Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why The Fish Tank Is Taped Shut

Nigel, the resident goldfish, lives in a 30 gallon tank here in the computer room. Nigel is about five years old and close to eight inches long -- quite the formidable fish! However, he's lately required a fortification of his living quarters, as a certain little alpha cat has proven herself to be incredibly persistent in her quest to breach the aquarium's defences.

Observe the bit of Scotch tape here. This is necessary to hold the lid down, because it opens pretty easily with the merest flick of a paw. (Also, Nigel himself has been known to flip the lid up when he goes acrobatically after his food, so it's really important to make sure that can't happen!):

Observe here that the filter/pump cover is taped down at the edges. This is necessary because Cora knows how to remove said cover otherwise. The white plastic thing adjacent to the cover is an after-market add on placed there by yours truly, upon realizing that a barrier was needed to thwart the paw of kitties who seem to be laboring under the fantasy that they are, in fact, raccoons:

The following set of images shows Cora in various stages of her recent attempt to breach the aquarium's fortifications. Fortunately for Nigel (and her as well...all kidding aside, if you have an aquarium and a cat in the same house, it's VERY important for the cat's safety as well as the fish's to make the aquarium into something approximating a fortress), she was ultimately thwarted in her efforts.

But she certainly made a good show of the whole thing, and the photos below are a very good illustration of what it means for a cat to be "constantly calculating angles"!


  1. HAHAHAHAH! I wonder if the fish can see or otherwise detect the cat outside the tank?

  2. Nigel (the fish) does seem to be able to detect movements and shadows outside the tank; if he's hovering close to one side of the tank and I put my hand near that side, he will usually swim away in the opposite direction. So while I wouldn't presume he knows what a cat specifically is, I do know that motion/light/shadows are apparent to him from inside.

  3. I'm pretty sure my angelfish can tell the difference between me and my cats: for me, the swim to the surface where the food is likely to get put in; for the cats, they swim away.

    I've never had much luck with goldfish. Nigel is absolutely lovely! Are those live plants you have with him?

  4. intransigentia: Oh yes I am sure Nigel can distinguish between different types of movement-patterns and discern human from cat in that sense. I just doubt his and the cats' evolutionary circles would have overlapped enough to give him instant cognizance of the cats being a predator species. I'm sure he would learn pretty quickly if any of the kitties actually managed to get their paws into the tank, though!

    Anyway, yeah, Nigel has indeed grown up to be quite the magnificent fish! He started out as one of those 1" pet-store-tank goldfish and I'm amazed and pleased he's still with us today. His fins got all cool and floaty and long, too, which I definitely wasn't expecting!

    Oh and also. Regarding not having much luck with goldfish. I honestly attribute my (and Nigel's!) luck to having encountered a VERY knowledgeable employee at the pet store I went to in order to purchase his first "tank upgrade".

    The most important thing I learned from this employee was that goldfish are by physiology very active, muscular, high-metabolism critters and hence need a LOT more room, oxygen, and filtration than most people think. In other words, they tend to pickle themselves and suffocate in tanks (or worse, bowls) that are too small.

    Most people also try and do things like keep too many goldfish in one tank, which is also deadly in that waste builds up too quickly. A goldfish Nigel's size NEEDS a 30-gallon tank *all to himself*, otherwise they'll likely die. But this is NOT a commonly known fact, and hence goldfish have an undeserved reputation as being short-lived and fragile. They're actually pretty robust in the right environment.

  5. Oh and yes indeed, those are live plants. I just put a bunch of new ones in; the previous batch had been nibbled nearly to death and I like to keep several plants active at all times to (a) help oxygenate the water/cut down on ammonia, and (b) give Nigel something to hide behind (goldfish feel more secure when they aren't just "out in the open" all the time).

  6. Relatives of my husband's used to tape the fridge shut to prevent their cats from stealing the liver polony...

  7. In retrospect, given what you've said, I can see that I din't take proper care of my goldfish. My tank was about 2 feet long and 1 foot tall, with six of them in there. (Plus a plecostomus and a betta for awhile.) The first of the goldfish died at about a year, and the last at about 3 years old, with the others evenly scattered between those two.

    I didn't even let our cats in the same room as the goldfish, though part of that was having pet rats in a cage near the tank. Even if the cage is impregnable, it's not a good idea for a rat's mental health to let the cat have free access to it, unless you have an unusually non-predatory cat.


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