-standing, always-useful rules of thumb. I took Presidents' Day off, and one of the homeowner projects that bubbled - quite literally - to the top of the list was cleaning the Baker fish tank. I don’t do it often. I can dazzle you with obscure knowledge about what happens when you clean a fish tank too often - the nitrification cycle, new-tank syndrome, beneficial bacteria, etc. etc. etc - but part of that reality is that I don’t often feel like carrying 5-gallon buckets of water from the kitchen to the living room.
I also don’t like doing battle with one of the tank’s residents. Scientists would call him Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. Aquarists call him Plecostomus, or the “janitor fish.” We call him Pleco. Part of a biological family of armored Catfish, Pleco thinks algae is pretty tasty, so he sucks the sides of the tank and the plastic plants and eats whatever he finds. The benefit for me, of course, is that he keeps the tank pretty clean.
Which brings us to Life Lesson From a Fish Number 1: Do your job and do it well. If your job is sucking the side of a fish tank, then be the best sucker there is.
I have a timer on two fluorescent lights over the tank to give the fish the equivalent of 13 hours of daylight every day. That’s what most species would get in the wild. That’s a lot of time for algae to photosynthesize and grow. They’d soon rule the tank if Pleco wasn’t the best sucker there is. In the wild, plecos can grow to be two feet long. In the Baker fish tank, Pleco is about eight inches long.
That brings us to Life Lesson From a Fish Number 2: Don’t get too big for your surroundings.
Plecos have the innate ability to adjust so they don’t outgrow their enclosures. Since my tank holds 40 gallons of water and it’s four feet long and a little over a foot wide, Pleco has “right-sized” himself. Think of implications for our businesses in the marketplace. Or our egos. Just because you can grow to two feet doesn’t mean you should. Pleco was in the tank when I bought it from a friend ten years ago. You read that right - ten years. Anyone who owns a tropical fish tank knows the lifespan of most tropical fish is in the 2-3 year range. Plecos, I’m told, could live to be 20.
His lifespan leads us to Life Lesson From a Fish Number 3: Be flexible and adapt. I
I’m no Mr. Wizard with the water chemistry. I take good care of the tank, but I know the water isn’t always as clear as it should be.We’ve also moved twice since Pleco first came to live with us. Counting the initial move after the purchase, Pleco’s been put in a bucket and transported more than 50 miles by car at least three times in his life. None of that fazes him. No matter what I throw at him, he adapts and adjusts to the new surroundings and different-tasting water to be the best sucker he can be.
I was lucky this time. Usually, Pleco will splash me when I take him out of the tank and put him in a bucket of water, then splash me again when he goes from bucket back to tank. This time, he didn’t. Maybe that’s his way of telling me he’s getting too old for that stuff. That’s okay. I can face the inevitable. His life lessons will live on long after he’s gone.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Image Of The Day!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
SWIMMING WITHOUT A NET
Monday, February 02, 2009
I Can't Take Credit For This One!
Certain of my compatriots are trying to give li'l ol' ME the credit for what's being called a "silent invasion of immortal Jellyfish." I blush prettily at the compliment but must insist I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ONE. This is actually an INDEPENDENT PROJECT headed by the Jelly Queen herself, who chooses not to be named on a public website.
I have to say this is a PRETTY SLICK MOVE. I wish I HAD been the one to come up with the idea of a Jellyfish -- or anything-fish! -- that is not only IMMUNE TO SENSESCENCE, but capable of BECOMING YOUNG AGAIN AT WILL.
HAIL, QUEEN OF THE JELLIES!