True stories with a twist!


With all the violence, illness and sadness in the world, the bright rainbow seems to be taking a sabbatical.

“I can’t read the newspapers any more.”

“I won’t turn on the TV news these days.”

“I’d rather listen to a Book on Tape than listen to the radio,” are comments I hear everywhere.

The Ostrich Effect is alive and well; if I hide, it must not be happening. If it is happening I won’t know about it and don’t have to watch it unfold, one ugly incident at a time.

But attitudes change when anyone enters our house. Our home is tranquil; the peaceful sights of salt water fish tanks assure the calm of life on earth. Whether a serviceperson, a friend or a deliveryman stops by, not a person comes in without approaching the tank in awe. “Oh, they say. This is so beautiful. So peaceful. If I lived here I would sit and watch the fish all day. It’s therapeutic. So relaxing.”

Really? These words, universal to my ear, are spoken by tourists, who see only external factors and haven’t the slightest idea of what this hobby is really all about. Here is one small example.

This afternoon my husband, Harvey, was troubled because his clown fish were attacking his red hawk fish.Unknown-2

Clownfish, cute as they may be, are fiercely territorial, and any critter with fins and a tail had better not swim anywhere near their self-claimed backyard. Or front yard. Or underwater yard.

Clownfish are those adorable striped fish who starred in Walt Disney’s popular animated film, “Finding Nemo.“   images-1 The fish Harvey has are more rare than the orange and white wiggly swimmers who endeared themselves to the public. Our clownfish have the striped markings of their cousins but are white and chocolate brown rather than white and orange. imagesThey’re called “Designer Clownfish.” Their behavior suits their elite status. It is not relaxing to watch two fishy bullies attack a tank mate who gets too close for their clown sensitivities.

So, listening to the advice of the owner of the “Absolutely Fish” store, Harvey drove down to Clifton, NJ, to buy a pair of Damsel fish to distract the bossy clowns and keep the hawk fish safe. With great anticipation he made the round trip, acclimated the new fish for a half hour in an incubation tank and haltingly put one into the tank at a time.

Did they attract the clowns? Did they distract them? Did they repel them? Hah!

All they did was provide more small fish upon whom the clowns could assert their leadership and show the newcomers exactly who was boss of the tank. They went after the small damselfish Unknown-1

immediately, chasing them under the coral coves and out of sight. Watching the attack was unquestionably neither peaceful, relaxing or pleasant. Now not only is there bad news in the papers, on television, and on the radio.

Now there’s bad news in the incorrectly assumed peaceful tanks somewhere in Morristown, NJ. Civil war is going on even as we speak. I call the salt water fish tanks “The Isis of the Sea.” Brutality knows no boundaries, on earth or in the ocean.

Comments on: "ISIS OF THE SEA" (43)

  1. Hi Ronnie, I want to nominate you for a ‘Versatile Blogger Award.’ Please go here to see the rules to accept.

  2. it’s true. I’ve been hearing rumors about the mean streets of Morristown for years…

  3. I have a good friend who has seriously huge saltwater fish tankS in home; admittedly, they contribute to my general sense of ostrichitis. Love the humor here, on a day when (as you know) it’s hard to hide my head. Wonderful!

  4. Interesting analogy, Ronnie. Sadly, those clown fish aren’t clowning around, and neither is ISIS.

  5. I love how you wrote this – a reminder that there is often more going on beyond what we first see. Those poor fishies though, they have nowhere to get far enough away!

  6. I think it should be those fish! 🙂

  7. Loves the way you write this Ronnie, but you have to admit those fishes are cute! 🙂

  8. The Ostrich Effect IS alive and well, I’m sorry to say.
    Sorry ’bout your fish. I love watching them, and feel so blessed I live in Hawaii where the biggest saltwater tank ever is 10 minutes from my door! Aloha, Ronnie.

  9. Found it rather amusing that fish can have their wars just like humans. Wonder if we look peaceful from the outside? Who might be watching us?

    • It might sound amusing that fish have wars just as humans do. Watching it happen before your eyes is certainly not amusing. Fish tank owners will inform customers which fish not to put together in one tank.

  10. Designer clownfish, hmm? Obviously much tougher than their name…

  11. Years ago I kept several tanks of tropical fish. One day my EX brought a bluegill home from a nearby pond and put it in a tank. The bluegill ate everyone. End of my fish story.

  12. I have a solution to the fish problem, Ronnie. Put the clowns in a separate tank ! Then you would have a peaceful tank with damsel and hawkfish. Do you think this idea would work with humans??? 🙂

  13. I used to breed tropical fish as well as having my own in house tanks… very few people realise the hard work it takes keeping peace in the tank, forget about peace in the home… lol

  14. I don’t have fish, so I went and asked my cat what you should do…
    Don’t think her eating all your fish is exactly the solution you were thinking of. Maybe I’ll ask the dog next door for his suggestions.

  15. Anneke Tabachnikoff
    November 11 at 8:15pm

    Showed it to Robert and we both love this story. We propose a two state solution. Give Isis a tank of its own.

  16. Barbara Balioni said:

    Had a salt water tank. Know what that is like. Had to laugh, though. I’d almost forgotten. I did, however, love my tank. Thanks for the story. Barbara Balioni

  17. Lynn Murphy said:

    Illusion, delusion, willingly, consensually naive, that is the realm of the audience, the stage hands make adjustments, attempt to play grandmaster with science, alter patterns of aquatic history, which side of the HOBBY is viewed, VANTAGE POINT makes ALL the difference.

    Jack Or Lynn

  18. Anonymous said:

    Illusion, delusion, willingly, consensually naive, that is the realm of the audience, the stage hands make adjustments, attempt to play grandmaster with science, alter patterns of aquatic history, which side of the HOBBY is viewed, VANTAGE POINT makes ALL the difference.

    Jack Or Lynn

  19. Fish, the metaphorical ISIS. Perfect. And we thought life was tough when our girls came home with goldfish party favors. Well written, Ronnie.

  20. I think the red hawk fish and the damsel fish are hoping the clown fish get a new fish tank for Christmas…

  21. I hope they figure out how to make the peace soon so to give you some peace too!

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