Fish Literally Living Under a Rock?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish and Invertebrates' started by cooperbh, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Quick backstory: I added 6 black phantom tetras to my tank about a month ago. One didn't look too good upon arrival and died straight off. Carcass was promptly removed. Another disappeared without a trace the following day, assumed dead and disposed of by my cleaning crew, never to be seen again. Until...

    I did a rescape over the weekend. I was at the point of draining the tank where there was only about a half inch of mulm water in small puddles, along with the gravel and a few large rocks. As I lifted out one of the rocks, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye where the rock had been. It was a fish flopping around. A black phantom tetra, to be precise.

    I noticed, as she laid there in a shallow dark brown puddle gasping for air, that she had what looked like a big white abrasion on her exposed side, along with a missing tail. I netted her and placed her in the hotel tank - thinking she was probably a goner - then went back to work on emptying the rest of the gravel and water.

    When I was finally able to get a good look at her after my rescape was complete, I couldn't believe my eyes. Though she was missing half her tail and was scraped up on one side, she was swimming around, eating and playing with the other black phantoms as if she had never left. After a couple of days, the abrasion had all but disappeared, her color was more vibrant and the bottom portion of her tail was even starting to grow back. All's well that ends well, right?

    Wait, it gets weirder.

    So, she eats this morning with her tankmates and I leave for work. When I get home, guess what? Yep, she's gone again. Just disappeared of the face of the earth. We're talking lost colony of Roanoke type stuff here. My rescape has plenty of areas that are secluded and provide cover, but there are intentionally no places my fish can get behind and totally be hidden from sight anymore (I'm looking at you, oto cats.) And yet, after combing every square inch of my tank, she is just nowhere to be found.

    Exactly what on earth is going on here? Has anyone ever experienced something like this? Can a fish really squeeze itself under a rock or gravel and then live there? And if so, why?

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  2. Anders247Fishlore LegendMember

    Well that's weird..... it can get itself killed doing that. At the very least it will be injured each time it does that.....

  3. ToniaWell Known MemberMember

    It seems odd that she is staying away from her school. Are there fish in the tank that harass or chase the phantoms? I know my phantoms tend to all hang out together, but maybe somebody in the tank is picking on her.

    I have had fish that were able to hide where I thought no one could, and survive.

    The next time you plan your rescape, you may wish to partially empty the tank and remove all of your decorations before netting the fish so she doesn't get harmed as the lowering water causing changes to her hiding area.

  4. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    It's a tetra only tank (with a few otos sprinkled in.) Glowlights, black neons and the black phantoms - nothing really aggressive. The fish in question is the smallest of the phantoms, and she does get the brunt of whatever aggression does occur. But it is just your garden variety "Get out of my way, kid" tetra aggression. No multiple strikes or relentless pursuits around the tank. She has always taken it in stride, to my eyes.

    You would think, right? Apparently, this particular fish can go a month without moving or eating and show no ill effects, so I guess I'm not overly worried about that at the moment. I just wanna know where the heck it is.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2015
  5. Tiny goatfishWell Known MemberMember

    Wait she's a phantom tetra?!? Do you know what that means! She is simply going to the spirit world! Okay sorry I know you want a real answer, it does seem real odd.... Did you move all the rocks and stuff when she disappeared again?
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  6. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Actually, that seems more feasible to me than a fish living under a rock.

    You mean before or after she disappeared again?
  7. Tiny goatfishWell Known MemberMember

  8. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    No. I think I need to give the residents of my tank a break from any further aquascaping for awhile. I may try looking under some rocks in about a week or so. A week in hiding without food is child's play for this fish.
  9. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Well, Greta Garbo made an appearance tonight. Unfortunately, I was out of the room when she emerged from her sancturary and still out and about when the timer killed the lights, so I wasn't able to discover where she's been hiding. The good news is that she's active, eating and healing up very nicely. Her color is good, the abrasions are completely gone and her tail has grown back even more since the last sighting.

    So, we've gone from disappearing for one month to disappearing for one day. Maybe she'll just stick around for good this time. Whatever the case, I don't think I need to worry too much about her. She's definitely a survivor.
  10. Tiny goatfishWell Known MemberMember

    And a weirdo :). So glad she's back! Hopefully she'll stay for good!
  11. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Still hanging out, as of now. Was there right along with the rest of her tank mates begging for breakfast this morning. Go figure.
  12. Anders247Fishlore LegendMember

    Good to hear that it's going well. How's it doing now?
  13. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Doing great. Tail is almost grown back. I do believe she's here to stay.
  14. cooperbhValued MemberMember

    Update time.

    Talk about a turnaround. From pale, scraped up recluse with only half a tail to this:

    Instead of living in seclusion, she has now staked her claim to the front glass area, which made photographing that much easier. She has really filled in and colored up, freely and confidently interacting with the other black phantoms. In fact, I think she may be with eggs right now. She's looking kinda plump today.

    Amazing how fragile some fish are, while others seem to survive anything.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018

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