It's Valentine's Day and I'm at home admiring our saltwater fish tank. My husband and I put together the 75 gallon tank shortly after getting married. It was one of our first home projects and it tested our teamwork as a couple. The tank is now home to our pet fish, some of which are quite dangerous! In fact, some of our fish are so aggressive, my husband has to be careful while cleaning the tank. At first glance, you might assume THIS is the fish that makes us nervous:
Zebaspike, the yellow fish pictured above, is a foxface rabbitfish. The spines you see are actually venomous! If threatened, the foxface rabbitfish can defend itself by giving my husband's hand a nasty sting. He could be quite dangerous except...
...he's a big ole' scaredy fish! Zebaspike is terrified of everything! As soon as we start cleaning the tank, he hides behind a rock. To us, he isn't a threat at all! The REALLY dangerous fish are the clownfish!
This is Amy and Rory, our two clownfish. THEY are most dangerous fish in the tank and this is their story. We bought Amy and Rory from a local fish store back in March 2012. There are 28 different species of clownfish, but I insisted we get the most recognizable kind, the Ocellaris clownfish.
We read in a library book that young clownfish have an undefined sex. Two clownfish will fight to establish a hierarchy. We saw this happen before our eyes. The slightly bigger fish (Amy) continued to "beat up" the slightly smaller fish (Rory) until it was clear that Amy would be the female.
Soon enough, they were old enough to leave the quarantine tank and enter the big tank.
Do animals have emotions? Can animals feel love?
This is a huge question in the scientific community and I'm not sure if it's one that will ever be clearly answered. Perhaps I've watched too many Disney movies with talking animals, but I feel like Amy and Rory love each other. If anything, they at least depend on one another. They are inseparable in the tank; always at each others' side.
Why are clownfish so dangerous?
Since Amy and Rory became a mated pair, they have started laying eggs. The little translucent blobs are attached to a section of the tank's glass. Amy and Rory spend 24/7 guarding them. During feeding times, Amy will leave the nest to get food while Rory stays behind and waits. We have to make extra sure that a few pieces fall to him. Otherwise, he would probably starve himself!
The clownfish are now the most aggressive fish in the tank. They will defend their eggs to the point of death. If another fish gets too close, the duo will chase the intruder away. Not even a giant, human hand will scare them! When my husband was cleaning, Amy came up and actually bit his finger! The "bite" didn't hurt at all and barely left a noticeable mark, but her persistent aggression was still surprisingly intimidating!
It didn't matter where my husband tried to clean - the whole tank was off limits as far as she was concerned. As a result, we had to put her in a holding cup until the cleaning was over:
Perhaps their actions are merely expressions of "self-preservation of species", but I still admire my clownfish. Their behavior is how I would want someone to love me. They guard their nest with unending patience. They tend to their eggs with a self-sacrificial mindset.
Their actions remind me of God's instruction on how to love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Hearts and roses are great decorations for Valentine's Day, but maybe this year I'll put a cute little clownfish on the card for my husband as a reminder of how I want to love him. :)