One of our professors used to invite us over for dinner and all night laughs. When we stopped laughing to take a break for bathrooms, snacks, new drinks, etc., I would revel in his saltwater fish. He had just two saltwater fish–two Brazilian seahorses, bright peachy orange-coloured creatures that floated in a soft bouncing, gliding way up and down the teal lighted octagonal tank.
These mythical beings, called hippocampi (“crooked fish”) by the Greeks–who believed the sea gods rode them when they weren’t guiding Neptune‘s chariot–considered baby dragons by the Japanese, and their likenesses tattooed on sailors as protection from drowning, are fragile, delicate saltwater fish, and not, as the Latin name implies, horse sea monsters.
Unlike other saltwater fish, sea horses can be handheld, have no scales (have bony plates instead), and have the male as the carrier during gestation.
Like many saltwater fish, they have a bladder that puffs for buoyancy, can alternate colours to camouflage themselves from predators, and has a caudal fin that gives them speed, are characteristically stationary predators (waiting patiently before snorting swimmers into their long horse snouts).
But also like much other fascinating saltwater fish, sea horses as domestic pets can be finicky eaters, require tender care of their living environments, and are endangered as a species, with their decline in the 50 percentile range as of 1995. So I was lucky to witness such graceful, exotic and unique life, as we who own saltwater fish are lucky. I hope we treat them as if we believe this.
The guppies were jumping, the Angelfish flopping, the Bottom feeders slopping, and we were slushing and slogging to get the fragile things back in the water as soon as was possible. While my brother stood shocked, shocked that he had brought the great flood. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a hint in here somewhere?