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Puffy and Mr. Nasty



 by Scott Harvieux                           scharvieux@mmm.com


Even though I am fascinated and thoroughly enjoy the reefkeeping part of this hobby, I must admit that saltwater fish are my first love. For it may be true that corals are some of the most beautiful living beings on the planet I have yet to find one that has a personality. So the following story is about two of my fish with lots of personality (mostly bad). "Puffy" the stupid stars and stripes puffer, and Mr. Nasty the clown trigger.

"Puffy" was purchased for me by my wife in 1993 from Something Fishy at about 3 inches in length. She immediately took a liking to him and named him "Puffy". I liked the idea because it got her to take a little interest in my hobby where she had none before.

On a steady diet of squid, shrimp and green shell mussels "Puffy" began to grow and grow he is now 12inches long with a girth of about 18 inches! However it has not been a easy road since this could quite possibly be the stupidest fish on earth. You know he must be dumb when you have some friends who will not come over to feed your fish for you when you are gone because "That puffer is too damn stupid !" Let me give you a few examples.

Feeding is difficult, even though he can hold his own with the aggressive fish he has been housed with over the years (triggers, groupers, sharks etc.) he has trouble competing for food, and has to be fed with a feeder stick, not because he is slow but because he spends most of the time trying to get the reflection of the food he sees in the glass. One night while watching TV. I dropped a piece of squid in behind him, although the food landed directly behind him he could only see the reflection directly in front of his face . so for 25 minutes he fiercely smashed his nose against the glass and bit his Parrot beak like teeth making a scraping noise until finally Mr. Nasty came over and took the food for himself.

Also he has a habit of spitting water at you when the lid is open and I am feeding. Now I am not talking a little bit of water either I mean enough to completely soak the front of your shirt in one geyser! Now I realize this is natural for him since they do this in the wild to knock insects off tree branches into the water for feeding. But c'mon does it make sense to piss-off the guy who is feeding you to the point that "NO FOOD FOR YOU TODAY!"

I must admit that if it wasn't for my wife I would have gotten rid of this big blob a long time ago. But he did most recently serve a most valuable purpose. Since he and Mr. Nasty are housed together in a 75g which is way too small for such large fish. I informed Deb that we had to either get rid of "Puffy" or buy a bigger tank Since getting rid of her favorite fish was out of the question I was able to use that stupid fish as an excuse to buy another 125g. I guess there is a useful purpose for every worthless creature!

Mr. Nasty was also purchased from S.F. but in 1995. He was about 5-6 inches long and had real nice coloration ,but was housed in a very large tank all by himself. I asked the storekeeper "How come he is all by himself?" he said "that's Mr. Nasty he has killed every thing we have tried to put in with him, even an Undulating trigger." For those of you who are not aware the Undulating trigger is quite possibly the nastiest creature God has ever put on this earth! (I owned one once but that is a story for another time). Immediately I thought Great! I will buy him ,take him home, and put him in with that stupid puffer. With any luck "Puffy" will be dead by sundown and I can blame it on the trigger and I will be in the clear with the wife! But no such luck. As a matter of fact the two seemed to get along like buddies. How Pathetic! To this day Mr. Nasty is not too concerned with tankmates however he has bitten me several times along with pump wires, skimmer boxes, etc.

One day I was feeding the fish in the 125g across the room when I heard a noise like a mantis shrimp clicking against the glass coming from the 75g. I looked over there and to my amazement Mr. Nasty had picked up in his mouth, a piece of coral decoration about 4"by 4" (at the time he was about 8") and was ramming it against the front of the aquarium glass. Presumably to break his way out. I am not sure but isn't the use of tools a sign of higher intelligence?

Also I use to have a hang-on Amiracle venturi protein skimmer on that tank. It worked okay but the air inlet hose kept coming up missing. a little black hose about 4 inches long) I would search and search but could never find it. So I would just cut another piece and fit it to the skimmer, then that one would be missing so I would replace it again. This kept happening once in awhile over the course of about 6 months. Then one day while I was doing a water change I found 7 or 8 little black hoses jammed under a big rock in Mr. Nasty's' cave. Apparently saving them for a rainy day. (for what I do not know).

In conclusion I must say that these two fish have tried my patience, and I have wanted to get rid of them. But then they will do something that will make me laugh. And I think How could I get rid of them? Especially when I talk to friends who I have not seen in awhile they do not ask how is the reef doing? Or how is the Emperor or Semilarvatus doing ? They say how is that stupid Puffer and obnoxious clown trigger?

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