Last night, in a last ditch effort and/or final act of desperation, crashrose and I bought a little, 2-gallon tank in which to quarantine our little, Irish gang of Long-finned Zebra Danios. You see, O'Brien hadn't been schooling or, more importantly, eating; he spent all his time staring forlornly at his own reflection in the side of the tank and acting melancholy. His general malaise was a real downer. Leave it to crashrose and me to buy neurotic fish who have eating disorders and trouble socializing!
Our first attempt to turn O'Brien's little, fishy frown upside-down was to buy a couple more Long-finned Zebra Danios from the same tank, in the same store, where we bought O'Brien. *splash!* *plunk!* There go O'Malley and O'Sullivan, merrily schooling with Schuylkill and Emilio. (Emilio will school with anyone who'll have him, desperate, little bloke that he is.) O'Brien was still off by himself, staring at his reflection, ruminating and brooding behind his favorite column. Now, however, Murphy, our little White Cloud, was hovering about the same area, acting downtrodden and morose, staring at himself in the side of the tank!
What happened to the friendships Murph had cultivated with Schuylkill and Emilio? They were getting along famously until O'Malley and O'Sullivan moved in to the tank. *sigh* We guessed the Danios to other fish ratio (4:3 or 4:1:1:1) upset the harmonious, multi-species environment we had created. Now we had two, manic-depressive, anorexic, angsty fishies on our hands!
O'Brien was looking bad, and he hadn't eaten in days. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so we picked up a quarantine tank. (I got the gaudy gravel and tank ornament I wanted in the process; our tanks are as dichotomous as possible: big and little, glass and plastic, classy and trashy.) *splish!* *splash!* *plunk!* The Long-finned Zebras were on their own, and Murphy quickly rekindled his friendships with Emilio and Schuylkill now that there was only one of each species in the big tank. I guess the moral to that story is that it's easier to get along when everyone is a minority. Hmm...
But what of O'Brien? Poor, little chap still hadn't eaten anything. He looked so small next to O'Malley and O'Sullivan, not that he was next to them very much at all. He took to pouting beneath the heater, and he didn't eat any of the first feeding in the new tank. We shut all the lights off and went to bed. I said a prayer that O'Brien wouldn't be floating in the morning. (He had given me one terrible start after another that day, having taken to sulking nearly motionless at the surface.)
Today, the Long-finned Zebra Danios have been schooling on and off -- all of them! O'Malley and O'Sullivan are hale and hearty, as always, and O'Brien occasionally joins in the frolicking. The most heartening development in the all-Danio tank happened at the afternoon feeding. O'Brien actually took a nibble with the others! He swam right up to the surface, right along with the other two, and he took a tiny bite out of one of the flakes.
The camaraderie has waxed and waned throughout the evening. Despite its ups and downs, the new alliance is far superior to the old situation, in which O'Brien had nothing but downs. Hopefully, there will be an increase in positive interaction, and we'll be able to reintroduce the Long-finned Zebra Danios into the big tank without incident. (We intend to introduce another White Cloud or two first, for Murphy's sake.)
I feel we've finally been able to effect some change, and we didn't even need fishy Zoloft. *phew!*